Charged Up: Navigating My EV Charger Installation

Posted March 27, 2024 By Sara Conzemius

Transitioning to an electric vehicle (EV) can be a big leap, even for those of us who are in the industry. Despite what we know logically, many of us share the same anxieties as the general public when it comes to transitioning to an EV. Things like:

  • Will it get me where I need to go, even if that is to a soccer field in central Indiana (from Madison, WI)?
  • Are these cars even any good? After all, they are still “new” for many manufacturers.
  • How long will it take to charge?
  • How hard will it be to find a charger?
  • What will charging at home look like?

I contemplated all these questions on my road to an EV. I even slow rolled into the EV lifestyle by starting with a plug-in hybrid, allowing me to make it to that Indiana soccer field without worry while adapting to the routine of at-home charging. I also started playing new games like, can I drive only on my battery charge every day? (mostly yes), and how many weeks can I go without visiting a gas station? Eight weeks!

When the lease on my hybrid recently came up, I finally felt ready to go all in on an EV. I placed my order and eagerly awaited my car’s arrival. Initially, I was informed that it would take at least three months before the car would arrive, providing me with ample time to tackle another essential aspect of EV ownership: setting up home charging. I had a few options to consider when it came to home charging:

  1. Go through the dealer, as they had a partnership with Qmerit and could assist with coordinating the purchase and installation.
  2. Have the charger installed through my local utility.
  3. Use an independent electrical contractor.

After exploring each option and comparing the out-of-pocket costs I ended up installing through my local utility – Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E).

Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) made the process simple and easy. All I had to do was reach out to their Charge@Home program lead to get the ball rolling.

This turned out to be fortunate because my dealer under-promised and over-delivered. My car arrived almost six weeks earlier than scheduled. Car in hand—or should I say garage—I reached out to MG&E who responded to me in less than one day connecting me to the electrician (literally, The Electrician) who scheduled a home visit the following week. During the home visit, the electrician inspected my electrical box, confirming I had the right amperage, reviewed access points, and what it would take to run the wires into our garage and the charger. Upon completion, they sent both MG&E and me an estimate for the work.

MG&E offers an incentive of up to $1440 for the installation – or rather they finance at 0% up to $1440 through an on-bill charge of $20 a month. In many cases, this amount will be enough to cover the entire installation expense, eliminating upfront costs to homeowners. My home is 20+ years old so we needed to do some work to ensure our electrical box met current code requirements before proceeding with the charger installation. That is a whole other story – how many breakers can you have in one box? Turns out there is a limit! With our completed estimate in hand, I was able to officially sign up for the Charge@Home program and one week later they were here installing my ChargePoint Level 2 charger. Easy peasy!

Making it even more easy peasy to own an EV, ChargePoint has a handy and user-friendly app. It allows me to monitor my charger effortlessly, set charging schedules based on rates or grid demand, and track the cost of each charge. It takes about three hours to fully charge my vehicle with my Level 2 charger, but with the app, I can plug in my car and allow it to optimize my car’s charging according to my settings. Additionally, the app provides real-time information on available chargers nearby, categorized by level and availability.

Not to be outdone, my car allows me to map trips and tag Level 3 chargers along the way eliminating range anxiety and—so far—I am loving the EV life. Being a true data nerd, I also love that by installing through my utility I am providing them with data that will better help them learn how to manage the impact of EV charging on the distribution system.

I’ve owned my EV for about six weeks now and have only spent $16.15 on charging. When I add my $20 MG&E on-bill fee, this totals less than the cost of filling up a single gas tank for my previous car. Wins all the way around!