Charging Guides

Home Charging Guide


Level One Charging

Typically, about 95% of electric car charging is done at home. There are a couple of common ways to charge at home. One is to simply plug into a 120 V standard electricity outlet with the charging cord that comes free with your EV.  All you need to do is connect your car to a standard outlet at your house.  This is called Level 1 charging and you’ll add about 4-5 miles of range per hour.  This works just fine for drivers who use their EV mostly for local driving.   If you drive about 40-50 miles per day, you will be able to fully recharge your battery at night.  If you find you occasionally need a faster charge, you can charge at one of the public stations around Marin.  See Plugshare for public stations.

 


Level Two Charging

If you regularly drive more than 40 miles a day or just like having a faster option at home, install a Level 2 charger, also known as a “home charger,” “wall charger,“ “home charging station or charging station.” There are numerous options on the market, and the top rated models are discussed below.  Level 2 chargers provide electricity to the car at 240V and provide about 25 miles of range per hour.  

 


All About Electricity Costs and Plans

  • Fuel Cost

Driving an EV can save you money since electricity is less expensive than gasoline and EVs are more efficient than gasoline vehicles. Electricity prices are also generally much more stable than gasoline prices.

Because the average U.S. household spends nearly one-fifth of its total family expenditures on transportation, saving on fuel can make a big difference.

When you charge your EV at home, your electricity bill will likely be less than half your gas bill! (See details below)
 

  • Electricity Rates

In Marin, you can purchase 100% renewable electricity from MCE Clean Energy Deep Green or PG&E 100% solar. For the lowest cost, switch to the EV rate and always charge your car during the off peak period.  The fuel cost for driving your EV will be less than half the cost of driving a typical gas-powered car.  Even the gas bill for a Prius is twice that of driving electric.
 

  • Benefits of EV Rate

Most Marin residents are currently billed on a tiered rate: the more energy you use, the higher the tier and the higher the rate.  EV owners can switch to a time-of-use rate, where energy charges vary based on the time of day, without tiers. Since the cost of electricity during the off peak night time hours is much lower than the cost at high tiers, switching to the EV rate and charging at night can be a big money saver.
 

  •  Exceptions

If you want to charge during the day, or have heavy daytime usage needs (e.g. a pool), the EV plan may or may not be best for you.  (CC: link to PG&E and MCE)
 

  •  Solar Customers

Customers with rooftop solar PV are already billed on a time-of-use rate schedule.  However, solar customers who also want to take advantage of the EV rate will need to specifically request to be switched. In general, the EV rate includes a higher on-peak electricity charge and a lower off-peak electricity charge.  For most solar customers, switching to the EV rate will be financially beneficial.
 

  • Switching your plan is easy!

If you just got your first EV and need to change your rate, you’ll need to contact PG&E even if you are an MCE customer. To sign up for EV rates, complete PG&E’s online application or call PG&E at: 1 (866) 743-0335. Be sure to have your VIN number handy.  If you are an MCE customer, once your account has moved to PG&E’s EV rate schedule, your MCE account will automatically be billed under the corresponding MCE EV rate.


Installing a Level 2 Charger at Home

In order to charge your EV at home on Level Two, you will need to purchase a charging station and have an electrician install a dedicated circuit similar to one you may have for your clothes dryer.
 

  • Electricians, Stations and Cost

A qualified licensed electrician should install a charging station.  In general, a home charging station will cost around $500 to $700. This does not include installation, which can cost anywhere from $200 - $2000, depending on the situation with your home electrical system.

The cost of installation will vary depending on installation quality, distance that wires and conduits need to run from the breaker box (a.k.a. service panel) to the charging station, and labor rates of the electrician.
 

  • Amperage Capacity

You should buy a charging station that can handle at least 30 amps. This will allow you to take advantage of the maximum charging rate for most new onboard chargers.  Note that a 30-amp charging station will need a circuit breaker rated for at least 40 amps.
 

  • Length of Charging Cable, and charging station Location

Before you buy an charging station, imagine where your electric car will be parked. Think about the ideal location for this piece of equipment. Now measure the distance between where the charging station will hang on your wall, and where the charging port is on your car. Cables usually run from approximately 15 to 25 feet. Make sure your cord can easily reach where it needs to go, and think about its length for a potential second plug-in car in your driveway or garage.

