Understanding Power Limitations When Installing a Level II Charger at home

September 21, 2022

If you are someone who likes to set the whole system up by yourself, there are a few things you'll need to consider. To help you do this, we will discuss finding power limitations when installing a level II charger at home.

Home-based charging equipment offers two distinct levels of power that ultimately determine the speed you're able to charge. Most plug-in cars, both pure electric and plug-in hybrids, need a Level 1 charging station. This allows users to charge their vehicles using conventional home outlets of 15 or 20 Amperes at 120 volts; This is all you will ever need if your car is a plug-in hybrid with a limited electric range; The same goes if you don't plan on driving it every day. If you, however, want to be able to top off an electric vehicle that has a large capacity battery, you will need a Level II charging which can use 50 Amp outlets between 208 and 240 volts, while the Level II charger is also a slow charger in few hours it can provide enough range for your daily commute.

What Is a Home Charging Station?

A home charging station, charger or technically an "electric vehicle supply equipment" EVSE does not technically charge your vehicle; it is mostly a dispenser, Your vehicle includes an inbuilt charger that converts alternating electricity from the power grid to direct current (DC). The electricity in its new form is then stored in the batteries. As EVs are becoming more and more popular, the whole process is becoming much more streamlined and straightforward.

What Are Your Charging Requirements?

Before installing a level II charger at home, you must first figure out precisely what your charging needs are in terms of your maximum daily commute. The time to charge is equivalent to a specific range of autonomy, commuting distance and the rated efficiency of your specific vehicle. Here is a table (updated on January) that lists the EPA efficiency ratings of the EVs available in North America and the ranges acquired with different types of EV Chargers. Depending on the efficiency rating of the car, each electric vehicle type charge at different rates and different capacities (distance or autonomy range).

Then you need to figure out the right size of EV Charger, just because you buy a charger that can convert more power, it doesn't mean it will charge faster. In most cases, you will be limited to the maximum charge speed your vehicle can take. Or you may end up with a charger that fills your battery in short a short period of time and remains idle the rest of the time. This is why you need to make sure you choose a charging device that can balance your needs and those of your electric car.

There are, however, ways to increase the charging speed for your vehicle. Fast Chargers or Level III chargers, which are ideal for public parking spots, on the road and highway rest and refuelling stations.  It is always advisable reading the fine print of your new vehicle to maximize the longevity of your EV, charging your EV on fast chargers, or charging the EV Battery always at the 100% State of Charge (full level) may affect the longevity of your vehicle.

Select a Location for Your EV Charger

When you know the what and the why, it is time to figure out the where. When deciding where to place your charger, there are a few factors to consider. The two most popular options for charger placement are floors and walls; The choice is based on the amount of available space you have. According to Number 1 Movers Canada, a moving company that uses several electric vehicles in their fleet, for most homes, wall chargers are the most common option for charging. This is because they are less expensive to install and take up less space than floor-mounted chargers. It is the best choice if you have a wall near where you park.

Floor-mounted or Pedestal type chargers are better option for a large parking lots they are a lot more expensive and time-consuming to install.

The power requirements

Here is where the buck usually stops. According to a study by Pecan Street, identifies that most homes in the United States lack the Electrical Panel Capacity for adding a charger. In particular Level-II chargers that require 208 to 240 Volts and at least 30 Amperes.

However in the study they find that most homes, have appliances, and equipment that uses this voltage and similar current requirements, which allows for the use of a Smart Splitter.

The principle of this smart device, is that the home may already have the capacity in the current infrastructure, except that it cannot be used at the same time.

For instance, they may have the capacity for the kitchen range, the clothes dryer and other equipment. And when everyone is at home, with the lights on, then the available capacity is used. However, at night, the period when the EV is parked, most people sleep, the TV is off, lights are off, nobody is cooking or doing laundry; with all these loads off, there is now capacity to charge the EV.

The “Smart Splitter” uses current transformers to monitor the main service feeder, to ensure that the maximum allowable consumption is never exceeded. The measuring system inside the automatic load management system can determine when the consumption drops below a safety point when it is fine to connect the EV Charger.

Article 625 of the NEC governs electric vehicle charging. A key provision in this section is Article 625.42 which states: “Where an automatic load management system is used, the maximum equipment load on a service and feeder shall be the maximum load permitted by the automatic load management system.” This means that your Smart Splitter is allowed by the code.

This will help prevent damage to your electrical equipment, it will not overload the Main Service Feeder or Panel and will save you time and money by avoiding a costly service upgrade.

Don't Do it Alone

Finding power limitations when installing a level II charger at home can be difficult. Given the technical intricacy and danger of electrical DIY installations. We will always recommend hiring a professional, a licenced electrician, to install your charging station; Having it inspected by your local inspector and having the certificate of inspection, will also keep you in line with your home insurance provider.

New call-to-action