Electric cars are becoming more and more of a staple in households to combat carbon emissions and cut long-term costs associated with fuel and repairs. Unlike traditional gas-powered vehicles, electric cars, including Teslas, need to be charged consistently. Charging at home overnight is often the most convenient way to recharge and requires preparation.
How do you prepare your home for a Tesla? To best prepare a house for a Tesla car, you should:
- Examine your electrical system and power consumption
- Decide on a convenient location for charging
- Consult an electrician for upgraded charging installation (if necessary)
- Purchase the appropriate charger (if necessary)
There are multiple ways to charge your Tesla from home, the most notable being installing an entire charging system or lower-cost options, such as mobile chargers. The charging capabilities and costs differ depending on the option you choose, and this article will discuss these solutions to help you determine which is best in preparing your house for a Tesla.
How to Prepare Your Home for a Tesla
There are some general steps that you should take before purchasing a charger to ensure that your Tesla charging system will be compatible with your home setup. Because there are different solutions for charging, understanding your electrical system will help determine the best options for your home.
Examine Electrical System and Power Consumption
How the electrical system is set up in your home will impact your charging capabilities, especially when installing a designated at-home charging station. For optimal charging, you may be required to install additional devices or reconfigure wiring to serve Tesla’s charging needs.
You must look into the following to set up your charging system:
- Current electrical wiring and configuration
- Home voltage capabilities – including dryer plugs
- Desired power consumption
Electrical Wire Configurations in Your Home
Understanding the configuration is most easily determined with the help of an electrician, but you can also examine the electrical wiring yourself. You will need to locate your power panel, which is responsible for power distribution throughout your home. Your power panel and important information about amperage will often be printed directly on your circuit breaker.
Amperage (also referred to as amps) measures the strength and flow of current in your home (Source: HowStuffWorks). The year your home was built will influence the power of the currents running through your home. In modern homes, the amps will be higher, which allows for stronger electrical currents to be supplied to your outlets.
There are multiple reasons you may need to rewire or add additional wires:
- The outlet’s desired location is far from the power panel: Installation costs will likely be higher if it is difficult to add wiring from the charging station’s power panel. If the charging station is closer to the power panel, it will often be easier to install and make changes.
- The wiring is outdated: Old electrical systems may need to be upgraded if your home is old or the original setup is not compatible with a charging station. This could entail more costs to replace old parts or add additional equipment that was not available when the house was built.
- The wiring needs to be extended outdoors: It may be easier and more convenient to place the charger outdoors based on space (Source: EnelX). It may require additional wires to reach the area but could be worth it for the added flexibility.
Consider the Voltage in Your Home
Traditional outlets use the 120-volt system, which provides power through most of the outlets in your home. When charging a Tesla with these outlets, it will take a significant amount of time and energy to provide any real value or charge to the vehicle. 240-volt outlets should be installed to provide more power to your home and allow for faster charging.
Because wire configurations adhere to the 120-volt system, technical rewiring will need to be completed during installation for 240-volt. This not only increases the voltage, but it increases the amps as well. Upgrading to a higher-powered outlet will also allow you to place less strain on your electrical system’s overall power capabilities.
Look for Dryer Plugs
Before you make any costly investments in installing 240-volt outlets, you may already have them in your home. They are typically used as dryer plugs and were designed for clothes dryers that often have higher power requirements. These are often located in the garage, with most homes having at least one.
You should look at the electrical layout of your home before reconfiguring any plugs. This may require looking at the physical outlets – a 240-volt outlet will have four prongs instead of the traditional three for a 120-volt outlet (Source: The Home Depot). If you have a layout of the home that specifies power requirements and options, these will be helpful to reference.
If you already have a 240-volt outlet, this will make at home charging much simpler and avoid the need for an entire station to be installed. The purchase of the charger will most likely be your only expense, which is minimal in comparison to potential installation costs. Hopefully, it is in a location that is near the location you will park your Tesla.
