Do I really need to install an EV charge point at home?

Discussion in 'General' started by Octopussy91, Oct 4, 2021.

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  1. I went over 2 years with my only car a full EV and I only used level 1 charging at home. I didn't need a level 2 charger even though my only car was an EV. You have 2 cars and suspect you don't need level 2 - I think you're exactly correct. Don't waste your money.
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  3. I'm in the same boat. I don't drive that much, and that plain ole low-tech wall socket handles my needs just fine. If you don't need faster charging to cover the amount of driving you do, save the money and use it for something more enjoyable. If your circumstances change, you can always install a level 2 charger later.
  4. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    We bought a Hyundai Kona EV in May - and ditched our two gas guzzling ICE vehicles - and for 3 months I purposely experimented with using only the level 1 EVSE which came with the Kona. During part of that time both my wife and I worked exclusively from home and now I'm out in the world and the wife is still working from home. Consequently, our driving was minimized when we got the Kona. Now, our driving distance is substantially higher, and will climb even higher when the wife also begins a daily commute - so much so that we will probably purchase another EV. Added to the present commuting: trips to do our shopping, shopping and other care needs for my wife's elderly parents, a few quick longish day trips, and one big quick road trip of 800 kms (500 mi.) in a single day, and the kms did add up. Those three months of charging exclusively at level 1 did teach me a few things:

    1. Level 1 charging is DAMN slow. The Kona would take almost 60 hours - SIXTY! - to charge from 0 - 100%. At roughly 7 kms/hr. - or less, unless I charged every time I was at home, it was easy to get behind that energy usage curve (see #2 below). A 75 km day (about 46 mi.) would mean at least 10-11 hours on the charger. We have Peak/Off-Peak rates for our electricity and the rates more than double during peak times. Our off peak hours are 7 p.m. - 7 a.m., so there is ample incentive to restrict charging to those times. Because it takes so long to charge at level 1, I found myself trying to keep as much charge in the Kona's battery as possible so as not to get too far behind, which would mean a trip to a public EVSE. Also, after that big 800 km trip, as I limped home with a mere 2% charge left, I realized there was no way I could wait 48 hours for our level 1 EVSE to bring the state of charge up to 80%, or even provide enough juice for the next day's driving in the time available during off peak rates.

    2. I found that at least once every week or two, maybe every 10 days on average, I needed to use area public level 2 AC EVSEs or occasionally a DC Fast Charger. We are fortunate to live near by a host of commercial public level 2 EVSEs - and at least a couple of free ones as well. We also have two reliable DCFCs - very much not free - within about 5 kms of our house. Free level 2 EVSEs are great, but you only get at best maybe 40 kms/hr of charging and most public level 2 EVSEs that I'm familiar with limit you to a 2 hour charge. I also found that the reliability of public chargers - level 2 and 3, free or commercial - was often spotty and unpredictable. One particular free DCFC rated at 24 kW actually provided less energy than a free public 6.6 kW level 2 EVSE during sessions of similar length. Another free level 2 EVSE had a charge curve which would continuously fluctuate from about 1.5 - 6 kW of power, rendering an average level that was maybe 4ish kW per hour. I could often schedule an hour of dog walking near a reliable free level 2 EVSE or commercial DCFC, but I realized that this was an occurrence which would not lessen over time, and the thought of needing to replicate this routine during the depths of an Ottawa winter did not exactly fill my heart with joyful anticipation. I dreaded the very thought of this part of the charging ritual come the bleak midwinter.

    3. Aside from HVAC systems, ovens/cooktops, washers and dryers, and water heaters, almost no electric circuit in home service panels is designed to handle a maximum current draw for multiple hours on end. That is exactly what a level 1 EVSE is capable of doing. The one outlet available in my garage for my 12A level 1 EVSE is on a 15A circuit. A 12A load is 80% of the rated capacity of that 15A circuit, the most you can safely draw. Sounds OK, but those outlets were not necessarily designed to pull maximum loads for 12+ hours at a time. A manufacturer provided level 1 EVSE is undoubtedly OK with hours of continuous 12A current draw, since it was specifically designed to do just that. The service panel and the wiring were probably also OK with such loads, as a properly functioning circuit breaker would prevent any overload heating on the internal wiring. The weakest link in the whole system was probably the outlet in my garage into which I plugged my EVSE. Were the contacts and wiring as tight as they should be? I began to feel it was not a great idea to have such maximum loads on any circuit, or more specifically any individual outlet that was not designed to handle such a continuous high amperage draw and might not be physically up to the task.

    4. The EVSE which comes with the Kona has a woefully short cable, necessitating the use of an extension cord, something Hyundai specifically recommends against. I understand why they do so, but one does need to pay attention to cable size, current rating, and cable length when using an extension cord for high current appliances. I bought the most robust 25 ft 12A three wire cord I could find and made sure it was uncoiled during each charge. But that meant I needed to take steps at keeping the junction between the EVSE and the extension cord dry during inclement weather possible over those long charge times. Yet another bothersome wrinkle to the charging routine.

