What You Should Know About Installing a Home EV Charger

September 25th, 2023 by

Volkswagen ID.4An ID.4 you get from Bud Brown Volkswagen or any other electric vehicle becomes much more satisfying to own if you can charge it at home.  You can plug your car in when you get home for the day, and it will be fully charged and ready for you in the morning. Unless you drive an unusually large amount of miles on a daily basis, you may never worry about charging until you go on a relatively far trip.  To get started, let’s first review the three levels of EV charging: 

Installing a Charging Station

  • Level 1
    This is what you get from a conventional home socket.  You can charge your EV from such a plug, but the rate is slow.  Depending on your EV, you will get about 3 miles of driving per hour.  If your commute is within about 30 miles, you can presumably charge what you need every night.  To charge fully, you would need either a public charger or have your car sit charging for a few days.  Level 1 charging works well for Plug-in hybrids, and emergencies but isn’t really how you want to home charge your EV
  • Level 2
    This is what you get from a home charger, and the expectation is that they will fully charge your EV overnight. A home Level 2 charger can add 15-30 miles of range per hour.
  • Level 3
    This is not available for the home.  These are the fast or DC-direct chargers you can find at public charging stations. The fast charging times you hear about.  The peak direct-DC charging rate for the ID.4 is 125 kW.  At this rate, you can go from 0 to an 80% state of charge in about 40 minutes.  

Two other things to know about Level 3 charging is that the rate of change takes much longer, from 80% to 100%, and thus is generally not recommended for public charging.  Also, repeated DC-direct charging will decrease overall battery life, so it is best reserved for long trips, with everyday charging coming from Level 2.

As you can see, Level 2 charging is your sweet spot and what you will install at your home.

Charging your VW ID.4Costs and Timing

A good home charger costs between $350 to $750.  A typical installation can cost between $800 and $2,000. However, there are circumstances that can greatly increase that cost.  An older home with an outdated circuit panel or one without room for an additional 240-volt circuit may need a breaker panel upgrade.  If the service wires leading to your home cannot deliver enough amperage to accommodate a charger on top of your existing electrical load, things can get much more costly, and time-consuming as now your local electric utility will be involved.

Consequently, it is best to check into the cost of installing a charger a month or two before you silently roll away from Bud Brown VW in your new EV.  If the first installer gives an estimate of considerably more than $2,000, citing some of the above-mentioned home wiring issues, they may be right, but it is worth two or more bids to make sure.

Charging Station for ID.4What to Look for in a Charger

There are many online sources with recommendations for chargers and discussions on the merits of their features and costs.  But here are a few general rules:

    • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL) certification
      There are less expensive chargers without these trusted, independent certifications, but it is not worth a possible repair bill or even house fire risk.  Most of the cost is in the installation anyway, so don’t go cheap on a non-certified charger.
    • 20 foot or longer cord
      A long cable gives you flexibility with the option of driving forward or backward into your garage, or parking on either side of a two-car garage.  If your charging station is close to a garage door, a long cable will also allow you to charge in your driveway if your garage becomes needed for storage.  If a garage is simply not available, chargers can be mounted outside.
    • The Correct Power Level
      Home chargers generally range from 7.2 to 11.5 kilowatts (kW). 9.6 kW is good for most drivers and is a good rate for the ID.4 and upcoming VW EVs. At that rate, an ID.4 will charge at a rate of about 20 – 30 miles per hour or about 7.15 hours for a full charge. Vehicles with very large batteries, such as the Hummer EV, may require more power for an overnight charge.  If your house can handle a higher-power charger without additional costs, it may be worth having it for future EV needs.  An EV will only take what it can, so there is no risk of getting a charger that is too high-powered for your car.
    • Wi-Fi connectivity
      This is a possible convenience but is not a necessity.  The connectivity will enable you to see your state of charge in a smartphone app and also enable you to set a charging schedule if, say, your electricity rates drop at 9:00 p.m., your car won’t start charging until that time.  Keep in mind that the ID.4 and many other EVs have this ability as well as additional charge settings in the car itself, and the VW app will give you state-of-charge information.  The charger app might give you some additional information or settings, and it is up to you if it is worth the extra cost.
    • Plug vs Hardwire
      A charger that plugs into a 240-volt outlet is easy to remove and take with you, which may be useful if you plan on relocating or have a vacation home that also has an accessible 240-volt outlet.  The downside is that they are more prone to nuisance tripping, which trips your circuit breaker if there is a surge in the system.  Plug-in chargers are more prone to this because both they and the wiring behind the outlet will have a ground-fault circuit-interrupting (GFCI) breaker, and twice the circuit breakers increase the chance of tripping one of them.  The consequence is waking up to find your car is not charged.  If you do go with a plug, make sure it is commercial grade. Most non-commercial plugs are not designed to be used continuously for 8 to 12 hours and may generate heat as a result. Nor are they designed for frequent plugging and unplugging.  Think of your dryer, which is always plugged in but only in use for an hour or two at a time.  EV charger plugs need to be much more robust.  Discuss the plug or hardwire question with your installer.

A Quick Guide to How Much Current You Need for Each Charging Speed

Required Circuit Breaker Rating Charger Amperage Estimated Driving Range Added Per Hour of Charging
20A 16A 12 mi
30A 24A 18 mi
40A 32A 25 mi
50A 40A 30 mi
60A 48A 36 mi
70A/80A 50A 37 mi

Finding the Right Installer

Bud Brown Volkswagen can give you a recommendation for local installers.  There is also a national firm known as Qmerit that specializes in EV charger installation.  Keep in mind that there is a specific certification from the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) that isn’t required for charger installation, but can give you some assurance that your installer understands all the nuances of EV charging.

Bud Brown Volkswagen has been selling ID.4s for a while now, so we have sales and service personnel who can help you with your home charging questions and, as mentioned, recommend local installers.  We wish you luck on your EV journey.