Power Consumption For Tesla Chargers
The amount of power your home consumes is tied directly to amps, as they determine the maximum usage capacity within the electrical system. Power consumption is also an economic factor to consider. It’s essential to know how installing specific Tesla charging systems will influence energy efficiency and monthly utility bills.
While you may want to add the Level 2 240-volt charger to your home, you also need to consider the consumption limits in your home. Adding a powerful charging system could be overwhelming to the entire electrical system and its ability to distribute power throughout the home. You will need to consider how many amps your home can accommodate.
Using the amp measurements will help to determine what your home capacity is. You will want to add up all the amps being used and the amount you hope to install on the charging system. You should try to stay under 80% usage to create a safe buffer and protect your electrical system. You can use the Department of Energy’s Electronic Energy Usage Estimator to determine how many amps your home can handle with its existing appliances.
Beyond the physical consumption limits, you may also want to consider the cost and efficiency of energy consumption. Using a more powerful 240-volt (Level 2) plug will save some electricity in the long-run as you are spending less time to charge fully. Using a 240-volt system adds more capacity to the circuit and prevents overuse of amps with too many 120-volt plugs.
Find a Convenient Charging Location
Garages are typically the most convenient and sensible location for you to charge your Tesla. They often have access to outlets and provide enough room for you to keep your car and charging station in a dry and protected location. You will want to make sure there is an outlet that will not impede foot traffic and is conveniently placed for easy access.
You may need to reconfigure the layout or storage options in your garage to accommodate the charging station. By looking for all possible outlets in the garage, you may find a spot behind a box or portable shelving unit that makes more sense for charging. It is common for there to already be a 240-volt plug in your garage. If you have one of these, a Level 2 charger can be used here instead.
If you do not choose to charge your Tesla in your garage, any spot with an accessible outlet will likely work. The home charging station does not take up considerable amounts of room and only needs some wall space to mount properly. You can also find chargers with different cord lengths for convenience.
Important Considerations for Tesla Charging Station Locations
While a certain spot may make the most sense to you at first, thinking of all of the possible scenarios that may occur if charging in that spot will prevent costly installations that may not work in the long run.
Here are some important considerations to make when choosing a Tesla charging location:
- Weather conditions: While your charging will be waterproof if used outside, the cold weather can slow down charging speeds (Source: Phys.org). This can cause some delay in charging, especially if you are using a 120-volt charger. Charging in a garage can help to control temperatures.
- Outlet locations: You want to ensure that you are within range of an outlet without creating additional hazards with long cords. Ideally, your charging port should be within a couple of feet of the vehicle it is charging.
The Tesla Wall Connector is a separately sold at-home charging system that will allow you to plug it into a wall and charge more quickly than provided mobile chargers (Source: Tesla). They can be found in varying amps and are suitable for various models to charge and work with your home electrical system.
Discuss Installation Options with an Electrician
It is recommended to charge your Tesla with a 240-volt Level 2 charger. This will require an electrician to configure an outlet to accommodate these higher power outlets if they do not already accommodate such charging options. They are the best option for properly installing a home charging station.
Why Use An Electrician for Tesla Charging Station?
The electrician will not only be able to install this system for you, but they can help you determine what power configuration will make the most sense based on your electrical setup. Having them do an estimate and walking you through the options will allow you to decide the best charging option and limit energy use in the home.
There are typically two things that can be added by an electrician to accommodate powerful charging stations, given that your current electrical system will permit it:
- Adding outlets: Sometimes, electricians can easily add a 240-volt plug to your home if the electrical system is already able to accommodate it.
- Adding circuits: To increase the capacity for power to accommodate higher-powered appliances, adding a circuit that reconnects to the power panel may be the best option.
Adding a Level 2 charger will likely require professional installation to properly configure wires and place the system in a place that works for the car’s location. If you try to plug in a powerful charger or upgrade the system yourself, you could be creating additional damage by not identifying outdated technology.
