How to Build a Garage for an Electric Car

Electric cars are no longer just a thought for the future or a passing trend—they’re here to stay.  Even in small towns, electric car charging stations are popping up and suddenly hybrids and electric vehicles are no longer the odd cars out on the streets.  If you’re one of the many Americans looking at getting an electric car, one thing may stump you: what about charging your new car at home?

Remote Charging Stations

Before buying an electric car, there are a few things you should know.  The most important is how to charge your car, since it’s not fueled the way you’re used to, and you won’t be able to stop at a gas station when your battery reads empty (at least not at the date of this article!). Electric cars need to be charged via a charging station.  You’ve probably noticed such charging stations popping up around your town.

Fortunately, the manufacturers have already thought of an alternative—charging your car at home.  It’s more convenient and less problematic than relying solely on public charging stations.  Getting one of these stations installed at home takes some work, but the good news is that once you have one, you’re set.

Your electric car has a charger on the inside.  This is where the magic happens—the AC source from the electrons (the “fuel” for your car) is supplied here, converting over to DC so the battery pack can be charged.

Your garage will need a wall-mounted box, equipped with a cord and plug that can be the source for the required volts of electricity.  This type of component is often referred to as: Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).  This essential component will safely allow you to connect to your source of electricity so that you can charge your car.

car charging station

EVSE Options

Before you actually install a charging station, you’ll need to select which EVSE is right for you and your new vehicle.  The costs of this equipment typically reflect solely the charging station, not the installation, so budget for additional costs when shopping for your EVSE.  The EVSE you select will depend on a few factors: the model of electric car, how often and how far you drive, and your overall budget.

Electric car owners typically install either a 120-volt/12-amp outlet or a 240-volt/20-40-amp outlet.  A 240 EVSE will provide your electric car with approximately 23 miles of range for each hour of charging.  Compared to the 120-volt outlet, the 240-volt will use more power in half of the time.  However, the go-to advice for owners is that if your car is in the garage at night, a 120V outlet might save you money by running during off-peak hours.

Preparing Your Garage

You don’t need to build a brand new garage to accommodate an electric car, but if you’re undergoing new construction anyway, now is the time to ask your contractors to install the correct wiring for your electric vehicle’s outlet.

You can certainly prep your existing garage for an electric car, but you’ll need the help of a professional electrician. Your electrician will determine how much your current electrical supply can handle and if your home requires a new service line to run to the house.

Here is what your electrician will initially determine:

  • Where to place the new service in relation to where you park your electric car
  • A calculation of the load of all of your garage’s existing circuits
  • The overall cost of the work to install your new EVSE

It’s important to know the distance from the electrical panel to the charging location.  This will add to your cost as a 40-amp circuit will require 8-gauge wire, which runs over $3 per foot.  For more amperage, you’ll need thicker-gauge wire, which will cost more.

Garage Framing

Additional Prep Work

While there’s not much left to do once your electrician successfully installs your new EVSE, there’s one thing you should consider: climate control.  Yes, the electric car has come a long way, but it still struggles with shifts in temperature.

Storing your electric car in a garage will help tremendously, hence the importance of installing a charging station inside of your new or existing garage.  Whether your garage is already there or you’re building a new one, you’ll definitely want to make sure it’s insulated to help protect your car and its batteries.  Not only will this ensure that your car is being charged properly in fluctuating weather conditions, but the insulation will extend the battery life.

Outfitting your garage to charge an electric car can seem overwhelming, but all it takes is a phone call to a trained and certified electrician to get started.  Once you’re set up with a home charging station, it’s smooth driving from there.

Remodeling your garage can be tough.  Why not make it easy?  Consider building a new garage and contact us today! We have been building garages for Chicago homeowners since 1959. Get a free quote now and start your next garage building project off right.

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