Ask This Old House: How To Install A Home EV Charging Unit – Video


A recent episode of “Ask This Old House” aired on PBS that centered around home electric vehicle charging stations, more specifically the installation of a Clipper Creek unit.

Fair warning: the intro to the 10 minute spot is a little campy, in classic Old House style, but electrician Scott Caron does give a fairly thorough step-by-step walkthrough of what it takes to hard-wire a charging station to a residence.

Definitely a good primer for those who want to know the process.  Check out the complete episode here (link good through November 2nd, 2015)

Ask This Old House (Episode 5/21/2015)

Category: Charging

25 responses to "Ask This Old House: How To Install A Home EV Charging Unit – Video"
  1. taser54 says:

    Why is a fair warning necessary? This Old House is what it is.

  2. Jeff Songster says:

    Yes… I came across it the other day and was pleasantly surprised at how well they covered the subject. Amusing when the customer asks… if the electrician is sure before plugging in. Worth watching.

    1. no comment says:

      the guy ran the wire without conduit. i would have thought that building codes would require that you would have to install a conduit and then run the wire through the conduit. at least in my house, the wiring is installed that way.

      1. Nick says:

        It’s an old house.

      2. Kosh says:

        In the basement, with wire in it’s own insulation, you don’t need conduit. Unless it is spanning horizontally someplace that someone might be tempted to be hanging something on it (like drying clothes!). Up between the joists seems to be ok though.

        Outside, the wire from the charger to the box is just like a dryer cord, no conduit needed.

        However, I’m surprised he didn’t put a clamp in the hole in the box where the wire fed through (I didn’t see one anyways). You need to secure the wire so it won’t pull against the actual connections.

        I’m not an electrician, just built my own house and several basement finishes.

      3. Mike I says:

        If you watch the video, all the electrical wiring in that basement is “Romex” without conduit. Clearly it is allowed in that unfinished space.

        1. no comment says:

          it isn’t reliable to look at what is in the house and assume that you can carry over with new installation. when you do renovations in an existing house, the renovations are judged against *current* building codes; not the codes that were in effect when the house was built. in the event where you are doing a straight replacement, you generally can do a like-for-like replacement even if the replacement does not meet current codes. this was not a replacement, it was a new installation, so it should have been evaluated against current codes.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Unless you live in NYC or similiar places, you haven’t been in a brand new house lately. They almost always use romex if the house is under 3 storeys tall.

      4. kubel says:

        I was told by my inspector that the concern for unprotected romex in an unfinished area is that the homeowner might use the wire to hold back tools (such as rakes leaning against the walls between the studs). So a waist high run going through the wall studs would need to be protected somehow, either by board or drywall or conduit. If it’s running along the floor joists, it’s OK since there’s minimal risk. I was told not to run the wire under the joists, but I’ve seen contractors do that and it passed inspection. I’m no expert, but the way they did it looked safe.

      5. Nix says:

        Conduit depends upon what state you live in, and what standards they use. Most states are transitioning to NEC standards. You can check your state here:

        If your state uses NEC standards, you can get free access to the “NFPA 70A: National Electrical Code® Requirements for One- and Two-Family Dwellings ” documentation here (signup required):

        I believe the code for protecting a single branch circuit from damage is in section 300.4 on page 70A-62. From my reading, wiring needs protection (such as conduit or metal plates) when it is “subject to physical damage”.

        The code then goes into detail for requirements when the wiring is concealed in wood or metal walls (protection from screws/nails), and other situations. It says very little about exposed wiring such as this, except that it needs to be supported and protected from any screws that might come from the other side of the surface it is running against. There doesn’t seem to be any risk of that here.

        Page 70A-84, Section 334 talks about when NM and NM and NMC non-metalic sheathed cable can be used. Section 334.15 covers exposed work, and talks about what circumstances it needs to be protected by conduit.

        334.15 (C) talks about unfinished basements in specific. It appears that NM/NMC sheathed cable (which I believe they are using) can be used in basements without conduit when installed along joists, if it is not subject to damage.

        But don’t trust me, I’m not licensed, and I can’t give advice. I’m just reporting what I’ve read, and I may be missing something entirely. But if anybody else wants to dig in, here is a good place to start digging.

  3. no comment says:

    a clipper creek level 2 evse. that was the evse that tom moloughney allegedly “advertised” a few weeks ago.

  4. Mike I says:

    The one thing I didn’t like is that when they compared the provided Level 1 charging cord to the Level 2, they quoted the time to charge the car from flat empty.
    “…the bad news, it could take up to 20 hours to charge your vehicle. Which means that you would have to go to work every other day”. The guy said earlier in the program that his round trip to work is only 30 miles. That distance can be easily charged with the provided 120V charge cord. I know because I do it on our e-Golf every night. When I need to charge faster, I have a 240V EVSE that was purchased for our other EV.

    I’m not saying the guy doesn’t need a 240V charging station – he does. I just didn’t like the way it was presented.

