Electric Cars : How To Get the Best Home Charger for Your Plug-In Car

When the first plug-in vehicles hit the market, buyers had little choice in the home charging devices they got. General Motors, maker of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and Nissan, maker of the Leaf battery-electric vehicle, each had partnered with a charging station manufacturer and installer.

Car buyers got a garage evaluation and installation quote before they took delivery of their vehicles. They bought the charging stations (usually through their car dealers) that the automaker recommended.

Home charging is the most convenient way to replenish your plug-in vehicle’s battery, and now there are many charging stations to choose from.

Fast-forward a few years and the marketplace has wrought its magic. Today, there are more than a dozen EV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles on the market and more on the way. Owners and prospective owners of these plug-in vehicles can choose from dozens of home car-charging stations from more than a dozen manufacturers.

You can shop direct from the maker online, from various home-improvement retailers or via mass-marketing sites such as Amazon.com. Or you can do it old-school and go through your car dealer.

A recent survey of plug-in vehicle buyers by Ford Motor Company found that about half still use the dealer-supplied, one-stop service that provides the charging station and installation for one price. The other half now do their own shopping, both for the home charging station and for competitive bids from local electricians for installation.

Having loads of choices can help save money and cut down the time you’ll spend charging that new plug-in car. But making the right selection from among the options also requires a little time in order to research the choices and to process and digest all those bids that come from comparison shopping.

The best charger for your home depends on several things. There’s the type of plug-in vehicle you have or are planning to get. There are your plans for future plug-in vehicles. Your garage layout comes into play, as do your household electrical service and your charging patterns. Will you want to charge in the daytime, overnight or every time your pull into the driveway?

An electrician qualified to install home car charging stations can help you decide things like the amperage you’ll need, the right circuit breakers to install, the best cord length for your situation and where to locate the charging station to minimize installation costs.

As a rule of thumb, expect to pay $600-$1,000 for a home car charging station. You can, of course, pay less or more. We’ll get into the details later.

Installation costs also vary widely. A standard, problem-free home garage installation is usually somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500, but can be as little as a few hundred dollars or as high as several thousand dollars. We’ll explain that wide range in more detail later, too.


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