The key things to consider before installing your own EV charging point
Electric vehicle owners often wonder if they can install their own charging point at home. Before doing so, it is essential to consider the costs, necessary knowledge and tools required, planning permission requirements, and whether a consumer unit or fuse box upgrade is needed.
You can take the DIY route, hire a qualified electrician, or book a professional charger installation.
I’m an electrical engineer with a PhD in Electrical Power Systems. I have years of practical experience in electric distribution networks. Even I would need to carefully plan the installation process and assess whether to do it myself.
My short answer is – yes, you can install your own electric vehicle charging point. But, I recommend only doing so if you are an experienced and qualified professional. Specific regulations need to be followed, and technical knowledge is crucial.
- Installing an electric charging point at home provides convenience and potentially lowers charging costs.
- Various factors, such as charger type, permissions, and necessary upgrades, should be considered before an EV charger installation.
- The choice between DIY, professional installation, or hiring an experienced electrician depends on your knowledge, budget, and personal preferences.
The state of electric vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are considered the only appropriate replacement for conventional vehicles based on internal combustion motors.
EVs have a significant advantage over conventional vehicles due to their lower pollution levels. Furthermore, modern EVs provide equivalent or even better performance and comfort than traditional vehicles.
Despite their advantages, electric vehicles are still not as popular and widespread as expected. There are two main reasons for that.
- The cost of buying a vehicle is higher when compared to cars powered by fossil fuels.
- The charging infrastructure necessary to ensure efficient everyday use. Potential electric car owners are often put off by ‘range anxiety’ – the fear of running out of charge before reaching your destination.
Infrastructure for EVs
When we talk about EV infrastructure, we can classify it into three main divisions.
- Charging infrastructure
- Maintenance infrastructure
- Recycling infrastructure
The crucial division is in charging infrastructure. Unlike conventional vehicles (where we use petrol stations to refuel them), EVs require electrical charging points to charge their batteries.
EVs use different types of batteries that may require specialised charging points. To ensure safety and compliance, EV charging equipment adheres to established codes and standards or introduces new ones tailored for EV infrastructure.
This helps ensure that charging stations are designed to meet the needs of different EV models and provide safe, reliable charging options for users.
What is an EV charging point?
An EV charging point is a device that allows you to charge your electric vehicle at home or in public places using electricity from the grid or renewable sources.
In simple terms, an EV charging point is an electrical energy resource that charges EV batteries. In engineering terms, it is the point of connection between an electrical grid or generator on one end and EV batteries on the other.
These charging points are also known as EV chargers, EV charge points, EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment), or EVCP (electric vehicle charging point).
Depending on the required charging capacity, charging mode, and purpose (commercial or residential), different equipment may be needed inside the charging point.
There are different EV charging points, such as wall-mounted, untethered, slow, fast, and rapid. These variations depend on the power output and the connector type.
They can be classified into three levels:
- Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V household outlet and is slow but convenient for small amounts of charge.
- Level 2 charging uses a 240V connection and is the most common for residential charging.
- Fast charging is found in public stations and is the quickest way to replenish an EV’s battery during longer journeys.
Residential EV charging points offer convenience and comfort, eliminating searching for public stations. They enable overnight charging to ensure a full battery in the morning.
Some models are also compatible with renewable energy sources, promoting eco-friendly living.
Am I allowed to install an EV charging point?
As an EV owner, you can install a charging point on your property, but there are regulations to follow. Check for planning permission requirements.
Installing a charger is not simple and requires a good understanding of electrical systems. Hiring a licensed electrician can ensure safety and compliance while avoiding additional installation costs in the long run.
Planning permission requirements
Before installing your charger, check if any planning permission requirements apply to your property. Although installing electric car chargers does not usually require permission, always confirm with your local planning authorities to ensure peace of mind.
Necessary knowledge and tools for installation
Installing an EV charging point at home requires expert knowledge of your electrical systems, including your home’s wiring, electrical panel, and breaker panel.
