If you’re going to make the switch to an EV, or get the most out of your plug-in hybrid, you really want a Level 2 charging station at your home.
EVs are designed to be charged on 240-volt current, which can fill your battery overnight, as opposed to household 120-volt current that may take days depending on the EV you bought.
Charging stations designed for home use are becoming more affordable over time, with many options in the $600-$700 range. Now a company called Emporia Energy is new player in the home charger market, and they’re offering their basic smart charger for $399, with options for a 50-amp clothes dryer plug, or hardwired into a 60-amp circuit.
“When you combine our charger with our Energy Management System we offer added features, like excess solar charging and peak demand management, that our competition cannot offer and we are still less expensive than the competition,” said Shawn McLaughlin, Emporia’s chief executive officer.
Emporia says its charger offers users the ability to optimize their vehicle’s charging through automations that adjust charging based on utility rate schedule time-of-use pricing changes, excess solar generation and the user’s selected peak demand goals.
Emporia’s not the only company bringing prices down. Lectron offers a comparable Level 2 charger for $402.99, and a less powerful unit for $308.99. Many other options range from the $500 range up to about $1,650. Smart features also vary among brands, and prices generally reflect features and amperage capability.
What do you need?
Homeowners with plug-in hybrids can generally get by with 120-volt Level 1 charging if they recharge overnight, but a 240-volt Level 2 charger reduces plug-in hybrid charge times to a couple of hours and will completely charge an EV overnight.
The main thing a homeowner needs is an available 240-volt circuit, such as those used by a clothes dryer, hot water heater, or an electric stove. Home-based units can generally use up to a 60-amp circuit, but most provide a clothes dryer plug adapter that will handle up to a 50-amp circuit.
Note that with any circuit, the usable amperage is generally 80% of the rated amperage of the circuit. Thus, plugging a charger into a 50-amp clothes dryer circuit will give you 40 amps of charging capability, and a hardwired 60-amp circuit will yield 48 amps of power. That rule applies to lower amperage circuits as well.
Most people will want to have a qualified electrician run those circuits, and your local laws may require a permit to run a new circuit. You also need to ensure that a new 50- or 60-amp circuit does not overload your home’s circuit panel, as many homes are built to the limit of their panels.
But if you have a dryer plug or other 240-volt outlet that is not in use, installation can be as easy as plugging in the charger and hanging the unit on a wall.
Government and utility subsidies
There’s one more smart step to getting your own home EV charger, and that’s checking to see if there’s financial support for the project. Chargepoint has a page with a convenient tool that allows you to select your state and see what incentives are available for installing a home charging station. Many of the available incentives actually come from your local power utility companies, who would very much like to see you switch from buying gasoline to buying their electricity.
With the current market, adding a charger to your home can add resale value even if you don’t yet own an EV to charge. Prices have never been lower for this tech, and all indications are that the trend toward affordable EV charging will continue.