Everything You Should Know About EV Home Charging

September 29th, 2023 by

Hummer EV ChargingHummer has returned as an all-EV brand. The arrival of the Sierra EV is just around the corner starting with the very luxurious Denali Edition 1 with more mainstream Sierra EV models to follow. It might have you wondering if an EV truck may be right for you. That will depend on how you use your truck, but this fact is ironclad regardless of the circumstances: A key factor in EV satisfaction is the ability to charge at home. This allows you to plug your vehicle in when you arrive home for the day, with the expectation that it will be fully charged and ready for you in the morning. If your daily routine never approaches your EV’s range, you might never interrupt your schedule for a recharge until you take your EV on a long trip. If your home situation allows you to do so, you should consider installing a home charger as essential for EV ownership. 

Valley Buick GMC is here to inform you about home charging, but before we get to the details of that we should review the three levels of EV charging:

  • Level 1
    You do this from a conventional home socket. You can technically charge your EV from such a plug, but the rate is quite slow to the point of gaining only about 3 miles of driving per hour of charge for an EV car, and even lower for a large truck. If you have a daily commute within 20 miles or so, you will be able to charge what you need every night, but fully charging a battery from a low level would take days. Level 1 charging works well for Plug-in hybrids, and emergencies but isn’t really how you want to charge your EV at home.
  • Level 2
    All home chargers are Level 2, and it is the most effective and practical way to charge regularly while keeping the battery in optimal condition. Providing 240v power, it takes 6 to 14 hours to fully charge an EV, depending on the battery size.
  • Level 3
    These are the fast or DC-direct chargers you can find at most public charging stations and are not available for the home. Find a charger that is fast enough and the Hummer EV SUV can charge to gain nearly 100 miles in 12 minutes. The Sierra EV will likely be similar. Level 3 charging is useful for long trips, but daily use of it is not recommended as it can be detrimental to battery life.

    Level 3 charging rates are usually given to 80% of charge because, above 80%, a charging rate quickly declines to the point that charging from 80 to 100% doubles the time from 10 to 80%. Thus, it is not practical or time-efficient to charge to 100% on a Level 3 charger. 

GMC Sierra EV

Charger and Installation Costs

A good home charger should cost between $350 to $750. A typical installation can cost a little over twice that ranging from $800 and $2,000. However, the installation rate can run higher in certain circumstances. An older home with an outdated circuit panel for example, or one without room for an additional 240-volt circuit may need a breaker panel upgrade, adding to the cost. Therefore, it is advisable to check into the cost of installing a charger prior to purchasing your EV. As with any home modification, it is best to get at least three bids.

Home Charging your EV

What to Look for in a Home Charger

You can find several online sources with recommendations for chargers and discussions on the merits of their features and costs. But here are a few general rules:

  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL) certification
    There are less expensive chargers without these independent certifications, but it is not worth the risk of a possible repair bill or worse, a fire. Given that most of the cost is in the installation, only consider a certified charger.
  • The Correct Power Level
    Home chargers generally range from 7.2 to 11.5 kilowatts (kW). At about 9.6 kW, the EQS can charge from 10 – 100% in just over 11 hours. The Hummers and the upcoming Sierra EV all have very large batteries, so you will want to have a charger on the high end of that scale to fully charge it overnight. Any EV will only take what it can, so there is no risk of getting a charger that is too high-powered for your vehicle.
  • Have a 20 Foot or Longer Cord
    A long cable gives you flexibility in where and how you can park your vehicle. If your charging station is close to a garage door, a long cable will also allow you to charge in your driveway if your garage becomes needed for storage. If a garage is simply not available, It is no issue to mount the charger outside.
  • Plug vs. Hardwire
    Some chargers simply plug into a 240-volt outlet while others are hard-wired to your house grid. A plug-in charger is easy to remove and take with you, should you relocate or have a vacation home that also has an accessible 240-volt outlet. The downside is those plug-in chargers are more prone to what is known as “nuisance tripping”, in which your circuit breaker trips prematurely from a surge in the system. Plug-in chargers are more prone to nuisance tripping because both they and the wiring behind the outlet will have a ground-fault circuit-interrupting (GFCI) breaker, and twice the circuit breakers increase the chance of tripping one of them. The consequence is waking up to find your truck is not charged. Discuss this with your installer.
    If you do go with a plug-in charger, make sure it has a commercial-grade plug. Most common 240-volt plugs are not designed to be used continuously for 8 to 12 hours and may generate heat as a result. Nor are they designed for frequent plugging and unplugging. Think of your dryer or refrigerator, which are always plugged in but only draw power periodically. EV charger plugs need to be much more robust. Discuss the plug or hardwire question with your installer.
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
    This is a bit of a charger bell or whistle. Wi-Fi connectivity will enable you to see your state of charge in a smartphone app and also let you set a charging schedule. So, If your electricity rate drops sometime in the evening, you can arrange not to start charging until that time. However, many EVs already have these abilities built in. There may be additional info from the charger your EV does not have, it is up to you if it is worth the added cost.

Finding An Installer

Valley Buick GMC can help you with recommendations for local installers. There is also a national firm known as Qmerit that specializes in EV charger installation. Keep in mind that there is a specific EV charger certification from the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP). It isn’t required for charger installation but can give you some assurance that your installer understands all the nuances of EV charging.