A Guide to Installing Your Own Electric Car Charger

Can I install my own electric car charger

Installing an electric car charger for your home is going to save money and time that you might not have while on the road. Having an electric vehicle (EV) is excellent for the environment and cheap on the wallet. 

Often there are rebates and write-offs for having an EV that could even put money back into your hand, such as a rebate for installing an electric car charger in your home,

You can install an electric car charger in your home. A 240-volt home charger is the most common. There are several different models that range from a cord with safety equipment to wifi connected models that will control charging via apps.

Electric vehicles are becoming more common, and charging stations are dotted across most interstates in the country and in metropolitan locations. Charging at home is going to take time and money to install a functional and safe charging station for your EV. Don’t let that stop you! Read on and learn everything you need to know about installing your electric car charger.

Different Types of Electric Car Charging Stations

When it comes to charging in your home, you should know which type of charging station you would like to install. The most important thing to think about when selecting is how fast you need the charger to recharge your electric car. 

EVs will come with a cord for charging at home, but this electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is for trickle charging or plugging directly into your home’s standard 120 volt power outlet. This is great as you can start charging immediately from home but charging can take 12 to 24-hours.

There are three charger levels, and they range from the kind you plug in with a standard outlet plug and others that have a drive-up kiosk. The larger kiosk type of charger are seen on the interstates and in the heart of some of the biggest cities in the United States.

The different types of electric car charging station are:

  • Level I – A Level I electric charger is the kind that comes standard when you purchase your EV. It will plug into a wall outlet and take around 24 hours to get a full charge. If you have a vehicle that is only used for short trips or rarely driven, this is the one for you. No additional cost to install a Level I charger as it uses your home’s existing power plug.
  • Level II – A Level II is going to produce 240 volts, which is twice the amount of a Level I. Level II chargers are the most common home charging system to be installed. Charging with a Level II takes about 4-hours for a full charge. An electrician is required to install a level II outlet and wiring. You must have an electrical distribution board with capacity. Installations range from $1,000 to $1,500. A Level II charger costs $350 to $600.
  • Level III – The 480 volts produced by a Level III charging station will charge your car in a matter of minutes. Level III is also referred to as DC Fast Charging. These are large charging stations as they include a transformer and safety equipment for the high voltage. Most new electric vehicles come standard with a DC Fast Charging plug outlet so you can plug into your car like a Level I or Level II charger.
An example of a Level II home charging station. See below for details on JuiceBox home charging stations.

$1,000 Federal Tax Credit for a Home Charger Install

The federal government provides a tax credit for installing a home charging station. This incentive is for homeowners and businesses to convert to electric cars and defray the cost of EV ownership. 

The federal tax credit is 30% off the installation of home charging equipment (up to $1,000). This credit is meant for the installation of a Level II home charging station. A Level II charger costs $350 to $600 and the cost to install a 240-Volt outlet runs $1,000 to $1,500. 

The tax credit is set to expire on December 31st, 2020 but the credit is retroactive to 2018. I’m optimistic the tax credit will be extended or a new credit will be started. 

Installing a Level I Electric Car Charger

When you have a Level I charger, there isn’t much installation to be done. The car will come with a charging station that plugs into your home with the same outlet that you have on the wall. Once you have a suitable place to hang your station, no more intensive than hanging a picture frame, you are ready to go.

The steps for installing a Level I electric car charger are:

  • Remove from the box – When you remove the charging station from the package, make sure that all the appropriate connections are there.
  • Hang on the wall – Deciding where to hang the charger is the most challenging part of the process. It needs to be somewhere that doesn’t have cords in your way or other people in the garage. Some hang them overhead, but just find a spot that is low risk and will prevent any falling injuries while charging. On the wall in close proximity to your car’s plug is ideal. Most cords are 15 to 20-feet long.
  • Plug charger up – Once you have decided on your placement, it is time to plug in the charger. Once it is plugged in, make sure that the connections are trustworthy and that power flows to the vehicle. The EVSE black box will have indicator lights showing the EVSE is receiving power and green for when it is properly charging the car. 

Try a few test charges to figure out how long you will need to power the electric car each day fully.

Other than needing an extra outlet in the garage or charging area, this is a straight-forward job that most anyone can tackle. If you require outlets or circuit breakers, you must hire a certified electrician. Most cities require permits, and electricians can provide both of those critical elements.

