Considering an electric vehicle? Here’s how to prep your home for one.


Considering an electric vehicle? Here’s how to prep your home for one.

What it takes to install an EV charger, how much it costs and when it’s just not possible

(iStock/Chloe Meister/Washington Post illustration)

So, you’re thinking about buying a Tesla (or Chevy Bolt, or Nissan Leaf, or one of the other options among the growing electric vehicle market). You know that emissions from gas-powered cars are contributing to a warming world. You know that, over the summer, Congress passed climate legislation with tax credits that will — at least eventually — make some electric vehicles easier to afford.

But now there’s a more fundamental issue to grapple with: What will it take, and how much will it cost, to set your house up for an EV?

Do I need to buy a charger before I get an electric vehicle?

Actually, probably not. Almost all electric vehicles come with what’s called a Level 1 charger. These chargers plug directly into a standard outlet. But although they require minimal effort and money, they also charge a car’s battery at a slow rate. You might be able to add dozens of miles of range with an overnight charge, but it will take more than a day to fully charge an empty battery. You also need to make sure that your home’s electrical system can handle the additional burden of charging a car on top of, say, doing laundry or using a microwave oven. (More on that below.)

When you hear about installing an EV charger at a home, those conversations are mostly about Level 2 chargers. Because they’re more powerful, consumers can fill up their battery overnight and get dozens of miles of range added by plugging the car in for an hour. Level 2 chargers require a different kind of plug (think of the outlet that your washer and dryer use), and you’ll need to call an electrician to get one set up.

What the EV tax credit means for you

“Whether or not you’re going to absolutely want to go to a Level 2 has a lot to do with how far you drive every day,” says Simon Ouellette, CEO of Mogile Technologies, an EV research company in Montreal. Another consideration is whether you have other opportunities to charge your vehicle. “If there’s a lot of [public] chargers near your office or on the street where you live, … then the urgency isn’t there in the same way it is if you’re really going to be depending on your own residence to charge your car.” (According to data from the Energy Department, nearly 4 out of every 5 public chargers are Level 2.)

Level 3 chargers are the fastest, but because they require so much power, it’s rare to see one installed at a private residence.

How do I know if my home can accommodate an electric vehicle?

First, the bad news: If you rely on street parking, your home probably can’t accommodate an EV. As long as you’ve got a driveway, a garage or somewhere else to store your car, you can install an electric vehicle charger. However, “some installations are more complicated than others,” says Caradoc Ehrenhalt, founder and CEO of EV Safe Charge, a charging solutions company in Los Angeles.

In general, it is much easier and less expensive if you’re able to park the car close to an existing power source. These days, you can buy chargers that come with about 25 feet of cable, and as long as you can park within that distance, you should be in good shape.

But some homeowners aren’t so lucky. Ehrenhalt gives the example of a detached garage that isn’t connected to a power source and that’s located far from the house. To install an EV charger in that situation, you’d need to connect the garage to the property’s electrical panel. That could involve trenching and running the cable underground, even cutting through the surface of the driveway before refilling and recovering it. In extreme cases, the process can take several days.

If your electrical panel is in the basement, your ceiling is another factor, Ouellette says. You may need to drill holes through it to run the wiring.

Let us know your questions about caring for a home.

The other potentially pricey quandary for prospective EV owners is whether your home’s electrical system is equipped to handle the additional load of charging a car. A licensed electrician can help you answer that question. Harvey Faulkner, a master electrician and owner of Focus Trade Services in the D.C. area, says one major hint that you’ll need an upgrade is if you look at your electrical panel and it doesn’t have any room for additional breakers.

How much does it cost to have an EV charger installed?

Installation costs vary widely, depending on where you live and how complicated the job is.

“If you had a panel literally right next to where you want to park your car and you’re putting a charger in that’s just a few feet away, that type of installation by a licensed electrician, including permitting, might generally start at $500,” Ehrenhalt says. But most installations, he says, end up costing between $1,500 and $3,000.

That total will balloon considerably if your electrical panel or underlying electrical service (the amount of electricity that can be supplied to your house by the public utility) needs upgrading.

An EV charging station “is basically just a dedicated line” of power, explains Michael Anthony Harris, an electrician with Harris Electric Company of Washington. “And in order to run a dedicated line, your panel has got to be able to support it.”

If you need a new panel, expect to pay an additional $2,000 to $4,000 on top of the cost of having the EV charger installed. If you need a full electrical service upgrade, expect to pay an additional $5,000 to $8,000, Harris says.

Then, of course, there’s the cost of the charger itself. With the exception of Tesla’s Supercharger, which is compatible only with Teslas, all Level 1 and Level 2 chargers available in North America have a standard plug that will work with any electric car. From there, the options are differentiated by size, charging speed, cord length and whether they connect to WiFi, among other features. Some have hoods or covers to protect them from snow, rain and ice. They can cost between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars. One popular model, the JuiceBox 40, costs around $700, and another oft-recommended charger, the ChargePoint Home Flex, is $749. You’ll want to talk to an electrician about which one is best for you.

Tips for making your home more energy efficient

And don’t forget about your monthly electric bill, which is bound to increase. Still, once the upfront expenses of buying the car and installing the charger are behind you, the gas savings will quickly add up. Plus, electric vehicles have fewer maintenance costs than gas-powered ones, according to the Energy Department, because their batteries and motors need less attention, and you don’t have to worry about changing the oil.

Can I install an EV charger if I live in a condo building?

If your building doesn’t already have an EV charging station, this is where things can get thorny. “There are so many variables that come into play,” says Ouellette, including how people pay for electricity in the building and the rules that govern common space. “It’s not just a variable of what’s the physical reality of your condo and all that. But it’s also who’s on the board, and are they problem solvers?”

