Need a charging station at home? Check out how to make that a possibility

Quick notes

-If you’re interested in buying an electric car, having a charging station in your garage or beside your home is the most significant way to make the best use of the car

-It’s not as hard to integrate an electric charging station in your garage, but it does require the assistance of an electrical expert

-Despite the charging level specific to your car, you should make sure the garage is wired for the highest level in case you want to upgrade your vehicle or charging station later

The idea of an electric car sounds exciting until you realize that the mileage is less than a carbon fuel-based vehicle and that there are far fewer places to recharge than there are gas stations.

If you have ever lived somewhere where gas stations can seem like a mirage, you can understand how this might strike absolute terror in your heart.

If you’re ever actually run out of gas, the sheer hope and will you try to exert on your car as it starts to chug could take years off of your life. Seeing the estimated mileage left on an electric car has a similar effect

The key to electric car ownership is making sure that your garage is wired so your car can be charged at home and to have a handy map of all available charging stations.

Electric Car Charging Basics

There are three different kinds of electric cars and four different levels of charging requirements. If you are invested in the idea of an electric car enough that you are retrofitting your home garage, it may be a good idea to consider future electric car purchases.

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Types of electric vehicles

Battery electric vehicles (BEV) obtain their energy through an electric motor powered by batteries. The batteries recharge with the use of a 120V or 240V cord, but preferably a 240V outlet wired to its own independent circuit.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHE) use both carbon fuel and electrical energy. The internal electric battery is powered by the use of the carbon fuel motor.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) recharge through plugging into an external source of power or ‘regenerative braking‘ which is a process whereby the kinetic energy dispersed when braking is converted to stored energy for the car’s battery.

Electric Car Charging Classifications

There are three levels of classifications for electric car charging.

Level 1 – Is a 110V standard household outlet.

Level 2 – Is a 240V outlet similar to a washer/dryer outlet.

Level 3 –  Is a 480V charging station. This is the fastest charging method with an estimated charging speed of 90 miles in 30 minutes.

When it comes to wiring, it may be best to pre-wire for all 3 levels of charging stations

North American Garage Car Wiring for Electric Cars

Most personal garages don’t come with an electric car charging station built-in. The likelihood is that the garage will need retrofitting. This might be a good time to decide that the entire garage needs a remodel.

Please note that this is for information purposes only and a licensed professional should be consulted before any wiring, rewiring, or remodeling to wire or rewire takes place. Unless you are a licensed electrician, do not attempt this yourself. 

First thought should be where you would like to park the car when it is charging. Will it be in the garage, driveway, or other? Once you have decided, consult with your contractor and electrician to determine any obstacles to your desired placement, and so they can draw plans.

A separate 240V line should be dedicated specifically to the electric car. Your electrician should be working directly with your contractor here.

If you are renovating and not building new, there will be impediments. There always are

Once you, along with your professionals, have figured out where the dedicated line will run, make sure that the line has a 50 amp capacity. If your charging station has lower ability, still ensure that the capacity is 50 amps in case you want to upgrade charging stations later or purchase a new electric car that requires a different charging set up. The charging rate should be 7.2 kilowatts as the more modern high-end cars are rated higher.

A lower wattage will vastly increase the charging time, and possibly limit the types of electric cars capable of being charged by your system

The charging station can be hard-wired or plugged in and movable. A plug-in set up allows you to easily take the charging station with you if you move, or will enable you to upgrade easily. The outlet should be a Nema 6-50 socket. A wired-in charging system is considered safer.

If you are using a plug-in system, which many people do, just be sure to have working fire alarms and a fire extinguisher available in case of emergency.

It is suggested to wire the garage then choose which charging station you would like. Due to different home ages, rewiring, etc., it is best to take a look beforehand and narrow it down to a few specifics options of which you can discuss the pros and cons with your electrician. Chargers can be purchased online or in big box stores.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

How to extend your electric car’s range | Autos101

You can go far in an electric vehicle, as long as you don’t want to use any of the accessories or comfort features 

Is home solar power right for you and your budget | Finance101

If you’re renovating your garage, take a look at these other green home improvements