  • Portability

If it’s possible, don’t permanently install your charging station. In other words, have an electrician install a NEMA 14-50 outlet or something similar (types of outlets used for things like clothes dryers). Purchase a charging station with a plug. You can then mount your charging station right next to the outlet, and simply plug it in. If the time comes when you move, or decide to relocate your charging station, simply unplug it and take it with you.
 

  • Connectivity

Wi-Fi-enabled charging stations are available, but not necessarily preferable. While these fancier products have timers, meters, touch screens and capabilities for changing charging events over the web, connectivity adds complexity, as well as cost. In some cases, when connectivity is lost, the charging station can shut down. Also, many of these remote controllable features are available directly on the car, or from mobile applications.


Popular Choices for Charging Stations

We’ve done the research so you don’t need to.  


ClipperCreek HCS-40

When we reached out to experienced EV drivers, nearly all of them put ClipperCreek equipment at the top of their list. The company has been making these units for more than 15 years. Their equipment doesn’t necessarily get the highest marks for aesthetics, but the same words keep coming up in those recommendations: durable, robust, and even indestructible. No screens, no software, no problems. Recently, ClipperCreek came out with a more affordable unit, well-suited to private garages: the HCS-40. It has a compact size, a 32-amp limit, a 25-foot cord and starts at $565. It's also available with a NEMA 14-50 or 6-50 plug (great for charging at RV parks) for $589.


JuiceBox Pro 40

JuiceBox Pro 40 is a smart, WiFi-connected 10-kW Level 2 charging station. It’s currently priced at $599. Electric Motor Werks, the manufacturer based in San Carlos, Calif., is offering this charging station as a pre-configured 40-amp unit, supplied with a 24-foot J1772 cable and a six-foot input cable with 14-50P plug. The chief benefit—beyond its lower price point—is the connectivity and software-upgradability of the charging station. This model comes with WiFi connectivity, energy metering, scheduling, notifications, smartphone app, and it's ready to adapt with future enhancements being dreamed up by the developer.


Aerovironment EV Charger

As an alternative to ClipperCreek, you could opt for the slightly less revered AV charging station. It has about the same specs and footprint, and a nicer cord handling system that wraps around the unit. Some reviewers feel it’s a bit cheaper in feel. Aerovironment offers a full-service installation program, better user guides and documentation and a three-year warranty. The hard-wired version starts at $999, with portable versions dropping to $899 for a 25-foot cord, and $799 with a 15-foot cord, both allowing for the portability discussed above.


Aerovironment TurboCord

If portability is your most desired feature, then AeroVironment’s TurboCord 240-volt charger might be the charger for you. It’s compact, light, and very portable. The $499 TurboCord is a compelling alternative to wall-mounted boxes, especially charging a plug-in hybrid. It makes its easier and cheaper to set up a home or and workplace charger. Simply install a 6-20R socket and plug in the TurboCord. The Turbocord gets generally high ratings, especially for low cost and portability, although some customers have complained about product failure over time.


Schneider Electric EVlink 30 Amp Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Manufactured by Schneider, a well-established brand associated with Square D products, the 30-amp Level 2 charger hits the competitive purchase price of $600, while earning consistently high rankings from EV drivers. While some mention that the body is made of relatively cheap plastic, nearly all owners believe that’s a minor issue, because the unit is effective, reliable and affordable. Its low-depth (it doesn’t protrude far from the wall) and overall small size mean that it doesn’t take up any more room than necessary. This unit is available below from Amazon as well as from Home Depot, which provides free in-home consultations about installation.


Siemens VC30GRYU 30-Amp Charger with Flexible Indoor/Outdoor and 20-Feet Cord

At an attractive price of $499, the Siemens 30-amp Level 2 charger, which is compatible with all current electric cars,

gets very high rankings from consumers. It has a high-quality German-built finish, good cable management, and is smaller and lighter than some competing products. Its 20-foot cord is adequate, and users appreciated the “charge-delay” function. In the past, some customers have complained about poor customer service, but those instances are rare. Besides, Siemens offers a strong three-year warranty.


Appendix A: Charging for Nerds

A battery is just a storage device for energy. Any given battery's potential energy storage is rated in terms of kilowatt-hours (kWh).  The battery capacity is listed below for a few EVs along with the rated range and efficiency.