With all the EV models coming on the market these days, choosing among them is challenging enough. But for those who plan to charge at home, you’ve got another decision to make—hardwired or plug-in charging station? Your choice of EV supply equipment (EVSE) and charger accessories will depend on your EV’s charging capabilities and your situation, from your budget to your need for portability.
More than 80% of EV owners charge at home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. A recent JD Power survey showed that most EV owners prefer Level 2 (240-volt) permanent charging installations compared to Level 2 portable chargers and Level 1 (120-volt) cords.
Let’s take a closer look at Level 2 hardwired versus plug-in charging stations and the differences that could impact your decision and satisfaction.
Hardwired charging stations
Level 2 charging stations are high-power, continuous-use devices, like HVAC equipment. If you choose the hardwired option, it’s mounted on the wall and includes three feet of flexible conduit and service wires that extend from it. These wires meet and connect to wires coming from your electrical panel in a junction box.
Hardwired units offer a larger range of amperage and charge-speed options than plug-in units do. And because hardwiring provides a watertight connection capable of handling rain, snow, sleet, and ice, it’s a solid option for outdoor use. However, hardwired units aren’t intended to be portable, so you’ll need an electrician to help if you decide to move.
Hardwired charging stations can be more expensive overall due to the cost of the charger itself, larger cables, and more labor-intensive installation. But they provide a solid connection and more options for charging strength.
Plug-in charging stations
Plug-in charging stations let you do just that—insert the plug from your EVSE directly into a 240-volt outlet. These units typically include a short, 240-volt input cord. Most outlets aren’t rated to let you plug and unplug regularly, so plan on leaving the charging station connected at all times.
If your home already has a 240-volt outlet—perhaps for a clothes dryer or range—you can get a plug that works with it. Note, however, that some 240-volt outlets may allow only limited charging speeds, depending on the outlet’s maximum amperage. (More on that below.) With a 240-volt outlet, however, you can just mount the charging station and start using it. If you don’t have a 240-volt outlet, an electrician can install one that matches the plug type you select and confirm that the setup complies with local codes. Receptacles can’t support the weight of EV supply equipment (EVSE), however, so be sure to mount the charging station on the wall or a stand near the receptacle.