Cars

I Just Installed My Own EV Charger: Key Things You Need to Know

Introduction

Installing an electric vehicle (EV) charger can seem daunting, but it’s a worthwhile upgrade that brings convenience and cost savings. As someone who recently installed an Autel MaxiCharger, I quickly realized that it’s not as complicated as it may seem. In this article, I will share six essential things I learned during the installation process. So, before you embark on this journey, take a moment to read through these valuable tips.

A level two EV charger by Autel is installed on a residential home.

Image source: Nick Mokey / Digital Trends

Incentives Can Make Chargers Surprisingly Affordable

If you’re considering purchasing an EV charger, here’s a crucial piece of advice: check for EV tax credits and rebates offered by your utility, city, county, or state. These incentives can significantly reduce the cost of a charger. For example, my utility offered a reimbursement of 75% of the charger’s cost, up to $500. Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act allows me to deduct 30% of the charger’s expense from my taxes. By taking advantage of these incentives, I managed to bring down the cost of my Autel MaxiCharger to an astonishingly low $83.

An Autel MaxiCharger sits on a workbench in bubble wrap, prior to installation.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

There’s a Catch Nobody Talks About

While EV charger incentives may sound enticing, keep in mind that they serve a purpose beyond just promoting green energy. Utilities want to balance the load on their grid, which means they incentivize chargers that are “demand response enabled.” This enables the utility to control the charger’s power consumption during peak usage periods. Some utilities also require customers to sign up for “time of use” billing. Although it may seem restrictive, this billing structure actually allows you to take advantage of lower rates during off-peak hours. It’s a win-win situation that benefits both the utility and EV owners.

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Wire Costs More Than You Expect

When budgeting for an EV charger installation, don’t overlook the cost of wiring. Copper wire, in particular, can be quite expensive. It’s essential to measure the distance from your breaker panel to the charger site and account for the necessary heavy-gauge wire. Remember to add an extra 10% to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that the size of your charger also determines the gauge of wire needed. Planning ahead and accounting for these costs will prevent any surprises during the installation process.

Not All Level 2 Chargers Are Created Equal

Level 2 chargers come in various speeds, ranging from 3.5 kilowatts to 19 kilowatts. Your choice of charger can significantly impact the charging speed of your vehicle. Based on my research, I recommend opting for a 40- to 50-amp charger, delivering 9.6 to 12 kilowatts of power. Going with a lower amperage charger won’t save you much, while higher amperage chargers tend to be more expensive. The 50-amp chargers strike the perfect balance for residential use and provide enough power for most EVs.

GM EV Live displays chargers of different sizes.

Image source: Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

Level 2 Chargers Are More Efficient

Contrary to what one might assume, level 2 chargers are more efficient than slower level 1 chargers. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, level 2 chargers are, on average, 5.6% more efficient. While these savings may not be substantial, it’s comforting to know that you won’t be paying extra to charge your vehicle after investing in the necessary hardware.

Don’t Wait for the Switch to Tesla Plugs

With news of major car manufacturers adopting Tesla’s NACS plug standard, some may wonder if it renders standard J1772 chargers obsolete. However, fret not! You can currently purchase an adapter for less than $50, and prices are likely to drop further by 2025 when these carmakers begin selling vehicles with the new plug standard. In the meantime, take advantage of the available utility incentives and make the switch to a level 2 charger without delay.

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Conclusion

Installing an EV charger may seem intimidating, but it’s an investment that brings convenience and potential cost savings. By considering incentives, choosing the right charger, budgeting wisely for wiring, and understanding the efficiency advantages of level 2 chargers, you’ll be well-prepared for a seamless installation. Don’t miss out on the current incentives and start enjoying the benefits of charging your EV at home.


Editor’s Recommendations:

  • I agonized over EVs but bought a gas car instead. Here’s why I couldn’t be happier
  • I review EVs for a living. Here’s the one I’m waiting to buy
  • Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

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