Things to know before installing an electric vehicle charger in your new custom home in Winter Park, Orlando and Central Florida.
Attempting to charge an electric vehicle (EV) from an ordinary 110 volt outlet takes longer than most people want to wait. A complete charge of even a modest range EV usually takes more than one night. When our customers ask for an EV charger, they are usually referring to a Level 2 setup which is 220 volts and commonly 50 amps.
We've installed several EV chargers now and have learned some things we want to share. Keep in mind that this information is for new home customers and that adding an EV charger to an existing home could be much more challenging.
Beware of misleading information that can be found online.
After a little online research before writing this article, I discovered some pretty misleading information from a few sources, some of which are well known publishers. Most of the articles address adding an EV charger to an existing home which actually makes the information more disturbing. Essentially they describe costs and installation requirements that are overly optimistic and potentially overlook some serious considerations. I suspect such articles were written by unqualified authors.
Pick a good spot to install the charger.
The cords are bulky and difficult to roll up neatly. You will need some sort of bracket to hang the cord not unlike something used to hold a garden hose. Upfront planning can prevent exposed wiring or conduit.
Also consider where the charging port on your car is located. How far will the cord reach when it's extended and will it be in the way when it's in use. Since it stays plugged into the car for a long time, it would be inconvenient to step over the cord to get by, plus there's a chance of tripping on it.
There may be rebates and incentives available.
Your local electric utility provider may offer to offset some of the cost. Their motivation is usually related to controlling power consumption during high-demand periods so a side effect may be that they require you to sign up for a monitoring and load interruption program. Make sure you research their requirements and provide them to your builder. Sometimes they require the EV charger to be hard-wired instead of the plug-in type.
There are also state and national tax rebates and credits available. Again, there is some research necessary but sometimes these programs are very beneficial.
Compare pricing and features of the EV charging units.
Most of our customers have purchased their own EV charging units and asked us to install it for them. Most are not difficult to attach to the wall and plug-in. The product variety has changed rapidly in just the last few years. A search on Amazon reveals numerous known and unknown brands with price ranges between about $300 and $800. There are some that are even less but I'm a bit skeptical of why. Do your research.
Make sure you know what style of plug your car requires. The different plug designs are starting to standardize some and there are adapters available but I wouldn't want to use one every time I charge if the correct plug is available.
The power supply is not inexpensive and there may be some additional hidden costs.
For a new home, the large capacity wiring, a good quality outlet and 50 amp breaker will add about $500 to $800 however there are some potential additional costs as well. When the electrical system for a new home is designed, the power demand (amperage) of all the electrical components is combined to determine the size of the electrical service for the entire house. For a home that would normally have a 200 amp service, you can see how adding 50 amps might put you over the limit and increase the requirement to the next size, typically 300 amps. But there's more.
We frequently build new homes in older existing neighborhoods. On a recent project, the old house we demolished had a 125 amp electric service and that is probably what most of the other existing homes nearby had as well. Our customers initially requested two EV chargers for their garage and this started the snowball rolling down the hill. The electrician informed us that the house would need to be upgraded to a 300 amp service but it didn't stop there. The electric utility company also required a very substantial extra charge to change out the transformer that supplied power to this home and three neighbors. As you might guess, our customers decided they were fine with a single EV charger. We did find one that can charge two cars at once but regulates the current draw to not exceed 50 amps.
On a side note, during a discussion with the engineer for the electric company, he said, "if too many more people want to add EV chargers to their homes, we are going to need to upgrade the entire electric subsystem for this neighborhood". That really got me thinking...
Little is more meaningful and personal than a home, and the experience of designing and building your own home should be rewarding and enjoyable. Choosing a builder is difficult. The process of designing and building a home involves numerous decisions about components, systems and services selected from criteria that includes price, quality, appearance and performance. How can you possibly understand everything unless the builder is willing to share all of the information?
Allow us to introduce you to The GCH Way of building your next home. Please let us know if you have any questions. Keith Groninger