Installing a Level II Electric Car Charger

This is the type of job that will require a certified electrician. If you are attempting this by yourself you should note that any electrical system damage could mean potentially deadly fires or electrocution. 

The most important part of this job is going to be installing a double pole circuit breaker. This allows for the larger 30 amp, 240 volt power outlet, like on an electric washer and dryer or electric stove, to be installed near the charging station. Remember that the Level II charger requires 240 volts of electricity instead of the usual 120 volts that comes from your standard outlet.

You should expect to pay $1,000 to $1,500 for an electrician to modify your electrical panel, run the wires to your garage or charging location, and install the 240-volt outlet. 

Step one is to confirm your electrical panel has room for a 240-volt circuit breaker. If it does not, your cost will increase as you may need a higher amperage electrical panel. 

The steps to install a double pole circuit breaker in your home are:

  • Cut the power – Working with the power off at this point is going to be best. Continuing to work with the power on is deadly for you and everyone involved. Make sure that all safety steps are taken before moving forward. Cut the power by flipping the main switch in the breaker box or just the area you are working in.
  • Make room in the box – In the circuit breaker, there should be extra slots for more switches. They could be covered with thin strips of metal that can be broken away with a set of pliers. Removing them should expose a shallow well where the new breaker switch will be placed.
  • Prepare wiring – At this point, take the circuit wires and strip them. You should use a stripper that removes the rubber covering in a solid line. No straggling pieces of rubber should be left to interfere with the connection. Once they are clean, feed them into the box and secure them.
  • Connect hot wires – Once you have the wiring ready, connect them to the circuit breaker switch. These will be threaded bolts that stick out of the back of the breaker. Don’t use anything but the suggested wire conductors when making the connection. Anything else could fail quickly and start a fire.
  • Place the breaker – In the back of the breaker box should be a series of metal tabs. These tabs keep the breaker switches in place. Slot the breaker onto the slots and make sure it is secure with no bare wiring touching the rest of the breaker box. Once the box snaps into place, you should be good to go.
  • Set the ground wire – On the service panel should be a row of places for ground wires. It will be a bit smaller than the other cables but still should be easy to spot with the breaker door open. Run the ground from the circuit wire to the ground panel on the inside of the box.
  • Secure the faceplate – Once all the wiring is connected, you can return any pieces of metal taken off in the previous steps. This is also an excellent time to test the connections. Once the pieces are returned, it could be a hassle to fix any problems. Take the time to make sure there are no problems before finishing up.

Once the new double pole is added to your breaker box, it is time to install the outlet in the wall where the home charger will be installed. The receptacle will be a bit larger than your standard outlet and should fit the plug for the charger. If it doesn’t, you should replace the faceplate and get something that will work for your charging station. The plug could be different depending on the make of the EV.

The steps to install a wall receptacle are:

  • Cut the power – Just like the other steps, you should make sure that the power is off before doing any work. It is best to cut the power to the whole house. Using battery-powered tools or going old-school are your options.
  • Run the wire – Take the wire from the spot you created earlier and run it through the conduit to your receptacle. Running conduit may not be needed, but if you are going to be exposing the wire to the elements or your garage isn’t climate-controlled, having a conduit is essential.
  • Strip the wire – Strip the wire using the appropriate type of strippers. Shoot for removing about a half inch of the rubber on the wire. Once the wire is stripped, connect it to the interior of the box receptacle. The wires should be connected with the provided connectors and should be tested before they go into service.
  • Connect the ground – The receptacle will have a large place to connect the ground. Some brands even label the ground with a large uppercase G. Use the large bolt to connect the ground on the inside of the box, taking time to make sure that the connection is stable before moving on.
  • Install the wiring – Connect the rest of the wiring inside the wall receptacle. There should be at least two hot wires and possibly a neutral wire. Each will have a connection slot like the ground and require the appropriate connector to function correctly. Test the connections if you have a meter.
  • Seat the plug – Once you have tested all the wiring and made sure that the connections are solid, it is time to mount the plug in the outlet receptacle. The plug should fit into the opening on the front and be secured with screws. Ensure that it is tight in the socket and won’t fail or back into the box after years of use.
  • Final testing – Now is the time to see if there are any faults before you put the faceplate on the outlet and put it to work. Use a voltage meter to ensure that the two hot wires are at 240 volts and the single to neutral should have 120. If there are some problems, spend time working them out instead of finding a workaround.

