Juicing up – choices for home charging grow with EV sales
October 30, 2017 Louis Hansen
[image / Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group
Ethan Ashley of EVCharge4U routes conduit piping used to set up an electric
vehicle charger in a home in Alamo, California, on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017
Paul Nijssen of EVCharge4U installs a new electrical panel for an electric
vehicle charger in a home in Alamo, California, on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.
Nijssen is the co-founder of EVCharge4U
As electric vehicle sales expand, new owners might dream of breezing past
But they still need to set up their own electric fueling station at home.
That means evaluating your house, consulting an electrician and figuring out
the right hardware to charge the new EV. The good news, experts say, is that
owners of plug-in vehicles have a growing choice of products for home
Enid Joffe, president of Clean Fuel Connection in Southern California, said
consumers have seen prices for hardware drop as electric vehicle sales grow.
“Now, they have a lot of options,” she said. More vehicles and equipment to
support them are on the way, she said. “We’re either at the tipping point or
near the tipping point.”
Analysts predict the market for electric vehicles will continue to expand —
although it’s simply a sliver of the 17 million vehicles sold in the U.S.
About 450,000 people placed $1,000 deposits for a Tesla Model 3, the Palo
Alto automaker’s entry into the lower-cost EV market. GM’s all-electric Bolt
hatchback won accolades from the automotive press and has seen sales rise
since its release in California and Oregon last year. And every major
automaker has launched plans to electrify some or all off their fleet in the
California remains the top market, but more electric vehicles are finding
their way into garages in the Northeast and other regions of the country.
All those vehicles need to plug-in.
Electric vehicle owners charge at two places people spend the most time —
home and work. Home charger installations typically require licensed
electricians, government permits, and a little bit of planning for a
customer’s and car’s juicing needs.
A typical installation can cost about $1,200, Joffe said, but depends on the
work needed and local electrician rates. Hardware for most home stations
costs between $200 to $800.
“It varies from situation to situation,” said Marcel Verheijen, co-founder
of EVCharge4U in Berkeley. “It’s not an out-of-the-box solution.”
EVCharge4U specializes in residential and commercial charging installations.
The company has worked closely with Tesla for several years, Verheijen said.
Homeowners need to get permits and inspections through the process, and the
timing varies from city to city. In San Francisco, for example, online
sign-ups mean an installation can be done in two weeks. Other cities have
similar requirements, but take longer, Verheijen said.
Different vehicles have different power requirements. Most homes have enough
current flowing into their circuits to accommodate the additional load of an
electric car. But some homes need to increase their capacity, which can be
costly and involves upgrades through the utility.
A typical 120 volt wall outlet — the kind used for lamps, TVs and toasters —
can do the job, but it’s like filling a swimming pool by dumping in pitchers
of water. It typically provide 4-5 miles of range per hour of charging.
“A wall outlet really isn’t going to get you where you need to be,” said
Colleen Jansen, chief marketing officer for ChargePoint. A 240 volt outlet —
used for electric stoves, clothes dryers and other power-hungry machines —
is recommended for level two chargers. The stations typically deliver up to
25 miles of range an hour, although charging rates vary by vehicle.
Technology and convenience is also a growing part of the electric vehicle
charger market. Consumers have many hardware choices when installing a
ChargePoint, a leading electric vehicle charging network based in Campbell,
offers a station that can be configured for different power levels and for
indoor or outdoor use. The home device can be networked, allowing EV owners
to track the amount of charge and schedule fill-ups on their smart phones.
ClipperCreek, based in Auburn, Calif., sells a range of devices and touts
itself as the most popular charger in the country. Will Barrett, director of
sales, said consumers have a clear demand: “They want their (charging)
products to work like their regular outlets work.“
The company’s most popular product, the level two charger HCS-40, can be
installed inside or outside.
Tesla offers its level two home charger for $500 and recommends consulting
an electrician. It also has tips and charging calculators on its website.
Tesla vehicles tend to need more power and fill-up faster.
Other manufacturers for the residential market include Siemens, Bosch,
Delta, AeroVironment and JuiceBox. Automakers also partner with charging
Most companies include links to local electricians on their websites. Some
electricians can offer free quotes if a homeowner sends photos of their
electric panel and proposed charging area.
Depending on the state, incentives can lower the cost of purchasing and
installing equipment. More information on incentives in California are on
the state’s Drive Clean website.
Tips for installing a home charging station
- Consult an electrician. Many automakers and manufacturers of charging
equipment have lists of reputable, local contractors on their websites
- Evaluate your needs — do you need fast charging, or will your car often
have 12 hours or more to juice up?
- Check for incentives. Some agencies offer rebates for installing EV
equipment. California drivers can find more information at the state’s Drive
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