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EV Charger Buyer's Guide: How to Choose the Right Charger for Your Needs

With more drivers going electric, installing a home EV charger has become a popular choice for keeping your electric vehicle powered up. But with so many EV charger models and features now available, how do you determine which option is right for your specific needs?

Our comprehensive EV charger buyer’s guide examines the key factors and components to consider when selecting an electric vehicle charger for home use. Read on for an in-depth look at charger types, charging speeds, connectors, wiring needs, smart features, installation, and costs to help inform your purchasing decision.

Types of EV Chargers

There are three main levels of electric vehicle chargers to choose from:

Level 1

Level 1 chargers are the most basic model for EVs. They use a standard 120V household outlet to provide charging at 1-2 miles of range per hour. This slow speed is best for plug-in hybrids and mild usage. Pure EVs will need lengthy charge times.

Level 2

Level 2 EV chargers run on 240V to provide faster charging at 10-20 miles per hour. Most homeowners install Level 2 for more practical daily charging needs. This level can fully charge most EVs in 8-12 hours overnight.

Level 3

Level 3 DC fast chargers deliver the fastest charging, typically at 40-60 miles in just 20 minutes. However, the high voltage and cost make Level 3 impractical for home use. These ultra-fast charges are primarily used at public stations.

Charging Speed

Charging power is measured in kilowatts (kW), which determines charging time. Level 1 provides 1.4-1.9 kW. For Level 2, the two main charging speeds are:

  • 6-7 kW - Provides ~20 miles per hour charging for most full EVs.
  • 9-11 kW - Faster 25-30 mile per hour charging, ideal for larger battery EVs.

Faster charging is always preferable when possible. But your home's electrical capacity may limit charging speed, especially if using multiple high-draw appliances.

Connector Types

All EVs use standardized connectors to link the charger cable to your vehicle inlet. The main types are:

  • J1772 - The most common Level 1 and Level 2 connector for all EVs except Tesla.
  • Tesla - Tesla's proprietary connector for their Level 2 and DC fast chargers.
  • CHAdeMO - DC fast charging connector used by some makes like Nissan and Mitsubishi.
  • CCS - Newer Combo DC fast charging connector standard.

When selecting a home EV charger, choose the connector that matches your vehicle. J1772 is compatible with most makes if you drive a non-Tesla EV.

Electrical Service Needs

Your home's electrical system capacity is crucial in determining what charger you can install. Key factors are:

  • Breaker panel - The circuit breaker box should have enough open slots for adding a dedicated charger circuit.
  • Voltage - Level 1 just needs 120V, but Level 2 requires 240V service. If your home only has 120V, upgrading the service for 240V can cost over $1,000.
  • Amperage rating - Higher amp circuits allow faster charging. You'll need at least 40A for a 9-11kW Level 2 charger.

An electrician will assess your electrical system to advise what charging level and speed is supported or if upgrades are warranted.

Smart Charging Capabilities

"Smart" EV chargers connect to wifi or cellular networks to enable remote monitoring, access controls, metering, and scheduling. Key smart features include:

  • Apps - Monitoring and controlling charging via a smartphone app.
  • Charge scheduling - Pre-programming charge times to get lower electric rates.
  • Access control - RFID authentication to restrict charging access.
  • Vehicle to grid - Sending power back to the grid to get credits.

Smart chargers provide convenience and energy optimization. But they cost more than basic chargers without app connectivity or scheduling.

Installation Considerations

Home EV charger installation includes:

  • Hardwired, wall-mounted indoor or outdoor setup
  • Dedicated 40-60A circuit
  • Getting a licensed electrician
  • Permits and local inspections

Outdoor installations require weatherproofing and prevent tripping hazards. Indoor mounts should be close to your electrical panel. Professional installation runs $600-$1200 depending on electrical work needed.

Cost Breakdown

Home EV charger costs include:

  • Equipment - $200-$800 for the charger unit.
  • Electrical upgrades - Potentially $1,000+ if higher voltage service needed.
  • Installation - Electrician fees of $600-$1200, including permits.
  • Incentives - Up to $1000 back through some utility and state rebates.

Shop around to find the best value EV charger for your vehicle, usage needs, and home electrical capacity. Consider rebates and tax credits to help offset costs too.

Choosing the optimal home EV charger for faster charging, smart features, and budget requires careful consideration of all these factors. Use this comprehensive buyer's guide to make the best choice for powering your electric vehicle.

To look at our selection of EV Chargers click HERE

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