Now that you have a workable outlet to charge from, you can get around to installing the station. Depending on the charger that you get, it could be an easy job. Most are hung on the walls like a water hose and only have minimal screws to hold it up. If you want to get creative, there are many instances of people hanging them from the rafters or making cases for them.

Choosing where to put the station is going to take strategy. If you have a two-car garage, place the charger closest to the wall and where the EV will be parked. The cords could be a significant tripping hazard, and if they aren’t well lit, it could lead to an injury. Place them in a well lit out of the way area that is easily accessible to the electric car.

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The Problem With Installing a Level III Electric Car Charger

A Level III charger is like the type that Tesla has installed on the highways and interstates – Tesla Superchargers. These are much larger and will have an operating kiosk or input tablet. A Level III car charger isn’t often installed in the home. Their size and the amount of electricity required to power them are beyond what an average household would have.

install an electric car charger at home level 3 dc fast charger
Two Nissan Leafs about to charge up at a Level III DC Fast Charging station. Level III chargers are typically located in parking lots at shopping centers or highway stops.

If you have space and money to install a Level III charging station, it will charge faster than any of the others. A Level III charger will fully recharge your EV in 20 to 45-minutes. You should also take the time to ensure that you are getting the correct charging attachments. Specific chargers are only made for certain types of cars.

Top Level I Electric Car Chargers

Buying a Level I charger is like purchasing a garden hose rack for your home. It will be a tiny box with a handle to hang excess cords. The charger will also have a holster or slot that also works to protect the rubber head of the charger insert. Pay attention to the inserts as some vehicles may require extra parts to adapt for specific chargers.

The Megear Level I Electric Charger is Safe and Effective

When it comes to the smaller Level I charger, Megear makes an excellent option that is handy and durable. It charges at around eight miles an hour, which means that it will take an overnight charge to build up any real drive time. The plugs and adapters on the Megear are universal and should work with whatever car you are trying to charge.

The most important thing about the Level I chargers is making sure that they are protected against current flow issues. Issues like leaking and lighting protection can damage the vehicle and possibly the wiring inside your home or garage. Megear is one of the best at making wiring that protects against leaking and any outside surges.

Megear level 1 car charger review home install guide

Megear has some fantastic features in their electric charger like:

  • One-year warranty
  • Standard plug-ins for car and wall
  • LED control box
  • Works with most vehicles

MAX GREEN Makes an Excellent Electric Car Charger for Your Home

One of the great things about having a Level I charger is that you can store it in your trunk and use it at any electrical outlet that is available to you. MAX GREEN is made for charging on the go or in the comfort of your home garage. It is portable and will work in any kind of weather, which could come in handy in a pinch.

MAX GREEN is one of the industry leaders in making products that work best with each vehicle type. They speak with each company’s reps and design their product to meet the vehicle manufacturers’ high standards. The simple display is also a nice touch that is useful while taking up very little space.

Max Green Level 1 charger review home install guide

The MAX GREEN electric charger is packed with features like:

  • Universal charging plug
  • Compatible with several vehicles
  • One year warranty
  • Multiple charging options

The Morec is an Adaptable and Durable Electric Car Charger

The Morec is a household charger that you can take anywhere and comes with an adapter that allows you to use 110 and 220 plugs. If you are going on vacation, having a way to charge in the room or with your relatives is going to be a lifesaver. Make sure that the adapter stays in the car so that you never lose it.

Morec makes a great cord that is very resistant to power surges and even has leakage protection that other models might neglect. The display box is oversized and filled with all sorts of gadgets that keep the car and the house protected from malfunction. When you top that off with a one-year guarantee, you have an excellent choice for a Level I charger.

The features that stand out on the Morec Level I electric car charger are:

  • Compatible with most electric vehicles
  • 24-foot cord
  • Light and portable
  • Plug adapter

Lectron Makes a Great Level I Electric Car Charger

One of the least well-known companies working in the electric car charger game is Lectron. They make a great charging cord that plugs into a 110 outlet and is 21 feet long. It comes with a three-month warranty and is easy to operate. The display box is simple and will flash red when there is a fault in the charge.

What makes the Lectron so intriguing is the damage proof cord and display box. No matter what conditions or wear you place on them, they will continue to work and provide protection against surges and faults. Having this protection is essential to protect your property and the homes of others.

