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Installing Home Charging Stations:
A Step-by-Step Guide
There are several types of chargers, but in almost every case homeowners will install a Level 1 or Level 2 charging station in their garage.
Level 1 Chargers
Level 1 chargers use a standard, three-prong, 120-volt outlet and typically do not require special installation. However, some utilities (including Ameren in Illinois) ask for notification before a customer installs a Level 1 charger. Check with your local utility to be sure.
Level 2 Chargers
The following steps apply to Level 2 chargers, which use a 240-volt outlet (the kind needed for clothes dryers) and require special installation.
1. Select a Level 2 charger
A variety of Level 2 chargers are available for residential use. Generally, drivers should select the Level 2 charger that their EV manufacturer recommends. Level 2 chargers are also available at:
- Blink Network, which offers “smart” chargers with remote charging capability using a mobile device, as well as technology that determines the lowest rates and charging times.
- PlugInAmerica, which has a sortable list of chargers and other electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) for both commercial and residential users.
2. Notify your electric utility.
The utility can evaluate the capacity of the electric grid near your home to help avoid any negative impacts on neighborhood electric transformers.
In Illinois, ComEd’s website on EV readiness asks that customers contact the utility either online (ComEd’s registration page for EVs) or by calling 866-NEW-ELEC (866-639-3532) when they plan to install a charger. Ameren similarly asks customers to contact the utility and offers a free assessment of a home’s EV readiness to its customers, who may sign up online or by calling 888-659-4540.
3. Hire an electrical contractor.
Most city codes require installation by a certified electrician. Generally, your EV manufacturer will be able to suggest contractors in your area, and then your contractor will be able to help in securing any necessary permits (see below) in addition to performing the installation. The Electric Drive Transport Association also keeps a list of charger manufacturers and service providers here.
4. Get a permit from your municipality, if necessary.
Many municipalities require a building permit for electrical work on a home, so you will need to contact the city or county building department to find out whether a permit is required for installing a Level 2 charger. (As noted above, your electrical contractor often performs this service.)
- The City of Chicago offers an “Easy Permit Process” for building applications, including electrical work.
- The Cook County electrical permit application is here.
5. Save money on the installation costs.
Illinois residents are eligible for a rebate of 50% of the equipment and installation costs from the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (the present rebate application deadline is April 17, 2014). You must purchase and install the charger prior to submitting the rebate application.
6. Save money on your electric bill.
Both ComEd and Ameren offer different electricity pricing options that EV drivers should consider. Visit our “Costs of Home Charging” page for more information about real-time pricing or go directly to the ComEd and Ameren websites to read about the choices.