Electric-Car Charging Stations Upgrade The Home Garage
Homeowners are outfitting their garages with heavy-duty outlets, solar panels and battery walls.
Homeowners are outfitting their garages with heavy-duty outlets, solar panels and battery walls.
When Peter Van Deerlin got his first electric vehicle in 2012, the now 57-year-old doctor wanted to be able to charge his car quickly enough to get to the hospital for middle-of-the-night emergencies.
He chose a Tesla Model S with a dual charger inside the car (a feature that the car maker later dropped) and installed a 100-amp electrical line in his garage in Moorestown, N.J.
In the end, Dr. Van Deerlin’s nervousness was unwarranted, said his wife, Vivianna Van Deerlin, 57, also a doctor. But having the 100-amp line—the standard household outlet is 15 or 20 amps—served the couple well as they expanded their fleet of electric vehicles, which now includes a Tesla Model 3, Model S and Roadster.
Around 2016, the Van Deerlins added a second Tesla wall connector and a NEMA 1450 outlet, which can be used to charge any electric vehicle. They also amped up the decor in their garage so that it would be “suitably nice” for the cars, said Dr. Van Deerlin. She said they spent around $13,000 for Tesla-colored paint, a wall-mounted metal logo and decorative floor tiles.
Dr. Van Deerlin, who is president of a local club for Tesla owners, said she was an early adopter of driving electric for environmental reasons but fell in love with the car. “I love that driving electric doesn’t need to be a compromise,” she said.
As more luxury car makers roll out electric vehicles, homeowners are building or retrofitting garages to equip them with powerful charging stations. Options range from installing a simple, 220- or 240-volt outlet to devising elaborate systems that incorporate solar panels and battery walls.
Entrepreneur and investor Rich Levandov, 67, and his wife, Robin Levandov, 65, a painter, are opting for the latter at their home in Sausalito, Calif. The couple, who split their time between Belmont, Mass., and Sausalito, have a simple 220-volt outlet and charger in Massachusetts. In California, they are installing Tesla roof tiles and a Tesla Powerwall, a series of roughly 2-foot by 4-foot batteries. The roof tiles will power the home and charge Mr. Levandov’s Tesla Model Y and four e-bikes, he said.
Electric vehicles make up roughly 3% of U.S. car sales, according to Pew Research. In August, President Biden signed an executive order calling for 50% of car and truck sales to be electric, hydrogen fuel cell or plug-in hybrids by 2030, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some of the pushback by consumers against e-vehicles is their price and the availability of charging infrastructure.
In North America, all-electric cars can be charged using a standard J1772 plug, sometimes called a “J” plug, said Tom Moloughney, an electric-vehicle industry consultant. Teslas can be charged using a J plug but they need an adapter, which comes free with the vehicle. The amount of power a car gets during charging, measured in kilowatts, is a product of the outlet’s amperage, or the volume of electrons present, multiplied by voltage, which is the pressure of the electrical current, Mr. Moloughney explained. Standard household outlets are 120 volts with 15 or 20 amps, which is known as Level 1 charging, according to Mr. Moloughney. That translates to 3 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging, he said.
Level 2 charging uses a 240-volt circuit and cars can be charged at amperages ranging from 16 to 80, depending on the car. “Every electric vehicle can accept different levels of power,” Mr. Moloughney said. “So you match the charger to what your car can accept.” A car that charges at 80 amps on a 240-volt circuit can take 19.2 kilowatts an hour, he said. That translates to 50 to 60 miles of range per hour, roughly 10 to 20 times as fast as a Level 1 charging setup.
While it is common for homeowners to upgrade to 240-volt outlets, wall-mounted charging stations deliver a more powerful and faster charge. The cost of upgrading is typically several thousand dollars, including labour and a few hundred dollars for the charging station itself.
In addition to brand-specific charging stations, dozens of companies sell brand-agnostic systems. One is ChargePoint, which sells charging stations that can work with all electric vehicles on the market, said Colleen Jansen, the company’s chief marketing officer. “Maybe you have a Tesla today and you want a Polestar tomorrow,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about getting locked into any one brand.”
Colin Morales, a 58-year-old executive at a medical device company, has three ChargePoint stations, two at his primary residence in Carson City, Nev., and another at a home in San Jose, Calif. He has ordered a fourth for another home in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Mr. Morales said he ordered the ChargePoint stations shortly after his partner, Stephanie Macauley, 56, who is retired, traded in her Porsche for a hybrid Range Rover. The thrill of greater fuel efficiency, and of helping the environment, was short-lived as the couple found themselves running all over town searching for a charging station.
Mr. Morales, who drives a Porsche Taycan and has a Ford F-150 truck, said he has plugged the cars into a 15-amp socket at night, only to wake up and find the vehicle 10% charged. “It would literally take three days if you’re on empty,” he said.
