Owning an electric vehicle (EV) is a great way to help the planet by moving away from fossil fuels, while also saving yourself some money on expenses like gasoline. As more and more people are going green, electric vehicle home charging stations are become increasingly more common in Sonoma County homes. Whether you already own an electric vehicle or are thinking of getting one, having a EV Level 2 charging station installed at your home can be a game-changer. In this guide, we outline all the basics of electric vehicle home charging stations, the different levels, and the installation process to help you get started. 

Installing an EV Charging Station in Your Sonoma County Home 

Electrical Vehicles can be charged by three types of charging stations. The first two types may be used to charge your vehicle at home.  

Level 1: 120-Volt EV Home Charger 

When you buy a new electronic vehicle, it will come with a Level 1 charging station. This type of charging “station” looks more like a large adapter, and can be plugged into any standard, grounded wall outlet, and is supported by most modern home electric panels with no upgrades required. A Level 1 EV charging station is the slowest vehicle charger, and will only deliver about 5 miles per hour of charge.  

Level 1 chargers can be good for homeowners with a plug-in hybrid vehicle, or anyone with a short commute, access to public charging stations, or the ability to charge their EV vehicle for 8+ hours every night. 

Level 2: 240-Volt EV Home Charger 

A Level 2 charging station requires a dedicated circuit and 240-volt outlet. It can charge your vehicle with 25 miles worth of charge for every hour it’s plugged in. That’s four times faster than the charger that came with your EV! Some EVs have larger batteries, so take longer to fully charge. If you have a long commute, you may need to charge it to its maximum range, which simply can’t be achieved overnight with the Level 1 charging station. 

Level 3: 480-Volt Commercial Model for Fast Charging  

A Level 3 Charging station is for commercial installations and provide a much faster charge. These stations are not available for homes, but can be found at some hotels, public parking lots and garages, and rest stops. 

Sonoma County Home EV Charing Station Installation Check List 

Installing an EV Charging station is a multistep process. The rewards of charging your vehicle at home, make it well worth the effort. Here’s a checklist to take your through the process.   

Select a Professional Electrician with EV Charging Station Experience  

Since the Level 2 charger requires a 240-volt outlet on a dedicated circuit, this is not a do-it-yourself project. Improper installation can cause harm to your home’s electrical system as well as your car’s battery, and can present a risk of electrocution or fire. At the very least, the performance of the charger could suffer from improper installation. 

You will need to have an electrician with knowledge and experience of EV charger home installations, come and inspect your home’s electrical system before installing the charging station.       

Get an Electrical Inspection of Your Home First 

It’s important to ensure that your home’s electrical system can handle the additional load or a new EV charging station, especially if you have an older electrical panel with older circuit breakers. Your home may need an electrical system upgrade to ensure your vehicle gets enough power, and to avoid overloading and tripping your breaker.  

Check for Permitting Requirements Before Installing 

Most counties and municipalities require a building permit to install a 240-volt charger at your home. Building permits may be obtained by your city’s building permit office, or from your county’s office, if you’re in an unincorporated area. If you’re outside city limits in Sonoma County, you’ll need to apply for a permit from Permit Sonoma. Folks in Santa Rosa will obtain a permit from the City of Santa Rosa’s Planning and Economic Development’s building permit division. However, most electricians will pull the permit on your behalf. Ask the electrician, when you inquire about scheduling installation.   

Decide Where to Have Your EV Charger Installed 

Your electrician can help you with finding a good location for your EV charging station. Ideally, you’ll want it in your attached garage, if you have one, where wiring will be easily accomplished. It needs to be in a spot that can be easily accessed by your vehicle. It can also be outside or in a carport. If your car is typically parked away from the house or on the street, you’ll need to run electrical underground. Your EV installation specialist can help determine the best location, taking these additional costs into consideration, and provide you with a quote before any work begins.    

See If Your Area Offers Any Electric Vehicle Incentives 

In most areas, EV incentives, tax rebates, and consumer rebates exist, and even rebates for EV charging stations and installations. For instance, in Marin County you can get a rebate for installing EV charging stations at multifamily homes or a place of business. In fact, the Marin Community Foundation is offering FREE EV charging stations for affordable multifamily properties (deadline to apply is March 3, 2023).   

Get a Compliance Certificate After Your EV Charger is Installed 

Ask your EV installer for a copy of the compliance certificate upon completion of the installation. You may also receive similar copies of certifications that satisfy local government entities. These certificates serve to show that the wiring and installation have been performed safely and according to all regulations. In addition to satisfying the government and providing you with peace of mind, these certifications can be important if you later need to deal with an insurance company or the manufacturer. Improper installation or lack of certification can, in some cases, result in government fines, breach of manufacturer warranty, or forfeiture of insurance payout from electrical damage from an overload or lightning strike.  

Trust the Sonoma County Electricians at Schafer Electric 

Installing an electric vehicle home charging station is an investment in your future as well as the environment. The experts at Schafer Electric also install solar electric, making that EV even more cost effective, benefiting from clean, renewable energy. At Schafer Electric, we have been providing the highest quality services and personalized electrical solutions throughout Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties for more than a decade. Contact our team of professional Sonoma County electricians for any of your home electrical needs today.  

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