Reducing the Price of EV Charging with a Splitter: There’s No Place Like Home
One of the biggest concerns for those thinking of buying an electric vehicle is charging. For most, the most convenient place to charge is right at home. But the requirements for installing a home EV charger can seem daunting and expensive.
Questions include: Do I rely on a slower 120-volt “trickle” charge outlet (a regular household plug) or do I pay an electrician to install a faster 240-volt outlet and possibly a new circuit for charging (the kind of outlet needed for home appliances like electric dryers, ovens, ranges, furnaces, and air conditioners)? How do I find an electrician to do the work? Do I need a permit? Will my panel even accept the extra load or will it require an upgrade?
Why is a splitter so useful?
Charging times with a 120-volt outlet can be lengthy, oftentimes longer than overnight. However, it costs nothing to set up since all EVs come with a 120v charge cable that plugs into a common 120v house outlet. A 240-volt outlet provides “Level 2” charging and most vehicles can charge overnight at this level using an EVSE device at home (see details below). Public and commercial charging is usually either Level 2 or higher, termed “Fast Charge” or “Quick” charging, with full or 80% charging times as fast as 30 minutes with some newer EVs.
Want a 240-volt charging?
While “Fast” charging (430v) is not an “at home” thing, getting 240-volt charging at home may be easier than you think. Many homes have a 240-volt outlet to power an electric dryer. The outlet might be in the garage or in a laundry room. If your home has one of these in a convenient location, you may be able to save time and money and still get 240-volt charging by using a 240-volt outlet “smart” splitter.
These devices operate by plugging into the single 240v outlet and providing two outlets: one for your dryer and another for your EV. A “smart” splitter sends power to only one appliance at a time (dryer or charger), thus avoiding overloads from running them at the same time. Since the dryer and charger operate at the same voltage/amperage as the original line, there is no need for panel upgrades.
Make sure you look for a “smart” device with an internal circuit breaker and electronic safety switch that sends power to only one appliance at a time. The device should also be UL tested.
Who’s it good for?
These splitter devices allow everyone to avoid the time and cost of hiring an electrician, and no permit is required to use them. See links below for three products on the market.
Splitters are especially useful for those renting a home where you can’t make physical changes to the electrical system or perhaps are unable to convince a property owner to make upgrades.
For owners of older homes with older electrical panels, these devices can help you avoid the cost of a panel upgrade.
Other equipment also needed
As with any 240-volt at-home charging set up, you will still need to purchase EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment), including a cable and plug for your EV (SAE J1772 adaptor). If you’re charging via the 240v electric dryer circuit, your charging will be limited to 24 amps since those circuits are protected by a 30-amp circuit breaker. The National standards for dryer circuits are set at 30 amps so manufacturers all make dryers with the same standard, although you can buy a 120v dryer.
If you don’t have a 240-volt outlet in a convenient location, then you can still look into getting one installed. This will cost more but might still be in budget and the magic you need to finally make that EV purchase.
At the June 8, 2022, meeting of the Davis Electric Vehicle Association, members heard about three different splitter devices, how to use them, and the benefits for those seeking 240-volt charging.
If you’re interested, check out the June 8 DEVA meeting video plus more links below: https://youtu.be/3vYMmDZAehM. To get on the list for future DEVA meetings, email email@example.com.
Splitters and more background
The Davis Electric Vehicle Association (DEVA) isn’t promoting any one device over the other but wants to spread the word about a less costly way to set up 240-volt charging at home.
Dryer Buddy: https://www.bsaelectronics.com/collections/dryer-buddy-plus-auto
Do an internet search for current products and prices!
Splitvolt sells a portable charger cable that operates as an EVSE and allows for charging at 240v
Clipper Creek is a local company that sells EVSEs (this one will fit the bill for a splitter): https://store.clippercreek.com/featured/lcs-30p-nema-14-30
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