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Electric Cars and the Home Electrical System

Charging Electric Car
The number electric vehicles (EV) sold across the globe in one year reached 750,000 in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency. This brings the grand total of EVs to over two million vehicles around the planet. Unlike hybrids that use a combination of energy sources, EVs require an electrical charge to run, so you may need to update your home electrical system.
If you're considering an EV, take a look at what you need to know about charging the car at home.

Charging Factors

There isn't one catch-all way to charge an electric car. While most major cities have charging stations, many EV owners need to also charge their vehicles at home. Home charging is especially necessary if you don't live near reliable charging stations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 80 percent of EV owners charge at home.
When deciding how, when, and where you'll charge your car, several factors may influence your decision-making process. One of the primary factors is the car itself and it's driving range from one charge. Other factors include how far you drive, how often you drive, and what type of driving you do (city/local versus highway).
Along with these factors, you also need to consider your home's electrical system and what upgrades you need to make to be able to charge your car at home. The specifics involved in these decisions depend on what type of charger you want to install, what your current wiring includes, and what your budget is.

Charging Quickly

Overall, three different types of EV chargers exist. Level 3 chargers, also known as DC Fast Chargers, are the fastest option. Not only does this option charge your car quickly, but it also provides the vehicle a longer travel distance.
However, these chargers use a high voltage and can harm the car's battery if overused. Also, given the voltage required (a 480 V AC input) and the high price tag that comes with installation, these typically aren't home electrical choices.

Charging Economically

When spending tens of thousands of dollars on a home charging station isn't in your home improvement budget, you have options. A Level 1 charger is the most economical choice. Unlike a Level 3 charger (which requires a serious electrical system upgrade), the Level 1 version uses a 120 V AC plug.
If you're not familiar with your home's electrical system, the 120 V AC plug goes into what you probably think of as a typical outlet. These receptacles are common and easy for a licensed electrical contractor to install. The key when installing this outlet is finding a space near to where you'll charge your car. Ideally, you'll need an outlet in your garage within reach of the car. If you don't have a garage, you'll require an exterior outlet near your driveway or one that provides easy access.

Charging in the Middle

Charging your car quickly has its obvious advantages. You can drive longer after a shorter wait. If a Level 1 charger takes too long or doesn't provide your car with enough charge to get you where you're going (without having to stop at public charging stations on the way), you can install a middle option.
Level 2 charging requires an upgrade to a 240-volt power source. You may already have some 240-volt receptacles in your home. These typically include your clothes dryer's receptacle, a room air conditioner's outlet or the outlet that your kitchen's range plugs into.
Before attempting to use an existing outlet, have a qualified professional check the receptacle and install any necessary charging equipment for you. Just because you have a 240 line doesn't mean you can charge the car without making changes. Never attempt to install equipment or do this work yourself. This can result in a serious health hazard, a fire risk, or damage to your car.
Do you need a new outlet for your new EV? Contact Lee Electrical Enterprises for more information.