Most people who purchase home charging station are not keen on messing with high-voltage wiring and spending their valuable time trying to figure out how to connect their new charger. Instead, they seek the help of a qualified electrician.
Unfortunately, professional installation of an electric charger can be as expensive as the charger itself. It all depends on a number of different factors, which we are going to explain in this article.
Our goal is to help you determine beforehand what exactly will you need from the electrician, and what are some of the things that affect the final price.
What Am I Paying for?
Nobody likes to pay more than what is really necessary. Dealing with professionals who have detailed and intimate knowledge of their industry can be intimidating, and you can easily start feeling like you are being taken for a ride. It is your responsibility to equip yourself with some basic knowledge that you can use to assess how qualified a particular electrician is.
Types of EV Chargers
The type of EV charger is the key factor that determines what exactly will the electrician have to do.
Level 1 Chargers – These are the most basic chargers out there. They are issued by most electric car manufacturers as a part of a basic accessories kit, but their usefulness is limited. The biggest advantage is the fact that they use 120V and plug into a regular household outlet. As such, they don’t require any special installation. The only possible exception is if your house has a very weak circuit breaker. In such case, an electrician may suggest replacing it with one rated for higher amperage. The circuit breaker itself costs just a few dollars and the electrician shouldn’t need to spend a long time installing it.
Level 2 Chargers – This is what most electric vehicle owners are interested in. Level 2 chargers use 240V and are powered from a dryer outlet. They require a dedicated circuit breaker rated at 30-40A to charge using their maximum potential power output. Depending on how your current electrical wiring looks like, the electrician may need to install a brand new circuit breaker and run a new conduit from it all the way to the station. This, of course, greatly increases the cost.
Hardwire – Most Level 2 chargers can be installed either in a hardwire configuration or as plug-ins that connect to the dryer outlet just like your dryer. The hardwire installation doesn’t require a compatible outlet, as it connects directly to the circuit breaker. You can save some money, but you will lose the ability to easily disconnect the charger and transport it somewhere else. Well, you will be able to do all these things, but you will first need to pay an electrician to disconnect the unit.
Plug-in – If you already have a compatible dryer outlet in place (a NEMA 14-50 or similar), your electrician will most likely just have to hang the charger on the wall and check if everything works correctly. This is, by far, the cheapest way how you can install an electric vehicle charger in your garage.
Scope of Work
Not all electricians or EVSE installation companies offer the same services. General electrician tasks can include everything from the assessment of the location to obtaining required permits, completing the installation itself, testing the performance of the installed charger, configuring management and monitoring services, and many others.
Control the Cost
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to keep the cost low. Your own individual situation will dictate just how much you can affect the final price. We advise you not to compromise on safety or convenience just to save a few dollars. Your larger initial investment will pay off in the long-run.
Keep it short – You should always try to install the EVSE as close to the electric panel as possible. The shorter the circuit; the less money you have to pay.
Leave the wire exposed – If you don’t mind the visible wires, consider keeping everything exposed. When you need to do something later, you won’t have to cut holes in your drywall.
Avoid extensive trenching – Outdoor installations can be very costly if you decide to dig through concrete or asphalt. Running the conduit through dirt or grass is almost always preferable.
Overview of the Installation Process
Most installations can be broken down into three distinct phases:
- Initial assessment – The installation company will visit the location and help you decide which charging station best fits your needs and what the installation will require.
- Installation – Level 2 charging stations typically require the installation of a new circuit breaker and routing of wire or conduit from it to the charging station. This varies from station to station and from installation to installation. Certain jobs may also involve the installation of a NEMA outlet, trenching, mounting of the charger to the wall, and so on.
- Testing – When everything is in place, it’s time to perform final testing to ensure that everything works properly. Most electricians will use a special tool to confirm to confirm that all systems are in working order.
Is Professional Installation Worth the Price?
The single biggest benefit that comes with a licensed electrician is the peace of mind you get. Such electrician is familiar with all requirements of the station, is able to recommend you how the station should be installed, and, most importantly, guarantees that everything is going to work as expected without any safety hazards.
The cost will unavoidable vary depending on many factors, such as the distance that wires need to run to the breaker box, labor rates of the electrician, and the scope of the project. While some jobs can cost only $100-200, most will hover around the price of the EVSE itself. This may seem like a lot, but you need to remember that you are making a long-term investment that will serve you for many years into the future.