    After careful consideration, I determined that for our present driving needs, level 1 charging is not reliably practical, nor convenient, nor did I feel it was entirely safe on a continuous basis. We installed a NEMA 6-50 240V plug in our garage, I purchased a quality UL and ENERGY STAR rated level 2 EVSE, and my charging routine is now an afterthought. With only level 1 charging, it was a constant concern which took a great deal of forethought and planning. I found that to be an unwelcome and unnecessary bother. After making the switch to level 2 charging, I have yet to wax nostalgic about level 1 charging. I miss it not one damn bit. And I feel much safer with my present charging hardware and routine.

    If you drive about 50 kms (30 miles) per day or less, it is possible to charge using only level 1, but as I noted above, what is possible might not be what is safest for your individual circuits, electric service panel, or outlets. The constant maximum load upon circuits not designed for such use and the uncertainty of the robustness of your outlets are reason enough to not use level 1 charging continuously. Obviously, the circuits and maybe even the voltage in your home are different from mine, but your concern for safety and a healthy respect for high voltage AC circuits should not be all that different. If you do plan on using primarily level 1 charging at home, it might be prudent to have an electrician inspect the outlet and service panel to make sure all of the connections and contacts are tight and that the circuit breaker is functioning as it should so as to minimize the possibility of any arcing or risk of overload or fire.

    Other than avoiding the costs of purchasing a level 2 EVSE and the installation of a 240V circuit, there are no appreciable advantages to using level 1 charging. However, as I enumerated above, there are several reasons - the most compelling being a concern for safety and mitigating the risk of an electrical fire - not to use level 1 charging as your primary means of providing electrons to your EV's "tank." I now only use my level 1 charger when level 2 or 3 charging is unavailable, which over nearly 3 months was during a single instance while away from home. I have yet to meet the EV driver who has ditched level 2 charging in exchange for level 1. I know I certainly won't.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2021
    davidtm likes this.
  5. It cost me $150 to have an electrician add a dedicated 20A circuit and plug for my EV, far less than the cost of a level 2 charger. Problem solved.
  6. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    You are the very first EV driver that I have ever heard of that installed a proper 20A circuit and dedicated it to level 1 charging. I suspect that would address any safety concerns, however, most people don't give any thought at all to what they plug into an outlet unless they trip a breaker. Also, I doubt if installing a 240V circuit would have cost all that much more. The main cost of installing another circuit would be the distance of the outlet from the service panel. As to the idea that you've saved money by not purchasing a level 2 EVSE, as I mention below, in the long run that notion might not be entirely accurate. Additionally, the Grizzl-E - one of the the highest rated level 2 EVSEs on the market today - can be purchased for $459 US on Amazon. For someone who has already spent $30K or more purchasing a new EV, the added cost of a 240V upgrade and/or EVSE purchase - which would be more than offset in fuel savings within the first year - seems to be not much of a real barrier.

    I rather liked the notion of level 1 charging, but as our average driving distance increased, level 1 could not keep up. I also suspect that if people were on the fence about driving an EV and were not committed to that change, if they faced daily charging sessions of 8-12 hours they would be likely to ditch the EV as being too much of a hassle. I firmly believe that the level 2 EVSE should really be considered as part of the purchase of the EV. I would wager that most people - including those who primarily charge at level 1 - would find that level 2 charging to be profoundly more convenient. Having tried both I wouldn't return to level 1 charging even if I my mileage dropped significantly. Level 1 takes about 6 times as long to deliver the same exact charge and it requires a whole lot more thought and planning.

    As for the added cost of purchasing a level 2 EVSE, it is not a given that using level 1 would necessarily be cheaper in the long run. By being able to time your level 2 charging to off peak rates, you can lower the cost per kW delivered. Yes you can time level 1 charging, however it was my experience that many of my level 1 charge times exceeded the available off peak hours. Additionally, demand response programs from local utilities are becoming a reality. These allow you to further reduce your rates for EV charging by allowing the utility to control the exact timing of your charger. To my knowledge there are no smart level 1 chargers which are demand response capable. I'm not even aware of any smart level 1 chargers. The added savings of timed off peak charging and demand response programs could reasonably be expected to significantly offset - or even cover - the cost of a level 2 EVSE over its lifespan. Additionally, if we are successful at substantially increasing the number of people driving EVs, demand response programs might become a viable strategy for helping to manage that increased load on our electrical grid.

    If level 1 meets your needs, good on ya', but I suspect that level 1 charging is definitely not a good selling point to those considering the switch to an EV nor is it likely to meet the average EV driver's needs in the long term.
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  8. marshall

    marshall Active Member

    That's a very good reason, which was the original poster's point of view.

    You are trying to compare your needs to the original poster's, apples to oranges.
  9. hobbit

    hobbit Well-Known Member

    I viewed the cost of the L2 EVSE as noise compared to the cost of the car, and ran my own wiring to the
    14-50 outlet. Even though the EVSE is kind of big and klunky [OpenEVSE format box], I treat it as portable,
    and bring it inside when I'm not using it. It'll go with me on roadtrips.

