Choosing the Best EV Charger for You

If you, like many of the residents of Kirkland, WA, already own or plan to buy an EV, you’ll need a charging solution. That’s because it’s still rather inconvenient to rely solely on the public charging infrastructure. Plus, it’s far more expensive to charge an EV using public chargers than one at your house. The trouble is that the market for home EV chargers is still complex and ever-evolving. And since a home EV charger is a big investment, you wouldn’t want to choose the wrong one. To help you pick the right EV charger for your needs, here’s an overview of home EV charging technology. We’ll discuss what kinds of home charging infrastructure you can choose from and some of the key features of today’s best chargers.

Making Sense of Charging Connector Standards

One of the biggest challenges involved with choosing an EV charger for your property is understanding which one will work with your EV. The reason is simple. As EVs first gained traction here in the US, most manufacturers united around a single charger connector called the J1772, or J Plug. The biggest exception was Tesla, which used a proprietary connector that wasn’t compatible with the J Plug. The trouble began as Tesla began building out its network of public Supercharger stations. Since their stations wouldn’t work for EVs with a J Plug, other companies began building a parallel network of charging stations to compete with Tesla.

That led to plenty of confusion among EV owners over where they could charge their vehicles. Eventually, the passage of a Federal infrastructure bill provided funding to speed the construction of public chargers nationwide. To claim a share of the funds, Tesla announced that it would allow other EV manufacturers to use its charger specification, and Tesla modified it for compatibility. They also renamed their charger connector to the North American Charging Standard (NACS).

Today, more and more EV manufacturers are adopting the NACS standard for their vehicles. At the time of this writing, major automakers like GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedes are in the process of switching. Additionally, non-Tesla public charging stations are beginning to adopt the NACS standard as well.

The takeaway from all of this is that, depending on when you purchased your EV, it may have one of three distinct charger connectors. It may have the original Tesla connector, the J Plug, or the NACS connector. The good news is that all three work with today’s home EV chargers. You may need an adapter depending on which one you purchase, but there won’t be any functionality differences. However, it’s worth pointing out that your best option right now is to purchase a home EV charger that supports the NACS connector. It will give you the greatest forward compatibility if you purchase a new EV in the coming years.

Types of Home EV Chargers

Broadly speaking, there are only two main types of chargers you can use to charge your EV at home. The first, known as Level 1 charging, involves an adapter that plugs straight into any common household outlet. However, Level 1 charging is incredibly slow, taking up to 50 hours to charge the average EV to 80%. That’s impractical for the average driver, which leads to your second option, a Level 2 charger.

Level 2 EV chargers operate at higher voltage and amperage and can charge your EV far quicker than Level 1 charging. The average Level 2 home EV charger can charge your EV’s battery in as little as eight hours. That means you can leave your house each day with a full charge if you plug in your EV each evening. However, not all Level 2 chargers are created equal.

There are Level 2 home chargers that operate at 120 volts and others that operate at 240 volts. Different Level 2 EV chargers also operate at different amperages. Most Level 2 home EV chargers on the market today operate at between 16 and 80 amps. However, no EV available today can charge beyond 48 amps with a Level 2 charger, so anything beyond that is overkill. If you’re concerned with future capabilities, however, you can always install a charger that operates at a higher amperage.

Here at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning, we install Level 2 home chargers that work at 240 volts in a variety of amperages. They offer the best mix of charging speed, functionality, and compatibility. Also, you can choose between two types of this type of charger. One type plugs into a 240-volt outlet, operating on a dedicated circuit. They work well if you need a portable solution that you can use in more than one place. Or, you can choose a hardwired type, which we wire directly into its own circuit in your house.

Other Factors to Consider

When you begin evaluating your EV charger options, you should also consider a few key features that distinguish them. For example, some Level 2 home EV chargers feature dual-port charging capabilities. This allows you to charge two EVs at the same time, which is essential for multi-car households.

Some home EV chargers also feature smart charging capabilities. They can, for example, let you schedule your EV charging to coincide with the cheapest time-of-use electricity rates. Some even integrate with residential solar power infrastructure to help you maximize renewable charging. Smart charging is also handy for managing your household’s overall electrical load. Some can limit your EV charging speed during certain hours so as not to conflict with other power-hungry devices. That’s important if your home uses electric appliances like washing machines, ovens, and dishwashers.

You should also consider the type of connectivity a home EV charger features before making your decision. Some chargers feature smartphone app controls that allow you to monitor your EV’s charge status from anywhere. They may also feature data analysis functionality to help you better plan your EV’s charging schedule. You may even wish to consult with your EV’s manufacturer for insights into which Level 2 home charger would work best with your vehicle.

Your Local Home EV Charging Specialists

For over 20 years, Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning has offered quality, affordable electrical services to residents in and around Kirkland. Today, that includes working with and installing the latest in home EV charging technology. We can handle every aspect of the process, including any necessary modifications to your home’s electrical infrastructure. We also offer complete HVAC services, including installation, repair, and maintenance. Our team even provides indoor air quality solutions and duct cleaning. Plus, we’re a Nextdoor Neighborhood Fave, and we have a long list of five-star reviews from happy homeowners just like you. We also partner with a variety of local charities as our way of giving back to the community. So, if you need a Level 2 EV charger installed in your Kirkland home, contact our experts at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning right away!