Ready to electrify your home? This step-by-step guide takes the guesswork out of installing an EV charger. We’ll walk through charger selection, ideal placement, hiring a professional, and what to expect on installation day.
With EV chargers, the devil is in the details. Small decisions like charging capacity and cable length make a big difference in convenience and costs over time. We’ll highlight key factors to get your charger setup just right.
Let’s jump in!
- Step #1: Choosing the best EV charger for your home and EV
- Step #2: Finding the best location for the EV charger
- Step #3: calling in the experts
- Step #4: Pre-installation checks
- Step #5: The day of installation
- Step #6: Testing and commissioning the charger
- Step #7: Using your EV charger for the first time
- What is an RCD and do I need a new one?
- How much does EV charger installation cost?
- Do you need planning permission for a home charger?
- Why buy a home EV charger?
- Can I get a faster 11kW home charger?
Step #1: Choosing the best EV charger for your home and EV
Purchasing and installing a home EV charger requires some forethought. Keep these key factors in mind when selecting the best model for your needs:
- Charging Capacity – Faster charging capacity equals less wait time. Home EV chargers typically range from 7kw to 11kW if you have three-phase. Higher power units can fully recharge an EV battery within 4-5 hours where lower powered ones may need 12+ hours. Know your car’s battery size and daily driving needs to pick the right charging speed.
- Mounting Style – Wall-mounted or freestanding? Wall mounts are fixed permanently and can include sleeker integrated designs. Freestanding chargers offer flexibility in placement, often on a pedestal, but take up space. Consider garage layout, parking alignment and cord length to pick the best mounting option.
- Smart Capabilities – In like with The Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021, home EV chargers now include smart features like Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity and scheduling. Some also have usage tracking and voice control compatibility.
- Power Sharing – Some EV chargers like the Easee One allow splitting power between units to charge multiple electric vehicles. If your home needs to charge two EVs, power sharing allows both to charge simultaneously at slower speeds.
- Cable Management – Well-designed tethered EV chargers neatly integrate the charging cable and keep it safely off the ground. Retractable cables, cable hooks, and other organisational features help avoid tripping hazards. Alternatively, you can get an untethered EV charger and store the cable when not in use.
- Rugged Build – Look for EV chargers with a durable outer cover that can withstand the elements including rain, snow, heat, and cold. Ensure the charger you select is rated for exterior installation and your climate conditions.
- Warranty – EV charger warranties typically run 3-5 years. Opt for a longer warranty period to protect your investment. Extended warranties are also available for added coverage.
Step #2: Finding the best location for the EV charger
Once you’ve chosen the charger, the next step is picking the optimal spot outside your home to install it. Ideal locations meet the following criteria:
- Near where the EV will be parked, allowing the cable to reach across.
- A location with a minimum height of at least 750mm above the ground.
- Clear of obstructions like windows, doors and footpaths with ample side access.
- A hard wall surface like brick rather than timber which requires extra mounting support.
- Proximity to your consumer unit (RCD) to minimise electrical run costs.
- Avoid areas prone to waterlogging or frost which could damage the charger.
- Ensure good visibility for ease of use and to deter vandalism. Mount at around 1.2m height for the best usability.
If installing multiple chargers, allow ample space between them.
Step #3: calling in the experts
EV charger installation is specialist work that requires certification to meet building and electrical regulations. A qualified electrician will:
- Verify the suitability of your home’s electrical supply and consumer unit. A 60-100 amp main fuse is typically recommended. A larger fuse size can handle higher power loads, so it may be worth upgrading during EV charger installation.
- Organise any necessary electrical upgrades to handle the charger load, such as thicker cabling.
- Safely handle cabling, earthing, isolators and circuit breakers.
- Obtain certifications like Minor Works and PAT testing so the installation adheres to EV regulations.
Step #4: Pre-installation checks
Before your home charger is installed, your installer will perform a few checks to ensure your property is ready for the charger and to establish what work is needed to bring it up to spec (if any).
These pre-installation checks include:
- Checking your water and gas pipes – Metal pipes require a bonding connection for safety. Bonding connects metal water and gas pipes to the property’s earthing system. This protects against electric shock risks if a wiring fault occurs.
- Checking your consumer unit – If the consumer unit is old or potentially unsafe, your installer will need to connect the charger wiring directly to the mains supply instead, or replace the consumer unit. This ensures a safe and compliant installation.
- Checking for a shared supply – When two properties share one electricity supply line, the supply company may need to upgrade the connection for the additional EV charger load.
Step #5: The day of installation
On the day of installation, the electrician will follow strict safety procedures:
- Isolate the mains power and use locking devices to prevent accidental switch ons.
- Secure the area with warning signs and barriers.
- Drill an entry hole through the wall, angled downwards to prevent water ingress.
- Feed XLPE insulated armoured cables from the isolator through the wall and out to the charger.
- Fix the backplate securely to the wall along with any bungs and grommits to seal the cables’ entry points.
- Connect the power cables to the charger electronics testing connections along the way.
- Make waterproof connections and fit the charger cover neatly into place.
Step #6: Testing and commissioning the charger
Before handover, the electrician will meticulously test that:
- Cables are undamaged with safe continuous earth connections.
- Insulation resistance exceeds 1M Ohm using a 500V test.
- Residual current devices like CB/RCBOs all trigger safely under load.
- Charger communications link up properly.
- The charger securely delivers its rated power capacity across various duty cycles.