You’ll also need the appropriate tools and wires, a dedicated breaker, and to follow local regulations. Consider hiring a professional electrician to ensure safety and compliance with electrical codes.
Installation cost and time considerations
The cost of installation can vary significantly. This variation comes from factors such as the type and power output of the EV charging point, the cable length and quality, the location and accessibility of the installation site, and the required labour and materials.
Hiring a licensed electrician may be more cost-effective in the long run, as they can ensure a safe and compliant installation without causing any damage to your electrical panel or risking voiding the warranty on your charger.
The time required for a proper installation can differ based on several factors, such as:
- Availability and expertise of a specialist installer
- Amount of preparation and planning
- Testing and commissioning requirements
The installation can take a few hours or days, depending on these factors,
Another thing to remember when considering the cost and time for an EV charging point installation is the availability of government grants or incentives. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) and the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) are initiatives that can reduce your expenses.
Considerations before installation
Before making any activity related to the EV charging point installation, it is mandatory to check the following:
- Purpose of the EV charging point
- Desired capacity and performances
- Availability of electricity grid and/or distributed (renewable) generators
- Cost-benefit analysis
Types of EV charging points
The first step in installing an EV charging point is to define its purpose, parameters (capacity and performance), and the technical conditions required for installation.
The purpose of installed EV Charging points could be classified as:
Technical specifications for residential buildings
Residential EV Charging points are usually used to charge EVs overnight and prepare them for daily activities. Technically, residential EV charging points have a limited capacity based on the active power allowed for households.
Mainly, this value varies between 15 kW and 18 kW for there-phase connected households and 9-11 kW for single-phase connected homes. The charger capacity should be selected based on this value, EV battery type, and available budget.
This decision represents the compromise between the desired charging parameters (charging time/capacity) and the available budget (price).
Technical specifications for commercial locations
Unlike residential EV charging points, commercial charging points are used near business buildings like petrol stations and supermarkets. Usually, public charging points consist of more charging terminals and are known as charging stations.
Public charging stations are primarily high-capacity plants connected to the electricity grid via independent substations, ensuring different terminals for fast and slow charging of EVs.
Modern EV charging stations are equipped with renewable energy resources (usually photovoltaic plants) to decrease the overall carbon footprint and ensure additional energy production.
The installation of commercial EV charging stations must be accompanied by applicable regulations and laws issued by local authorities, which ensure the connection to the electricity grid and commercial use of EV charging stations.
Types of chargers available for home installation
Different EV charging options for home installation include Level 2 chargers, NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 outlets, and tethered or untethered chargers. Consider the location of your charger and your vehicle’s needs to choose the right one.
Wall-mounted EV chargers are convenient and functional. They are fixed to a wall or post near your parking space. Chargers can be rated at 3kW, 7kW, or 22kW. Most are tethered, meaning they have a cable attached, making it easy to plug in and start charging.
These chargers communicate with your EV, electricity supplier, and smartphone or tablet, providing info on charging status and energy usage while enabling remote control.
However, installation and maintenance require space and planning. They may not be the smallest option, and depending on the layout of your parking area, locating the perfect spot might take some thought.
Untethered chargers offer flexibility and tidiness as they don’t come with an attached cable but require you to supply your own cable that matches your EV’s connector type.
However, you’ll need to monitor your cable collection and ensure they’re always in good condition.
Standard electric car charger installation process
So, you’re considering installing a charge point at home and wondering about the standard installation process.
Great! Let me walk you through it step by step, focusing on safety concerns, access, and complying with all necessary regulations.
- Check your home’s electrical service before installing an EV charging station. Hire a licensed electrician to ensure safety regulations and electrical codes are followed. A 240-volt outlet, like a NEMA 14-50 or any IP65 outlet, is typically required. You may need a panel upgrade if your current electrical panel can’t accommodate it.
- Consider the location of your home charging point. Preferably, it should be close to your EV, so a garage or off-street parking like a driveway would be ideal.