  10. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    I'm not pushing anything about my "needs." I don't "need" anybody to charge at level 2, nor could care less how you or anybody else charges their EV. I merely made observations as to why someone might choose not to use level 1 charging. And you seem to be rather blithely dismissing my points as being less valid because they don't align with the original post. I made several valid points as to why some people might find level 1 charging impractical, that it could be unsafe, and that it might not actually save money in the long run. Why are those points less valid than the original post? Should discussions be limited to only points that are in agreement with the original thread?
  11. marshall

    marshall Active Member

    Keep on topic. The topic was the poster's needs, not yours.
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  13. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    It's truly an impressive power you have at so confidently pronouncing what others' needs are, all from but a post or two online. That must come with an awesome sense of responsibility to use such power wisely.

    None of the posts have anything to do with anybody's "needs." All of the posts were merely statements about how people charge and their reasoning as to why they chose that method. None are more or less valid than others and none impute or imply any personal needs of any kind.
  14. To me it's really simple. I don't drive enough to need level 2 charging and every penny I might have spent on it would be a penny wasted.
  15. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    If level 1 meets your needs, great. Have at it as slowly as you desire. However, the arguments in defence of level 1 charging sound rather like extolling the virtues of dial-up internet or some other quasi-luddite position in favour of less efficient, slower tech, which is odd considering that EVs tend to be rather on the leading edge of automotive technology.

    As for your supposed savings, how much is your time worth? I last charged 91 minutes on level 2 and got 10.87 kWh, or about 71 kms added to my SOC. That same charge would have taken over 10 hours on level 1. I frequently can't do such a long charge at our lowest electric rates, or even leave the car plugged in that long before I need to use it again. Additionally, my time is far more valuable to me than that.

  16. I have a level 2 charger capable of charging at 32 amps. That's the max my Kona will charge at. But I rarely charge at that rate as I don't need to. I have solar so there is no cost savings to when I charge. It takes up no more of my time to charge at 12 amps then at 32 amps. Yes it takes longer to charge but I don't sit and watch the car charge I simply plug it in and unplug it when its charged. In the intervening time between plugging in and unplugging I am busy with other things. It has never inconvenienced me charging at slower speeds nor has it taken up any more of my time. If was was in a hurry I might be more concerned but I am not. YMMV
    Bruce M. likes this.
  17. My time? It takes me exactly the same 25 seconds to plug in whatever sort of charger I am using. The car charges while I sleep
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  18. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    And as I've stated several times already, at level 1 it is quite possible to plug in hours before I go to sleep and have the car not be finished 12 hours later when the off peak lower rates end. I'd wager that level 1 charging works well in the long term for but a small percentage of EV drivers. If you're one of them, good on ya', but you're in the minority. My level 2 EVSE also takes seconds to plug in, but if I do so as I'm preparing dinner, by the time I've finished my meal, I'm back to my 80% SOC. If I need to go to another gig or some other function, I hop in the car and go. Meanwhile, you're still charging and likely will be long after I've returned home. Oh, and I'll have time to top off my charge AGAIN before you've finished your first charge. It is neither purer nor more noble to charge at level 1, it is not necessarily any cheaper in the long run, and it sure as hell isn't even a tenth as fast. Where's the advantage? Last time I checked, you can't drive the car while it's charging, so it is unavailable during those painfully extended charging sessions. I frequently need the car before a 10-12 hour charge would be finished. Maybe my time is just worth a hell of a lot more than yours, but I do not see any advantage to being without a car while it charges at a tectonic pace.
  19. davidtm

    davidtm Active Member

    I would add that thermal efficiency of charging on Level 1 is a (slight?) disadvantage. Some of the energy from the wall outlet is lost as heat due to increased resistance at lower voltage.
    bwilson4web likes this.
  20. For someone who keeps saying you don't care what others choose, you sure put a hell of a lot of energy into trying to convince us we're wrong. Consider decaf.
    bwilson4web likes this.
  21. nogasman

    nogasman New Member

    I guess while you wait for your interminable charge times at level 1 you've got lots of time to snipe at EV apostates who fail to recognize the purity of 120V charging, eh? Why is an alternative point of view mean that I'm "trying to convince [you you're] wrong?" I really don't think you're wrong, I just think you're content with spending FAR more time charging your EV and being without a car more than I am. Different strokes... And I don't drink enough caffeine to be troubled by it, however, I do find needless prickly jousting tedious. Charge well and charge merrily, mon ami.
  22. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    An example of a home, L2 EVSE, a JuiceNet 40 Pro:
    • 67% charge limit - Tesla Std Rng Plus Model 3, 2.5 years, 54,000 mi
    • 30.7 kWh charge to 67%
    • 02.0 kWh - indicated 8 mi at .25 kWh per mile
    • 32.7 kWh estimated for full 67%
    • 48.8 kWh estimated 100% SOC, 32.7 kWh / 67%
    One advantage of a network linked, EVSE, is capture of charging metrics to track the capacity of the EV battery. An L2 charger limited by the Tesla to 32 A, it was back to 67% by 10 PM.


    Bob Wilson
  23. Can't you do that with your phone or on your computer at home? That's what I do with my Kona when I am charging at a free remote charger (15 min walk from home). It communicates with the car, not the charger.

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