A Level 2 Charger for Home EV Charging Is More Affordable—and Easier to Install—Than You Think

Installing the inexpensive Lectron level 2 charger in my garage was easy, and not expensive, even with the electrician's bill. Here's what you need to know.

Me With My Home Ev Charger!
Me with my home EV charger! Photo: Scotty Reiss

And, Yes, You Can DIY. I Did. 

A while back a friend got a Tesla 3. It was new and novel and I had to run over to her house to see it. She proudly opened the garage door to reveal the car and also, very happily, pointed out the level 2 charger on the wall. 

It was a beacon of smarts and accomplishment, a coiled black cable nearly glowing in its glory hanging on the wall. 

It’s almost the best part, Susanne told me with a grin of guilty pleasure. “We bought the part at Home Depot and had an electrician install it. It cost $100!” As if the Tesla weren’t fun enough, she relished the fact that she didn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars on a home charging unit. 

A home EV charger can be affordable, even cheap(ish) and you can do much of the installation yourself. It really can be that simple. 

A Girls Guide to Cars may have received a product to review and may earn a commission from links in this story. However, we only share links to products and sites we trust. So, shop away!

Reated: Electric Car Charging Stations are About to Get a Lot Better

The Lectron Level 2 Charger I Installed
The Lectron Level 2 charger I installed. Photo: Scotty Reiss

There are Three Types of EV Charge People: Which One Are You? 

When it comes to home EV charging, people fall into one of three camps. The first group are the “All-In’ers:” They buy into all the things that make EV charging easy: they learn to use the resources such as charge apps that map the level 3 chargers near them; they buy the wall box recommended by the car’s manufacturer and have it installed; they study up on their car’s app to ensure all the pieces of the puzzle fit neatly together. They have no patience for risking running down the battery and getting stranded and are willing to pay the cost of assurance. I wish this were me, but it’s not. 

The second group I’ll call the “Frugal Fence Sitters.” They look for the cheapest way to charge an EV, from free plans offered by a car’s manufacturer to free charging at local parks, shopping centers or perhaps at work. If they get home and need a bit if juice for the morning commute, they’ll plug the car into the 110V at home since they know just how much charge they need to get to the next cheap or free charge spot. This group is pretty in tune with how and when they need to charge and can work it into their routine; after they get the hang of it, it’s not inconvenient, it’s part the daily schedule. This isn’t me either; my days are far from routine and in general, ‘cheap’ or ‘free’ always seems to cost me more. 

And then, there’s the ‘Reluctant Hopefuls.’ This what the EV curious are afraid they’ll become. They know they need to download the apps but haven’t done it yet. They know they need to figure out how to charge at home, but haven’t yet. They know they would feel less anxious behind the wheel of a fun EV if they could figure out how to charge as fast and easy as gassing up at the Shell station. 

So, they rent and EV or even buy one, perhaps a second car for the household, and wing it, hoping that charging the EV doesn’t become too hard or frustrating to make it worthwhile. This is me. I’m a last-minute planner and often wing it, knowing that I can figure it out when I need to. And I do know where the level 3 fast chargers are near me and how much charge it takes to get there. 

But what I really needed—what we all need—is a home charge solution so we’re not cobbling together our charge plans, like that kid with a half charged phone and a frayed cord who plugs it into every wall outlet he passes because he never has enough charge to get through the day. 

Related: The Fed Will Give you $4,000 to Buy a Used Electric Car

The 240 V Wall Outlet For My Level 2 Charger For Home Ev Charging
The 240 V wall outlet for my level 2 charger. Photo: Scotty Reiss

EV Drivers Have Shown Us: Charge at Home With a Level 2 Charger

Statistics show that 80% of electric car owners charge their EVs at home. Some are the “All- Ins” with the expensive wall boxes; others are the Fence Sitters who use a trickle charger and only replenish the few miles they need each day. 

But all of us should be a Crafty DIY’er: Those who figure out how to charge at home without spending a fortune. 

I’m proud to say I now fall into that category. 

First let me say, I don’t yet own an electric car, but it’s on my radar; I’d like to own one. I do, however, review electric cars and being able to charge them is key to reviewing them. So I need good charging solutions. 

Rather than relying on chargers near me, which is feasible, I decided to install a level 2 charger in my garage. But I didn’t want or need to install an expensive wall box — which makes less sense since I won’t always have 

the same car charging in my garage. But I needed something reliable at home. 

I started to look at home charger cords on Amazon and decided to try to spend less than $300 — there are quite a few in that range. And then a friend connected me with a rep from Lectron, which makes EV charger equipment. She asked if she could send me a home charge cord valued at $260. I had seen the charger on Amazon and agreed; I’d like to try it out. Here’s what my setup is like now and how much it cost:

  • I had an electrician install a 240V EV charge outlet in my garage. The electric fuse box is in my garage so that was a simple install: He placed the new outlet right next to the box on the garage wall. Note that while this outlet is similar to that of a home clothes dryer, it is not the same; the outlet itself is different. Make sure you get the right one.
    • Cost, including supplies: $150
  • The charger Lectron sent me was a portable 40 amp, 240V EV charge cord. It came with a wall holder, screws and anchors to install the box, and a storage bag so I can take it with me when I travel — just in case I find a level 2 charger at my next AirBnB or a friend’s house. I’ll be sure to double check this fact and maybe ask for photos to be sure it’ll work before I plan to rely on it. Or maybe I’ll toss it in the frunk and hope to get lucky.
  • The cord and wall box are great, but the cord still pooled on the floor without a hook to hang it on. I looked at non-shipping options (local Home Depot and Lowes) and thought the options, mostly intended for garden hoses, were expensive and not ideal for this. So I bought a Lectron J hook from Amazon to hang the cord. I like that not only does it fit the charge cable, but it also has a receptacle for the plug. I can “plug” it into the wall.

It took me about 10 minutes to install the wall box for the Lectron charge cord. This is a good thing to have because it also displays the charge indicator lights. I can open my garage door and quickly see by the lights on wall box if the charger is still charging or not. 

Then, it took me another 5 minutes to install the J hook and coil the cord on it. And that was it. I then pulled my Nissan Ariya test car into my garage and plugged in the Lectron cord and instantly, the Ariya was charging away. I needed about 100 miles to fully charge the car and the in-car display estimated it would take about 2.5 hours to complete.

Related: 13 of Our Favorites, the Best Electric Cars, Hybrids, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The Lectron Level 2 Charger Comes In This Nice Carry Case
The Lectron Charger comes in this nice carry case. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Use Your App or Your Car’s App To Keep Up With Your Charger

Lectron makes an app that I can sign into and connect to my charger. And, when you buy an electric car, you can use the manufacturer’s app to monitor charging. A wall box setup will try to merge those functions, or provide them both. I haven’t ventured into this territory yet, but hope to and I’ll report back then. Maybe. As a Reluctant Hopeful, I’m not sure it’s in my nature to do more than I really need to. 

The Lectron J Jook Kit
The Lectron J Jook kit. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Level 2 Means NOT Having to Charge Every Day 

Maybe the best thing is that with a level 2 charger in my garage I don’t have to charge every day. Those using a regular household outlet will need to charge daily to “top off” the battery since most cars can only replenish 40-50 miles per day, maybe less, deepening on the car, the system and the outlet. With a level 2 charger I can charge every few days, perhaps only twice in a week. And I might never, ever need to go to a charge station, which is a bonus, too.

And now, every time I open the garage door I feel a sense of pride just like my friend Susanne: I have this amazing, smart, inexpensive solution to EV charging that didn’t take a lot of muscle, money or sweat. It’s simple, just as it should be.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss

Tags: