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Do you really need a Level 2 EV charger at home?

So, you just bought an electric vehicle. Congratulations! But now you’ve got to decide if you should invest in a Level 2 charger. And believe it or not, the answer isn’t as cut and dried as it may seem.

Common wisdom dictates that if you have an EV, you should install a Level 2, 240-volt AC charger in your garage or carport. This is almost always our recommendation here at EV Pulse, but there are a few exceptions.

Going the Level 2 route provides the best electric vehicle ownership experience because you can easily, affordably and relatively quickly recharge right at home. Typically get you between 25 and 50 miles of range per hour of charging, which is up to eight times faster than with a Level 1 charger.

emporia home ev charger hands on review
There are myriad Level 2 chargers to choose from. Photo credit: Jason Siu / EV Pulse

Price, of course, is a potential hurdle. The actual chargers themselves usually aren’t that expensive, but installation can cost thousands of dollars if you need to run a new circuit or upgrade your service panel. There are cases when these added expenses are simply not worth it.

So, who’s better off steering clear of a Level 2 charger? A few groups of people, actually: around-towners, workplace-juicers and urban motorists. Drivers with a second, combustion-powered vehicle might also consider sidestepping one of these chargers, as they can always use their other car or truck while charging.

So, if you’re an around-towner and only drive 10 miles or so to work every day and never take long trips, the 120-volt, Level 1 trickle charger that comes with many electric vehicles is perfectly fine. They can usually add two to three miles of range per hour to a battery, depending on the vehicle, of course, which means you should be fully topped up by the next morning. Easy, peasy, no need to spend extra money.

Workplace-juicers, or folks that charge at the office, may also want to skip installing a Level 2 charger at home. Many employers offer reduced-cost or even free charging as a perk for their staff. Assuming Ted from the accounting department doesn’t leave his Chevy Bolt EUV plugged in all day even after the battery is full, you can drive to work, juice up for your shift and leave with a full or nearly full battery. If this is an option, you may not need to install any new hardware at home; Level 1 trickle charging may be all you need, but everyone’s situation is different.

the best home ev chargers ev pulse
Many drivers will want a Level 2 charger at home, though some don’t actually need one. Photo credit: Jason Siu / EV Pulse

And finally, urban motorists that live in densely populated cities probably don’t even have a dedicated place to park their EV, much less a spot to install a Level 2 charger. Of course, this may not be an issue at all, because in this case there are probably enough public chargers nearby that you don’t need to purchase and install your own.

Aside from these groups of people, plus folks with multiple-vehicle fleets, many drivers — perhaps most of them, in fact — will want a Level 2 charger, but there are motorists out there that can’t install one or simply don’t need to. So, if you’re an around-towner, a workplace-juicer or an urbanite motorist go ahead and pocket the money saved from not having to purchase and install a Level 2 charger.

Written by Craig Cole

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