By Stephanie Rosenblatt
During the stay-at-home order in March and April, I looked out my windows and marveled at mountains I forgot existed. Even before Governor Newsom announced the 2035 ban on gas-powered cars I wondered: Is this the time to switch?
I wanted to know what it would take to charge an electric vehicle at my house so I contacted Dr. Bob Kalayjian, a longtime Heights resident who has volunteered with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby for the last seven years. He also has a passion for electric vehicles.
What do you need to do to be able to charge an electric car at home?
As Kalayjian explained to me, for home charging, you have a choice of two options: Level 1 or Level 2.
You can buy an electric car, bring it home and plug it into your regular wall outlet. You can then “fill up” 3.5-6.5 miles of driving per hour of charging.
If you want faster charging, you can install a dedicated 220-volt circuit in your garage or near where you plan to park the car. This is the same circuit you would install for a clothes dryer or electric stove.
You may also need to purchase an Electronic Vehicle Supply Equipment control, commonly referred to as an EVSE.
The EVSE is a computer that controls the rate at which electricity is added to the car’s battery. It’s one of the reasons why today’s cars outperform their predecessors.
If you buy a Tesla, the onboard computer performs the work of the EVSE so you won’t need one. Other cars might work the same way so you should check the specifications of the car you buy before installing an EVSE.
A Level 2 charging station adds 14-35 miles of driving per hour. This is comparable to most public charging stations, with the exception of those that provide DC or rapid charging.
How much does all this cost?
The cost of installing a dedicated 220-volt circuit depends on how far the electrician needs to run the power from the circuit box to the outlet; In my case about $1,500 for 20 feet. I will also need to upgrade my 1950s-era circuit panel, which adds at least $1,000 to the job.
On Amazon, I found EVSEs ranging from $400 to $900.
When this article was written, Southern California Edison (SCE) wasn’t offering rebates for home charging stations, but rebates were available for buying or leasing an electric vehicle. Check the SCE website for current information.
Notifying Southern California Edison
Before you install a Level 2 charging station, you need to notify SCE so they can ensure your home electrical system can handle the load. They will also help you select an electricity plan.
Costs to Power Your Car
According to the SCE website, if I switch to a Time-Of-Use plan I can power up my car for the equivalent of less than $2/gallon.
For more information, including maps showing public charging stations across the country, visit SCE’s website.