How to choose an electric car charging station

Everything You Need to Know About Adding an Electric Car Charger at Home

Choosing an electric car is a wise decision for those who want to preserve our planet, save energy and cut expenses. Most car buyers focus only on which kind of car they are going to buy, but when it comes to electric cars, you need to think about recharging too. You need to consider buying the right charger for your electric vehicle and take into account the cost of installation. This decision is probably as important as the selection of the car itself.

Here are a few things you need to pay attention to when deciding which charger to go for:

Type of Charger and Charging Speed

Charging should be done at home overnight when electricity is cheapest. Some public parking lots offer free charging stations where you can charge your car while you’re shopping or working. The time it takes your car to fully charge is based on the level, or speed, of charging.

Level 1 (120 Volts/15 Amps)

Both electric and hybrid cars come with cords that can plug into a regular wall socket. This means you can charge your car wherever you are and don’t need a special charging station. This kind of charge is the slowest.

Level 2 (240 Volts/30 Amps)

This is the most common charging station option and you’re likely to find this one at most stores and parking lots. If you buy one of these charging stations for your garage, your car will be fully charged in 8-10 hours.

Level 3 Charging (480 Volts/100 Amps)

Level 3 stations are also called “DC-Quick Chargers”. DC-Quick Chargers will fully charge your car from empty to full in 30 to 45 minutes. Only fully electric cars can use Level 3 charging stations. There are three standards of Level 3 for different countries and makes of car:

CHAdeMO is the Asian standard utilized by Hyundai, Nissan, Kia and Mitsubishi.

SAE Combo is for European and North American cars and is used by BMW, Chevrolet, Ford and Volkswagen.

Supercharger is a Tesla-only standard. All Tesla vehicles can be purchased with adapters for the other two.

Which Plugs do I Have?

There are different plugs to which you can connect the charger. In Europe, for example, there are type 1 and 2. You must match your car’s plug with the available type at the station, although there is a way to connect your Nissan Leaf for example, with a type 1 plug installed to type 2 charger with an adapter, but those can be expensive. A Type 2 charging station is most suitable for public areas like parking lots, hotels etc., as that type is more flexible and widespread.

You can either opt for a charging station with a 240-volt plug or you can set up a permanent hard-wired system which utilizes a “pigtail” (a wire with bare copper ends) or a knock-out panel where a wire will run into the interior.

Charging stations are NEMA 3 or NEMA 4 rated for either indoor or outdoor installation. The NEMA 4 can be hosed down and is weather resistant.

Picking the Right Manufacturer

This is another example where giving way to quality over saving a couple of bucks sure pays off. You should consider buying from a manufacturer approved by leading car companies. One other thing to consider is the manufacturer’s dedication and support for the product, where they would secure future updates and replacements for broken parts.


Installation Costs

It costs between $500 and $2,000 to install an authorized charging station and the basic model is around $800. Costs can vary greatly depending on the additional upgrades added to the installation. Always hire professional help and do not attempt to install the charger on your own.

Almost all local governments offer incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles and to offset the cost of electric charging stations. Find information on rebates in Canada here and in the US here.

A professional installer will be able to ensure you have the necessary infrastructure and can help you to adapt your garage should you need an upgrade. If you can afford it, ask your electrician to install a bespoke 50 Amp circuit so that you can have the option of upgrading in the future. Find out more at Garage Automatics.

Safety is also one of the most important aspects you need to consider, directly related to the installation which must be conducted by a professional electrician. Your insurance and warranties may be rendered void if installation is not carried out by a professional.

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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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