In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide a complete overview of home EV chargers and explain what they cost, how fast they can charge your car, how much electricity they use, and if you need one in the first place.
Do you need a home EV charger?
Do you need a charging station at home?
Before we explore the nuances of EV charging at home, let’s get one of the most common questions out of the way: do you need a dedicated home EV charger to charge your electric car at home?
In short: no, you don’t need a dedicated home charger to charge your EV at home. In practice, however, the answer is a little more complicated.
But what even is a home charger? In essence, “home charger” is a term that refers to a dedicated home electric vehicle charging station – these can vary greatly in shape, size, and functionality, but they all require professional installation and have a special connection to your home’s meter box that allows them to deliver much higher power than a regular home outlet.
That said, you can still charge an EV by simply plugging it into a standard power socket, using the cable that comes with the car upon purchase. However, doing so is not only much slower but also less safe than using a dedicated home EV charger.
Indeed, a standard outlet may not be able to handle the high loads of charging an EV and offers no specific protection against overloading your home’s electrical circuit.
What are the benefits of using a home EV charger?
So how does a dedicated home EV charger help with these issues? The three main benefits are increased charging speed, better safety, and more flexibility. Let's take a deeper look.
Higher charging speeds
Because it has a dedicated connection to the meter box, a home EV charger can deliver much greater power to an EV, which, in turn, translates to faster charging. While charging speed varies on a range of factors, a home EV charger will be at least 3 times faster than charging via a regular outlet and can be up to 5 or even 15 times quicker with higher-powered models.
Another important benefit of a home EV charger is its safety. Because EV charging is a highly-energy intensive activity, it can quickly put too much strain on your home’s electrical circuit and cause a power overload if not managed properly.
A home EV charger mitigates this by having a dedicated connection from your meter box, enabling it to safely draw higher loads without tripping your breakers or overwhelming your circuit. Next to this, home charging stations are designed to operate outdoors and can withstand the elements without posing a safety hazard for the user.
Finally, a home EV charger also unlocks greater flexibility, for example by having built-in connectivity. This allows drivers to manage and control charging sessions remotely – often from a smartphone app – and gain insights into charging on aspects such as energy use and charging costs.
A connected home charger can often also receive automatic software updates, which can remotely add new (smart charging) features, fix bugs, and allow remote troubleshooting.
How much does a home car charging station cost?
EV home charger price
While the cost of an EV charger varies greatly, generally speaking, the average price to buy and install a home charger is anywhere from £800 to £1,500. With a difference of £700 - in that estimation you might be wondering where this price difference comes from.
Factors that affect home car charging station cost
One crucial factor is whether the installation is included in the price or not. This can account for a large part of the variation and can often add a significant cost if it isn’t included in the initial price.
One of the main determinants of a home EV charging station’s price is its charging speed. As a rule, the higher its power output, the more energy a home EV charger will be able to deliver to your car, and the faster its battery will be charged.
As you can imagine, the more powerful an EV home charger is, the more it will usually cost.
But you should consider that opting for the fastest home EV charger option could also not be necessary, according to your charging behaviour. For example, if you commute with your EV during the day and charge overnight, a “slow” 7.4 kW EV home charger can still charge a medium-sized EV with a 50 kWh battery to 80 percent in less than 8 hours. To put that in context, the average EV has a 210 mile range, meaning charging overnight to 80% would add about 168 miles of range.
Connectivity is another factor impacting the price of a home EV charger. A connected EV home charger enables real-time communication between the charging station, the EV driver, the car, and even the maintenance and service provider. This allows you to manage your charging sessions via a charging app, receive over-the-air updates, use smart charging features, and get access to remote support.
Often, purchasing a connected EV home charging station will be more expensive than opting for a non-connected one, but its useful features allowing you to manage your charging sessions can offset the additional initial cost in many cases. Next to this, as connectivity is becoming the new standard in many countries, it might not be wise to invest in a non-connected home EV charger.
Smart charging (also known as intelligent charging) is a term that refers to a range of features. In layman’s terms and without getting too technical, smart charging allows you to monitor, manage, and optimise the charging process and your energy usage.
While smart EV chargers generally cost extra, the added convenience and energy savings can often justify the cost in the long run. It’s also worth considering that not every smart EV home charging station has all the aforementioned features, so it’s important to choose the one that best meets your needs.
Type and length of charging cable
The length and type of a home EV charger’s cable can also influence how much it costs. Indeed, many EV home chargers feature simple sockets into which you can plug your cable, while others come with built-in cables.
Generally, a home EV charger with a socket will be cheaper as you don’t have to pay for the cable, although you will need to remember to bring your cable with you to be able to use it. For EV home chargers with built-in charging cables, their length is an important factor that impacts the price: the longer the cable, the more expensive the EV home charging station tends to be.
How long does it take to charge with a home EV charger?
Charging speed of EV chargers for home
The time it takes to charge an EV at home varies based on a range of factors, such as the power output, battery size, and driving behaviour to name a few. However, on average, it takes between 3 and 10 hours to charge up an EV with a 66 kWh battery – the average EV battery capacity at the time of writing.
What determines EV charging times at home?
