63% of All Housing Units In U.S. Have a Garage, Could Install EV Charging Station

JAN 17 2017 BY MARK KANE 67

According to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, nearly two-thirds (63%) of all U.S. households have a garage or carport available to them (and often with electricity already wired in).

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi

In other words, those 63% who own a parking space, in theory, could equip an EVSE charging unit for a future plug-in vehicle purchase.

And the ratio is higher for new household occupancy builds – 71%.

As the plug-in vehicle market in the US barely exceeds 1% for most months (unless you are talking about the recent, and very impressive, 1.47% gain in December), the lack of a garage or carport certainly won’t limit sales in the near term – it could encourage them; although we have to note that plugging in is still a significant hurdle for a fair chunk of the population at large..

“According to the newly released 2015 American Housing Survey, 63% of all occupied housing units have a garage or carport. Garages and carports often have access to electricity for parked vehicles, so these data are important for electric vehicle market analysis. Seventy-percent of new construction units (five years old or less) have a garage or carport. The West and Midwest regions of the country have a greater percentage of housing with garages or carports, each with over 70%. For rental housing units, only 37% have a garage/carport, as compared to 78% for those owning housing units.”

Share of Housing Units with Garage or Carport, 2015

Share of Occupied
Housing Units
Percent with a
Garage or Carport
Location – Census Region
Age of Housing Unit
New construction (< = 5 years)3%71%
Older than 5 years97%63%
All Occupied Units
Total118,290 units63%
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2015 American Housing Survey, AHS Table Creator, Accessed December 2, 2016.

source: energy.gov

Categories: Charging


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67 Comments on "63% of All Housing Units In U.S. Have a Garage, Could Install EV Charging Station"

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And of the ones that have a garage, how many have converted it to a living space of have so much junk in it that a car will never fit in? How many have a shared and managed garage?

The car doesn’t actually have to be inside the garage, carport or shed to charge. As long as you have electricity available close to the parking spot you are good to go.

My charger is on the wall to the side of the garage, where it can reach the cars in the driveway.

In California, using a garage to park your car is a waste.

In The Netherlands this is the other way around: 70% of car owners have no private parking space and cannot facilitate charging themselves. Unfortunately…

I think it’s important for governments to codify charger installation rights for apartment and condo dwellers. It’s fine to ask folks to pay for the engineer/tradesperson to do the work, but not to prevent the installation of a charger in the first place. This is a necessary transition that should not be blocked by partisan/uninformed politics by apartment owners/condo boards.

Oregon already has a law on the books for condos, but it is usually prohibitively expensive to run new 240 V service and install a separate meter for each EVSE.

In theory, they could install “smart” EVSE’s that track usage and bill accordingly, but the condo is under no obligation (and has no motivation) to do so.

And no one is likely to install a private “charger” (DCFC, 480 V 3 phase, etc) but instead will use the on-board charger of the car and supply it with 120 or 240 V 🙂
It’s a losing battle at this point as EVSE and “charger” are now interchangeable terms….

For overnight charging 110V is fine. Not great, but more than adequate. It won’t completely recharge a nearly empty Bolt pack but it will get you another 30 to 50 miles in a 10 hour charging session.
Yeah, some people only plug in for 8 hours and some need 70 miles a day, but for most people a regular receptacle is adequate. I don’t even bother to up my amperage from 8 to 12 amps most nights because 12 hours at 8 amps is enough to fully charge my Volt back up.

This is an extremely important point which gets muddled even by people who purportedly use EVs. For the vast majority of drivers, even an 8 amp, 120 volt plug is plenty. Most daily U.S. travel is under 40 miles and it is extremely unlikely other countries have higher travel ranges. Higher rate charging at home becomes LESS necessary with a longer range vehicle since the full range is rarely needed. If used up, a depleted battery can usually be recharged over several days with zero usability impact. For those rare instances where it would be an issue, DC charging should be able to fill in with no less impact than ICE products. Thus, even with an 8amp, 120 volt plug, the typical EV will still be more user friendly than a typical ICE vehicle. Charging at home is simply much more convenient. It is also much more hygienic.

