Today, a whopping 68% of EV — that’s electric vehicle if you're new around here — owners use a hardwired, level 2 charger in their home, according to J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study.
The same report found that owner satisfaction increased among almost every factor they measured (including perceived fairness of price, charging cost and speed, ease of use, and more) once they made the upgrade from level 1 charging to a hardwired, in-home level 2 EV charger.
Whether you’re like the 60% of EV owners who told J.D. Power they plan to upgrade to level 2 charging at home or if you’re still getting your bearings in the electric vehicle space, this article will guide you through everything you need to know, including:
➡️ The distinctions between the three different levels of EV charging
➡️ Why a hardwired, level 2 charger is the best option for most EV drivers
➡️ What to look for when selecting your EV charger
➡️ The cost of installing an EV charger
➡️ How to get your level 2 EV charger up and running with help from Kopperfield ⚡
Understanding the 3 levels of EV charging
A great way to start learning the basics of EV charging is to get to know the ins and outs of the charger types as of 2023.
Let’s dive into all things EV charging so you can get an idea of how fast different levels of chargers will juice up your vehicle.
Level 1 EV charging
Level 1 charging is often called “trickle charging” — which perfectly describes the rate at which it charges.
Level 1 chargers plug into the standard 120-volt wall outlets most modern North American homes use. That means they charge three to six miles per hour, which is typically enough for short daily commutes with a nightly charge — or you can leave it plugged in for a few days straight for a full charge.
While it’s slow, the upside to this option is that most EVs ship with a level 1 charger and they can be plugged right into any 120-volt wall outlet, making this a very accessible setup.
Level 2 EV charging
Level 2 chargers can be hardwired directly into a 240-volt circuit or plugged into a 240-volt outlet known as a NEMA 14-50 receptacle, which is what you’ll probably see if you look behind your electric dryer.
The upgrade in voltage means charging speed should increase to anywhere from 12 to 40 miles per hour. For most folks’ needs, you can have your car fully charged overnight and ready to go the next morning with a level 2 charger — even if you’ve nearly exhausted your battery.
What we love about level 2 chargers is that they’re as fast as you can get for in-home charging, yet are still pretty accessible overall.
A common question we hear is “If I already have a 240V dryer outlet in my garage, can I use that for my EV?”
Great thought, but the answer is no — unless you plan on removing your dryer. You need a dedicated circuit for your EV charger. Getting a new circuit and having your level 2 charger hardwired into it is easy when you use Kopperfield to request a residential install from a licensed electrician.
Level 3 EV charging
Level 3 charging has come to be known as “fast charging,” "DC fast charging/DCFC”, and "Supercharging" in the case of Tesla.
With a level 3 charger, you can expect charging speeds of 200 to as much as 500 miles per hour. That means you can be fully charged in about an hour for most EVs!
Level 3 chargers deliver a massive number of volts (from 400 to 900 in some cases) of power via direct current (DC), which is different from the alternating current (AC) power on which most U.S. buildings operate. Most utility companies won’t provide DC service to residential homes. And even if they did, getting a level 3 charger installed can cost from $50,000 to over $100,000.
This is why you won’t see level 3 chargers at most homes or even businesses, but instead installed in freestanding banks in cities and along major highways.
Why choose level 2 for at-home EV charging?
While we may one day enjoy a world where fast EV chargers are as prominent as traditional gas pumps, putting a level 2 charger in your home is the closest you can get to that experience today.
Using a level 2 charger in your home is akin to charging your phone every night. Plug it in and, in most cases, you’ll get to wake up to a full and ready battery!
With the power and speed of level 2 charging in your home, you don’t have to make any sacrifices in convenience and mobility compared to your gas-powered peers.
Hardwired vs. plug-in: Which is better for level 2 charging at home?
If you’re looking for the absolutely fastest and most reliable charging experience, here’s why a hardwired level 2 EV charger is the way to go.