- Choose a reliable and up-to-date charging point compatible with your EV. A competent electrician can install a separate circuit breaker for the charger, ensuring safety standards are met.
- Regular inspections are advised to keep your EV charger in good working order and prevent safety hazards. It’s important to follow regulations and standards specific to your location, which a licensed electrician can help with.
In short, you technically can install your own EV charging point at home – just remember to consider safety requirements, regulations, and the value of hiring a qualified electrician to ensure everything runs smoothly. Happy charging!
Consumer unit/fuse box upgrade
Upgrading the consumer unit or fuse box is essential to handle the additional load of an EV charging point and provide adequate protection. A separate consumer unit or an RCD/RCBO is crucial for a safe setup.
Consult a qualified electrician for an upgrade if necessary. Safety always comes first with electrical installations.
Qualified electrician, professional installation or DIY?
When considering installing an EV charging point at home, there are two options: DIY or hiring an electrician.
Both have pros and cons.
- DIY requires electrical knowledge and compliance with relevant standards and regulations.
- Hiring an electrician requires verifying credentials and securing written quotes and contracts.
Whichever route you choose, ensuring compliance with regulations and paying attention to detail is essential for a safe and efficient outcome.
Electrical outlets and street parking considerations
For off-street parking, like a driveway or garage, a weatherproof and secure 240-volt NEMA 14-50 outlet is ideal for EV charging.
However, planning permission and compliance with local authorities are necessary for on-street parking.
Upgrading the electrical service might be necessary for home EV charging, and consulting a licensed electrician is highly recommended for system upgrades and safety considerations.
Finally, the cost-benefit analysis is the last but often the most critical factor when considering the EV charging point installation.
This analysis is a procedure to determine whether installing an EV charging point offers a financial benefit.
The Return on Investment (ROI) factor is the primary indicator of this benefit, and it considers all the costs associated with installing and maintaining the EV charging point. This includes investment, amortisation, and maintenance costs. The ROI factor reflects the speed at which the investor can recover the total investment.
To sum up, installing your own EV charging point is possible and feasible, but it is a serious procedure and investment.
Before proceeding with the installation, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive analysis that covers several essential factors, such as the purpose, capacity, grid availability, and cost-benefit assessment. If the research supports the entire investment, the next step towards equipment procurement and installation can be initiated.
The entire process should be carried out by authorised and knowledgeable personnel to prevent design failures and ensure optimal charging performance for the end user.
Frequently asked questions
Your garage is the perfect place to install an EV charger if you have one. It provides shelter and security for the charger, and you just need to ensure enough space for your vehicle and electrical wiring to accommodate the charger.
But what if you don’t have a garage? Your driveway can be just as good if you park your EV there regularly. When selecting a spot in your driveway, choose an area close to your home’s electrical panel. This would minimise wiring costs and make the installation process more straightforward. Keep in mind that a weatherproof enclosure or proper grounding may be needed for safety.
You can use a charging cable connected to a standard power outlet to charge your EV at home without a garage or driveway. Some charging points or cabling can be connected to a standard power outlet in your home. No electrical expertise is required. Ensure your charging cable is long enough and free of tripping hazards.
Ultimately, the ideal location of your charging point is guided by factors like convenience, safety, and cost. Think about what works best for you and your home setup, and don’t forget to double-check the installation requirements for your chosen charging point.
Charging time for an electric vehicle (EV) at home depends on factors like battery size, remaining charge, charger type and power output, and electricity supply.
A higher power output charger leads to a faster charging rate. Some EVs have a maximum charging rate, which limits how quickly they can accept a charge.
Charging your electric car at home costs depends on factors such as EV battery size and capacity, charging point output, and tariff. Charging during off-peak hours can save money.
As an example. a 7kW charger can cost about £4.48 at 14p/kWh or £1.60 at an off-peak rate of 5p/kWh to charge a 40kWh battery from 0% to 80%.