Let’s have a look at some of the factors that impact that wide time range.
One of the main factors that will determine how fast you can charge your car is your home EV charger’s power output. As a rule of thumb, the higher the power output, the more power a charger can deliver to your EV’s battery and the faster it can charge.
Home chargers most commonly have a power output of 7.4 or 11 kilowatts (kW), although some more powerful 22 kW ones are also available, depending on your home’s circuit and the national electricity grid.
As we’ll see later, it’s worth keeping in mind that other factors, such as your car’s charging capacity, can limit the power output you can use, so simply installing the charger with the highest output may not always be the best solution.
Another crucial factor that influences how long your EV will need to charge is its battery size. While it may seem obvious, the smaller your EV’s battery, the faster it will charge up, and vice-versa.
EV batteries come in a wide range of capacities – all the way from the Smart EQ fortwo’s 16.7 kWh battery to the Lucid Air Dream Edition’s 118 kWh. To put that into perspective, the Smart would charge up to 80 percent in under an hour and a half using a 7.4 kW home charger, while the Lucid would take over 10 and a half hours to achieve the same level of charge.
Of course, the Lucid will take you further before needing a recharge.
State of charge
Speaking of battery percentage, this is referred to in the industry as “state of charge” or “SoC” and is also an important determinant of how long an EV takes to charge. Battery chemistry makes it so that an EV with a low state of charge – say, 20 percent – will be able to accept a much higher power output than one that has a high state of charge.
The graph below illustrates this phenomenon: a home EV charger progressively decreases its power output as the battery gets closer to full. This is why charging a car up from 80 to 100 percent takes much longer than, for instance, charging from 40 to 60 percent.
Car’s charging capacity
Beyond a home charger’s characteristics, your EV itself also plays a key role in determining how fast it can be charged. This is because the electricity provided by a charger needs to be transformed by an onboard converter into a usable form for the battery. How much power this converter can handle determines the maximum power output your car can accept. While most cars can accept 7.4 and 11 kW charging, many models don’t support 22 kW – even if your home EV charger might be capable of it.
Not only does driving behaviour impact your car’s state of charge, but how much you drive also influences how often you need to charge your EV. Again this can vary wildly – from having to charge your EV daily to once every other day or just a couple of times a week.
The last main factor that impacts an EV’s charging speed are weather conditions and, most importantly, temperature. This is because batteries operate optimally in a narrow range of temperatures, roughly between 20–25°C.
If temperatures are significantly higher or lower than that, the car will have to use some of the incoming energy to heat or cool the battery, increasing charging times. Likewise, a battery’s chemistry means it is prone to taking in less energy in extreme temperatures, meaning the charging power might have to be reduced even further.
How much electricity does a home EV charger use?
How much electricity does an electric car need?
How much electricity an EV charger uses depends on your EV’s battery size and driving behaviour. While these vary immensely between vehicles and individuals, we can look at some average numbers to give us an idea.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?
That said, energy consumption numbers on their own don’t give much context on how much that energy use actually costs. As with energy usage, electricity prices vary wildly between countries, regions, and utility companies, so it’s hard to pinpoint a specific number.
Still, as of September 2022, the average electricity price in the US was $0.15 per kWh, €0.25 per kWh in Europe and £0.28 per kWh in the UK. Using the average driving distances calculated above, charging an EV for the average American commute would cost around $1.77 per day, while the average European commute would cost €0.62, and the average English commute would total at around £0.70.
Looking at some popular EV models and using the cost data above, it would cost you £17.90 ($9.60 or €16) to fully charge a Nissan Leaf (64 kW) or £28 ($15 or €25) for a Tesla Model S (100 kW).
As with any average numbers, it’s worth keeping in mind that electricity prices vary between regions and utility companies, so your total cost may be different.
Do I have to upgrade my meter box to charge my electric car at home?
You might have already realised it from the energy consumption numbers above, but EV charging is a highly energy-intensive activity. To illustrate how much, consider that an average microwave consumes 1 kW, while a fridge uses only about 0.15 kW. If not handled properly, the additional load from EV charging may overwhelm your home’s electrical circuit and cause a potentially dangerous power overload.
So, what can be done to prevent this? One potential solution is upgrading your meter box to a more powerful model that can safely handle the additional capacity. That said, many newer meter boxes can already handle EV charging loads without any upgrades, so it’s worth checking with an electrician whether a change is needed.
Even if you have an older meter box, consider as well that smart charging features such as dynamic load balancing – a feature that automatically distributes the energy flow by monitoring the loads on the circuit – may allow you to keep using your existing meter without the need for expensive installation and upgrading costs.
Why are home EV charging stations safe?
If EV charging is such an energy-intensive activity that it may require upgrades to your home’s circuitry, it begs the question: is EV charging at home even safe? To cut right to the chase, yes, charging your EV at home with a dedicated home charger is just as safe as – if not safer than – any other electrical appliance.
What makes a home EV charger safe?
Let’s have a look below at some of the features of a home EV charger that make it safe to use.