It is also one of the reasons the Prius Prime is going to sell like hotcakes. Despite the mockery of the idiots and purists who have no grasp of reality in this forum, the Prius is directly targeted at the right people with great precision. It costs the same (or less) after rebate as a regular basis and will not require any special installation in a garage. Simply plug it into a normal outlet. That makes it a very good value proposition to the masses.

It doesn’t have to be that expensive to install a Level 2 charge point in your garage. We hired an electrician to put in 240v, and bought a $300 charge cord. Whole thing was about $500.

Yes, it amazes me that so many people don’t hesitate to add multiple options to a car when buying, adding thousands of dollars to the price. Yet they balk at spending $500 or so installing a circuit for an L2 charger in their garage.

I understand that about half of EV sales occur in California, where L1 charging is probably sufficient for most people. But I’ve also seen comments from people who live in areas, like I do, where it really does get very cold on some winter nights. Comments which say that L1 charging isn’t sufficient to both run the battery heater and charge the battery at a reasonable speed.

So yes, many people will be able to get along with L1 charging. But others really do need L2 charging. Therefore, if we are ever to have a home charging standard, then it should be L2… and not L1.

This isn’t much of an issue in European countries where 220 volts is standard for household current.

Balk at $500?
I don’t know where you are, but here, the application fee for the permit to run 220 is almost that much.

Application? Permit?

Poor bastards… do you need to contact someone and ask for permission when you change LEDs too? 😛

What’s considered a “carport already wired with electricity”? When I lived in apartments, many of the carports had no electricity (just something to cover your car), and the ones that did have electricity, it was just to power minimal lighting. There were no place to plug in an EVSE, and I don’t think the circuits could handle 10 EVs plugged in charging at the same time.

So fix it. Running 220v lines is not that bad. Most of the carports have (what I call) “exowiring”, meaning that it runs in conduit tubes. I could wire up a 25 to 50 port setup in a couple days.

The real question is if the people doing the work just leave a 220v socket or try to go full political and put charger stations in. This dramatically increases the cost and complexity for no good end. People can provide there own chargers.

That doesn’t answer my question about what the data presented is based on.

The data is misleading at best. Charging at home is a challenge for a lot more people than it leads to believe.

If the data is misleading, it is because more users can utilize plug-in vehicles without electrical upgrades. Workplace charging is a viable alternative for many without home charging.


50 drops? That’s a serious upstream transformer you’re implying, and probably three phase. That’s industrial scale, more than a typical machine shop. I have yet to run across an airport with that many EVSEs, for comparison. That’s like a golf course or an amusement park. Even if you wired up 50 ports in two days, you’d still need to connect it to something upstream. And that “something upstream” will likely need a new concrete pad, might require new landscaping, possibly new utility poles, approval by the AHJ, the condo board, yadda, yadda… Not trivial.

I don’t see this as an insurmountable problem – condos or HOA’s could set aside a portion of their parking lots – lets take your case of 25 EV tenants. Lets further assume only 20 of the 25 need to charge simultaneously. They could place a product like an AV Turbo-dock (3.2 kw at 200 or 3.8 kw at 240) so that would be a maximum of around 64 kw, or if they ran the things on 120 volts at 12 amps, that would be less than 30 kw – not much for a very large condo or apartment complex that would have 20 simultaneous ev’s charging. These, or similiar products require a smartphone application by the individual tenant for billing purposes, so the HOA or landlord can bill for who was using the service, and how much. Yes it requires a sequestering of a section of a parking lot, and, if in extremely congested areas there aren’t any parking lots, garages, nor car ports, and only on-the-street parking is allowed, then the municipality would have to perform an analogous function. But 30 kw addl load for a 200 unit apartment building (unless you can only be an ev owner… Read more »

PDX has two sets of 20-25 120V EVSEs in long term parking. I’ve used them a couple of times and are perfect. Check out PlugShare.

Why is the need for a garage or carport an important statistic?

I have neither a carport nor a garage at my home but I charge outside in my driveway with no issues. Just buy an outdoor rated EVSE or use a 120V receptacle with an in-use weatherproof cover. I’ve been a plug-in owner for 4.5 years now and have had zero issues charging in the elements here in Southern Ontario Canada.

What if you live in Southern Ontario Canada and have an outdoor rated EVSE, but don’t have either a garage, carport, or driveway. You’re so screwed.


