Interest in electric vehicles are on the rise and chargers are a hot topic for car owners. There are tons of electric vehicle chargers on the market and finding the right person to install them can be just as difficult as picking the right electric vehicle charger. This will will give you some insight into the costs involved and help you make an informed decision on the best option for your home of business.
The Basics of the Electric Vehicle Charger
The charger unit for an electric vehicle is technically built into the vehicle itself (there is an on-board inverter than converts the AC power from your home or business into DC power for the battery to use). The general public will often refer to the wall-mounted box that supplies 240 volts (or 120 volts) of electricity as a ?charger? - that box, cord and plug has a technical name?Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE). For the purpose of this article, however, I will be using the term "electric vehicle charger, or EV charger."
LABOR: There are several different electric vehicle charger solutions, ranging from a standard 120v plug/outlet you'll find all around your home to a NEMA 14-50 outlet, or even a high-powered 240v dedicated charging station found at hotels and destinations across the country; the option you decide on can effect the installation cost (especially if a service panel upgrade is needed to accommodate the added power draw.) The average cost for a 200 amp upgrade is going to be $2000 to $3000 (including materials).
EQUIPMENT: A quick google search will yield electric vehicle charger prices ranging from $350-$700+. The general consensus among experienced EV drivers is that a capable and durable EV charger will cost around $600 to $700; Tesla proprietary high speed vehicle charger is currently being sold at $750 (sometimes it's worth a little more for elegance.) Tesla also has a list of recommended electricians who are familiar with their products - Osceola Energy is a Tesla Recommended Electrician.
Amperage and Charging Speed
Don't worry, we won't be getting too technical and there won't be a quiz at the end of this. As mentioned previously, there are different types of EV chargers - most of which have to do with the speed in which your vehicle can be charged.
Electricity is measured in terms of amperage, voltage, and wattage. Amperage (amps for short) is a measure of the AMOUNT (or load) of electricity used. Voltage (volts) measures the pressure, or FORCE, of electricity. The amps multiplied by the volts gives you the wattage (watts), a measure of the WORK that electricity does per second.
Think of it this way: Electricity flowing through a wire is like water flowing through a garden hose. The amount of water that can fit through the hose depends on the diameter of the hose (amps). The pressure of the water depends on how far open the faucet is (volts). The amount of work that can be done (watts) depends on both the amount and the pressure of the water (volts x amps = watts). Just like filling a bucket, you can only fill as fast as the water can flow through the faucet. To fill the bucket faster, you need a bigger faucet. Using this analogy we can see that higher amps and voltage will deliver a larger load of electricity at a faster speed, therefore charging your electric car faster. Keep in mind, however, that your service panel may not be able to handle a larger load (this is why it is so important to use a licensed electrician.)
You've invested in an energy efficient electric or hybrid vehicle, the last thing you want to do is to have an oversight and forget to budget for a charger that keeps it running. You don't want your vehicle to spend more time charging than you get to enjoy driving it, make sure you get the fastest charger your electrical service can handle. Once you've found an EV charger that meets your needs and budget, call a licensed electrician to come install the proper outlet for it, safely. Still not sure what size charger your service will be able to handle? No problem! Contact us for a free consultation and we'll guide you through the process. Happy driving.