Charging is a crucial concern among new electric vehicle (EV) owners, whether plug-in hybrid or full electric. Fear of inconvenience is one of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption of EVs.
Many are concerned that there aren’t enough public charging stations in the area — and even if there are, should they be relied upon when the need to recharge arises?
An EV charging station at home can solve this challenge of inconvenience, but are these systems safe? Absolutely — as long as they’re installed correctly.
The first thing EV owners should consider is how they will charge their vehicles. A licensed electrician can evaluate a home’s EV charging situation and determine the following:
- The vehicle’s charging requirements, which vary depending on the make, model and type.
- The location of the panel and vehicle, including the distance from the panel to the garage, the degree of difficulty and whether the garage is attached or detached.
- The capacity and condition of your home electrical system to identify concerns.
Know your options
There are two common types of home charging options. Level 1 charging is a straightforward plug-in of the EV into any standard 120-volt electrical outlet. This requires no electrical modification, and it normally takes 14-20 hours to fully charge the EV.
Some EV manufacturers and sellers provide inaccurate information on charging, suggesting that a standard 120-volt outlet is all that’s needed. Unfortunately, this degree of charging may not always match the driver’s daily travel needs.
Level 2 charging units are sold separately from the vehicle. These units must be installed by a licensed electrician, because they plug into a 240-volt outlet and charge much faster, typically 4-8 hours.
Check with your electric cooperative and a licensed electrician before modifying your electrical system or installing a charging station. An electrician will need to make sure your home’s wiring complies with local, state and national codes, and a permit may be needed prior to installation.
Be sure to select charging equipment that is certified to meet safety standards. Plug Level 1 EV chargers directly into an outlet designed to handle the amperage of the charging device. Never use a multi-plug adapter or extension cord. Charging cables are tripping hazards, so be aware of the cable’s location.
Purchase a Level 2 charging device certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. This means the device has gone through rigorous testing and certification by a third-party company with the knowledge and pedigree in certifying EV technologies.
EV chargers are thought to be extremely safe, but follow these fundamental guidelines to further reduce potential hazards:
- Place all charging components out of the reach of children.
- Maintain the components of your charging station according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Cover the EV charging station outlet to prevent water exposure. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure it is safe to charge your EV in wet conditions.
- Most charging stations are equipped with safety devices such as ground-fault circuit interrupters, which will identify electrical shorts and stop power to the charger to minimize risks. There is a low risk of electric shock, but automatic safeguards are built into the equipment.
Remember to contact your electric co-op before installation. They can answer any questions you have and provide additional information on EV programs and rates.