Installing Home Chargers Could Boost EV Costs

By Stephen Markley  on March 17, 2010
Something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle such as the upcoming Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt: Installing the home charger could cost you.

Level 2 charging, as it’s known, requires a wall-mounted 220-240 volt box, which can recharge a vehicle in four to eight hours. Luckily, most homes built in the ’90s or later usually have 200- or 400-amp service. Older homes, however, may require upgrades that could add to the cost of your EV.

ECOtality, the company building charging stations for the Leaf, estimated the cost of the home unit at around $300 to $350 plus installation between $500 and $1,500. The Boston Consulting Group found similar numbers: between $750 and $2,000 for the unit and labor.

That’s a considerable amount of money, and it could dissuade buyers from looking at plug-in vehicles. This may lead to automakers putting chargers on the option list and selling them along with the car or just including them in the price of the car.

A federal tax credit will cover up to $2,000 for charger installation through December, but a lot people are lobbying to extend that. Homebuilders will likely soon start offering to prewire houses for EVs, and that could reduce the cost to around $100.

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