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AUGUST 17, 2023
If you’re asking yourself the question, “Wait, do I need a permit to install an EV charger at home?” don’t worry — you’re far from the only one.
We’ve found that plenty of homeowners in North America are unaware of how frequently a permit is actually required for home improvements.
If you’re like the majority, you probably thought permits were only necessary for massive renovations like replacing the kitchen or updating the wiring throughout your entire house.
However, many cities require permits for projects that include demolition, construction, or — here’s the important one in this case — alteration.
While permits are sometimes brushed off as unnecessary by handy homeowners or lowest-bidder contractors, there are several legitimate reasons why you should secure a permit before getting an EV charger installed at home.
So, in this article we’ll cover:
👉 Whether you need a permit to get an in-home EV charger installed
👉 Why permits are important for EV charger installation
👉 How to easily get a permit through Kopperfield 💡
👉 Why you should install an EV charger at home in the first place
👉 What you might spend, and how to save, on your EV charger install
To cut to the chase: Yes, you will very likely need a permit to get level 2 charging installed at home.
For some quick background, level 2 chargers are the next step up from the level 1 chargers that come with most electric vehicles (EVs) from the factory.
While level 1 chargers are convenient because they can plug into standard North American 120-volt wall outlets, they’re called “trickle chargers” because they can take days to bring your battery from empty to fully charged.
That’s why nearly 70% of EV drivers today used hardwired, level 2 chargers at home, per J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study.
Level 2 chargers can be hardwired directly into a 240-volt circuit (or plugged into a 240-volt outlet known as a NEMA 14-50 receptacle, though that’s less desirable). With a level 2 charger, most EVs can be fully charged overnight no matter how low the battery. They’re the fastest charger you can get for residential buildings, as level 3 charging is almost exclusively for commercial use due to cost and other factors.
A level 2 EV charger requires a dedicated circuit. So unless you already have a spare 240V outlet available right where you want to charge up your vehicle, you’ll need to work with a licensed electrician to put one in (and, better yet, hardwire in your level 2 charger).
This is where permitting comes in.
A permit (here is an example from the U.S. Department of Energy) is a document granted by your local government showing that your proposed building changes align with current local and national laws, industry standards, and safety protocols. Permits are almost always accompanied by an inspection to prove the finished work aligns with the permit’s requirements. They can be granted to licensed contractors and often to homeowners who live in the house and intend to do the work themselves.
The exact process of getting (often called “pulling”) and executing a permit, as well as what kind of work requires a permit, can vary a lot between different areas (municipalities, cities, states, etc.). When it comes to the kind of electrical work we’re talking about here, it’s pretty safe to assume you’ll need a permit.
That said, at the time of this writing, there are a dozen U.S. states that don’t enforce statewide building codes: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. However, that doesn’t mean that counties and cities within these states don’t enforce certain codes or require permits. And most states have adopted a version of the National Electric Code (NEC), which means electrical work should meet certain standards even if a permit isn’t needed.
The best way to navigate the intricacies of coding and permits is to check with your local government or a licensed electrician to find out what’s required.
In some areas, dealing with the government can be a daunting task as you’re handed off from department to department and forced to decipher a bunch of legalese. But when you work with Kopperfield, we connect you with an experienced, licensed, local electrician who will handle all things code and permitting.
Getting a permit before installing an EV charger in your home isn’t just a matter of complying with local regulations. It’s a critical step for several reasons.
The permitting process, with its upfront plans and follow-up inspections, is first and foremost a safeguard that helps ensure work is done well.
When it comes to electricity, well done work also means safely done work.
In the case of electricity, going through all the steps that a permit requires helps make sure the work aligns with the National Electrical Code (NEC) from the Electrical Safety Foundation. This code is updated regularly to provide guidelines for making sure electrical work is done in a way that prevents electrical hazards, which can cause harm to your charger and EV, fire, injury, and even death.
As a homeowner, working with a licensed contractor who has pulled the right permits and done work that’s passed inspection means you can feel confident that the job they've done will be safe for you, your family, and your home.
Say you need to file a homeowners insurance claim after an accident results from work that’s been done or is being done in your home. If your local government requires a permit for that work and one wasn’t pulled and completed, you could be in for a huge headache.
First of all, insurance will likely deny a claim on unpermitted work, so you’ll have to fix any mistakes out of pocket.
