Even as electric mobility has grown rapidly in recent years, charging an electric vehicle (EV) is still a new experience for many. Unlike cars that run on petrol, EVs can be charged pretty much wherever there’s a power outlet: including the home. Unsurprisingly, the convenience and cost-effectiveness of home charging make it the most popular charging location, with 65 percent of current EV drivers in the UK charging regularly at home.
Still, charging a car at home can be a little more complex than just plugging it into the nearest outlet. Among others, a common question is whether you need an EV home charging station to charge at home and how much one costs. Given that buying a home EV charger, and especially installing it, can be a significant investment, many people wonder whether the professional installation is really necessary.
In this article, we break down how installing an EV home charger works and discuss some factors that impact how complex – and thus how expensive – the installation can be.
Can I install an EV home charger by myself?
Let’s first address the most common question about installing an EV home charger: can you do it yourself?
Unless you’re a certified electrician, the answer is no.
Even if you could technically do it, you probably won’t want to, as you would be exposing yourself to high voltage live current, which, if handled without adequate precautions, could cause damage to your home or even yourself.
Indeed, installing a home EV charger isn’t as simple as plugging it into your nearest outlet and calling it a day. An EV home charger is an advanced piece of hardware designed to deliver higher power to your EV and needs to be specifically wired into your meter box. This usually means adding a new connection or installing new circuit breakers, not to mention laying a cable that runs from your meter box to your EV charging station’s location.
Beyond a physical risk, installing a home EV charger by yourself generally voids the manufacturer’s warranty and will cancel eligibility for government grants, which can significantly reduce its cost. On top of that, installing a home EV charger without a qualified technician can even be illegal in some countries, for example, in France, meaning you risk exposing yourself to fines as well.
So clearly, installing an EV home charger yourself is not a good idea, and the additional price for professional installation by a qualified electrician should be worth paying.
Is installation included in the price of an EV home charger?
Whether installation costs are included in the price of an EV home charger depends greatly on the manufacturer, the retailer, and the specific model you purchase. While many will often include installation in the retail price, others do not, in which case, you will need to factor in the additional cost of getting the EV home charging station installed by a third party.
If the installation is not included, the place you buy it from will typically provide a list of qualified and approved technicians in your area, which you can use as a starting point for searching for an installer.
Given the installation cost, it’s worth comparing prices beforehand and asking for quotes from various installers to get a sense of the typical price for your specific EV charging home station.
Another aspect to consider is that some manufacturers or installers might charge you an extra fee if the installation is not “standard”, meaning it requires special or additional work, materials, or expertise.
This may be the case if your EV home charger’s location has no direct access to electricity or if your home’s electrical circuit is particularly old and needs to be upgraded. In any case, it’s worth discussing these factors beforehand with your installer and ensuring that any surcharges are included in the final quote before you approve the installation.
How much does it cost to install an EV home charger?
We’ve hinted above that installing an EV home charger can be expensive, but how much does it cost exactly? While determining a single price or even a narrow price range is tricky and depends on the model and your location’s specifics, generally, we’ve seen installation prices range anywhere from £250 to thousands of pounds for more complex cases.
The most important factors that determine installation costs are usually your home’s location, the place where you would install the home EV charger – inside or outside, with or without access to electricity – the type of EV home charger and its charging speed, and if your electric circuit needs to be upgraded or modified.
However, because there are usually no standard installation costs for a home EV charging station, it’s fundamental to ask for a quote before choosing an installation option to avoid unwanted expenses and have a precise idea of what you’ll have to pay.
Do I have to upgrade my meter box to install an EV home charger?
One of the main aspects that can influence how expensive your EV home charger’s installation is is whether your meter box needs to be upgraded. Indeed, EV charging is highly energy-intensive, and many older meter boxes may not be equipped to handle the loads required to power a home EV charger. In this case, you might need to upgrade to a more powerful meter box, which adds an extra cost.
However, upgrading may not always be required if you opt for a smart EV home charger, which can be equipped with dynamic load balancing. This smart feature automatically adjusts the electricity flow and demand within your house, preventing power overload. This can allow you to keep using your existing meter box by regulating power output and ensuring it doesn’t exceed its limits.
Still, an expert installer’s opinion is key to understanding if your electrical circuit and meter box are capable of that and if they can withstand the electricity output your EV’s charging sessions will require.
Do I need permission to install an EV home charger?
Given the work required for installing a home EV charging station, you might understandably wonder whether you need to ask permission or request approval for installation.
Generally speaking, the answer is no, assuming you own the house where you’re planning to install the home EV charger. Of course, there are exceptions.
If you’re renting, for example, you’ll need to ask for your landlord’s permission before installing an EV home charging station – in this case, it’s worth referring back to the tenancy agreement you signed before you moved in to check what approval if any, you require.
Similarly, if you’d like to install a home EV charger in a shared parking space, such as the one in an apartment building, you will need the building owner’s approval. In many cases, you might not be able to decide to install a home EV charger by yourself and will need to have the building owner install it for you.
Also, you may be required to notify your utility company of the installation, as they may need to upgrade the electrical supply to your home to ensure it can handle the increased loads.
And of course, while you generally don’t need permission from the local council if you’re a private homeowner, requirements can vary by country and region, so it’s worth checking beforehand.
How long does it take to install an EV charger?
How long it takes to install an EV charger depends once again on the complexity of the installation. While it depends on a range of factors, installation time can range from under an hour for an easy and standard installation to multiple hours for more complex cases.
This can be the case, for example, if the EV home charging station is installed far from any existing electricity access and cables need to be laid out to reach it, or if an upgrade to your meter box or the existing electrical circuit is required.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the amount of work, and thus the time required for the installation, tends to be directly proportional to the cost, given that many installers charge an hourly fee. So, the longer your EV home charger takes to install, the more costly the process is likely to be.
As we’ve seen in this article, installing an EV home charger can be a lot more complex than it may look at first, and going for the cheapest option may turn out to be more expensive if installation is not included.
While professional installation may be a considerable expense, it’s generally worth having it to guarantee that your EV home charger will operate safely and that its warranty remains valid.
If you’re considering buying an EV or have just bought one, and are looking to learn more about EV charging, have a look at our in-depth guide.