Lectron level 1 home car charger install review

Some impressive features of the Lectron Level I electric car charger are:

  • Fits all electric vehicles
  • Uses standard 110 plug
  • Bright display box
  • 3-month warranty

Top Level II Car Chargers For Your Home

Buying a Level II charger for your home is a snap. There are many companies out there who create some fantastic products that work well for your home and car alike. The wifi and smartphone options are worth looking into as they provide some in-depth information about your vehicle and its impact on the environment.

A JuiceBox 40 is The Most Popular Model on The Market

JuiceBox has a convenient and fast charging model that is small and out of the way. It has a slimline design that makes it easy to mount indoors or outdoors. It is made for all models of EV and can be hardwired to the circuit box or plugged in. It is only 10 inches by 6 inches but has a 15-foot power cord to give extra room if needed.

The most important thing about the JuiceBox is that it comes with wifi connectivity and a great app called JuiceNet. The app gives you the option to set timers with your charging. Setting times allows you to charge at hours when there will be less stress on the electrical system. It also has the ability to set a charging schedule with voice commands.

juicebox home electric car charger install home charger guide

The brightest features of the JuiceBox 40 are:

  • JuiceNet app
  • Small for easy placement
  • Fast charge times
  • Cable rack

A ChargePoint Electric Car Charger is Stylish and Powerful

The first thing you notice about this Level II charger is the sizable colored lens that sits above the charger housing. This lens will change colors depending on the status of your car. A green light means that the charger is working and the car is charging normally. Paired with the smartphone app, you can program charging times and get status updates.

ChargePoint is a company that prides itself on making a quality product that is not only nine times faster charging but is easy to use as well. They stand behind their chargers with a 3-year warranty that covers any faults in the machine. If applicable, your state might give you a rebate for using the ChargePoint in your home.

chargepoint home car charger how to install home ev charger

Some of the best features of the ChargePoint electric car charger are:

  • Charges 9 times faster than competitor
  • Works on all makes of electric vehicle
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Energy Star certified appliance

Another Great Charging Station for Your Car is the LEFANEV

One of the most often overlooked things shoppers miss when searching for an electric car charger is whether the unit is used indoor or outdoor. With the LEFANEV, you won’t have to worry as this unit is rated to work in any weather situation. There is even a smart chip on the inside that will measure the equipment’s readiness and suggest repairs.

It charges at a rate of 25 miles per hour. It is six times faster than other models, and if you aren’t satisfied with the machine, you can return it within the first 30 days and receive a refund. It is a bit on the bulky side but needs the extra heft to carry the longer than average charging cord. The LCD also has crucial information about your car and the charger brightly displayed.

LEFANEZ home electric vehicle car charger home install guide

Features of the LEFANEV electric car charger are:

  • Bright LCD
  • Weatherproof
  • Smart Chip technology
  • Easy to install

The MUSTART is an Upgraded Charger That is Fast and Dependable

While some of the other companies spend time making wifi and other technological improvements, MUSTART emphasizes making a machine that works better for the buyer. This model has only a small display area but is filled with extra chips that make the machine charge more efficiently.

The simplicity of this machine makes it work like an upgraded extension cord. The display shows only how much charge the vehicle has and other essential bits of information. There isn’t a wasted area, just a functional machine that serves its purpose and will be around for years to come.

mustar 240 volt car charger review

Some things that make the MUSTART stand out are:

  • Small display
  • Easy to store
  • Fast charging
  • Overcurrent protection

Final Thoughts on Installing Your Own Electric Car Charger

Buying an electric car charger for your home is convenient and possibly cheaper than running your air conditioner in the summertime. Of the three levels of chargers, the most commonly installed in homes are Level I and Level II. They both work off home outlets, with Level II charging stations requiring a plug like the kind you have on your washer and dryer.

Whatever level of charger you choose should be easy to operate and protect your home against power surges and fluctuations in the current. Smartphone apps allow the system to contact the owner with essential updates and gives them the option to set charging schedules. Choosing and installing an electric charger is not only great for the environment but your wallet as well. 

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Jordan Fromholz

I'm an electric car owner, enthusiast, and founder of the Plugin Report. As a Chemical Engineer with over 14-years in the energy industry, I've made my passions be renewable energy, batteries, and electric cars. My family lives on Maui where we drive our 2017 Nissan Leaf and share everything there is to know about electric cars.

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