ElectricalHome ImprovementElectrical Vehicle Charging Stations and Connections

August 26, 2021

 

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If you’ve been watching and listening to the buzz coming out of the auto industry lately, that humming sound you hear is electrical. Almost every automaker has either introduced new electric vehicles (EVs) or has announced plans to do so. Some car companies are even claiming that half or more of the cars, trucks, and SUVs they sell in 2030 will be electric. Around your neighborhood and family, you probably know several people who’ve given up the gas pump and already purchased an EV. If they’re like typical EV owners, they sing the praises of their new rides. According to most owners, EVs are smooth operating, very quiet, reliable, and — perhaps best of all — they never require their drivers to stop at a gas station. All of those features are definite benefits, but the last one, never stopping for gas, has a unique implication. The electricity to recharge the vehicle has to come from somewhere. Unless your plan is to swap short stops at the gas station for lengthy sessions at the public charging station, you’re going to need to recharge your EV at home. And, typically, that means you’ll need a home EV charging station.

What is an electric vehicle charging station?

Just like your cell phone, an EV has a battery that makes it operate. If there is no juice (electricity) stored in your phone’s battery, it won’t work. Similarly, if there is no electricity stored in an EV’s battery pack, it won’ t go anywhere. And just like when you use your smartphone, the electricity stored in the EV’s battery is consumed when you use the car. You must replenish that electricity by charging the car’s battery. We charge our smartphone by plugging it in. But in reality, you use a charging block, or USB receptacle, that converts the 120-volt alternating current (AC) available from a typical wall outlet into the type of energy that your phone can use to charge its battery.  That conversion from normal power into a form that an EV’s battery pack can use is exactly what an electric vehicle charging station does. It takes the type of electrical energy available in your house — 120 volts or 240 volts AC — and converts it into a current flow the EV battery system can accept.

What types of electric vehicle charging stations are there?

There are three basic types of electric vehicle charging stations, which are often referred to as “electric vehicle service equipment” or EVSE. They range from basic and simple to more complex than you would ever consider installing in your home garage.

What is a Level 1 Charging Station?

A Level 1 charging station is the most simple of the three types. The charging cable that comes with the EV is basically a Level 1 charger. These chargers use standard house electrical current, 120 volts, from a standard grounded receptacle using a common three-prong plug. The simplicity and low initial cost of Level 1 chargers is appealing but their downside is very slow, sometimes agonizingly slow, battery recharge times. A rule of thumb for recharging an EV using a Level 1 charger is four miles of battery range for every hour of charging. As an example, if your EV has 200 miles of range on a full battery, it can take 50 hours to fully recharge the car.  Since most of us drive our car every day and there aren’t 50 hours in a day, this can be problem that gets EV drivers stranded. At MVP, we recommend using Level 1 charging solutions only with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). With a typical PHEV, you can easily recharge the battery overnight.

What is a Level 2 Charging Station?

Next up on the EV charging station scale is the Level 2 charger. Level 2 chargers use 240-volt circuits.  This is the kind of electrical circuit that is normally used for electric clothes dryers, ranges, hot tubs, etc.  The vast majority of people who install a Level 2 charging station in their home hire an electrician to run a 240-volt circuit to their garage. Once the power is run to the garage, EV owners can have the electrician hard wire the charging station into that circuit. Another option is for them to plug a portable Level 2 charger into a special 240-volt socket in their garage, while also having the ability to take the charger on the road with them if they desire. Of course, hiring an electrician and changing the home’s electrical system can be a costly. But the big advantage is much faster recharging rates that speed recharge times. A Level 2 charging station will often recharge an EV battery in a fraction of the time it would take with a Level 1 charging unit, making it the best charging station for people who buy a purely electric
car. For an EV with 200 miles of range, you can recharge the battery in about 12 hours or less, which is suitable for most drivers. Use a Level 2 charging station with a PHEV, and you can recharge in a couple of hours.

What is a Level 3 Charging Station?
The third type of electric car charging station is a Level 3, and it is designed for commercial use.  Full installation of a Level 3 charging station could easily cost $50,000. But even if you have that kind of money to spend, it is unlikely that your electricity-supplying utility would authorize a Level 3 charger installation in your home because the electrical grid in many residential areas won’t support it. MVP has extensive knowledge and experience in wiring level two EV charging stations.  We know the codes, requirements and construction in your area

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