Every charger will be slightly different, with varying power levels. These need to be considered alongside your home’s capacity to make the proper changes to your wiring. One of the best high-powered charging systems is the 14-50 NEMA, which will require a 240-volt outlet and is 50 amps. This is a standard battery that can be used with multiple electric vehicles. The other option is Tesla’s High-Powered Wall Connector that will allow for fast charges overnight.
Choosing an Electrician for Tesla Charging Installation
Hiring an electrician is an additional expenditure, but it will ensure that your system is properly wired and can safely accommodate the charging station. The cost will vary based on how much work the electrician needs to do and can often be more expensive than the charger itself, but this cost will have long-lasting benefits.
The national average for installing a Level 2 charger with a 240-volt outlet and mounting is around $1,200 (Source: Fixr). You should look at rates for electricians in your area and compare prices with multiple estimates. The Tesla Wall Connector retails for around $500 in addition to the installation costs.
Purchase Tesla-Compatible Charging System
After you have determined your options for charging based on plugs and electrical systems, it will depend on which charger best suits your needs. Most Tesla models come with a mobile charger and converters to be used on different types of outlets. This mobile charger is among the slowest options for charging and is typically used while on the road.
Most considerations for choosing a charger are based on your desired charge time as well as energy consumption. Based on the type of outlet you have, you can choose between Level 1 and 2 EV chargers:
- A Level 1 charger will provide approximately four driving miles per hour charge at 120 volts and a 20 amp circuit.
- Level 2 chargers offer around 25 miles per hour of charge, with 240 charging volts and 40 amps.
(Source: Home Charging Stations).
It is more efficient for Teslas to use Level 2 EV chargers because the vehicles have greater battery capacity. You will be more successful charging a larger battery faster with Level 2 and avoid wasting electricity with longer required charge times.
Tesla Battery Charging Options
Here are the different Tesla charging options to consider for various budgets and preferences:
|Level 1 (120 volts, 15-20 Amps)||You do not have to change anything at home as you are provided with a mobile charger and can plug it into your outlet. This charger can be brought with you and used nearly anywhere. A NEMA 15-15 adapter comes with each mobile charger so you can easily plug them into the wall.||This charger works incredibly slow and will provide you with very minimal driving time for an entire night of charging. This uses electricity all night, increasing energy consumption with little benefit.|
|Level 2 (240 volts, up to 80 Amps)||This will charge your Tesla in around 6-10 hours, which is perfect for overnight charges. If your utility company offers discounts for nighttime consumption, this can also be worthwhile. You can find them in different amp levels depending on how much power you will need and what your circuit breaker can accommodate.||Level 2 will likely require an electrical install to reconfigure wiring and accommodate new plugs at a higher voltage and amps.|
|Level 3 (480 volts, 300 Amps)||These superchargers are typically not used at home and are found at charging stations around the country. They can provide up to 170 miles of driving distance in less than an hour (Source: Plugless Power).||It is incredibly difficult and expensive to reconfigure a home system to accommodate this charger’s high power. It would cost you nearly the price of a car to install.|
If you plan to drive your Tesla regularly and need to rely on at-home charging, purchasing a Level 2 charger will be the most beneficial. It will ensure that your Tesla will be fully charged when you wake up and able to cover considerable distances (up to 300 miles) during the day. If you can charge at work, you may not need to install the at-home charging station.
Considerations When Choosing Tesla Chargers
Preparing your home for a Tesla should include the decision to install a Tesla Wall Connector. It is an additional cost, but the Level 2 charger will make your life much easier in terms of staying charged at home. This decision will depend on how and when you drive, with some people not needing this additional power.
Here are the important considerations for your type of driving and restrictions regarding charging your Tesla:
- Car model: Nearly every Tesla will benefit from a Level 2 charger, but choosing one with a certain amp rating will depend on the battery range and capacity. If you have a smaller model with a smaller battery, you may not be as reliant on a Level 2 charger compared to a larger battery that requires more power and time to charge.