Hardwired chargers may be more reliable
When thinking of switching from level 1 to level 2 charging, many people’s first thought is to upgrade their outlet to the widely-used NEMA 14-50 receptacle — the same thing your electric dryer is probably plugged into:
However, there are a few things you should know before getting a NEMA 14-50.
While installing a NEMA 14-50 outlet to plug your EV into is not an incorrect choice, installing a hardwired EV charger is the better choice because of reliability.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) from the Electrical Safety Foundation in the U.S. requires ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection when installing an outlet for EV charging. But, most EV chargers already have a GFCI built in. When these two layers of GFCI protection interact, it can cause what’s known as “nuisance tripping.”
These unpredictable trips will turn off your vehicle’s charging unexpectedly — making for a reliability concern that can throw off your whole day if you're not vigilant.
Hardwired charging is usually faster
Then, there’s the problem of reduced speed with plug-in level 2 chargers.
A NEMA 14-50 outlet can only be put on a 50 amp breaker, which means that you can only charge up to 40 amps (which is 80% of the breaker). Hardwired chargers are commonly installed on a 60 amp breaker, so they can charge up to 48 amps — a good bit faster than a plug-in charger. Some hardwired chargers can even charge all the way up to 80 amps on a 100 amp breaker.
Factors to consider when choosing a level 2 EV charger
If you’re one of those folks for whom selecting new accessories is half the fun of getting a new toy, you’re in for a real treat! In this section, we’ll walk you through everything to consider as you choose the best level 2 EV charger for your home.
However, if this is less your speed, you can get out of this dreaded shopping trip with Kopperfield. In addition to partnering EV owners with licensed electricians who take care of rebate research, permitting, and of course installation – we can also recommend and source a level 2 charger for you. Grab your quote and start driving your electrification efforts forward here.
But for the shoppers in the crowd, let’s keep it rolling.
Probably the most important consideration when choosing your level 2 EV charger is that it aligns with the amperage your vehicle can accept.
Consistently using a charger that puts out too many amps can be hard on your EV battery, so we highly recommend checking the technical sheet on your vehicle for the recommended charger amperage.
Type of connector
The next most important thing to think about is getting the kind of connector that works with your vehicle.
In North America, the standard is the SAE J1772 connector, also called a J Plug or Type 1 connector. Most EV makers as well as third-party charger providers use this type of connector. This makes shopping for a charger pretty easy — unless you have a Tesla.
Tesla cars use a proprietary connector/port system that works with Tesla charging stations, which is called North American Charging Standard (NACS). That said, Teslas today do come equipped with an SAE J1772 adaptor so owners can use various charging stations.
Some really exciting news is that, as of 2023, other EV makers are transitioning to NACS in an effort to standardize the industry and open up Tesla's charging network to more drivers! Stay tuned to the Kopperfield blog to follow along as this development unfolds.
Desired smart features
Something really cool about level 2 chargers is that many of them come with features that enable you to schedule charging sessions and view progress — either from the charger itself, an app, or both. If you’re interested in these and other smart capabilities, be sure to include them in your charger shopping list.
If you’re wondering why anyone would need to schedule when they charge their vehicle, this is a creative tactic to save money by “filling up” during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper. According to the same J.D. Power study from earlier, 35% of EV owners say they use this trick regularly.
For EV owners looking to source the cleanest energy possible, you can also use scheduling to charge your EV at the time of day when your solar panels are producing the most power.
There are several moving parts when it comes to choosing the location of your charger.
First, will it live inside or outside? The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA — the same group the outlet is named after) has a scale ranking how well electrical equipment stands up to the elements. Make sure the NEMA rating for your charger lines up with where you want to put it.
As you’re dialing in your final charger location, make sure to examine how far it is from your electrical panel and what’s in the way.
Most EV charger cables are 20 feet or less. Using extension cords is generally not recommended by most EV manufacturers as it can lead to overheating. In addition, the more complex wiring an electrician needs to do (go through walls, etc.), the more costly it will be to install your EV charger. In our experience working with electricians, we've found that most residential installs typically require thirty feet or less of wiring.
