Everything You Need to Know About Garage Outlet Installation for Electric Cars

In California, electric cars these days are as hip as hipster goatees. And why not? You save a ton of money on gas and you do your part to help save the environment — a win-win for future generations as well as your household budget.

So it’s not surprising that in addition to being asked which type of garage door to install, we’re also getting asked about electric outlets for cars. What kind of electric outlet do you need installed in your garage?

The kind of electric outlet you’ll need for your car depends on the model of car you have. Each model varies according to voltage — there has yet to emerge a standard. A Chevy Volt, for example, uses a 120v outlet, while a Tesla Model S battery needs a 240v outlet.

And sure, you can plug your electric car into your standard household outlet — as long as you’re not planning to drive anywhere for about a week. Charging times are significantly slowed without the higher voltage outlets.

There are other factors that can affect the type of outlet you’ll need in your garage to charge your electric car.

How Long Does an Electric Car Take to Charge?

That depends on a number of different factors. Are you talking fast charging to get more range, or overnight charging for a full charge? It depends on the type of electric car you have, as each type has varying battery technology and different battery sizes. Even similarly sized cars can charge at different rates.

Not only do the cars charge at different rates, but so do the charging stations themselves — each can deliver differing rates of charging power.

Basically, if your charging station provides more power than your car can handle, your car will act as a bottleneck. Likewise, if your car accepts more power than the charger can deliver, your charger will be the bottleneck.

And while most manufacturer’s list a theoretical charging time, this is an estimate that can be affected by a variety of elements. To figure out your EV’s charging time, divide your car’s battery pack by the electric vehicle charging station’s output rate or a number lower than the vehicle’s acceptance rate. That gives you the number of hours required to charge an empty battery.

This information will be displayed when you plug your car into the charging station.

120V Outlets for Electric Car Chargers

In any US and Canadian home, including Cincinnati, the 120V outlet is standard. This is the same plug you use for your phone, TV, and record player. When you’re charging your car, this is sometimes known as Level 1 charging.

But it’s important that charging stations be on their own dedicated circuit. If your charging outlet is connected to the laundry room or your garage door opener, you’ll draw extra amperage that could trip a circuit. This can be especially problematic if the charger is connected to the garage door opener, as the opener will stop working and appear to need repair.

Don’t have a dedicated circuit for a charging port? Call an electrician. They can create a separate charging circuit so you don’t blow a breaker or risk a fire.

A level 1 charging outlet will deliver between 12-16amps of continuous power — about 3.5 to 6.5 miles of range per hour of charging.

Level 1 charging power output can be between 12-16amps of continuous power. That means that the charger can deliver between 3.5 and 6.5 miles of range per hour of charging. That’s enough to get you around 40 miles of daily driving.

240V Outlets for Electric Car Chargers

Known as Level 2 charging, 240V outlets charge twice as fast as a 120V outlet — a key benefit if you are travelling across the country and need to recharge your juice. Some cars will allow you to plug into both 120v and 240V outlets, which can be critical. When you’re on the road, it’s great to have options. That way, you can take full advantage of a brewery or restaurant that offers charging in its parking lot. Take a break, grab a bite or a brew, and be charged and on your way!

With Level 2 charging, you have close to 60 miles per hour of charging time added. These outlets typically produce between 16-40 amps of power output — roughly 14-35 miles of electric range per hour of charging.

Please note — if you want a full battery to charge overnight, you’ll need Level 2 charging. That way, you get a fully charged car by the next time you use the garage door opener in the morning.

Level 3 Charging

The next level is Level 3 charging, which adds 90 miles of range to your electric vehicle in 30 minutes. The catch is these outlets are expensive and can damage your battery if used too often. You also can’t currently install them at home — they are available at some public charging stations.

But level 3 is how you can get a Tesla to reach 80% of charging capacity in just under 30 minutes.

What kind is right for your garage? Like garage door installation options and options for garage door openers, it all depends upon your preferences, budget, and particular needs. But choose carefully, as the type of charger you install in your garage will greatly determine battery performance and capacity.

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