- Home configuration: Based on the limitations of amps with appliances already used at home, you will be able to choose a Level 2 charger with more or fewer amps to stay under the 80% capacity recommendation. More amps will lead to a faster charge, but this could overexert your energy system.
- Lifestyle: Your driving style and frequency will also dictate the amount of power you need for charging. If you do not drive the car often or have places to charge outside of the home, an installed system requiring additional time and cost is not always necessary. Supercharging stations are available across the country, as well as Level 2 chargers around certain towns (Source: Tesla). Having a built-in Level 2 system at home adds another layer of convenience and can be useful in emergencies.
- Budget: Buying a Tesla is already an investment, and paying for the additional charger and installation may seem like just more money out of your pocket. You may not have it in the budget right now to install a new system, but allocating future funds for it will be beneficial in the long run.
Once you have considered these options, you can make a decision that is best for your home charging. In nearly all cases, Level 2 chargers are your best option, even with the additional costs.
Helpful Tips for Preparing Your House For A Tesla
Charging is going to be the most important factor in preparing your house for a Tesla. It is essential to also keep in mind other tips that will make your life easier at home concerning your electric vehicle.
Here are some helpful tips to prepare for a Tesla beyond the actual charging capabilities:
- Expect higher utility bills: Because you will be using more electricity to charge your Tesla, you can expect to pay more each month in utilities. This will likely be cheaper than fuel costs in the long run, but it is vital to consider these added bills around the home. You will see the benefit after many years, once the initial investment of the car and home installation has paid for itself. You can take advantage of free stations outside the home to minimize costs.
- Measure your garage: As new Tesla models come out, the size specifications may change. This has been the case for multiple models, and Tesla owners have not always considered how these changes will impact their ability to charge in the existing setup. Make sure the Tesla you are purchasing will fit in your garage before you make the purchase or install an expensive at-home charging station.
- Research electricians: Make sure the electrician you use is qualified and familiar with these types of installations. This is fairly straightforward electrical work but making sure the person has good reviews is always important.
- Consider the location of the charging port on the car: Teslas charging ports are found on the left rear side of the car. You may want to consider this when installing a charging station so that a long cord does not have to reach over the car, and you are not forced to back in every time to keep a close distance.
- Consider using solar panels: You can also charge your Tesla by configuring your charging station to run on solar energy. This will be a higher upfront cost to install panels (unless you already have them) but will be free once the installation is complete. However, this may not be the best investment if you plan to charge your Tesla overnight only.
- Check for tax credits: Depending on the state you live in (as well as federal bills), you may be entitled to tax credits if you install an at-home charging station. These tax credits are becoming more difficult to claim for new owners and may no longer be available in your area with the high number of electric cars on the road (Source: Team Enoch).
- What to do with two Teslas: You can pay extra to install two chargers for both cars to charge simultaneously. This would make the most sense if two drivers commute and do not have access to charging stations at work. Most people should be okay with one Level 2 charger and trade-off using them. This should be considered if commutes are not long, and one could easily make it to and from work on multiple charges.
These are some important tips to consider that many new electric vehicle owners do not think of. It’s essential to be aware of all the minor details that may end up saving you a lot of time and money down the road.
With all things considered in this article, the most important way to prepare for owning a Tesla is to make sure that the electrical system in your home can accommodate a Level 2 charger. It is well worth it for the fast charging and potential energy saving over a shorter period. While installing a home charging system for your Tesla may cost more money upfront, you will be saving much more money in the long run.
If you already have a “dryer plug” in your garage, your life becomes much simpler! You won’t have to reconfigure any wiring and can simply plug the Tesla Wall Connector or similar charger in without any changes to the power system in your home. Being diligent in checking and understanding your home’s capabilities for power will allow you to make necessary changes to accommodate your new car.