It’s also critical you check that your charger of choice meets the safety standards for your area — to protect your electrical panel, prevent fires, and so on.
For example, a UL-certified charger will comply with NEC standards and an ENERGY STAR certification from the EPA will ensure efficiency in your device.
Figuring out which certifications your charger should meet can be overwhelming, so it can be a great help to connect with a licensed electrician through Kopperfield before making your purchase.
Local permit requirements
Last but certainly not least important is all things permitting.
If you’ve ever considered a large home improvement project, we probably don’t have to tell you that acquiring a permit and completing an inspection can be a heckuva process.
In most cases, permits are required for EV charger installation. And we highly recommend getting one if needed. This will ensure the work is done safely and to code, and will be covered under your home insurance policy for the long haul, should any issues arise.
The local-to-you electricians you get access to when you work with Kopperfield are experienced and will handle the process from the first quote to the final install — including the sticky permitting phase.
Electrical panel space
We should note that, no matter what level 2 charger you choose, you have to have physical space for a new circuit on your electric panel.
Not sure your current setup is right for a level 2 EV charger? Check out our guide: Should I replace my electrical panel?
How much does home EV charger installation cost?
Alright, now let’s get to the question that’s probably starting to bounce around inside your head: How much does it cost to install a home EV charger?
We have some solid data that will help you ballpark what a new level 2 charger installation is going to cost at your home — all based on real jobs Kopperfield facilitated across major North American cities in 2022.
$2K or less (most common)
Around 90% of customers paid less than $2,000 on installation, not including the charger itself.
The jobs in this case — which were by far the most common — included running a few feet of wiring from the electrical panel to the charger. No excessive wiring, electrical upgrades, or pre-work on-site consultations needed.
$2K to $4K
In the next bracket up, close to 7% of customers paid between $2,000 and $4,000 for their installs.
The increase in cost here was most commonly due to minor electrical upgrades to accommodate the additional electrical load as well requiring an especially long run of wiring. This is a good reminder to think about the distance between your electrical panel and your parking spot when choosing your charger’s location.
Up to $7K (outlier)
Coming in at close to 3% were jobs that ran up to $7,000.
These were pretty extreme and rare cases that happened the most in older homes, where wiring and electrical panels needed to be updated before EV chargers could be safely installed.
As you can see, these are the primary factors that will impact the cost of your install, no matter where you live:
- The condition, capacity, and brand of your electrical panel
- The condition of your current wiring
- The distance of wiring needed, and any obstacles in the way (walls, open ground, etc.)
- Your chosen charger
- Permits and related requirements
Rebates on your EV charger and install
Thanks to extensions of the EV tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, now is a great time to save on your EV purchase and the installation of a level 2 charger in your home.
Under the IRA, in 2023, a $7,500 federal tax credit is available for new plug-in hybrids and EVs, and a $4,000 credit for used EV purchases (restrictions apply). Many states and cities also have additional EV tax credits, which may be able to be combined with the federal one for maximum savings.
In addition, lots of local governments and electric companies offer free or discounted chargers as well as rebates on the costs associated with getting your home charger-ready (such as upgrading your panel). For example, Austin Energy offers EV owners a rebate of up to $1,200 for the purchase and installation of a level 2 charger!
When you work with Kopperfield on hassle-free home EV charger installation, your job proposal will include information on what rebates and incentives are available to you. And, your electrician will even provide you with the proper documentation to ensure a seamless application process.
How to get your level 2 EV charger running quickly and safely
At Kopperfield, we’re on a mission to accelerate home electrification — starting with making it easier than ever to connect with the pros who can get your EV charging situation squared away and get you on the road to a greener future. 🛣️
Want a reliable and safe EV charger installation without all the wait and hassle? Get started by requesting an estimate today.