That’s an interesting situation. I think it points to the need for the city to install chargers in at least some parking spots along most roadways. I see some areas have used power from the lamp standards, lowering the cost for rollout by using existing infrastructure.

Then you “invert”, and charge primarily a work. Here in Silicon Valley this is the model for a lot of people I know, and even ones with a full garage (to lazy to put in a charger).

THe model even works for cold weather places that have the requirement to heat ICE engines overnight to keep them from congealing the oil. A car like the Bolt EV could spend some of its power keeping itself warm overnight. Voila! A car that can be street parked in the frozen north! Try that with an ICE.

Since the guy lives in greater Toronto, he may take the subway and/or bus to a job in the heart of the city.

Meh. Hindsight is 20-20. We’ve all made questionable/bad decisions in our past. At least his heart is in the right place.

You are screwed any way in North without roof or some fancy wireless charger. Snow, rain, freeze in the morning and what you will do when your wiring contraption will be frozen dead, wait for better weather next week to thaw it, or run around with construction heater melting it? Sometimes just opening car door is a big challenge if it is left exposed to elements.

Running temporary wires above sidewalk to trip unsuspected passers by is another reckless idea.

“You are screwed any way in North without roof or some fancy wireless charger.”

I got no covers or anything. I have had zero issues.

I use the Nissan carwings app to turn on the climate control and pre-heat the cabin, seats and steering wheel on those cold dark Canadian winter mornings.

zzzzzzzzzz posted more anti-EV FUD:

“You are screwed any way in North without roof or some fancy wireless charger. Snow, rain, freeze in the morning and what you will do when your wiring contraption will be frozen dead…”

I’m sure this will come as a great surprise to our Canadian friends who routinely plug their engine block heaters into outdoor electrical outlets on very cold nights. 🙄

The chargers I use at work are completely exposed outside (in Michigan). Small issues with ice around the charge connection at worst. Charging outside, in the “North” is not an issue 99.9% of the time.

Same situation. Nearly 200,000km of trouble-free driving, mostly in the GTA.

I highly doubt GTA driving counts… just kidding 😉

It helps if the garage has electrical wiring, and it is more convenient if it’s raining or snowing to plug in without comfort.
In cold region, a somewhat heated garage is also beneficial to reduce the charging time, add to the range and comfort.

Not useless at all.

I didn’t claim that a garage is useless. I simply claim the statistic is useless as they are equating garages with the ability for people to adopt EV’s.

Seriously disingenuous half-truths here. Maybe even dangerous. Garages, as we know them, are relatively new. This is not guidance from the US Energy.gov. It merely uses official data to assert a point-of-view. I find it funny that the yardstick here is a garage “with electricity.” Most existing garages built before the turn of the century (Y2K) will have a two gangs on the same 15A GFI’d circuit, plus lights. That was the postwar standard. Remember “little pink houses” like the song? Those. So you’d be talking about 15A (12A net) 120v max, assuming nothing else on the circuit. Anything with a high locked-rotor load (e.g., the electric door opener, or maybe a vacuum, a garage fridge) on that same circuit, and you’d already have exhausted that circuit. Very few of the readers of this board would regard a 12A L1 EVSE as even meeting table stakes for EV ownership. And that’s the theoretical max. A safer limit would be much lower, because the NEC regards EVSEs as a continuous load. The Governor of Massachusetts signed a bill, literally last Friday afternoon, that the Commonwealth will **BEGIN** to promulgate regulations in the next Building Code, such that new houses shall be… Read more »

The fundamental challenge for having a plug-in is guaranteed charging, and the greatest enabler for that is having a guaranteed, off-street parking space.

The rest is a question of how much it costs to enable charging.


You make your point well. +1.

