If you are considering having an electric vehicle charger installed at your home, you have the looming question of “Do I need a permit to install a EV charger?”
Electric vehicles don’t come with a wall charger that you plug up next to your nightstand when you go to sleep at night.
What they do come with is a charging unit, that’s typically as low-end as they come—110V, Level 1 chargers that plug into a wall outlet in your garage. But what if you want more? Do you need a permit for something more substantial?
Every state and local municipality is different and if you want to install a Level 2 charger (240V wall-mount), you need to check with your local authorities. It may or may not require a permit, depending on the laws where you live. For the most part, it probably will.
Unless you happen to be an electrician, you will need to hire an electrician to install a Level 2 charger, which is basically the kind of wall mount outlet you plug your dryer into.
It halves the charging time of a Level 1 charger with an 8-hour charge providing you with an average of 180 miles.
Why is a Permit Necessary?
In most cases, a permit is necessary so your home will continue to align with the local, county, state, and federal building codes.
The wiring required for a Level 2 EV charger isn’t exactly extensive, depending on where you have it installed, but it does require a professional hand.
You may need a new circuit breaker or a major add-on to your existing one, with new wiring or a branch line installed as well.
Since a Level 2 charger can charge roughly 7.2kW and pulls 30A, you will also need a 40A circuit that uses 8-gauge wire.
When it comes to residential properties, 8 and 10-gauge wiring is exceedingly rare. While Level 1 chargers will suffice in a pinch, it takes forever to charge your EV.
This is especially true when you consider the fact that even a Level 2 charger takes 8 hours to provide you with 180 miles of charge.
Everything used to charge your EV with a Level 2 charger has to be installed by a professional, exceeds what residential properties normally use, and often requires a new circuit breaker or a complete overhaul of an existing one.
With all of that being said, it’s no wonder that most states and local municipalities require homeowners to acquire a permit before they can get started.
In many cases, the permit requirement is pretty simple and inexpensive to meet. Some states will even allow you to apply for and obtain a permit online.
How Do You Apply for a Permit?
Once again, that’s a matter of what state, county, and city/town you are living in. Some jurisdictions will require you to take additional steps as well, such as hiring and bringing in a building inspector before you get started.
If the building inspector is not satisfied, there goes your chance to get a Level 2 charger installed. However, even a Level 1 charger may be too much for someone that has never installed an outlet.
Not only will you have to install the outlet, this style of charger needs to be the lone circuit, meaning that no other device, light, or anything else is pulling power from that circuit. That also means installing its own breaker.
If you don’t know what your local codes are, you could cause a lot of damage to your car, your home, or yourself.
While you may not need a special permit to install a Level 1 charger in your home, you will need a licensed electrician that knows your local building codes to install it.
The other problem that you will have with a Level 1 charger is that it provides enough power to run a toaster, which means it’s not going to be in a hurry to charge your EV.
If you’re installing a Level 2 charger, you need to contact your local building department to determine whether or not a permit is needed.
There are different names for these entities depending on where you live. For example, if you live in Chicago or the surrounding area, you will have to contact the Chicago Department of Buildings.
Little Known Benefits to EV Charger Installation
Some places make obtaining a permit a cinch. Some turn the process into an incredible headache of confusion, complexity, and everlasting patience.
However, there might be a bright side to getting an EV charger installed in your home, permit or not.
Some state and utility companies offer tax breaks and other incentives for installing an EV charger in your home.
When you contact your local authorities on the subject, that is something that you should definitely bring up. You should also check with your power company as well.
Nothing gives you more patience to deal with red tape than a monetary incentive and there is a good possibility that either your power company or state will provide you with something.
Does a Level 3 Charger Require a Permit?
It is very unlikely that you will be able to obtain a Level 3 charger and, although it would be rare as well, you could possibly acquire a Level 3 charger for an enormous sum of money.
It would require a permit, probably multiple permits, because of the high voltage lines that would have to be installed as well as the construction.
Also, it’s highly unlikely that a Level 3 DC charger would be located in your house. It’s far more likely that you would have this supercharger installed out on some open property, where there is room for everything.
It would probably be tied into a separate electric bill for charging the DC battery or you would have to set up a ton of solar panels.
All Things Considered
In most cases, you will have to either get a permit or talk to someone who is a local official or a licensed electrician to get your Level 1 or Level 2 charger installed.
Seeing as a Level 3 charger plus installation would run you around $250,000 and require multiple permits, it’s not likely you will have one of those.
Regardless of the charger, you’re going after, make a phone call to your local building departments or your county officials and determine what your next steps are before you get started.