In most cases, plug-in vehicles come with a Level 1 charging station that enables them to be charged using a standard household outlet. You shouldn’t need much electricity if you have an electric vehicle with limited range or don’t drive much. A Level 2 charging station is required otherwise.

Home charging stations: what they do

EVSEs (electric vehicle supply equipment) don’t charge your car. The battery in your car is charged using alternating current from the house, which is converted into direct current by the car’s on-board charger.

Before you start

The following information will help you make your decision.

  1. Plug-in vehicle make/model that you want to charge.
  2. The location of the nearest electric panel to your parking space.
  3. Range of your vehicle’s electric motor (PHEVs) or how far you expect to drive regularly between charges (EVs).

You can tell the size of the battery pack and the capacity of the vehicle’s onboard charger by the make and model of the plug-in. Chargers that can fully recharge the battery between trips must be powerful enough, and a charging station nearby that can handle that rate of charging must be installed.

What kind of charger do you need?

The only charging you’ll need to do is overnight, if you have a plug-in hybrid with a limited range, or if you don’t drive far between charges, it’s not necessary to get a very fast charger. While most public charging stations offer faster charging speeds, you may only need quick charging on long trips.

Due to their limited range of electric power (with the notable exception of the Volt), most plug-in hybrids can recharge entirely in less than five hours with a Level 1 (120V) charger plugged into a standard household outlet. Level 2 charging stations will not be necessary for most owners of these vehicles.

Size of the circuit

Lastly, the electrical circuit capacity you will be using may limit the size of the charging station you need. If you try to charge a car faster than your wiring can handle, a circuit breaker will trip. The charging rate should not exceed 80 percent of the circuit’s capacity unless the circuit is rated for continuous use.

It is also more efficient to charge at a slower rate. Electricity lost (called line loss) increases as square of the current (amps number in the charging rate) and decreases as the capacity of the wiring increases. With increasing temperature, line losses also increase, and the lost energy is converted into heat in the wiring, further decreasing efficiency. With a longer wiring run between your main panel and your charging station, line losses become more significant. If the wiring is sized properly, these losses usually amount to less than 2 percent of the electricity used.  Due to EVs’ large electricity consumption, 2 percent can add up over time. Over the course of a year, driving 35 miles a day in a typical EV charge point consumes 3,650 kilowatt-hours. This is the equivalent of two to three days of a typical household’s electricity consumption, or 73 kilowatt-hours.

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