Ultimate EV Buyer's Guide by Swing, Chapter 5

Charger Installation

Before you get an EV charger (EVSE) installed, you’ll need to find installers, select a quote, and decide on an installation type.
 

Selecting an Installer

There are several tools available for finding installers in your area in addition to Swing Electric. Amazon  offers a service, or you can look for installers on Yelp . For Swing Electric drivers, we collect 3–4 different bids from electricians in your area because we’ve seen bid amounts vary 100% — 200% between installers. Expect them to ask for a site visit or photos of your electrical panels. It can often take a lot of time to manually give all potential contractors the same information -- shopping around can save money, but expect to spend a few hours finding the best installer if not going through a managed service like Swing.

 

Installation Types

There are generally two methods of installation for Level 2 Chargers: hardwired or plug-in. Hardware refers to running a conduit from an electrical sub panel directly into the charger. Plug-in refers to running a conduit from an electrical sub panel into a NEMA 14–50, 240V outlet (these look similar to a dryer or oven outlet) — then plugging the charger into the outlet. We typically suggest the plug-in option to our customers because it allows you to unplug and take the charger with you if you end up moving.

Standard Wall Outlet vs. NEMA-14-50 Outlet
A standard wall outlet (left) and a NEMA 14–50 outlet typically used for EV installs (right)

The cost of installation varies wildly from $250 to $2500 depending on whether you get the installation properly permitted (some municipalities and home insurance companies require this), whether or not your subpanel needs to be upgraded, and how far from the nearest subpanel your charger will be mounted. Most installations for modern houses we service cost between $500 and $1000 and take 2–4 hours to complete.

Installation can be relatively simple. Electricians run a wire from a subpanel circuit that can handle the charger’s power supply to the mounted box containing the charging circuitry. However, there are many common issues that come up during installation: wires to the subpanel are too small to carry the current for the charger, there may not be a circuit with a breaker that supports the high current demanded by the charger, or the charger install point may just be far from a subpanel which requires a long conduit run. Until an electrician takes a look, it’s difficult to get an accurate estimate of the costs of charger installation.

 

HOAs and Multi-Family Units

Installing chargers in HOAs, multi-family units, and anywhere else that offers “common” electrical junctions (with energy costs shared by several parties) can be complicated for several reasons. These types of housing often don’t have parking spots to install a charger next to, the parking spots are not assigned so there’s no guarantee you’ll get to park at your charger, or the parking spots are deeded but too far from the electrical closet. When there is no option but to use a common electrical junction, you’ll need a solution that keeps track of how much energy your charger is using so that you can compensate the HOA or building owner for the extra juice used by your car. There are several companies trying to make this process easier like GreenLots  and ChargePoint .