And people still question why Chevy made the Volt default to 8A charging…

Ok, lets take your scenario of an existing garage with a snack refrigerator, a few cfls, maybe a tv, an electric opener, and a car to be charged. The ‘Hard Locked rotor current issue’ is the worst starting the split-phase compressor in the refrigerator – the Permanent-Split-Capacitor garage door opener probably draws 8 amps for a 1/4 second then reverts down to 3 or 4, even with the built-in-bulb. The Vacuum has the worst running current, a huge one will draw 12 amps. SOLUTION: Do nothing but enjoy. The high current thing is the vacuum so unplug the car while vacuuming the mats. All GM (even the BOLT) can charge at 8 amps. Mitsubishi I-miev’s only charge at 8 amps on 110. So use this setting if you can. Granted, if you have a car where the charge current cannot be adjusted under 12, you’ll have to unplug the refrigerator while watching tv. Or when the car is charging go watch the other TV. OBJECTION: “BUT BUT BUT – the fridge uses over 30 AMPERES for 2 seconds when it starts!” Let it. A 15 amp circuit breaker typically trips at 150 amps instantaneously and goes through a time delay… Read more »
Whereas that’s all true (and extra points @BillHowland for knowing what a starting cap does on a single-phase motor), that’s not quite the point. Nuisance tripping is only part of the story. The *ABSENCE* of tripping is worse. Calmly loading a breaker to its nameplate (i.e., with a pluggable EVSE) will make the breaker fail “made,” so when that fridge kicks on, you can overload the circuit and cause a fire in the Romex it’s supposed to protect. Still, it’s fun to have this conversation. We’re relatively knowledgable folks here, yes? (even if several of you despise my BMW). This particular board is a self-selected group of EV geeks like us, right? But we’re a tiny fraction of the population, the ones who like to discuss starting capacitors and suchlike. The article’s assertion, by contrast, is that 63% of garages are ready-to-go. I would assert that a non-trivial number of those garages will be burned down by people who don’t realize that “ready-to-go” maybe isn’t quite so ready-to-go, and that consulting an electrician is a perfectly sensible first step. It will also lead to a happier EV motoring experience, because the owner will not only be safe, but the charging… Read more »
Not sure if mean the half truths are in my statement or in the article itself, but there’s a few your response: 1). There is no ‘starting cap’ in the refrigerator – it uses SPLIT-Phase, not single-phase starting since single phase motors at rest have Zero starting torque – the forward and reverse torques are eqal and opposing. There is a PTC resistor across the ‘run cap’ but that is just a poor man’s starting relay – the cap is shorted at turn on until it warms up. 2). Starting currents cause no problems with time delay fuses or time delay breakers. To get a UL – listing, old 5000 amp breakers and 10,000 amp current breakers at the big box stores have to work flawlesly AFTER interrupting 10,000 amps once. Handling 35 amps where the breaker never even operates isn’t going to harm a thing. 3). The ‘run cap’ in the garage opener improves the PF of the unit, but they use it since, on a PSC motor, you can just reverse it by hooking up forward and reverse triacs on either side of the run cap, and it effectively ‘swaps the 2 leads’ and makes it easy to… Read more »

My comment (per the last sentence) was that the *ARTICLE* is misleading, and in several ways. Buying a shiny new EV, driving it home, and then simply allowing it to charge at maximum 120v rate in the “63% of all US households” is a recipe to degrade conductor/wire insulation in at least a handful of garages, IMHO. Not in all garages, but in some. That’s why BMW PHEVs are supposed to be delivered at 6A (L1) and GM PHEVs at 8A (L1). A far better approach is to have a dedicated circuit installed by a licensed electrician, and preferably at L2.

“degrade the wiring”

Romex made within the past 20 years has been made with THHN conductors good for 90 degrees centigrade all day.

The rating for 3 of these wires in a cabled assembly is 25 amps for #14 American Wire Gage at 90 deg C, and thats for 50% more current carrying wires under the sheath so 50 % more heating. Obviously the wire, if only 2 current carrying conductors, is good for like more around 28 amps, even though legally you can protect it at no more than 15 amperes.

Running this piece of romex at 13-14 amps is Loafing in the extreme.

“Romex made within the past 20 years has been made with THHN conductors good for 90 degrees centigrade all day.” Actually, it’s about twice as far back. NM-B, since the mid-80’s, but yes. That’s true. Of course, derating. But I won’t go into those weeds. Still, I submit that this **ARTICLE** about 63% of housing stock being EV ready is disingenuous at best, and I specifically stated that POSTWAR housing stock may not be up to the task, all of which is lumped into that 63% of ready-to-go housing, like it’s easy-peasy. There’s also some knob-and-tube out there in older garages, and that gas-lamp conversion stuff in major cities from the early 1900’s is still kicking around. A lot of that crap is still in place. It’s been boring and safe, as wattages have gone down (i.e., LEDs now instead of incandescent). Throw another 12A continuous load on the ol’ barn for 10 hours straight, and maybe you’ll start to see what was buried in the wall back in 1951, or back in 1901. All of which takes me back to my original point: consult an electrician. Not sure why you’re fighting this so hard. You yourself have suggested similar… Read more »

Its not about me having the last word – I simply don’t want to discourage people from purchasing an EV.