Second, if someone is injured in the course of an unpermitted project, liability coverage under your homeowners insurance is probably out the window. This could put you on the hook for pricey medical bills.
Finally, if your homeowners insurance provider finds out about unpermitted work in your home, they may increase the cost of your coverage — or fully drop it altogether.
With homeowners insurance companies getting more selective about the areas and homes they choose to cover, putting your coverage at risk with unpermitted work could have real, negative consequences.
If you would like to apply for one or more rebates for the cost of getting your EV charger installed — which we’ll talk about more later in the article — you may need a permit.
Some utility companies will require proof of full permit approval before they’ll grant any customers a rebate on an EV charger install.
In most cases, that means getting a permit first.
The rules will change depending on the location of your project but, generally speaking, a licensed electrician or you as the home’s owner and occupant can pull a permit.
If you pull the permit, you should plan to do the work yourself and only if your house isn’t for sale, rent, or open to the general public. This process can be a lengthy one for someone who isn’t familiar with it.
It starts with figuring out which department within your local government issues electric service permits and whether or not you’ll also need a state-level permit. Then, there’s filling out the permit request form with a detailed scope of work, making payment, connecting with the right inspection authority, and lining up a time for them to complete their review (which in the case of a homeowner permit, may happen both before and after work is completed).
All that said, if you’re not familiar with electrical work, we strongly recommend you choose a licensed electrician to complete the project. In most areas, they’re supposed to be the one to get the permit if they’re doing the work. We’d recommend asking to see this permit before the project begins.
When you use Kopperfield’s quick online form to request a residential EV charger install, you don’t have to worry about any of the above details.
We will quickly connect you with a licensed electrician with EV charger installation expertise in your area. They will use the information you’ve provided to create a custom, digital quote complete with the cost of permitting.
Once you’ve scheduled and paid for installation easily and online, your electrician will then manage pulling the permit and completing the inspection process. With Kopperfield, you never have to doubt whether your electrician is trustworthy, licensed, or permitted — or that your EV charger install is safe and up to code.
If you aren’t convinced that getting an EV charger installed at your residence is the way to go, here are two huge benefits of making it happen.
A whopping 80% of EV owners charge their cars at home according to research from the Department of Energy.
Well, because it’s the most convenient way to do it.
What if every time you needed to charge your cell phone so it was ready for the next day, you had to leave your house and go sit somewhere else while it charged? You’d probably get sick of that pretty quickly.
It’s the same with EVs. And with a level 2 charger that actually can charge your EV overnight just like you do with your cell phone, it makes even more sense to have one in your home.
Typically, it’s much more affordable to use your home electricity to charge up your vehicle than it is to use a level 3 charger.
What’s more, most level 2 chargers can make it even cheaper when you tap into their scheduling features. Just set your EV to charge during off-peak hours when your electricity is at its most affordable.
If you have solar panels, scheduling charging when they’re working at full power can also have a meaningful impact on the cleanliness and cost of your energy.
While most EV drivers recognize how much money they’ll save on fuel and maintenance with an EV over time, the question of how much it costs to install a home EV charger is still important to address — as well as where to find savings during this process.
In our experience working with licensed electricians all over North America on residential EV charger installs, we found that 90% of people paid less than $2,000 on installation (charger not included).
Only about 7% paid between $2,000 and $4,000 due to small electrical upgrades and more complex wiring situations. And a minor ~3% paid up to $7,000, mostly because of major updates to wiring and electrical panels.
If you’re looking to shave some money off the cost of your EV charger install, the great news is that more electricity providers and local governments offer electrification rebates and incentives every day.
For example, Anaheim Public Utilities in California reimburses applicable customers for expenses related to level 2 EV charger installation, up to $1,500. Tons of electrical companies and municipalities offer rebates like this, or other incentives such as providing free or half-priced chargers.
With so many new offerings popping up regularly, it can be hard to navigate what’s available in your area, which discounts you qualify for, how much you can expect to save, and how to even get started with the whole process of applying.
That’s why any electrician you work with through Kopperfield will include information on the discounts and incentives available to you in their proposal. It’s just another element of our commitment to providing hassle-free home EV charger installation.
Planning to get a permit before EV charger installation is paramount.
Take all the work of finding the right electrician, dealing with permitting, and scheduling inspections off your plate with a worry-free EV charging installation through Kopperfield.
Spend just a few minutes requesting a proposal today — the process is free — and get rolling on a professional, competitively-priced home EV charger installation.