Electric Car Charging Installation: What You Need to Know

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated November 23, 2022
A family loading luggage in their car while charging it
Photo: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Level 2 charging is more than twice as fast as Level 1 charging.

  • Level 2 charging stations start at $300–$1,000.

  • Professional installation is recommended for Level 2 charging stations.

  • Professional installation starts at $400–$1,200.

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EV charger installation makes charging a vehicle at home the ultimate convenience. Who needs gas stations (and their ever-rising prices) when you’ve got an electrical vehicle (EV) that will always be ready to hit the open road? If you’re considering taking the EV plunge, here’s what you need to know about installing a Level 2 electric car charging station so you can have a maximum range with a minimal wait.

Permitting Requirements

Some states require a permit to install an EV charging station. For example, California requires an electrical permit for a new 120-volt outlet, but Level 1 EV charging stations that are 110 volts don’t require a permit. Meanwhile, some cities in Texas, like Austin and Houston, require a permit while others, like Dallas, don’t. 

Permit requirements may vary by state and city. Check with your local building authority to ensure you don’t need a permit before installing to avoid any fees. Alternatively, check with the U.S. Department of Energy for state laws, codes, regulations, and incentives pertaining to EV charging station installations. 

Do I Need a Charging Station in My Home?

Public charging stations are more expensive, take a long time to charge, and could be offline or occupied. This makes for a major inconvenience if you depend on your EV to take you to work. Even with all of these considerations, an at-home charging station might not be a good fit for your home. Below are the pros and cons of a home charging station to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Benefits of an EV Charging Station

For most people, the answer to whether it’s a good idea to invest in a home charging station is a resounding yes. A charging station at home offers many benefits that make it a sensible choice, including:

  • Convenience: You can charge your EV whenever you want without having to wait or search for a public charging station.

  • Comfort: Much like going to the public laundromat, sitting around waiting for an EV to charge at a public charging station can be uncomfortable. A level 3 public charging station may take only 30 minutes to charge your EV, but a level 2 station can take several hours.

  • Affordability: You’ll spend around $2.50 to $14 to fully charge a standard-sized EV at home. Compare that to public charging stations, which cost anywhere from $12 to $24 to charge an EV.

Disadvantages of an EV Charging Station

Not everyone needs a charging station in their home to keep their EV charged and ready to go, however. Here are some cons to installing an EV charging station:

  • Upfront costs: Though they’ll save you in the long run, Level 2 charging stations cost around $1,100 to install on average. 

  • Accessibility: If you utilize street parking or have a detached garage far away from electrical outlets, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to install an EV charging station that can access your vehicle. Most chargers can only reach up to 25 feet away.

  • Electrical system capacity: Homes with old, outdated electrical systems may be unable to handle the extra capacity needed for charging an EV. Upgrading your electrical system can be a costly addition to your installation costs.

How Do You Install an Electric Car Charging Station? 

Although the number of available public electric car charging stations is increasing rapidly, there are still plenty of gaps in the electric car charging infrastructure. That’s why many EV owners take matters into their own hands and charge at home for maximum convenience and peace of mind. 

Many prospective EV owners don’t always know that there are two different methods to charge most EVs at home: Level 1 charging and Level 2 charging.

Charging Station TypeVoltage Requirements
Level 1110V – 120V
Level 2220V – 240V

Level 1 Charging

Fortunately, every electric car comes standard with a 120-volt charging option, which means you can charge from a regular household outlet. Unfortunately, using a standard household outlet through what’s known as Level 1 charging takes approximately four to five hours per driving hour charged. 

That means that if you Level-1 charge for eight hours, you might only store about 35 to 40 hours of driving range. That’s where Level 2 charging comes in.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 charging uses a special 240-volt outlet, similar to major home appliances like ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, and central air conditioners. The advantage of Level 2 charging is that you can charge in less than half the time as Level 1 and can easily gain a whopping 180 miles of driving range from the same eight-hour charging cycle. 

Needless to say, installing a Level 2 electric charging station outside your home or inside your garage is an ideal way to optimize your time and investment in your EV.

