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Charging at Home

Most EV owners will want to install a dedicated 240V electrical circuit to charge their cars. This will typically give you from 20 to 30 miles of added charge per hour which is enough for a full charge overnight. It is recommended that you install a dedicated EVSE to charge your EV.

Briefly, an EVSE is a box that hangs on your wall wired to a 240V breaker in your electrical panel and has a handle that plugs into your car. All North American EVSEs and EVs use the same standard (J1772) so any EVSE will work with your car. Teslas use a proprietary charge plug, see below.

Different EVs accept different charge rates, but the industry is slowly converging on EVs accepting approximately a maximum of 32A of charge. For new installations, install an EVSE that can supply at least 32A on a 40A breaker. Even if your EV can't charge that fast (most newer ones can), you are future proofing yourself for your next EV.

Can I charge with 120V?

Some people get by with only charging using a regular household 120V receptacle. If your driving needs are modest, it is possible to keep an EV charged this way. Most EVs come with a way to charge from a 120V receptacle (see the EV Specific menu entries). Be aware that you will only be adding 3 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. That's 48 to 80 miles of range added in a 16 hour overnight session.

Note that charging via 120V isn't as efficient as charging from a 240V source since the car draws more power during charging than when idle, meaning that a longer charging session results in more electricity being used overall.

Teslas are (a bit) different

While Tesla cars (models S, X, 3) are compatible with J1772 plugs through a small and simple adapter, they natively support a Tesla proprietary car charging plug.

So, while you can charge a Tesla with a J1772 compatible EVSE just fine, it is more convenient to use Tesla's EVSE since you don't need to use the adapter (and Tesla's EVSE handle has a button that pops open the charge port). Luckily, Tesla's EVSE (called the Wall Connector, available at the Tesla store), is priced competitively and is very capable. And if you have a car model that has a high power internal charger, you can wire the Wall Connector to a 100A breaker and charge your car at around 60 miles of added range per hour, which is nice for those folks that drive a lot (eg. busy real estate agent).

Teslas are also different because they come with a very capable Mobile Connector (used to be called the Universal Mobile Connector or UMC). The Mobile Connector comes with interchangeable plug adapters allowing you to charge from household 120V receptacles all the way to 50A NEMA 14-50 240V receptacles. Click here for older Model S/X adapters, and here for Model 3 and newer Model S/X (2018+).

Instead of installing a permanent EVSE, a lot of Tesla owners just install a 50A NEMA 14-50 receptacle and use their Mobile Connector to charge their car. I recommend that people not do this and to purchase the Tesla Wall Connector instead, leaving the Mobile Connector in the car's trunk. This ensures you won't forget the Mobile Connector when going on a trip, and the Wall Connector is a much more robust EVSE meant for daily charging use.

Charging in Condos

If your condo parking space does not already have a dedicated EV charging receptacle, you will have to go through a process to get one installed. Some condo associations are easy to deal with while others put up as many roadblocks as they can. Be aware that certain states have laws that require a condo association to allow you to install your own EVSE (at your own expense) with no unjustified restrictions.

EverCharge is a company that works with condo associations to install shared and non-shared EVSEs. Worth a look.

ChargePoint is another company that has solutions for condo charging.

DCC sells a box that can allow you to install a 240V EVSE onto a small (maybe fully loaded) electrical panel that you might find in a condo or older house. Use this instead of having to do a panel or service upgrade (which is usually impossible in a condo).

Here is a good guide on condo charging, with a specific focus on laws in Ontario, Canada, but there is lots of good information here.

Some condos and apartment dwelling EV owners will opt to charge their car at work or, if all else fails, using public chargers. Tesla owners are more apt to rely on charging outside their home on a routine basis since they have access to very high power, reliable and available Superchargers.

Copyright 2019