I suppose disposition wise, I’m more inclined to make due with an existing situation.

But I’m not trying to put Electricians out of work, having a master electrician’s license myself.

I’m simply saying that if a current EV owner wants to ENHANCE their experience, at that point they can consult an electrician if they don’t feel comfortable doing their own work.

It might be encouraging to you that all new wired garages in the states (that follow the NEC) have to have a dedicated 20 amp multi-recepticle circuit, which usually only has to be shared by a rarely run (percentage wise) door opener.

My complex is a SHARED garage that is indeed wired for electricity…Should note that the spaces are also deeded…

HOA approved a rule to allow either charging stations or a plug but you must still submit a detailed plan listing how far it’ll be off the ground, must include a rendering and they reserve the right to reject you proposed based on “not uniformed” appearance alone…

Yet to even get to that point you might need to swap parking spaces but they’re deeded so at the very least you’ll want a paralegal to draft up a formal swap…You may also have to pay your neighbor just to get them to swap in the first place…

Working charging into new complex’s does make sense…

Yet I’m still one of those 63%ers…

If it is deeded, once you are done you’ve added value to your deeded property. You can recoup your costs when you resell, possibly even for a profit.

So what are the automakers waiting for. Just launch more plugins (at least with 10 mile range) and also more EVs.

Ideally utilities should step up and offer chargers for the households, but they did not do anything.

Instead Tesla is promoting the Superchargers, Powerwalls and so on.

What about…
– Definition of “garage”? Parking garage where nobody has an assigned parking lot? Garage with “lift” to fit like 2 cars in 1 garage on top of each other? -> Movement = Difficult to impossible to load with a normal charger mounted on the wall.
– Less garages than vehicles? (e.g. because of children with own cars, a 2nd more valuable (classic?) car or even less garages than flats in that building)
– Garage quite far away from the house = quite long cable for power supply necessery = costs and additional voltage drop.
– House owner has a job far away where he has a rented flat, just comming home for weekend/vacation and no chance to charge in the rented flat…
– Because noboby wanted to put a car into that garage for rent, it’s now rented by somebody for something else (e.g. storage).


First of all, a clear majority of US households have parking with electricity at lease relatively close by their parking.

Yes, it will take some additional expense in many cases to have an electrician wire in a 240v EVSE or receptacle although I suspect more then a few EV owners could probably get by with level one.

For the minority of US households that do not have this the solution is fairly obvious.

The local Utilites should be heavily promoting and installing charging equipment service to apartments/work places/public places.

After all, Big Oil companies sell the gasoline/diesel they produce through service stations (as well as buy politicians) so electrical utilities should be in the business of making widespread charging available so they can sell what they produce.

Yes this is going rather slowly because of the incredible laggard nature of most utilities and in some cases lagging government policies but it has started to happen in NorCal by its big IOU PG&E:


Very few need any electrical upgrades to add a plug-in vehicle. People do need to make certain the plug and wire are in good shape and the circuit is not loaded to over 80 percent max load.

I’m envious. Here in Germany, fitting a charger to your garage can be a real pain in the a*s if you rent one. And most people rent things over here.

No EV for me without building a house. So I guess there has to be a house soon.

Of course, in Germany, you *ALREADY* have 230v 50Hz service everywhere, including in your garage outlet. We don’t have that. Here, our 240v 60Hz terminates at the service panel of the house, and 240v is only carried to very specific appliances (e.g., heat pump, wood shop tools, electric dryer). That’s the problem. EVSEs are a new “very specific appliance,” and the retrofit can be expensive. In the US, the 30% tax relief for that retrofit ended two weeks ago.

At least we have the 230V, you’re right. But only if there’s an outlet in the garage. It seems common not to have one.

