More and more electric vehicles (EVs) are hitting the road, which means there’s a growing need for EV charging stations—and electrical contractors who can install them. As an electrical supplier, we want to make sure that contractors in St. Louis can find the supplies and the knowledge they need to get every EVSE installation done right.
Know the Code for EV in St. Louis
Starting in January 2022, all new construction and major renovations on properties with 10+ parking spots are required to have at least 1 EV-ready parking space. A parking lot with 30+ spots needs at least 2 EV-ready spaces and 1 fully operational EV charging port.
- A dedicated power circuit
- 50 ampere and 208/240-volt capacity
- And ready for Level 2 charging equipment to be installed
EVSE refers to the charging equipment:
- Charging apparatus
- AC and/or DC nozzles
- Power adapters
- Mounting equipment
3 Types of EV Chargers
Level 1 Chargers | 120V Outlets
Most homes are already equipped with standard level 1 power sources—a.k.a. 120V outlets. These work fine for EVs that aren’t everyday drivers or those only needed for driving short distances. But for heavy drivers that need a full charge at the beginning of the day, 120 volts doesn’t cut it.
Level 1 outlets provide what’s called a “trickle charge” of 3-5 miles per hour and takes 11-20+ hours for some cars to reach full charge. It’s also important to note that while level 1 outlets might be suitable for some individual EV owners, they do not meet St. Louis code for commercial charging stations.
Level 2 Chargers | 208/240V Outlets
Level 2 charging uses 240 volts and can provide a full charge in just a few hours. This is a great option for residential use, along with public and private parking lots that offer EV charging amenities.
Level 2 chargers can be hardwired to a dedicated power circuit or plugged into a 240V outlet. Two of the most common receptacles used are NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 (keep reading for more info on these).
Level 3 Chargers | DC Power
Ultra-fast DC charging stations provide a full charge in about 30 minutes—it’s the EV equivalent to gas stations. These stations are a super convenient way to fill up when you’re on the go, but they can’t be installed just anywhere. DC power requires direct connection to the power grid.
Choosing the Right EVSE Configuration
Because of their versatility, level 2 chargers are the most common type of EVSE that electrical contractors will deal with. All chargers in this category require electricians for the initial installation to ensure that there’s enough power capacity to run a dedicated 240V/40A circuit for EV charging. Depending on the type of charger configuration, a junction box or a 240V outlet will be needed.
Hardwiring by nature is watertight, making this a great option for outdoor charging stations (in parking garages, open lots, or even mounted on exterior walls). The direct connection to the circuit also supports higher amperage and faster charging.
The downside to hardwiring is that removing the charger requires an electrician, which adds to the long-term cost.
Plug-in chargers are removable and portable, which means they can easily be switched out with new models or moved to a new home. This option is well-suited for indoors but can be configured for outdoor use if needed. National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that “while-in-use” outlet covers along with GFCI circuit breakers for weatherproofing.
The biggest downside of plug-in chargers is that they are limited in the amperage they can pull, which slows charging slightly. Some people also dislike plug-in models simply because the visible wires make it look more cluttered.
Common outlet types for EV charging stations:
240V NEMA 14-50 (4-wire receptacle)
- PROS: great for multi-use spaces, standard for many EVSEs and RVs
- CONS: 3 conductor wires can get costly
240V NEMA 6-50 (3-wire receptacle)
- PROS: requires less copper wiring, could be more economical
- CONS: may require a special adapter depending on the EVSE
It All Comes Down to Cost
Choosing the right products and configuration for a project often comes down to the cost. Plug-in EV chargers themselves tend to be less expensive than their hardwired counterparts. But power receptacles and wiring needed for those units can drive up the price.
Find a Supplier You can Count On
Partnering with an electrical supplier who can help you find the right EV-ready supplies at the right price can be a total game changer. We go to great lengths to make sure you get the supplies you need for any job. Give our supplies experts a call for a quick estimate on your next project at 314.533.5555 or request a quote online.
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