Are Electric Cars in Your Future?

I heard a familiar tune on the TV while rummaging through the 
refrigerator for a snack. It took me back to my childhood days of 
watching cartoons in my pajamas.<br><br>I started 
singing along, then stopped and looked around quickly. Nope, the wife 
wasn't around. I'd have probably been committed had she heard me. Hubbell Wiring Device-Kellems

Steve Maurer, IME

I heard a familiar tune on the TV while rummaging through the refrigerator for a snack. It took me back to my childhood days of watching cartoons in my pajamas.

I started singing along, then stopped and looked around quickly. Nope, the wife wasn't around. I'd have probably been committed had she heard me.

Seeing the coast was clear, I resumed my impromptu concert and food foraging. Humming this time, of course... just in case.

The commercial was for an electric plug-in car. And of course, the tune was from the Jetsons cartoon. Pictures of George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy flashed through my mind. And of course, so did their loveable pooch, Astro.

Now, an electric car isn't exactly a flying vehicle. And to be sure, my beat up old pickup would remind you more of the Flintstones' rig.

But electric cars are definitely here and getting more popular each year. The plug-in vehicles come in two flavors: plug-in battery/gasoline hybrids, and fully electric.

As battery tech evolves, along with the availability of roadside charging stations, I've no doubt that fully battery-powered rigs will rule the day for many consumers.

Hybrids might be better for longer jaunts. But for around the town and short commutes, a car that's totally powered by battery might be worth a look.

You just need to charge it up at night. Oh yeah... there's that, right?

There are several home EV chargers on the market already. Installation shouldn't be too hard for a qualified electrician. A few I've seen can be either hard-wired on a branch circuit, or plugged into a receptacle.

The charger can be installed on a wall in the garage. But that's a problem for me... no garage. Turned it into an office and sewing room years ago. (Hey... the sewing room was for my wife, okay!)

That means the device would need to be rated for outdoor use. It should have a UL rating of at least a Type 3R/S, which is good for both indoor and outdoor installations.

There are several requirements in fact. It should be compatible with EVSE codes (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), as well as NEC® codes like Article 625. UL has a slew of standards to follow: 2251, 991, 2231-1 and -2. Even the cords must be rated for EV chargers (UL 62).

"What about plug compatibility?" you ask. Yep, there's a standard for that too. SAE J1772 outlines that.

If plugging it up indoors on a receptacle, keep in mind the amperage and voltage ratings. Most are at least 30-amp input at 208-240 VAC. A NEMA 6-50 plug and receptacle combo should fit the bill.

If you're in the market, check out the features and benefits, too. For example, you might want:

  • A long enough charging cord — say 20 feet — to drag it around the old gas guzzler that got parked in front of the charger
  • Time delay to charge at off-peak hours, saving money
  • Ground fault monitoring for safety's sake
  • Multiple charging rates and amps... just like your bass boat's marine battery charger
  • And maybe a locking connector to prevent it getting knocked loose by runaway basketballs.
Of course for me, a reminder to plug it in would be nice. But I haven't seen that yet.
Which reminds me... phone just died. Need to get the darn thing back on the charger!


Photo courtesy of Hubbell Wiring Device-Kellems