A Guide to Home Charging: Getting started with your L2 charger
So, you’ve recently purchased your first EV and are ready to start looking for your home charging station set up. There is a lot to consider while choosing your home charger, and you might not be sure where to start—So, we have made this valuable guide to help you figure out which Level 2 (L2) home charger will work best for your personal needs.
The basics: First, let’s discuss what a charger is, and how you might choose which type works best for you. The connection hardware for charging your EV is called an EVSE (electric vehicle service equipment), but it is colloquially referred to as a “charger”. (You can learn more about EV terminology in this handy guide) Most EVs come with an L1 (120 V) portable charger that charges at about 1.5 kW, which will provide your vehicle with approximately 45 miles (72 kilometers) of range assuming you’ve left it to charge overnight for 10 to 12 hours. While this might work for many people, there are plenty of EV owners who need to have a full charge each morning to get through their day. If this sounds more like you, then investing in an L2 charger might be the right move.
Plug-in (L1) or hardwired (L2)?
Upgrading to an L2 EVSE (240 V) can be beneficial to enable faster charging between longer trips. A level 2 can be hard-wired or plugged into a 240 V outlet. If you already have a 240 V outlet located near where you park, you can get an EVSE with the right plug and be ready to go. Otherwise, you’ll need an electrician to install an outlet or hard wire the EVSE. Once you have made a decision about the kind of EVSE that will work best for your particular situation and needs, you will have many different brands to choose from, so narrowing it down may help you come to a decision about which brand to choose. Consider the following questions.
What is within your budget?
There is a huge range of different models of home EVSE for people to choose from in North America, but one’s budget likely plays the most vital role when choosing the L2 charger. An important detail to recognize is that many economy models you might find listed online may be lacking important safety features found in higher quality charging equipment—this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a charger that suits your budget, but it is important to be aware of. Make sure that your EVSE comes from a certified seller, so that you will avoid costly issues in the future such as your EVSE being poorly made, or it being locked by the manufacturer for being sold by an unauthorized seller. Home EV chargers cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, based on several different variables, but depending on where you live, you may be able to get a tax rebate or benefit from other incentives. (Read more about EV perks and Incentives here)
Do you prefer a Smart Charger?
Some EVSE will come with different smart capabilities like remote controls and vehicle monitoring. However, many people in the modern age like to connect their devices to their appliances for the sake of simplicity and better overall efficiency. Some of these smart features include things like scheduling your EV’s next charge, stopping the charge, unlocking the hose, and monitoring the battery status– all from your mobile device. Some chargers that are not smart have interfaces built in to connect to third-party controls, so it may be worth taking into consideration.
How does the charger hold up in hot or cold climates?
Another aspect that may be worth your attention is how well your EVSE holds up in different climates. If your EVSE is installed inside of your garage, it will most likely be just fine—but some people may like to have their EVSE located outside where they usually park their car. For outdoor installations, it is recommended to install a hardwired 240V EV charging station with an enclosure to protect it from environmental damage.
How efficient is my L2 charger?
When it comes to selecting the best charger, it’s important to think about how you drive. Do you drive many hours each day for work? Do you have days where you don’t drive at all? Knowing your specific driving needs will help you determine what types of L2 chargers you need to adequately power your vehicle. Energy star lists models that meet their criteria for standby power consumption and efficiency which you can find here: https://www.energystar.gov/productfinder/product/certified-evse/results.
What kind of safety features are important?
Look for something ETL or UL listed, as this means a product was tested and approved by testing service laboratories. This is one of the main distinguishing features between high quality equipment and inadequate low-cost products you can find online. Some cheaper model L2 chargers can be missing essential safety features that protect the user from shocks. To check whether a product is listed, search that has just products certified to the EVSE standard.
Can I install my own L2 charger?
You should only ever install your own L2 charger is you yourself are a certified electrician. Otherwise, call your local electrician to come and safely install your new L2 changer.
When all is said and done, choosing an EVSE setup that’s right for you is a need-specific decision with no real right answer. The main takeaway to remember when choosing your equipment are to ask yourself about EVSE cost, smart capabilities, weather resistance, efficiency, and safety. With the information above, you should be able to determine the best ESVE for you.