With Level 1 charging you simply plug your electric vehicle (EV) into any standard 110 or 120 Volt AC outlet. It’s convenient as can be and makes some folks ask why you would ever need any other way to charge an electric car. The reason is that Level 1 charging is slow. For someone in a hurry, painfully slow. It can take up to 20 hours to fully charge a spent battery using Level 1 charging. Longer (by a wide margin) if it’s really cold out. Because of that we have 2 other ways to go about charging our EV’s: Level 2 Charger Installation and Level 3 Charger Installation. In this article we’re going to take an in depth look at Level 2 charging.
A Closer Look at Level 2 Charging Installation
Level 1 charging may well be convenient and cost effective but it suffers from being slow. This is why most public charging stations are 240 Volt Level 2 stations. With a 240 Volt Level 2 charging station charging times are drastically reduced. Whereas an EV with a 100 mile range and a spent battery might take 20 hours to recharge using a Level 1 setup it can be expected to fully recharge in just 3 or 4 hours using a Level 2 charging station. That’s the kind of difference people notice.
Level 2 charging is often characterized as “opportunity” charging. That’s because Level 2 charging stations can often be found at malls, restaurants, public car parks and office buildings. People then take advantage of the “opportunity” to charge their EV while they’re shopping or eating dinner or working. So why aren’t home charging stations level 2? A growing number are. And we’ll look at Level 2 charging stations for the home now.
Installing a Level 2 Charging Station in Your Home
Because Level 1 simply don’t charge fast enough for people who drive their car long distances on a regular basis, many such people have taken to installing Level 2 charging stations in their home. This is especially true for people who have true EVs and not hybrids.
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Installation Factor 1: Compatibility of Charger
Unlike Level 1 charging which requires nothing on the home end except a 110 or 120 Volt AC outlet Level 2 charging requires the installation of a special 240 Volt electrical charging station. If you have a modern house the electrician may be able to simply convert an existing 120 Volt outlet in your garage to serve this charging station.
If you have an older home however, the electrician may need to run a new dedicated line into the garage. This, of course, will increase the cost of the installation by a significant margin. However, tax credits and rebates may be available that can help you offset the added cost.
In other cases the service panel may not have the space necessary to accommodate additional breakers. If that’s the case with your home you’ll need a new electrical panel. Again, this will increase the cost of the installation. You may be tempted to jury rig your existing electric panel to fit your needs, but try and resist that temptation. An overloaded panel could cause a devastating house fire.
Installation Factor 2: Placement of EV Charger
Once you have worked out compatibility issues and are able to install a Level 2 charging station you’ll want to consider placement. In the vast majority of cases people will install the charging station in their garage where it’s shielded from the elements. And this is the case even if the charging station is rated for outdoor use (and most are). Keeping it indoors will subject it to less abuse and help ensure a longer life.
Most Level 2 charging stations will come with a cable that’s anywhere from 18 to 25 feet long. This should be plenty long if you place your charging station properly. Nonetheless, before placing the charging station measure exactly how far it will be from the contact point on the car to the plug-in point on the station and adjust the location accordingly. The last thing you want is a kind of tight rope between your car and the charging station. Try to place the charging station on the same side of the car as the port. And, if possible, in such a way that you can reach the driveway outside the garage door if necessary.
Ask the pros at Hotwire Electric for more specific information regarding the installation of a Level 2 charging station in your home.
Installation Factor 3: Design
With some Level 2 charging stations you simply wrap the cable around the box when you’re finished. Others supply a hook that hangs from the bottom of the charging unit. You coil up the cable and hang it on the hook. Most people prefer this type of design where they can hang the coiled cable from the hook. But the choice is yours.