By the end of the year, at least five plug-in cars, including the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, are expected to be on the market. And as electric vehicles roll out, their owners will be wiring their homes to accommodate what is called Level 2 charging. The wall-mounted 220-240-volt boxes can recharge an E.V.’s batteries in four to eight hours.
Think of home chargers as gas pumps for your garage. The more sophisticated ones will be programmable to charge only late at night when energy rates are low and can be scheduled from cellphones and computers.
But as is often the case, the answer to the question, “How much will they cost?” is more complex. Because of the challenges in homes with what can be very outmoded electric service, a Nissan spokesman, Mark Perry, said that the cost of adding home charging is one-third hardware (the box itself) and two-thirds installation and labor costs. Mr. Perry said that homes built in the 1990s or later usually have 200- or even 400-amp service that is fine for E.V. charging, but earlier homes could face costly upgrade bills.
Jonathan Read, president and chief executive of ECOtality (working with Nissan to create charging stations for 4,700 Leaf battery cars), put the cost of home unit hardware at around $300 to $350, with installation ranging from $500 to $1,500. The Boston Consulting Group, in an e-mail message, put the cost for installed Level 1 or 2 chargers somewhere between $750 and $2,000 per unit, with $300 to $600 of that being labor costs.
But Richard Lowenthal, chief executive of charging company Coulomb, said those home wiring upgrades could increase charger installation to as high as $10,000 “if new service and panels are needed.” He put the average cost of a charger at around $2,000, but consumers won’t necessarily be paying it. Many battery E.V.’s will come with charger installation as part of the deal, Mr. Lowenthal said. Plug-in hybrids, with electric motors complementing gas engines, may put chargers on the option list, he said.
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