Electric cars are becoming popular. What was once a distant vision is now an everyday reality for many Americans. In 2023, more than 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) were sold.

If you’re considering buying an EV, you may be wondering: can I charge it at home? Yes, you can, and this is one of the biggest selling points! It’s convenient to charge your electric car in the safety of your own garage or driveway.

But how are EV vehicle chargers installed at home? Can you do it yourself? Read on for all the details.

Step 1: Check Your Home’s Electrical System

As you might imagine, electric vehicles need a lot of power to charge. This puts a heavy load on your breaker box. First, let’s clarify some terms:

Amp: the amount of electrical current passing through a line. Any appliance will demand a certain number of amps to function.

Volt: the amount of electrical energy available from a source (e.g. a breaker or outlet). Most home’s outlets are 120 volts, but for large appliances, you might use a 240-volt outlet (aka a dryer outlet), which has 4 prongs rather than 3.

Watt: the unit for measuring the power, obtained by multiplying the source’s voltage and the amps needed.

Home EV chargers use between 32 and 40 amps. If you plug it into a 120-volt outlet, you’ll use up to 4,800 watts. Your car will charge more quickly if you use a 240-volt outlet. This is typically on a dedicated circuit because of the amperage needed.

Remember, overloading any circuit will cause the breaker to trip. While the trip is a safety measure, it’s not something you want happening all the time. And of course, you want to be sure your EV actually charges!

It’s always best to consult with a professional to make sure your home’s electrical system can handle an EV charger. If you don’t have a dedicated outlet or need to install a 240-volt outlet, hire the pros to make sure it’s done safely! Our team at Pat Myers Electric can measure your system’s electrical load and ensure your EV charging station meets all code and permitting requirements.

Step 2: Select Your Charger

There are many EV chargers on the market, all with different wattages, cord lengths, and other features. Before you start altering your electrical system, make sure you know how much current you’re going to need. For example, some high-kilowatt chargers will require you to upgrade your breaker panel, but your EV may not need such a powerful charger.

Motortrend recommends a 9.6-kilowatt EV charger for most drivers. Look for a charger between 7.2 and 11.5 kilowatts. The lower the wattage, the longer it will take to charge your electric car. However, that’s not too much of an issue if you simply charge it overnight; the battery usually takes no more than 8 hours to fully charge even on a lower-amp system.

Compact and midsize cars may not accept more than 11.5 kilowatts while charging . If you’re on a 240-volt outlet pulling 32 amps, that’s 7,680 watts, which equals 7.68 kilowatts. Therefore, a 9.6kwh charger would be fine for your needs, and you don’t need to drop thousands of dollars upgrading your breaker panel.

As always, consult with the professionals at Pat Myers Electric to discuss your needs and find the most cost-effective, safest option!

Step 3: Evaluate Where You’ll Install the Charger

Will you be parking in a garage? Is the dedicated outlet available there? If not, you may need to run new wire from your electrical panel. This can be tricky and dangerous. Work with a professional to determine the best location for the charger, as well as how to install it without damaging your drywall.

Or do you plan to park the EV outside? In that case, you may need to run the charger through an exterior wall. This can be challenging, especially if you’re installing a new circuit. Local codes may also affect how your wiring must be done if it’s passing through a wall.

Consider, too, that you may have an unused circuit that could be repurposed for a dedicated outlet. However, you must make sure it’s wired properly and not loaded with other appliances. An electrician can help you evaluate your entire electrical system to see what’s drawing power and where.

No matter what, your EV charger should be on its own circuit. Attaching a lower-amp outlet to a higher-amp circuit won’t cause it to trip when it’s overloaded. This could lead to overheating and an electrical fire. Most local codes require a ground-fault circuit-interrupting (GFCI) breaker for a dedicated circuit.

The EV charger installation cost is always worth protecting your home and family. Reach out to the professionals at Pat Myers Electric to make sure it’s done right!

Bottom Line: Play It Safe for Home EV Chargers

Given the cost of EV charging stations, it’s tempting to try to do it yourself. In a pinch, you can attach your charger to a standard 120-volt outlet. But this could be unreliable at best, dangerous at worst. Installing a 240-volt outlet calls for expertise. If you need to upgrade your system, it can quickly get complicated. It all depends on the outlet’s location, the circuit’s amperage, the type of charger you’re using, your charging schedule, and many other factors.

Let us help you simplify your EV charger setup and make sure it’s both safe and convenient. Contact Pat Myers Electric and get ready to charge your electric car at home!