George Jetson didn’t tell us what it took to charge up the family space ship car, but I bet it was kind of like today’s electric vehicles…You may think it’s as simple as putting an outlet in the wall and plugging the car in, but it’s so much more.
Let’s talk about some electrical basics. Not all electrical items use the same amount of electricity. Take your table lamp, for example—it uses only a little bit of electricity, but your hair dryer and vacuum? Those are much more powerful and therefore require more electricity. The same is true of electric vehicles. Regular cars require combustible fuel just to run, so as you can imagine, a car running solely on rechargeable batteries needs more available electricity than a table lamp! This is where load calculation comes in.
Load Calculation: Making Sure You Have Enough Power
Knowing how much power electric vehicles (EVs) need, the next step is to make sure that your home has enough available electricity for charging it. Here at ElectricMan, we accomplish this by completing a ‘Load Calculation’ on your home, and we start at the electrical panel. You can think of your home’s electrical panel (also called a fuse box, breaker box, etc.) as a delicious, seasonally-appropriate pumpkin or pecan pie—and every slice of this wonderful pie counts toward a share of the electricity in your home.
One slice goes to your air conditioning and heating system, and another couple of slices will go to your kitchen appliances, like your oven, stove top, microwave, and refrigerator. And don’t forget about that washer and dryer! We calculate the ‘peak demand’ or maximum electrical power usage for your home by adding up all those slices of pie and seeing just how much pie is left over. For us to complete an accurate Load Calculation, we need to make sure that you’ve got at least one slice of that pie left that is big enough to devote to EV charging.
Let’s say it’s Thanksgiving Day—you’re roasting the turkey in your oven (or deep-frying it in the backyard, perhaps), all your festive side dishes are cooking away on the stove top, you’ve got a load of laundry going because Uncle Fester and Fido tracked in mud from the flag football game in the yard, little Grandma Jean is drying and curling her hair in the upstairs guest bathroom, and your air conditioning is running because Dallas has a seasonally-inappropriate, but unsurprising, heat wave. Is there enough electricity left over to charge that Tesla Model S, BMW i3, or Nissan Leaf without overloading your whole panel and causing your house to lose power? We’ll make sure there is!
Installing an EV Charger
Now that we’ve determined that you can safely turn on all your appliances, run all your vacuums and dryers, AND charge up that car, we can talk about installations. If you’ve got plenty of available electricity, then you’ll have multiple options for charging. Say your Tesla is set to arrive next month—you could choose to go with the always-popular NEMA 14-50R outlet and use the mobile charging cord that comes with your car to plug in and charge up. Alternatively, you could choose to purchase the Tesla Wall Connector directly from Tesla, which offers a longer charging cable and a range of charging capabilities.
We’ll also be looking for a charging location. Think about where you park currently. Do you park in the garage, under a carport, or outside? Is your electrical panel in the garage? Are you near or far from that electrical panel? The best bang-for-your-buck will always be installing the charging outlet as close to the panel as possible—but remember, these charging units can almost always be installed anywhere you can fit your car.
Getting a Permit for Installing EV Charging Equipment
The last piece of this puzzle is to talk with your electrician about getting a permit with your city for the work. Most cities require a permit to be pulled for this kind of work, and many EV manufacturers suggest it as well.
This keeps all parties accountable. You, as the homeowner, have chosen a licensed electrician who is registered as a contractor with your city. The city knows you’re working licensed electrician whose work will be checked by them for safe and accurate installation according to city, state, and national electrical code. Lastly, the EV manufacturer would have a difficult time invalidating any warranties associated with your vehicle due to a possible faulty charging unit installation. Not all cities require a permit on this kind of work, or at least on certain types of installations. Dallas, for example, doesn’t require permitting the installation of the popular NEMA 14-50R charger. And certain manufacturers don’t require it unless your city requires it (i.e. Tesla).
Installing the electrical for the EV charger is like artwork—a true craftsman takes pride in the installation.
If you are thinking about getting an EV, it is always best to contact the licensed and insured Dallas electricians at ElectricMan. As Tesla specialists, we can make sure your EV charging station is done right. Give us a call at (972) 362-1804 today or fill out our online contact form.