    1. no comment says:

      i assume the guy lives in boston. so the amount of charge needed to drive 30 miles can vary widely depending upon the time of year. so if he is using a level 1 EVSE, he might not be able to get 30 miles worth of charge in an overnight charge using a level 1 EVSE unless he drives to work and straight back home each day (which seems reasonably possible in his case since he stated that his only use for the car was for going to and from work, but that isn’t going to be true for everyone).

  5. David says:

    What’s the car? I don’t recognize it.

    1. David says:

      Autocorrect! Recognize!

      1. David says:

        Ahh. E-Golf. It was bugging me. It came to me watching Rutt driving his Jetta pick-up on Lost in Transmission.

  6. David Murray says:

    I bet they confused a lot of people when they got into talking about hybrids, EV, and PHEV. They didn’t explain it very well.

  7. Bill Howland says:

    Man there seems to be a lot of concern here about running a simple circuit. #8 copper Romex is considered ‘small’, so no chafe bushings are required. The same wiring method is required as if he was installing a simple 15 amp outlet. In fact if he was installing a LCS-15 (12 amps), then he would have run a plain #14/2 saturday helper cable. He also could have used #6 aluminum.

    I like Coran since he doesn’t automatically say all the existing stuff has to come out. And the outside disconnect (mainly used for air conditioners) is between $7-8, which is what the cost of a plain NEMA 3R box is anyway.

    He did use a romex clamp, its against the side of the house.

    The only mistake I’ve ever seen Coran make is putting in a meter socket without NO-OX on aluminum wire. And once telling a homeowner everything had to be changed due to the main breaker handle (plastic) breaking off. When he just needed a QO 100 amp replacement breaker. But to a surgeon everything requires a scalpel, as they say.

    But there’s no comparison with Alan Gallant, who lately is in the doghouse since he basically told millions that its ok to steal electricity from the utility on the jobsite, in so many words. I’m sure Marash Associates got sued on that show. I’m sure of the reaction because the next show CORAN was hired, and he brought along a 5 kw portable Generec gasoline generator for the simplest wiring change. No stealing electricity with CORAN! hehe.

    99.9% of locales allow romex in residences no more than 2 storeys high. He had it routed along the rim joist as he would have run any other romex without a backboard, or through the center of the joists.]

    Not to nitpick, but I think he’ll find the Golf charges much faster than 3 times as fast, probably more like 4 or 5 times as fast with the 32 amp charging docking station.

    1. Nix says:

      Thanks! That confirms what I’d read in the code. I’m always unsure of myself when I read that stuff, because it seems like there is always a catch I miss.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Actually there’s other things that could be said, and it looks like Scott considered it when he said it ‘is like a clothes dryer’. It could be much more than a clothes dryer, since the absolute largest ones are 6000 watts. This could be 7600 watts depending on the car.

        Other unanswered questions in general in a multi-family dwelling:

        1). A three unit plus house meter electric service will probably 150 amps. Is it large enough? The individual flat is 60-100 amps Is it big enough?

        2). Has anyone asked the landlord for permission?

  8. Bill Howland says:

    On the subject of charging, Brian here and I each charged on a dual chargepoint at the CHILI’s in Liverpool, NY (Syracuse).

    As mentioned GM products are current limited to 15 amps (so no GM product really needs more than the $379 clipper creek product, since it is weatherproof and good for 15 amps.. They also make a 12 amp model for use on 15 amp circuits for the same price), so I was there with the ELR and Brian was charging his 3.6 kw (small) Leaf. Surprisingly, we found that although the ELR was limited to 15 amps (at times not even drawing a full 3 kw – the voltage at this location occassionally drops to 200 volts), Brian figured out his car was drawing 17 3/4 amps. So since at times his charge rate would dip slightly, I have to assume this is the maximum uptake a Leaf charger can take during poor voltage conditions.

    Therefore, my ELR (and all GM products charging at the J1772 jack) won’t be charging at their fastest rate unless the serving voltage is at least 220 volts. (3.3 kw) – 200 will get you 3.0 kw.

    But apparently in a LEAF, if your charging dock is rated for more than 16 amps, it will charge at full speed down to the low 200’s (and draw almost 18 amps doing so.).

    I wonder if the new 6.6 kw units behave similarly and need at least a 32 or 40 amp EVSE to charge at the full rate under poor voltage conditions?

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Congrats on picking up the ELR!

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Thanks, I very much like the car. Supposedly the same battery as my 2011 volt but they’ve apparently opened it up alot wider. My volt takes 3 hours 20 minutes to charge. THe ELR takes almost 5 hours, but then I also go much farther than its advertised 37 miles. With the air conditioner on economy, I get around 48 miles, much further than the volt on battery.

  9. Speculawyer says:

    This old house also recently did a show about installing solar PV with microinverters.

    I highly recommend that show for anyone interested in solar PV.