Can You DIY Electric Car Charging Station Installation?

An electric car getting charged in a home installed charging station
Photo: Aranga87 / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

As with any complex electrical installation, installing a Level 2 charging station is best left to the pros. At 240 volts—twice the voltage of a standard household outlet—the risks of a fatal electric shock can’t be overstated. 

Fortunately, with the popularity of electric vehicles, a licensed electrician near you can safely install a Level 2 electric charging station.

Of course, the rates for a licensed electrician, which start around $400 and can go as high as $1,200 or more, need to be factored into the overall cost of the charging station.

Important Considerations for Your Charging Station

Level 2 charging stations are typically shoebox-sized, but you’ll still need to ensure sufficient space and clearance around the unit for installation. You’ll also need to ensure your charging port is within reach of the charger’s cable, which is typically 20 to 25 feet long. 

Finally, some municipalities require a Level 2 charging station to be hardwired rather than plugged into an outlet. If you choose an installation location outside your home, the charger is open to elements, so a hardwired installation is a safety requirement.

Where Can You Install an Electric Car Charger? 

If you wish to install a Level 2 charger outside your home, you’ll need one rated for outdoor use, which is not true of all chargers. Whether you install the Level 2 charger inside your home—typically in a garage—or outside your home, ideal placement means your EVs charging port is on the same side as the charger. 

This placement both shortens the distance you have to run the charging cable and reduces the chances of tangles or creating a tripping hazard.

What About Safety?

A good Level 2 charger will feature lightning protection, overheat protection, overvoltage protection, leakage protection, and a waterproof rating of at least IP67. IP67 provides 100% protection against solid objects like dust and sand and will work for at least 30 minutes while under up to 1 meter of water. 

While you would obviously never charge your EV during a rainstorm or flood conditions, it’s important that your charger can hold up to the elements.

Why a Good App Matters

Most Level 2 chargers come with a companion app for your Android- or iOS-based smartphone or tablet. While using an app is not strictly necessary, it can make your charging experience even more useful. A good app should be able to do everything from sending you a notification when your vehicle is done charging to charging at specific times when local electricity rates are at their lowest.

How Much Does a Level 2 EV Charging Station Cost? 

Level 2 charging stations start at $300 and can easily exceed $1,000, depending on additional features like more amps, which equals even faster charging, or more feature-rich, touchscreen displays. Make sure you discuss the features and options you’re most interested in with your electrician and what will work best in your installation location before making a final decision on your charging station. 

Finally, depending upon the age of your home and the current state of your electrical panel, you may also need to upgrade certain wiring or the electrical panel itself, which will further add to your total costs.

Are There Rebates or Tax Credits for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations? 

Some chargers qualify for the 30% Federal tax credit of up to $1,000 for equipment and installation to help offset some of the costs, which the IRS provides a form for. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) kept the same tax credits available before the new bill’s passing. 

If you haven’t already purchased an EV and are planning ahead by looking at charging stations, there’s good news regarding your potential purchase. The IRA also offers up to $7,500 in tax credits through December 2032 for EVs, while used EVs over two years of age are eligible for a separate tax credit of $4,000 or 30% off, depending on which value is less. This can help you save for your charging station.

Keep in mind there are many requirements, which greatly restrict who can qualify for the IRA tax credit, so keep the following in mind:

  • The battery components of your EV must be manufactured in North America.

  • Critical minerals used in your EV must derive from the U.S., countries in compliance with the free trade agreement, or recycled materials.

  • The assembly of the EV must occur in North America.

  • EV cars must cost less than $55,000.

  • SUVs, pickup trucks, and larger vehicles must cost less than $80,000.

  • Heads of household become ineligible for the tax credit if their gross income is greater than $225,000 ($150,000 for all other taxpayers). 

  • Joint married couples become ineligible if their gross income is greater than $300,000. 

You can also search on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center website to see if there are any rebates or tax credits for installing an electric charging station in your state. 

While California has the largest range of rebates, discounts, and credits for EV buyers, many other states also have generous programs and incentives at the local city and utility company levels. It’s all well worth investigating to see even greater returns on your EV investments.

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