Electric cars (also known as electric vehicles or EVs), include both cars that run solely on electricity and “hybrids” that use a combination of gas and electricity.  They are becoming much more popular for a few reasons:

  1. They are environmentally friendly.
  2. They are economical.  The cost to charge an EV for a year is about one third of  the cost to fuel a “traditional” car.
  3. The majority of drivers drive less than 60 miles on weekdays, well within the range of many EVs.
  4. There are literally dozens of EVs on the market, thus appealing to people who prefer any type or style.
  5. While EVs can be pricey, you can also get a Federal tax credit of up to $7,500 when purchasing either an electric car or a hybrid.  (Illinois’ tax rebate program has been suspended).

When you buy an EV, you will also need to purchase an Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) box, which is the apparatus that plugs into your car so it can be charged.  The EVSE includes a wall mounted box that supplies the electricity, a cord and a plug.

Here are some things to think about when purchasing an EVSE:

  1. Cost.  Expect to pay between $600 and $700, not including installation.  Depending on features, you could pay more or less.
  2. Amperage capacity.  Consider an EVSE that can handle at least 30 amps.  This should give you the ability to add about 30 miles of range in an hour.  A 30 amp EVSE will need a circuit breaker rated for at least 40 amps.
  3. Length and location.  Think about where you are going to park the car, and then measure the distance from where you would put the box to the charging port on the car.  Cables usually run 15 to 25 feet, so make sure you have enough.
  4. Portability.  If you think you may move or decide to locate the EVSE in a more convenient location, have an electrician install a NEMA 14-50 outlet (similar to an outlet used for clothes driers).  Then plug your EVSE into the outlet.   If you do move or decide to relocate your EVSE, you just need to unplug it and plug it into another NEMA 14-50 outlet.
  5. Remote access.  There are Wi-Fi-enabled EVSE that have timers, meters, touch screens and capabilities for monitoring and changing charging events.  However, many EVSE users believe the connectivity adds complexity.  Further, in some cases, when connectivity is lost, the EVSE can shut down.  Additionally, many of these features are available on the car, or from mobile applications.
  6. Do it yourself or hire an electrician?  No matter what EVSE you purchase, or how close it will be to your car, undoubtedly some wiring work will need to be done.  If you are not proficient working with electricity, it makes sense to hire an electrician to install the EVSE.