Home EV chargers: How do I choose a home EV charger?
Insights | Aug 23, 2023

Home EV chargers: How do I choose a home EV charger?


A complete guide to finding the best home EV charger for your electric car

With so many home EV chargers on the market, it can be tough to determine which one suits you best. Whether you’re waiting for your shiny new EV to arrive or still mulling over the perfect model, home charging is about to become an important part of your day-to-day as an electric vehicle owner. That’s why we’re breaking down everything you need to know when buying an electric car home charger!

A few home charging basics

There are a few EV charging terms you might want to get familiar with before jumping into your research. We’ll even throw in a quick math equation to illustrate a typical charging flow (pun intended). But don’t worry, you won’t be tested on this later!

To determine how fast your car will charge, divide kWh / kW. For example, if your vehicle has a 90-kWh battery and your charger provides 9 kW of power, it will take about 10 hours to go from 0% to 100%. Many car manufacturers recommend staying above 20% and only charging to 80% capacity (unless you really need more range – you), so you’ll probably never need to charge from totally empty to totally full.

Here are a couple more key terms that are specifically related to home charging:

Determine how much power your EV needs to charge at home

Fast and furious or slow and steady? When shopping for a home charger, first-time EV drivers can get caught up in the marketing messaging surrounding charging speed. In reality, most people don’t actually need the fastest charger out there, meaning they can save money on installation.

Step one is to understand the difference between level 1 and level 2 chargers. We recommend reading our detailed article on charging station types if you are not familiar with the concept, but here’s a quick breakdown in the meantime.

Level 1 chargers use a regular wall outlet and deliver the lowest power output (approximately 1.2 kW). They’re often supplied with your EV or plug-in hybrid and can take over 24 hours to deliver a complete charge, meaning they are usually too slow for drivers who want to be able to charge their vehicle to 80% overnight.

Level 2 is the way to go if you’re looking to increase efficiency. Some models can hit 19 kW, but the truth is, most modern EVs don’t need that much power for overnight charging. The majority of vehicles can’t even accommodate more than 11 kW of alternating current (AC), although some larger vehicles like pickup trucks are on the higher side of 19 kW, so check your vehicle, and have an electrician tell you how much capacity your home electrical panel has.

Why faster isn’t always better

Electrical upgrades: Installing an EV charger at home incurs additional costs if you need to upgrade your electrical panel. The faster the charger, the higher the amperage it needs, so you need to check with an electrician to understand what your existing capacity is, and what it might cost to upgrade.

Charging habits: Even if your car can handle a high charging speed, you likely won’t need it if you typically charge overnight. A 30 A charger (7.2 kW) will take your battery from 20% to 80% in just 6-8 hours – essentially, while you sleep!

Hardwired vs. NEMA: what’s the difference?

The next consideration will be installation options. Hardwired chargers must be installed by certified electricians and are directly connected to your electrical panel. Plug-in chargers use a standard NEMA plug and a wall outlet, just like any electrical appliance in your home.

If you don’t have an existing 240-volt outlet and do have the ability to permanently install a charger on your property, we recommend hardwiring. The installation costs are usually similar, and hardwired chargers – like the FLO Home – may actually add value to your property!

“Location, location, location” also applies to home charging!

Where do you park your electric car? The answer will lead to a variety of factors to consider.

Attached or detached garage

You’ll need to consider the length of your charging cable and the ease of cable management. A shorter cable might require you to rethink how you park your car. You’ll also want to make sure there is an easy way to wrap the cable when not in use so kids aren’t tripping over it and the dog doesn’t take off with the connector (it’s happened…)

Shared garage

There’s an additional security element to shared parking spaces that’s worth exploring. If you’re worried about other people using your charger without permission (and racking up your electricity bill), you might want to consider a smart charger. These allow you to set a charging schedule and manage your charger from your phone, no matter where you are.

Driveway or dedicated outdoor parking near your house

If you have a convenient place to install a charger right next to your home parking spot, here are five key factors to consider:

Do you need a smart EV charger or not?

Who doesn’t love a little bit of smart tech in their life? Smart chargers give you the ability to schedule your charging around lower utility rates (if applicable in your area) and track your energy usage. Some utility companies are even starting to require smart chargers if you want to take advantage of lower “time of use” rates – i.e. off-peak usage hours.

If you think you might need to charge two vehicles at the same time in the future, a smart charger may be a good fit. Thanks to power sharing technology, you might be able to install a second charger without having to update your electrical panel; your chargers will be able to share information and adjust how much power is delivered to both EVs to optimize their charge.

Look for certifications as proof of quality

Some certifications, like UL, ensure the products you’re using are safe and have undergone rigorous testing. For EV chargers, this can mean being equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, surge protection, or temperature monitoring to protect both your vehicle and your home if something goes wrong.

Making sure the highest safety requirements are met is crucial for electrical equipment, especially if it’s installed outdoors.

Looking into the certifications listed on a charger’s spec sheet, or even looking up a product on trusted certification websites, can help you make an informed choice.

Go the distance

You want a charger that will be with you for the long haul. Warranties typically range from one to five years, so be sure to inquire about a charger’s buyer protection policy before you buy. The cheapest chargers on the market might seem enticing at first, but if you have to replace that charger more frequently than a well-made one, the costs will add up fast!

End of the road

And there you have it: everything you need to know to choose the perfect home EV charger. In our experience, EV owners tend to love the FLO HomeTM X5, but the most important thing is finding a home charger that meets your needs like a glove: reliable, efficient, and perfectly suited to your electric vehicle.