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Getting a home electric car charging station

January 26, 2013


When my husband was trying to sell me on the idea of leasing an electric car, he told me that installing a battery charging station at our house would be free thanks to the EV Project  funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and executed by ECOtatility. Will it turn out to be true?

Maybe. In about two months we will find out.

Mark Hammerschmidt, (pictured above) co-owner of Meandal Electric Inc  came out to the house Thursday to meet with my husband and check out our home electrical system and and met with my husband. Hammerschmidt explained that if we can find a way to build the charging station within five to 10 feet of our existing electrical panel, and if the local building permit is not too pricey, we will not spend a penny on the station. The project essentially gives you the Blink-manufactured 240-volt charging station if you commit to the program for three years, allowing the project to tap your charger for information.  The total amount covered, according to the electrician is $1,200, but I am still a little unclear about how that $1,200  breaks down because some of the project material -quoted below- says that it only covers up to $400 for installation.  The U.S. government, by the way,  owns the charger for the first two years.  Hmmm.

Building permit? You ask. Yes, the installation requires a building permit from your local city hall, and it turns out, that some communities, according to Hammerschmidt, charge up to $400 just for the permit. That’s right, do the math, that is one-third of the grant, which equates to about $1,200. Some of the so-called “green” communities in the San Francisco Bay Area are the worst ones when it comes to cutting through the red tape for installation,  but that is  blog post for another time.

Hammerschmidt’s company will deal with the red tape for us, he says,  and we are still waiting to find out how our community charges for a building permit.  His company has three installers, and five others dealing with the paperwork and red tape.

The charging station can be built indoors or outdoors, and homes with overburdened electrical circuits  need to either upgrade their system, or  settle for a charger that runs on  a lower electrical current. He thinks our home can support an optimum 30 amp charger.  Ours is a 2012 Leaf, but the new 2013 model will draw 24 amps so a 16-amp charger would require a longer charging time.  He recommends that we go for the 30-amp charger, which is the industry standard.

The project essentially gives you the the Blink-manufactured 240-volt charging station if you commit to the program for three years, allowing the project to tap your charger for information.   Here’s a brief explanation of the project from its Website:

” a portion of The EV Project funding supports home charging units, or more correctly called “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment” (EVSE). In exchange for allowing the collection of vehicle and charge information, participants receive a Blink wall mount charger at not cost, and in select locations, up to a $400 credit toward the installation. This information includes data from both the vehicle and the EVSE, including energy used and time and duration of charger use. No personal information is being shared or included in the data to be analyzed.”

It will be at least two months before we get our new charging station, which will cut the time it takes to charge from zero to a full load from  21 hours to 6-8 hours. Within a couple weeks, we will know if the $1,200 credit is going to cover all the costs. I look forward to that, but meanwhile I am hoping that our community does not charge $400 for a building permit. And to maintain marital  bliss, I know my husband is hoping for the same.

How much did you pay for your home charging station?

  1. Hi, I paid $1000 for a Leviton (that fails to handshake with our 2012 Volt about 25% of the time) and I paid $1000 for the parts and labor for a new panel because I did not have any free breakers in the old panel. There was no permit; remember I live in Vermont but that does not mean it is legal to marry my sister. I have more to say about Leviton later.

  2. madhaus permalink

    Wait, I thought it was free charging station PLUS $1200 toward installation. That’s how it worked when we got our Blink charger. Have they cut the install grant? There is definitely a $1200 credit on our (very high) install bill, which included upgrading to a new and larger panel.

    • Hello Madhaus
      My understanding was that it amounts to a total of $1,200 but I thought that included the charger and up to $400 for installation. I could have this wrong, but in reading the EV Project material, that is what it looked like to me. Our electrician-who seems knowledgeable and honest, by the way – told my husband that the $1,200 should be plenty to cover everything, unless the building permit runs high. I will doublecheck the proportions on this, but the total – $1,200 agrees. Also, he did say that technically, the government owns the charger until it is turned over to us.

  3. I believe madhaus is correct. It was my understanding that the electrical contractor receives the BLINK Charging Station from Ecototality + $1200 (at leadt they used to when mine was installed in 2011) for installation which goes towards the labor + permitting fees. Some dishonest Electrical Contractors have tried to milk the homeowner for additional costs, for example claiming that the permitting cost as high as $500. Ecototality allows the contractor to charge extra if the wiring between the breaker and the EVSE is more than 15-ft or for other serious installation challenges. Some contractors (including) mine have been fired by Ecototality for poor service and too many complaints. They are responsible for getting the inspection done (mine did not so I complained). My installation couldn’t have been simpler: mount the BLINK on the wall and wire the 240v outlet just 5 feet from the panel. It took them less than 30 minutes to do the whole thing, including testing the unit and filling out the paperwork. The permit in Santa Clara was less than $100. So, the contractor received $1200 for a 30-minute installation + applying/paying the $100 permit. No bad for 1/2 hour’s work . Do not get taken advantage of by greedy electricians. Call Ecototality if you have ANY issues with the installation.

    • Hello Marc
      Thanks for writing. See my comments which I made in response to Madhaus regarding the $1,200. The electrician told my husband that the total is $1,200, however, in looking at the EV Project material, it looked like to me that only $400 was toward the installation. I will double check on that. My husband is happy with our electrician so far, and he explained that he would be doing the inspections, etc. I believe. Stay tuned.

  4. Mitch Dickler permalink

    I will be leaseing a 2013 as soon as available. Here outside Baltimore, I am not in a qualifing zip code there for the EV project won’t help. A 240 level 2 charger is $799 at Home Depot or Lowes and my installation will cost $400.00

    • Hello, My company can provide a cheaper charging station. Call 206-458-2583

  5. Shinya Fujimoto permalink

    Section 5 says bay area ppl an receive up to $1200 so I don’t see anything changed since we got them in 2011?

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