Several car companies (Ford, Mitsubishi, and GM to name a few) have been working to develop and market more all-electric cars. Now interested consumers can purchase a vehicle that uses absolutely no petroleum products. All-electric cars also do not release any emissions. In fact, electric cars don’t even have a tailpipe. Some of the electrical cars being marketed are the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi iMiEV, and the Nissan Leaf. GM has a plug-in hybrid called the Chevy Volt.
You can spend between $21,000 to over $40,000 on an all-electric car (some hybrid cars are both electric and gas-powered like the Volt), but how are they charged and what do you need to do to your home so you can accommodate your electric car?
What’s required to support an electric car at home?
Daniel Green of Hartford Mitsubishi said that when an electric car is purchased, it is required that the homeowner have a certified Hartford electrical contractor, either sent by their car company or a technician of the client's choosing, to inspect the home’s electrical systems. If you do not submit to an inspection by a certified electrician, it is likely the dealership will require you to sign a wavier. “It’s to confirm your understanding of your responsibilities,” said Green.
There are two ways Green said that a car can be charged at home, either with a typical three-pronged outlet which needs be able to be rated for at least 15 amps (or a 120V outlet). “Each car comes with a charging cord. You simply plug it in and it takes about 22 hours to charge,” said Green.
The second option is to purchase a home charging dock (240V). Green’s dealership, and most likely others, contract out for estimates and installation of a home charging dock. For example, Amazon may sell a home charging dock for $999 (EVSE Charging Dock), but each home has to be assessed for placement and safety. Green said that his dealership works with Best Buy for charger installations.
“You can also have it set up to have a charger placed in your garage for more convenience,” he said.
While it may seem like more effort and expense to install a charger dock for your electric car, the benefit is time saved. Charging your electric car from a charging dock only takes about seven hours from empty to full Green said. He added that no matter the brand car, timing of charging an electric car from either and outlet or charging dock is roughly the same.
Safety precautions for your electric car charging dock
Green said to treat your charging dock “as you would any other electrical appliance.” He said the docks are safe to be outdoors, but to not have clutter, greasy rags, or other debris around the charging dock. “It’s OK if it’s in the rain, it’s set up to take that, but you wouldn’t want to set it up next to your hose faucet,” said Green. “Otherwise just take the precautions you’d take with any other electrical appliance,” he said.
How long can you drive a “full” electric car?
How far you can drive your electric car before it runs out of power is a big consideration. If you rarely drive, 22 hours for a charge up may not seem bad. Also some electric cars can only drive about 43 miles on a charge such as the Nissan Leaf advertises. Others such as the iMiEV advertise they can go well over 100 miles before needing to charge.
If you decide an electric car is for you, check into federal tax incentives to help defray costs. Currently, you can receive a tax credit of $7,500 if you purchase an electric car.