- Everything conforms to BS 7671 – This wiring standard lays out the minimum requirements for safely and properly installing the electrical components of the EV charger system.
With everything checked and certified, the EV charger can be officially commissioned and activated.
Step #7: Using your EV charger for the first time
Once powered on, the charger will be ready to charge any compatible EV with a Type 2 cable connection. Helpful user features include:
- LED indicators showing charge status and alerts.
- RFID key activation preventing unauthorised usage.
- In-built energy metering of current and cumulative consumption.
- Timer functions to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates.
- Smart app connectivity allowing remote monitoring and control.
Additional features are available on more advanced charger models. But the basics deliver safe, convenient and cost-effective home charging. Just remember to get your electrician back in periodically to safety check the installation as needed.
What is an RCD and do I need a new one?
RCD stands for Residual Current Device and forms one component of your consumer unit (the electric fuse box probably located in your garage or basement).
Every smart home charger manufactured in 2023 has an internal RCD, and your charger will also connect to your home’s RCD (via your consumer unit) to draw power from a dedicated circuit. If your current fuse box is full and lacks space for adding the necessary circuit for the EV charger, you will need to have a secondary consumer unit (also known as a subpanel) installed.
An RCD is an important safety device that is integrated into many modern EV chargers. RCD stands for residual current device. It monitors the flow of electricity in a circuit and quickly disconnects the power if it detects an imbalance or “residual” current flow.
This imbalance usually indicates that some electricity is escaping the intended circuit, often through a person’s body to the ground.
Even a small leaked current of 30 milliamps AC or 6 milliamps DC can cause serious injury or death if it passes through vital organs. An RCD provides protection by cutting off the power within milliseconds if a dangerous leakage is detected.
How much does EV charger installation cost?
Home charger installation costs £800 to £1,500 in 2023 including hardware and installation, with an approximate 50-50 split between labour and hardware costs.
If you are a landlord, you can apply for the OZEV grant, which knocks £350 off the cost of installation in up to 200 residential or 100 commercial properties per year. Note that if you are a tenant, only the landlord can apply for the grant.
Should you need a new consumer unit or subpanel for the RCD running to your EV charger, you can expect this to add around £300 to the cost of the project.
Do you need planning permission for a home charger?
If you have off-street parking, adding an EV charger likely falls under permitted development rights. This means in most cases, you won’t need to apply for planning permission from the council before installing your home EV charger.
There are a couple rules your EV charger must follow to be exempt from planning applications:
- The charger unit can’t stick out more than 0.2 cubic meters from the wall. So no giant charger boxes!
- It has to be at least 2 metres away from any public road or footpath. Keep it tucked away near your parking spot.
- It can’t be installed on or next to any historic listed buildings that are protected.
Now, if your charger needs a stand to mount it higher up, that stand has to:
- Be less than 2.3 metres tall if you’re installing in a house or flat.
- Be at least 2 metres from any public road.
- Only have 1 stand per parking space.
- Lastly, if you ever remove the EV charger in the future, you’ll have to restore the wall or ground back to its original pre-charger condition.
It’s worth quickly checking if your home is in a conservation area or protected heritage site before installing. In those cases, there may be extra rules from the council restricting changes.
Why buy a home EV charger?
Installing an electric vehicle charger at home can make owning and operating an EV more convenient and affordable. Here are some of the key benefits of having your own home EV charging station:
A home EV charger provides you with unlimited charging access right from the comfort of your own garage or driveway. No more hunting for chargers at public stations or waiting your turn. Just plug in anytime you’re parked at home. This around-the-clock availability ensures your EV is always topped up and ready to drive when you need it.
Lower Charging Costs
Charging at home costs significantly less than using public fast charging stations. Home electricity rates are about one-third the price per kilowatt-hour compared to DC fast charging. For those with time-of-use plans, charging overnight during off-peak hours can drop costs even further. The savings add up, often paying back the upfront equipment and installation costs within just a few years.
Home charging paired with a renewable energy plan enables driving on sunshine! Opting for solar EV charger and a renewable electricity provider means the electrons filling up your EV’s battery are from sustainable sources. This amplifies the environmental benefits of driving electric instead of an ICE vehicle.
Longer Battery Lifespan
Frequent rapid charges at DC fast charging stations can reduce battery lifespan by introducing excessive heat. Charging daily at slower AC home charger levels is healthier for battery chemistry and can extend your EV battery’s usable lifespan.
Can I get a faster 11kW home charger?
If you want an 11kW home charger you need a three-phase power supply, which you can upgrade to, but beware it requires additional installation steps.
Upgrading to a 3-phase power supply at home allows for higher capacity EV chargers, but involves extensive electrical work. While an electrician can handle the upgrade, only the distribution network operator (DNO) can officially change the supply type.
To go from single phase to 3-phase, the DNO must first provide a new 3-phase connection at your home. The electrician then replaces the supply cable from the connection to the property, which often requires trenching to bury new cables. The single-phase distribution board is swapped for a 3-phase version to balance the electrical loads.
A key benefit of 3-phase power is supporting more powerful EV chargers. Single-phase supplies only allow up to 7.4kW chargers, but 3-phase enables faster 11kW charging.
The cost for a single to 3-phase home upgrade ranges from £4,000-£15,000 depending on trenching distance to connect the 3-phase supply. More extensive electrical rewiring and greater distance increases costs. But for EV owners requiring higher capacity charging, the upgrade may be worth the investment.