Ready Your Home for an Electric Car

The electric commercial vehicle market is on an upswing. If 2022 is any indication of what’s to come in the next few years, chances are you’re also in the market to buy an electric car. We reached out to Avery Pennington, owner and operator of four locations of Mr. Electric, to see what homeowners need to consider when purchasing an electric car. 

What are some things to consider when it comes to bringing home an electric car? 

We like to do a site visit to figure out whether it will be simple or complicated. If there’s an existing electrical panel in the garage, the charger can be installed there. If the panel is in the house, then we have to evaluate all the possibilities. How old is the panel? Is it already overloaded? Could we install a sub-panel? It’s not always an easy answer because the amount of time to charge a car depends on the usage and efficiency of the plug. So, we assess the house and can recommend chargers. Level 2 is the most reasonable option.

What are all the charging options? 

Level 1 is the base level using a standard 120-volt wall plug. It can take up to 24 hours for a full charge. Level 2 uses a 240-volt outlet and is up to 15 times faster than a Level 1. It can fully charge in about 8 hours. A 240-volt outlet, like used for a clothes dryer, requires an electrician to install a dedicated circuit and is an efficient option for home charging.  Level 3 is the quickest way to recharge using a DC fast charger (direct current) at 480+ volts, but this option is only available for commercial/public use.

How long does a charge last? 

Miles per charge primarily depends on battery size in kWh (kilowatt hours). The largest electric car battery is 100kWH, which can provide more than 300 miles per charge in some models. Currently, most electric car batteries will give you about 200 miles per charge. 

Are there any safety concerns? 

Old electrical panels are a concern. If the house was built in the last 10-20 years, it’s doable, but if the panel is 50 years old, we won’t add more pressure to it. We have a lot of experience with upgrading homes for electric cars. We can do a free safety check while we’re there to evaluate the home. There is a dispatch fee to evaluate the home for an electric car, but we’ll check the rest of the house while we’re there. Some providers might have tunnel vision on a light switch or something and not pay attention to the whole system, but we spend hours every day discussing how to take time to do a thorough inspection of the home and explain our concerns to the customer. We often get asked, ‘What would you do?’ and my reply is always, ‘I would do as much as I could without taking food off the table.’ We’re not trying to run anyone into the ground, but we want their home to be safe. It’s a significant system in the home and there is a lot of room for failure. 

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, visit MrElectric.com/knoxville.

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