Behind my apartment building (with 15 apartments), there are 3 garages and none of them have an outlet or even a light switch and there are plenty like these.

In the area where my parents live, there are a bunch of garages a few blocks away, maybe around 60. Those also don’t have electricity or lighting.

That is interesting. Almost all the garages here, even if detached, are ‘wired’ since it is so ‘cheap’ to do.

And companies keep finding more incidental use for the ‘juice’.

Almost all gasoline-powered snow-blowers have cheap 110 volt (Universal) electric starter motors on them to avoid the chore of trying to ‘rope-start’ a very cold gasoline engine with super thick freezing lubrication oil. The thought is – let the electric motor fight with it. After the engine finally starts the cord is unplugged.

Oh, the snowblowers 🙂

We even had a lawsuit a few weeks back, somewhere in the South of Germany. There was a shared garage, one guy wanted to install a charger, all the others said no, he went to court, they said he can’t install it.

The statistics cited here are pretty irrelevant.

The opportunity to install an EV charge point, or not, has little or nothing to do with whether the house has a garage or carport. An EV charger can be installed on the outside of the house, or even on a post in the driveway or parking lot.

The opportunity to install an EV charger, or not, depends on two things:

1. The presence or absence of off-street parking

2. Permission from the home owner or landlord to install an EV charger

It gets rather tiresome reading claims that you can only charge an EV if you own a home with a garage, or even a garage or carport.

But a picture (or two) is worth a thousand words:

That last picture is of Google. Even with hundreds of those chargers, there is still a shortage there. And that’s the way it will be for the next 30 years: always a shortage.

You have to be not merely a FUDster like “Four Electrics”, but also pretty clueless, to think that the state of the EV revolution will be exactly the same in 30 years as it is now!

@Four, Yep.

Free ain’t always good.

Garrett Hardin famously postulated “the tragedy of the commons,” a right-wing-ish economics theorem within which a rational person will maximize his own individual benefit from any common/shared resource, even knowing that greedier consumption erodes the quality of the shared resource and is, ultimately, to his own detriment too. Countless doctoral theses have cited Hardin since.

As @Pushmi notes: a picture is worth a thousand words. So I’ll summarize those countless doctoral theses: it’s only a shortage there at Google because squatting and charging are perceived to be free. If Google would just charge $.13/kWh and $.25 an hour, the problem will solve itself. People will adjust to the market, because Google employees are smart rational maximizers.

Tesla just figured this out last week.

That’s the first time I’ve ever seen the Tragedy of the Commons problem as a “right-wing-ish economics theorem”. It is a well-demonstrated reality. One only needs to look at the over-fishing by commercial fishing fleets, and the depletion of groundwater due to irrigation of farmland in California, to see more than ample proof that it’s not merely a theorem.

This is relevant to human psychology and animal behavior, not partisan politics!

“Tesla just figured this out last week.”

Hmmm, or maybe you did, since you seem to be new to the concept. The situation with “clogging” at Tesla Superchargers is more complex than a simple Tragedy of the Commons situation, which is about use and overuse of natural resources. Contrariwise, Tesla Superchargers are an artificial resource, so providing more of the resource is up to Tesla.

I’m not saying the Tragedy of the Commons situation doesn’t apply; I’ve used that analogy more than once myself. But it’s a bit more complex here, since we have to take into account what will, and won’t, motivate Tesla to build more Superchargers.

What I meant was that Tesla changed its pseudo-free Supercharger fee structure just this week, as has been much discussed here.

BTW, Hardin applies. It’s a metaphor. It wouldn’t be an economics Shibboleth if it only applied literally to cows grazing on grass, or the net reproductive rate (NRR) of humans. At the moment of a given EVSE transaction, there is scarcity (i.e., you can’t park because 12 bozos are doing an inverted commute every day, and running their A/C in 12 empty, but fully-charged vehicles, because the 12 spots are financially “free”). Double the number of EVSEs, and the problem is still there.

Markets clear. Put differently, EVSE markets make empty spots. People unplug when they’re done. So, yes, that’s a slightly right-wing-ish solution to an emerging social problem.

Wikipedia, amusingly, uses the example of an office fridge to describe the tragedy of the commons. Clever.