Most EV drivers prefer the convenience and speed of a charger since it'll charge your vehicle up to three times faster than a standard wall plug. In the past few years, charger prices and installation fees have substantially decreased. A CURRENT electrician can add a 240V circuit breaker to your power box and install a dedicated wire that connects to your charger, giving you the ability to recharge your EV in a few hours time.
CURRENT has experience with all brands of chargers. We'll help you figure out which charger is the easiest and cheapest to use with your electric vehicle.
Any kind of charging – even at any available 110 outlet - is more convenient and costs much less than filling up at a gas station because you:
Q: Do I need to buy and install a charger at my home or garage in order to charge my new EV?
A: Not necessarily. If you get a plug-in hybrid like a Ford C-Max, Ford Fusion or Toyota Prius, or even an extended range EV like a Chevy Volt, you may not need a home charger. Since ALL EVs come with a standard charging cable that permits you to plug in to any 110-volt wall socket, you can actually charge your car anywhere there is a place to plug in. Most EV drivers prefer to have the convenience and speed of a charger since it will charge your vehicle up to three times faster than a standard wall plug. But having a charger isn't essential.
Q: How much do chargers cost to buy and install?
A: Chargers range in price from about $499 up to more than $1000. The cost of installation can be as little as $200 and up to $500 or more. It all depends on where your electric panel is in relation to where you will be putting your charger and how much labor it will take to do the installation. If a conduit needs to be run from a far away part of your house to the location you've picked for your charger, or if new or upgraded electrical service is required at your home, you will have additional costs involved.
Q: Can I get rebates, credits or incentives for installing a charger at my home or office?
A: Yes. Many utilities provide incentives such as the one by LADWP, which offers up to a $500 rebate for the purchase and installation of a charger. LADWP also offers an EV bonus of $250 and a lower electric rate for EV owners with chargers. CURRENT will assist you through the process and make sure you get all the incentives you are entitled to. In some cases, these incentives will cancel out most or all of the cost of a charger.
Q: Is it easy to learn how to charge my EV?
A: Yes! It's easier than putting gas into your traditional car. And there are more places to charge your car – every electrical outlet that's within reach of your EV – than there are gas stations. CURRENT will show you just how easy it is.
Q: If I have solar power on my home, can I charge my EV by the sun?
A: Yes. Depending on how large your solar system is, and how much power you use at your home, you may be able to charge your EV at no cost and without generating any pollution whatsoever.
Q: Does the charger charge the batteries in my electric vehicle?
A: Actually, no. Technically, your EV's charger can be found onboard your vehicle. The equipment in your car receives AC current from your house (or another outlet) and converts it to DC, so that your car's battery pack can be replenished. The box, cord and plug which you mount on the wall of the garage in your home or business is known as EVSE – Electric Vehicle Service Equipment. Your EVSE, or "charger" as it has come to be known, allows drivers to safely connect an electric car to a 240 Volt source of electricity, so that it can be charged quickly and safely.
Q: Do I have this 240V capacity in my home or office?
A: Probably not. Most EV owners find that to install a charger, they have to add a 240V circuit breaker in their power panel, along with a secured, dedicated wire that brings the 240V current from the box to their garage. If your power panel is near to where you want to put your charger, a CURRENT electrician will charge you far less for the installation. If your power box is on the other side of your dwelling, the electrician will need to charge more for the additional materials required and the time needed to install the conduit encasing the dedicated wire that leads to your garage.
You can have the CURRENT electrician attach the 240V wire directly to your charger, or: you can have the wire attached to a NEMA 14-50 outlet, which you can plug your charger into. This means you can then mount your charger right next to the outlet, and simply plug it in with an adapter that can be used with the NEMA. If the time comes when you move, or decide to relocate your charger, simply unplug the charger and plug it back into another NEMA 14-50 outlet somewhere else. This leaves your charger instantly moveable without additional expense.
Q: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3/DC – what is the difference between these chargers?
A: Level 1 (L1) charging occurs when you plug your EV or hybrid into a 120V outlet. An EV can take between 12 and 16 hours to fully charge this way. Level 2 (L2) charging occurs when you plug your EV or hybrid into a 240V EVSE (charger). An EV can take between 4 and 6 hours to fully charge this way. Level 3/DC refers to DC Quick Chargers which are gas pump-sized devices installed in public places. They can recharge your EVs battery in 15 to 30 minutes. This assumes your EV has a DC Quick Charge port. The "standard" model of EVs comes with L1 and L2 capabilities but may not have a DC Quick Charge port. "Luxury" models of EVs have them. Not to worry if you don't have a DC Quick Charge port, because most people charge with L1 or L2 and rarely need Quick Charge capability.
Q: Should I be concerned about my charger's amperage capacity?
A: The rule of thumb is that 30-amp service will roughly give you the ability to add 30 miles of range in an hour – just as 15 amps will add about 15 miles in an hour of charging. You should purchase a charger than can handle at least 30 amps. All the chargers sold by CURRENT have this capacity.
Q: Do I want to buy a Wi-Fi-enabled charger with the capability to monitor my charging events?
A: Some chargers have timers, meters, touch screens and capabilities for programming and monitoring charging events via the internet. But while these fancier products sound cool, CURRENT EV believes the additional cost isn't necessary, unless you need to keep track of charging times for tax or budget reasons. Simple and easy is best in our opinion.
Q: If I live in an apartment building or a condo, can I install a charger?
A: Yes. You can call us and we will walk you through the process.
A: The California State Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 209 (Chapter 121) which basically says that if tenants want to install a charger, a landlord cannot prohibit or restrict that installation. California is argueably the most pro-renewable energy state in the union. Bill 209 states "it is the policy of the state to promote, encourage, and remove obstacles to the use of electric vehicle charging stations." Meaning a landlord or HOA has to act reasonably when you make a request to install a charger. The bill basically requires the landlord or HOA to allow the installation at the EV owner's expense, as long as the installation is to code and meets the aesthetic requirements.
Senate Bill No. 209: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120SB209
Some landlords are happy to install a charger because it adds value to their property. Other landlords are reluctant because they may not be able to keep track of who is using the electricity and charge them for it; and they need to maintain a one million dollar umbrella liability coverage policy for any accidents that occur in the charging area. A landlord or HOA that willfully prevents an installation can be liable for damages. The bottom line is that it's easier to install a charger in some apartments or condos than others; it depends on the landlord's desire to work with you.
If requested, CURRENT can conduct a conversation with an apartment landlord or HOA to inform them of the options and explain how easily the project can be accomplished if everyone gets on the same page.