Even if everyone can come to an agreement, you still need to determine how much power the building can accommodate. If, for example, the building can handle two EV chargers on top of powering the elevators and lights, how will those chargers be shared? If not, does the building want to pay for upgrading the electrical panel or service? Ouellette notes that it usually loops back around to the question of the building’s bylaws and rules, and “that could be a long loop.”

More on home improvement and homeownership

Do you have questions about home improvement or homeownership? We’re here to help with your next home project.

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Here’s how many EV chargers the US has – and how many it needs

Avatar for Michelle Lewis | Jan 9 2023 – 3:34 pm PT

There are currently more than 160,000 EV chargers in the United States. Here’s how many the auto industry data analysts at S&P Global Mobility think the country will need to install by 2030.

How many EV chargers the US has

S&P Global Mobility estimates that there are presently around 16,822 Tesla Superchargers and Tesla destination chargers in the United States, along with 126,500 Level 2 and 20,431 Level 3 charging ports.

The number of charging ports increased more in 2022 than in the preceding three years combined, with about 54,000 Level 2 and 10,000 Level 3 chargers added during 2022.

S&P Global Mobility says registration data shows that there are 1.9 million EVs on US roads – 0.7% of the 281 million vehicles in operation – as of October 31, 2022.

New light-vehicle registration share for EVs reached 5.2% over the first 10 months of 2022, and rapid growth is going to happen, thanks to consumer demand, US government policy that incentivizes EV purchases like the Inflation Reduction Act, and increasing interest and investment from the financial sector.

How many EV chargers the US needs

EV market share for new vehicles is likely to reach 40% by 2030, at which point the total number of EVs in operation could reach 28.3 million, according to S&P Global Mobility forecasts.

The group expects that there will need to be about 700,000 Level 2 and 70,000 Level 3 chargers deployed, including both public and restricted-use facilities.

So, in order to match the charging needs of all those EVs, the United States will need to quadruple the number of EV chargers between 2022 and 2025 and grow more than eight-fold by 2030, even taking home charging into account, according to the analysts.

By 2027, the analysts expect that there will be a need for about 1.2 million Level 2 chargers and 109,000 Level 3 chargers deployed nationally.

And looking to 2030, with the assumption that there will be 28.3 million EVs on US roads, a total of around 2.13 million Level 2 and 172,000 Level 3 public chargers will be required, in addition to home EV chargers.

Where EV chargers are going

As of September 27, 2022, all 50 states plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico have approved state plans under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure formula program [Updated January 18, 2023]. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has made available $5 billion over five years to be spent on EV charging infrastructure across the US. President Joe Biden has pledged that the federal government will pay for the installation of 500,000 chargers.

The four states with the highest number of EVs in operation and highest new-vehicle registrations traditionally are California, Florida, Texas, and New York.

Because these states all take a different approach to emissions reduction – that is, California and New York prioritize it and Florida and Texas don’t – S&P Global Mobility attributes this growth to the size of their markets.

California is in the lead by far, with nearly 37% of total EVs in operation and nearly 36% of total US light-vehicle EV registrations from Jan-Sept 2022.


Florida sits in a distant second with 7.4% of light-vehicle EV registrations and 6.9% of EVs in operation. Texas comes in at 5.8% of EVs in operation and 6.4% of EV light-vehicle registrations.

As an example of what is and what’s needed at the state level, Texas currently has about 5,600 Level 2 non-Tesla and 900 Level 3 chargers, but S&P Global Mobility forecasts that the Lone Star State will need around 87,500 Level 2 and 7,800 level 3 chargers to support the expected 1.1 million EVs in operation by 2027.

Eighty-five percent of Level 3 chargers and 89% of Level 2 chargers are currently located in the 384 US Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) as defined by the US Census Bureau. For Tesla owners, 82% of Tesla Superchargers and 83% of its destination chargers are in MSAs.

S&P Global Mobility analyst Ian McIlravey said:

The focus on urban areas follows where EVs are today, but distribution will need to be much wider as vehicles in operation grow, and consumers need to charge along their routes.

And Graham Evans, S&P Global Mobility research and analysis director, said:

For mass-market acceptance of BEVs to take hold, the recharging infrastructure must do more than keep pace with EV sales.

It must surprise and delight vehicle owners who will be new to electrification, so that the process seems seamless and perhaps even more convenient than their experience with gasoline refueling, with minimal compromise on the vehicle ownership experience.

Electrek’s Take

What the US really needs is an increase in the density of DC fast chargers, and the strategic location of said DC fast chargers in convenient, well-lit places.

It’s not useful to have hundreds of Level 2 chargers along an interstate. People who are road tripping need convenient fast chargers right off the road. (Oh, and to state the obvious, they need to be in working order.)

This is why Tesla Superchargers are great. Anyone who has used them on the New Jersey Turnpike, for example, knows what I’m talking about. You pull straight off, they’re in a conspicuous, well-lit area, and there are food and restrooms right next to them. They’re safe and convenient. Within 20 minutes you’re back on the road.

Compare that to my two-hour road trip last week from Boston to Vermont in my VW ID.4. Logan Airport has 6.5 kW EV charging ports in the parking garage. They’re free, and that’s nice, but you’re not allowed to leave your car plugged in while you’re traveling.

What in the hell are you going to do with a 6.5 kW charging port at the airport? Sleep in your car after you return?

Airports really ought to provide each EV parking spot with a Level 1 outlet that you can just plug your car into while you travel. That would be a dream.

So I drove to Somerville, just a couple miles from Logan, to a set of three 150 kW Electrify America charging ports. I had to put my credit card into the kiosk to get into the parking garage where they were located. I had to search for them. They were isolated, near no bathrooms, and it was 10 p.m. It was far from an ideal experience. Rollout of new EV charging ports needs to correct this situation.

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