Designed to carry higher loads
Unlike a standard home outlet, which, depending on your location, can only handle around 2.3 or 3 kW of power, a dedicated home charger is specifically wired into your meter box and is designed to carry up to 7.4, 11, or even 22 kW of power. As such, it guarantees all the wiring will be able to withstand these loads. On top of that, a home charger generally has its own circuit breakers, adding an extra level of protection for your home.
Weather- and impact-proof
Unlike a domestic socket or extension cord, the vast majority of which are not designed for outdoor use, home charging stations are designed to operate outside and can safely withstand rain, snow, wind, hail, or sun.
But connectivity is meaningless without appropriate privacy and information security measures to ensure only the desired data is used and that no sensitive information is disclosed. Modern connected home charging stations have built-in safeguards to guarantee the data they use is stored and exchanged securely. Keeping their software up-to-date ensures that any bugs and security weaknesses are corrected.
How to install an EV charger at home
Installation of a home charging station
Charging your EV at home is convenient, safe, and usually cheaper than relying on public charging. So, how do you go about installing a home EV charger? And can you install it yourself?
To answer the latter, no, unless you’re a certified electrician, you won’t be able to install an EV charger by yourself. This is because installing one is more complicated than just plugging it into your nearest outlet and calling it a day.
As we have seen, EV chargers are advanced pieces of hardware designed to deliver high power to your EV and need to be wired into your home accordingly.
Let’s look below in more detail at how you can get an EV charger installed at home and what the main factors to consider are.
Is installation included in the price of a home EV charger?
One of the first things you’ll want to consider is whether the retail price for a home EV charger includes installation or not. Whether this is the case depends on the manufacturer, retailer, and model – while many do include it, you shouldn’t take it for granted.
If the installation isn’t included in the base price, you’ll have to factor in the additional costs of installing it by the retailer or a third party, which can often be significant.
Cost to install EV charger at home
While installation costs vary greatly depending on the charger’s model and your location’s specifics, they can generally range anywhere from £250 to thousands of pounds for the most complex cases.
Some factors that will greatly increase installation costs are a remote placement of the charger far away from existing electrical circuitry (for example, outside in a driveway) or if your home’s existing circuit requires major upgrades to handle EV charging loads.
Generally, the more powerful the charger, the more likely your circuit will need upgrading, so it’s worth considering whether the extra power is worth it for your use case.
Consider as well that depending on your setup, you might need to request permission from your landlord or local authority to install an EV charger, which can add costs and may prolong the process. It’s also worth letting your energy provider know that you’ve installed a charger, so they can upgrade the electricity supply to your home if needed.
How long does it take to install a home EV charger?
As with many of the factors above, how long it takes to install a home EV charger varies greatly depending on the complexity of the installation and can take anywhere from under an hour to multiple hours or even days.
A straightforward installation, where little to no upgrades to the circuitry are required and the charger is located close to an existing power source, can often be completed quickly, within a matter of hours, by an experienced installer.
On the other hand, if the charging station is installed far from any existing electricity supply or if an upgrade to the meter box is required, installation can take much longer and require unique solutions to fit your situation.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the amount of work needed for an installation, and thus the time it takes, often tends to be proportional to cost, as many installers charge an hourly fee. In other words, the longer your home EV charger takes to install, the more it is likely to cost.
What to consider when getting an electric car charger for home
What is the best EV home charger?
While they may look similar, home EV chargers come with a range of features and capabilities, with each model standing out for a different reason. So, how do you know which home EV charger is the best, and what should you look out for when buying one?
Let’s get a myth out of the way first: there is no one perfect charger for everyone. The fact is that people have different needs, and the same charger that delights one driver can frustrate and disappoint another. Simply buying the fastest, most advanced charger might not meet your needs the best
Top 4 considerations when buying a charger for your electric car
To find out which four factors EV drivers believe are most important when purchasing a home charger, we partnered with Ipsos to survey current and potential EV drivers across Europe. Our research uncovered these four main considerations EV drivers have when buying a home EV charger.
Modern chargers come with many user-friendly features, such as LED indicator lights that tell you the status of your charging session at a glance. On top of that, many connected charging stations offer smartphone apps that allow you to monitor and control the charging process remotely.
Beyond the standard warranty offered by manufacturers and retailers, many offer the option to extend the warranty or add service coverage – while these add to the initial cost, it might be worth considering to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line.
If your charging station is internet-connected, it can also benefit from software updates that ensure optimal performance and longevity. It may even leverage remote servicing as a way for repairers to diagnose problems remotely based on data provided by the charger, potentially eliminating the need for an in-person visit altogether.
Insights into charging remain perhaps the most underrated feature of a charging station – still, it can unlock a range of real-time insights about energy use and costs, allowing drivers to stay informed throughout the process and optimise their behaviour accordingly.
A new era of mobility offers new opportunities
Charging your EV at home is still a new concept for many and can understandably seem daunting at first. Choosing the right EV charger for your home is a difficult – and economically significant – decision, so it’s worth considering your needs and priorities before exploring all the options.
To find out which home EV charger fits your electric car’s capabilities the best, have a look at our detailed database. If you’re thinking of switching to electric mobility, or if you’ve recently bought an EV, read our complete EV charging guide to learn everything about electric vehicle charging.
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