How To Install Electric Car Charger at Home | Step-by-Step Guide

How To Install an Electric Car Charger

There’s certain things worth waiting for in life, like the holidays, a raise at work, or even finding your soul mate. When it comes to charging your EV at 110volts, it might as well take FOREVER. For even the smallest batter in a car like the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive (17.6kW) would take more 17-20 hours. 

Odds are, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t have some kind of urgency when charging.
 
If you need a full charge in less than 10 hours, you NEED to upgrade to a 220volt charging system. Once you’ve decided to upgrade, there’s still two critical questions to answer:
 
  • Which level 2 charger should I buy?
  • How do I install a level 2 charger at home? 

Level 2 Charger Benefits

car parked in garage, charging at 220v
Let’s get straight to the point, there’s nothing special about level 2 charging. You as much as most others the main benefits associated with using 220volt chargers. In case you don’t, I’ve outlined the three biggest benefits you’ll experience:
 
  • Benefit number one, save time while charging. This one has to be the MOST obvious one. After all, why else would even consider getting this?  To give you an idea of how much time you’ll be saving, lets take a 2013 Nissan Leaf with a 24kW battery as an example. At 110-120volts, the 24kW battery will charge at 21 hours. If you upgrade to a 6.6kW level 2 charger using 220volts, you’ll be looking at around 4 hours. See the difference?
 
  • Benefit number two, less paying for DC fast charging. If waiting 4 hours (as from the example above) is good enough, you can save money by not going to DC fast chargers. This is especially true if you DC fast charge a lot. A regular bill at a DC fast charger is anywhere around 3-12 dollars per charging session. A few dozen of those per month and you are spending 50+ dollars per month in electricity. So, charge at home and save money.
 
  • Benefit number three, the ultimate convenience. You could bring up a case where there’s a few level 2 chargers nearby that you can use. As explained above, the best case scenario is that you can charge in 4 hours (at least). Leaving your car somewhere for a few hours won’t be convenient. But, leaving your car at home for an hour or two can give you 25-50% in no time at all.

What Should I Look for in Level 2 Charger?

a car charging outside using level 2
There’s a few things to look at before you install a level 2 charger. By first addressing these concerns, you’ll have the smoothest installation process. Here’s are the two BIG ones:
 
  • On-Board Charging Limits. Both electric and plugin hybrids have on-board charging limits for 220volt systems. You can have the most expensive level 2 charger installed… but if your vehicle limits the rate to 3.3 or 6.6kW (whatever yours may be), that extra charging speed won’t get utilized. Let’s take for example the same 2013 Nissan Leaf as I mentioned before. That EV in particular can charge at up to 6.6kW using a 220volt system. So even if you buy the most powerful charger, it will only provide what the car can accept. Know your cars limit and it can save you money when shopping.
  • Cord Length: This one can be easy to overlook, so pay attention. Before you buy a level 2 charger, know where you’ll be installing it. Depending on your vehicle, the charge port may be close or it may be far from the level 2 charger. As our rule of thumb, measuring out the distance between your EV’s charge port and where you’ll be installing the charger. Once you know, multiply it by 1.5.

Which Level 2 Charger To Pick?

We won’t be covering this topic here, but it IS important to pick the right level 2 charger. For that reason, there’s a dedicated post talking about the best EV chargers you can buy.

 

A little about SAFETY

Before you install, remember to be SAFE by wearing proper safety equipment.
 
Since you’ll be working with electricity, wear safety glasses and electrician gloves. Those are the bare essentials when working with electricity. To learn more, you can read more about electrical safety.
 
Remember to NOT rush through an installation. Shortcuts can be costly with either a fire or worse, your life. Do not get discouraged if you encounter a roadblock. Read through the installation instructions provided. If necessary, look at other resources for information until you are able to move forward.
 
Alright, we can finally move towards the installation process!
guy charging his car at home using 220 volts

Installing a Level 2 Charger At Home (Step-by-Step)

It’s now time to learn how to install a level 2 charger. Below, I’ve broken down each step necessary to get from A-Z (remember to take your time).
 
  • #1 Kill the power: Before you do any kind of work, its critical that you cut power to all the terminals in the breaker box. If your breaker box has a master switch, flip it. In the even there’s still HOT wires running, cut the power at the meter.
  • #2 Access your breaker box: Once you cut power, find an area where you’ll install a 40 amp breaker switch. In the even there’s no space for an extra switch, try finding one that isn’t in use.
  • #3 Mount your charger hub: It is time to pick a place to mount your charger. Try installing it close to the breaker box as things become MUCH easier to wire together.
  • #4 Hook-up: Take three 6-gauge wires and connect them to the charger hub. You’ll need to unscrew the main cover that keeps the charger sealed from outside elements. From there, secure the ground, negative and positive wires inside the charger. Put everything together and secure the charger to the wall.
  • #5 Clean wiring: Now you can run wires to the breaker box. Difficulty will depend on how close the charger is to the breaker box. Don’t rush this, doing a PROPER job is crucial. You can conceal the wires by running them through the wall and into the breaker box area. Better yet (though not appealing), you can use PVC flex tubing without going behind the wall.
  • #6 Connecting to breakers: It’s time to make the final connections. By now you should be working with only three wires. One ground, one positive, and one negative wire. Run the ground wire directly to the grounding area of the breaker box. After that, run the positive and negative wires to the breaker switch. Make sure connections are SECURE with NO exposed wiring.
  • #7 Check connections & power ON: By now you should have three solid connecting wires. I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure all wires as secured properly. After you’ve followed the steps to a “T”, bring the breaker box back to life by flipping the ON switch
  • #8 *Optional Reinstall breaker box cover: Reinstall the breaker box cover and anything else you had to take apart.
professionally installed charger in a parking garage

Should I Hire An Electrician?

If what I explained above sounds intimidating, don’t be afraid to hire an electrician. The entire process can be completed in as little as an hour or two. Expect to pay anywhere around $200-$1000 to get everything installed correctly.
 
The reason for such a wide range in price, is because it really depends on which electrician you go with. If you want some help with picking a good electrician, we recommend you look at this article for more info.

In Summary

You’ve made it this far and I want to say THANK YOU for sticking around. Charging your electric car on 220v can be a major improvement. We’ve provided you with insight about how to choose an EV charger, which safety precautions to take and how to install your own. 

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