Can I Install an Electric Vehicle Charging Outlet?

Timely question. Today, electric vehicles are less like something from The Jetsons and more like just another car. Evidence? The U.S. had 1,972 public charging stations in 2011. We have over 16,500 in 2017 and more are coming. If electric vehicles are the future, the future is here.

While there are more and more public charging stations, you still probably want your own. Installing an outlet can cost from $400 to $1,600 but electric company rebates and government incentives are available (for now) that can make them a little more affordable. You’ll also pay much less per charge and they’re a real time-saving convenience.

Now, about your “Can I install an electric vehicle charging outlet?” question. Let’s put it this way: If your electrical system is updated and can handle the extra power and you have the skills and experience to properly install an outlet for large appliances, you can probably install an electric vehicle charging outlet.

Of course, like any electrical project, you want to be sure it’s done correctly and safely. It’ll also need to meet a pretty complex code. If you have any doubts, you might want to hire an electrician.

As always, let’s start with some background information because it’s good to know stuff.

A little background on vehicle charging outlets. 

A Level 1 (110-volt) charger can take up to 18 hours to charge your battery.

A Level 2 (240-volt) charger can charge it in 3 hours.

How long the outlets takes to charge your car’s battery depends on the rate your vehicle can take and the rate the power source is providing.

A 16-amp charger is fine for older electric vehicles, but newer vehicles usually use 32-amp for maximum speed. If you have 32 but your vehicle was designed for 16, the charger will automatically adjust to protect your battery.

Most U.S. EVs and plug-ins (not Teslas) use the SAE-standard J1772 plug.

To take a deep dive into specifications, the J1772 plug has 5 ports:

  • The top two are for the AC power.
  • One is a mechanical switch that makes sure you’re completely plugged in.
  • There’s the ground wire.
  • And one tells the car and the charger how much current is needed.

Where should I install it? 

If you can, you should install it in the garage. Make sure it’s near the garage door so you can use it if you’re in the garage or the driveway.

Most electric vehicles and the cords are usually about the same length, 16-18 feet. That means you’ll be able to plug it in if you park nose-first or back in.

If you don’t have a garage, you can install it outside, but you’ll want a unit with a National Electrical Manufacturers Association rating of 4X so it can handle rain, cold, and dust.

Do I have to have hire an electrician? 

No, but it’s highly recommended. Chargers need a lot of power, and if your older house can’t handle the extra load, you might need a new meter and breaker panel. If your garage is old, you might need to replace the old wiring, too.

That probably sounds like a job for a professional electrician, but if you think you can do it, follow all the guidelines. If you don’t, you could start an electrical fire.

National Electrical Code Article 625 covers the rules for EV-charger installation, (like where to mount a charger and the wiring required). Read them and check state and local codes.

The wiring is ready, now what kind of charger should I buy? 

There are a couple considerations:

  • It all depends on your vehicle and power source. Use the specifications for your vehicle.
  • If you have a choice, be sure it has at least 24 amps of charging capability; 40 amps is better.
  • A charging rate of at least 7.2 kilowatts should handle most electric vehicles (Tesla is another story).
  • It should have a National Electrical Code Article 6-50 plug.
  • Again, make sure the cord can reach your car if it’s not in the garage. Sixteen feet minimum, 25 is worth the extra cost.

We hope you got a charge out of this article! If you have any questions – about chargers (or anything electrical), you can contact Early Bird Electric anytime.

The general knowledge and advice in this blog is designed to give you a little background information about your electrical system and may not be complete or contain minor errors.  Early Bird Electric is not responsible for any consequences if you attempt to fix your electrical problem using this information. It’s always a good idea to hire a local, licensed electrician like Early Bird Electric to safely and professionally handle the job.