Americans in greater number are turning to the plug instead of the pump when it comes to keeping their vehicles moving. Electric vehicles or “EV” sales more than doubled domestically in 2021, according to several industry reporting sources. Overall market share rose from 1.5% in 2020 to 2.5% in the first six months of this year (2021). To break that down even further, about one in every 40 new cars sold in America is electric.
With this trend expected to continue ticking up, consumers will need reliable and accessible sources of electricity to power their new purchase. Federal, state, and local budgets coast-to-coast are making greater accommodations year-over-year to install public charging stations, however, residential charging units are fast becoming the new “it” feature in home sales and upgrades.
At On Time Electric, we’re seeing this increase in home electric vehicle charging demand first-hand as more of our customers call on our expertise to install and maintain their EV charging stations.
If you’re interested in an electric vehicle as your next set of wheels, but also feel a bit overwhelmed by the lingo and home requirements related to having a residential charging unit, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s go over what to expect when installing a residential electric vehicle charging station and how On Time Electrical can get you ready to roll.
Learning the lingo; PEVs, EVs, BEVs, PHEVs
We’re going to introduce a couple more acronyms here, bear with us. We’ve covered EVs (also called BEVs, or battery-operated vehicles, with the two terms being used interchangeably by manufacturers and advertisers). You may also hear the term “all electric” in EV sales when it comes to certain makes and models. This is meant to differentiate those EVs from hybrid-electric vehicles which run on both battery and traditional fuel. Those are referred to as PHEVs, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles. All of these acronyms, so far, come under one giant umbrella of PEVs…plug-in electric vehicles, meaning hybrid or not, they all have one thing in common; they come with a plug and they require a charging unit to juice them up.
Power Up: What are AC Levels 1 & 2 and why do they matter in residential charging?
These are two important terms to be familiar with as you consider your home’s electric vehicle charging station. Alternating Current (AC) Level 1 and AC Level 2 equipment refers to the power output of charging stations used both residentially and in public spaces.
- AC Level 1: Typically used where there is only a 120-volt outlet available. This makes it popular for residential charging or in any location where voltage is limited, such as camp sites. This is because one end of the cord fits a standard three-prong household plug, while the other end fits the connector in the electric vehicle (known as the J1772 connector. While convenient in that regard, this easily portable option does come with a slower replenishment rate of only 2 to 5 miles of range per one hour of charging. For example, an electric vehicle plugged in to a Level 1 unit overnight (8 hours) would have stored only 40 miles of electric range. Most PEVs come standard with a Level 1 cord, but not all, so be sure to inquire to your sales professional about what additional cord or adapters you may need with the electric model you are buying.
- AC Level 2: Also common in residential charging installations, AC Level 2 combines plug-in ease with a higher replenishment rate. Level 2 works with 240 (typical residential) and 208 (typical commercial) volt options. The Level 2 cord uses the same standard J1772 connector and can recharge an electric vehicle battery at the rate of 10 to 20 miles of range per one hour of charging. For example, an 8-hour charge would provide a PEV with a top end of 160 miles of range. A notable difference from Level 1.
- Direct Current: There is a third option called Direct Current, or “DC Fast Charging”, which can provide a PEV with 60 to 80 miles of range after just 20 minutes of charging. It would require an adaptor to use with the J1772 connector and requires 208/480 voltage, higher than standard residential. This level of output is mostly found along high-traffic corridors and at common public spaces such as gas stations, dealerships, government centers, parking garages, etc. This level is rarely installed in a residential setting.
The U.S. Department of Energy provides even more information about these power levels on their website here. Your On Time Electrical professional can look at your home’s current wiring and consult on the best charging solution for you: to include updating and upgrading your home’s electric system, as needed.
EVSE and other equipment needs
The equipment used for residential charging stations is most often found inside the garage, but outdoor options are available and considered safe in the elements, even in active rainfall. The outdoor installations do require charging equipment rated for outside use. This brings us to another acronym you should know; EVSE, “electric vehicle supply equipment”.
Let’s focus on the actual box, cord, and plug that will be installed in your garage (or outside your home). These components together are often referred to as the “EVSE”. The heart of the EVSE, essentially the box on the wall, controls the charging current when a vehicle is plugged in and prevents the battery from overheating. If a spike in voltage or other malfunction is detected, the EVSE can shut the charging station down immediately to mitigate damage.
With the exception of well-known electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla, all other PEV makers have standardized their equipment to work with the J1772 connector. (If you’re thinking about buying a Tesla, good news, their vehicles come with the necessary adapter that can be used with a J1772 connector.)
Do PEVs cost less to drive versus a traditional fuel vehicle?
Short answer; yes! Exactly how much depends on the cost of a charge per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and the miles you are going. For example, if a kilowatt-hour is $0.13 and you charge an electric vehicle with a 200-mile range battery, the cost to recharge that vehicle is $9.00. These metrics are also impacted by how many days of the week you drive, the distance, highway versus city driving, etc. We don’t want to get too deep in the weeds on that calculus, but we recommend using this vehicle cost calculator on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center page.
Can I buy and install my own EVSE?
The installation of charging equipment requires compliance with a host of local, state and national codes and regulations, including permits pulled from the proper local agencies where the home is located.
Additionally, electric vehicle charging equipment is considered to be “continuous load” and subject to the National Electrical Code (NEC). To ensure a safe and code-compliant installation that protects your electric vehicle, home, and personal safety, let the experts at On Time Electrical install your EVSE. We are licensed, bonded, highly-trained, and well-versed on every level of the permitting and regulations required.
Need more reasons to consider an electric vehicle and at-home charging?
- Federal Tax Incentives: Currently, the U.S government is backing the push for tax credits related to consumer electric vehicle purchases, along with a commitment to install around 550,000 new public charging stations across the country. The U.S. Department of Energy already offers tax credits between $2,500 and $7,500 for qualified PEVs that meet certain criteria, part of which is based on battery capacity and gross vehicle weight. This credit does expire once the manufacturer sells 200,000 qualifying electric units. Tesla and General Motors have reportedly reached this threshold, but many other PEV companies have not. If you’d like to look up the particular laws and incentives for any given state, you can do that here on the DOE’s website.
- More efficient, more affordable; Standardized design in electrical vehicle plugs and their corresponding charging equipment means you can invest in one EVSE and be confident it will work with just about every electrical vehicle you might one day buy. As we’ve discussed, adaptors will cover those few models not on the J1772 connector bandwagon. Plus, those federal and state tax credits, combined with possible rebates by your local utility provider, could defray a good portion of the upfront cost.
- Be ahead of the national trend: We started with electric vehicle sales and we’ll end there, too. With PEV purchases more than doubling in the first half of 2021, no doubt that wave will continue to grow into 2022 and beyond. Cost-efficiency aside, consumers are increasingly looking to buy renewable energy options, plus homes with residential electric charging stations are enjoying increased property value and faster resale.
At On Time Electrical, our experienced technicians can provide a free consultation on how to maximize your budget with the best residential electric vehicle charging options available. We’ll also help you safely install and test your EVSE to ensure you’re compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations.
On Time Electrical customer service is available 24/7 at (704) 820-4803. You can also visit us online anytime at www.itselectriccharlotte.com. Check out our weekly and monthly specials, plus we waive the service call fee on ANY repair! Locally owned and operated, we’re On Time Electrical. It’s electric!