Wondering how much electric vehicle charging stations cost before you make the switch to electric? It all comes down to how quickly they can charge your car and which charging options your car supports. Here’s a run down of what’s available, charging speeds, and how to decide which option is the right one for you.
This is the slowest and cheapest way to charge an electric vehicle at home. These chargers use a 120-volt connection that plugs into a standard household outlet. No need to hire a professional for installation since you can manage plugging it in all by yourself. Most EVs provide a basic Level 1 charger with the vehicle so you can plug it in anywhere, as long as the cable can reach the outlet. Consider where you’ll plug-in your EV and whether you’ll need an electrician to install a new outlet.
Basic wall-mounted plug-in units run from $300 to $600 making them quite affordable, but they aren’t quick to charge your vehicle. It can take 17-25 hours to fully charge an EV with a 100-mile range and a typical charging rate of 4 miles of range per hour.
Step up to a Level 2 charging station and charging times are much faster. These are typically 240 volts and can charge an EV with a 100-mile range in just 4-5 hours with a rate of roughly 25 miles of range per hour. These are the most common chargers and what most people choose to install in their homes. Some EVs are sold with dual-volt chargers that can manage either Level 1 or Level 2 charging, though most are Level 1 only.
Surprisingly, the cost of a Level 2 charger starts at roughly the same $300 price point and then climbs from there depending on an individual unit’s features. Smart units with timer delays and internet connectivity can cost well over $1000. While some Level 2 chargers can be plugged directly into a wall outlet, others are hardwired, which incurs an additional cost.
Hardwired or plug-in?
The Level 1 charger that comes with an electric vehicle is a plug-in so you can take it with you and plug-in to charge anywhere. Whether you’re at home or out and about, there’s no need for additional equipment or a licensed electrician to install anything to make these work, unless you don’t have an outlet located close to your car at home. Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars to have an outlet professionally installed.
Once you move up to a Level 2 charger, there are plug-in or hardwired models. A plug-in Level 2 charger is again one you can take with you and plug-in anywhere with a compatible outlet. One big difference is that they require a 240-volt outlet, also called a NEMA 14-50. That’s the same kind of outlet used for your dryer. If you don’t have one near where you park, then you will need a professional to install one.
There are also hardwired Level 2 chargers. As the name implies, these are hardwired in place and require professional installation. Costs to install a hardwired unit can run as much as $1000 depending on the installation. Despite the added installation cost, these are the preferred option if your vehicle will be charging outside since they generally provide better protection from the elements, although there are plug-in chargers with protective cases that are rated for outdoor use. Hardwired units are also harder to steal since they’re not easily unplugged.
Looking to purchase a home EV charger? Check out our list of the best home EV chargers.
Updated (3:36pm EDT, 7/7/2022): Removed our recommendations and linked to our best home EV chargers list.
Updated (2:30pm EDT, 5/18/2022): Replaced the Blink HQ 100 recommendation with the newer Blink HQ 150.
Updated (3:40pm EDT, 04/07/2021): Replaced washing machine with dryer.