In Carson City, where Mr. Morales owns a custom, 5,500-square-foot house, he said he had his contractor install the two charging stations in an oversize, three-bay garage. Both stations are hard-wired into 220-volt outlets, but one is a 50-amp station and one is a 60-amp station. “It charges just a little bit faster,” he said. He estimated the Range Rover takes about 2½ hours to fully charge, and the Taycan takes between 6 and 7 hours if the car is on empty. The Taycan has around 220 miles of range, and the Range Rover has 50 miles of range using electricity plus another 400 miles using gas.
Mr. Morales said the installation was more complicated at his home in San Jose, where his electrician ran wires under the house, between the breaker box and the garage. “I didn’t want the wire to show,” said Mr. Morales, who preferred to charge inside the garage. “I didn’t want this bulky charging thing outside my house,” he said.
Mr. Morales said he spent around $2,000 to install each charging station, including the electrical work. He estimated he is saving hundreds of dollars a month in gas. In San Jose, for example, Mr. Morales said his monthly electric bill has gone up roughly $50 per month since he installed the charging station. By comparison, he said he easily spent $200 a month on gas before switching to electric.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual
You’ll never guess where they found a little extra room when renovating this west coast house
There was a time, not too long ago, when the most important must-have for would-be renovators was space. It was all about space to be together and space to be apart.
But as house prices increase across the country, the conversation has started to shift from size for the sake of it towards more flexible, well-designed spaces better suited to contemporary living.
For the owners of this 1920s weatherboard workers’ cottage in Fremantle, the emphasis was less on having an abundance of room and more about creating cohesive environments that could still maintain their own distinct moods. Key to achieving this was manipulating the floorplan in such a way that it could draw in light, giving the impression at least of a larger footprint.
See more stories like this in the latest issue of Kanebridge Quarterly magazine. Order your copy here
Positioned on a site that fell three metres from street level, the humble four-room residence had been added to over the years. First order of business for local architect Philip Stejskal was to strip the house back to its original state.
“In this case, they were not quality additions,” Stejskal says. “Sometimes it is important to make sure later additions are not lean-tos.”
The decision to demolish was not taken lightly.
“Sometimes they can be as historically significant as the original building and need to be considered — I wouldn’t want people to demolish our addition in 50 years’ time.”
Northern light hits the site diagonally, so the design solution was to open up the side of the house via a spacious courtyard to maximise opportunities to draw natural light in. However, this had a knock-on effect.
“We had to make space in the middle of the site to get light in,” Stejskal says. “That was one of the first moves, but that created another issue because we would be looking onto the back of the neighbouring building at less appealing things, like their aircon unit.”
To draw attention away from the undesirable view, Stejskal designed a modern-day ‘folly’.
“It’s a chimney and lookout and it was created to give us something nice to look at in the living space and in the kitchen,” Stejskal says.
“With a growing family, the idea was to create a space where people could find a bit of solitude. It does have views to the wider locality but you can also see the port and you can connect to the street as well.”
A garden tap has also been installed to allow for a herb garden at the top of the steps.
“That’s the plan anyway,” he says.
Conjuring up space has been at the core of this project, from the basement-style garaging to the use of the central courtyard to create a pavilion-like addition.
The original cottage now consists of two bedrooms, with a central hallway leading onto a spacious reception and living area. Here, the large kitchen and dining spaces wrap around the courtyard, offering easy access to outdoor spaces via large sliding doors.
Moments of solitude and privacy have been secreted throughout the floorplan, with clever placement of built-in window seats and the crow’s nest lookout on the roof, ideal for morning coffee and sunset drinks.
The house has three bedrooms, including a spacious master suite with walk-in robe and ensuite overlooking the back garden. Adjustable blades on the bedroom windows allow for the control of light, as well as privacy. Although the house was designed pre COVID, it offers the sensibility so many sought through that time — sanctuary, comfort and retreat.
“When the clients came to us, they wanted a house that was flexible enough to cater for the unknown and changes in the family into the future,” Stejskal says. “We gave the owners a series of spaces and a certain variety or moods, regardless of the occasion. We wanted it to be a space that would support that.”
Mood has also been manipulated through the choice of materials. Stejskal has used common materials such as timber and brick, but in unexpected ways to create spaces that are at once sumptuous but also in keeping with the origins of the existing building.
Externally, the brickwork has been finished in beaded pointing, a style of bricklaying that has a softening effect on the varied colours of bricks. For the flooring, crazy paving in the courtyard contrasts with the controlled lines of tiles laid in a stack bond pattern. Close attention has also been paid to the use of veneer on select joinery in the house, championing the beauty of Australian timbers with a lustrous finish.
“The joinery is finished in spotted gum veneer that has been rotary cut,” says Stejskal. “It is peeled off the log like you peel an apple to give you this different grain.”
Even the laundry has been carefully considered.
“The laundry is like a zen space with bare stone,” he says. “We wanted these different moods and the landscape of rooms. We wanted to create a rich tapestry in this house.”
The owners now each experience the house differently, highlighting separate aspects of the building as their favourite parts. It’s quite an achievement when the site is not enormous. Maybe it’s not size that matters so much after all.
These are the smartest bits of tech for your home.
Take a look at what the capital has to offer.