Installing a Tesla high speed charger in a Town Home

Installing a Tesla high speed charger in a Town Home

Hi, I live in a Town home. I just got an electritian visit my house and told me, it will be very expensive, time consuming and distructive to install a tesla car charger in my garagae, because the circuit board is in my laundry room (second floor). Plus, I would need permission from the association because it will be wires run outside of the building.

My question is, what alternatives (if any) I have? How long will a Model 3 long range take to charge (0-full charge) using a home plug? Any of you own a Tesla, but do not have a high speed charger at home?

I really appreciate your feedback.

PaceyWhitter | 13/12/2017

I would get a second opinion and find out the reason for the cost. I don’t know your situation. Running the wires costs that much? Would running thinner wires be easier? If so you could install a 15-40 or even 15-30 outlet so you could use an even thinner wire.

If you have to charge off a standard outlet (5-15) you will get about 3-5 miles of charge per hour.

PaceyWhitter | 13/12/2017

I shouldn’t post from my phone. The initial paragraph should reference 14-50 and14-30 plugs.

yaheya | 13/12/2017

Hi PaceyWhitter thanks for the response. It is not just running the wires, because I live in a Townhome, I will need special permission from the home association group to get the extension run. Especially, it needs to be run from middle of the house to the garage, and it will not be pretty.

I will search for a second opinion. But the company who provided the quote is pretty reliable and honest.

vmulla | 13/12/2017

Definitely get a second opinion, preferably from a Tesla recommended electrician. It's a necessity now that you're going electric, right?

vmulla | 13/12/2017

I cannot use my MS with standard wall outlet, it's just to slow for my daily usage of ~80 miles.

Earl and Nagin ... | 13/12/2017

The Model III mobile connector has adapters available for a NEMA 6-20 and 6-15. These 240 volt connectors support 16 and 12 amp charging so an electrician may be able to use existing 120v wiring to your garage and just replace the breaker and an existing NEMA 5-15 or 5-20 'normal' wall outlet. This will charge your Model III at about 11 or 15 miles per hour, sufficient for about 120 miles in an 8 hour night.

Frank99 | 13/12/2017

Great suggestion - but there may be a problem. Its likely that there are multiple outlets on the same circuit as his garage outlet. If an electrician rewired the circuit for 240V, the other outlets would end up at 240V also - and his refrigerator, TV, or alarm clock might not appreciate that...

carlk | 13/12/2017

I know a person who's been using 110V to charge his Model X for ~20 mile daily communt but he's got a SC near where he lives when he needs to take longer trips.

Earl and Nagin ... | 13/12/2017

@Frank99 is correct. Most appliances today run off of 120 or 240 volts, however, I believe only one outlet would be allowed on the circuit if a NEMA 6-20 were put on it. Therefore some inconvenience might occur since the other outlets would probably need to be disconnected and blocked off, losing their use.
It would enable charging though.

Xerogas | 13/12/2017

Remember, Model 3 charges faster on 120V than Model S/X do. Not much faster, mind you, but perhaps OP doesn't have a very long daily commute? The miles start to add up fairly quickly while you're sleeping.

TexasBob | 13/12/2017

FWIW it was easier and cheaper for us to just get the electric company to come in and put a second 100 AMP service and a second meter into the garage than it was to bring a line in from the house. Your HOA may not have as much to say about having a meter added and a direct drop from the distribution line. YMMV, of course, but a new 100A service would give you tremendous flexibility for future proofing and, at least in our case, it actually cost a lot less.

yaheya | 13/12/2017

TexasBob thanks. How do I start requesting a second meter in the house ?

crazy canaler | 14/12/2017

One question: is your garage attached below your living area or detached? If it's below, can you not run the wiring through the floor of your laundry room down through the ceiling of your garage. Also, is your laundry room directly over your garage? If so, you may be able to use the 20-foot cable and plug your Tesla directly into the 204-volt dryer outlet. Even if you unplug your Tesla while doing laundry, it should easily be able to fully charge it overnight.

yaheya | 14/12/2017

Garage is attached however the laundry room is not directly above. This is a new house, I prefer not to run cables (that are visible) in the House.

TexasBob | 14/12/2017

@Yaheya what we did was just call the local wires utility (where we live the people who provide the electric lines and meters are different from the people who sell the power) and ask for a new 100 A service installation. Then tell them you want a new service and meter at your property (we asked for a new meter for a garage apartment and the new address was our street address with a "A" after it). No need to be sneaky about it, just saying I want to have a separate meter and new service in my garage for my EVs is probably fine. It depends where you live. In CA they seem to be a bit more reluctant (read expensive) to do this.

It is not an uncommon request even without EVs. People often/usually add a second meter when they intend to partition their house and rent out a portion.

Let us know if this helps solve the problem. IMHO, even if it were more expensive it would be a better deal because the added capacity which will improve your home's value in the long-term. I also expect that as EVs proliferate the cost of dropping additional lines/capacity into houses will rise (as it appears to have done in CA) so if you live elsewhere in the country then it is probably an investment that will rise in value over time.

seattlemag | 14/12/2017

I also have a townhome and can commiserate with you on the limitations and approvals you'll need. I lucked out that my panel is in the garage, so I'm simply limited by the 100A service that is installed. My first thought was similar to the solution Earl and Nagin came up with, especially if that circuit is only in the garage: just inop the other outlets and run 240.

TexasBob brought up a great point as well: I'd ask the electrician to give you a quote on a second 100A service. Electric company should be able to run it to a convenient location where the electrician can run it to the garage. Then you'll get full power!

Haggy | 14/12/2017

Associations may be fine with outside conduit as long as it's painted to match the outside. You can argue that it increases the value of the property, and if prospective buyers don't want to get units there because there's no option for EV charging, that can lower property values for everybody.

dave.m.mcdonough | 14/12/2017

+1 Just punch out the side of the house and use conduit. Also, as someone who's rewired quite a bit of house.. it really isn't that bad to repair drywall. a few cutouts to access studspace and you're golden. It being a new house makes that sort of thing easier (predictable).
Get a second opinion. It does not cost a fortune to run some wire.. I'm planning on trenching out to non-attached garage, putting in a sub-panel and rewiring the garage while I'm at it. It's like $500 of stuff and some time.

yaheya | 14/12/2017

Ok I called Southern California Edison (the Electric service provider). They were well equiped with this kind of request. They told me a separate meter can be put on my house for only 5 dollars! I will however, need to get permission from HOA. It also needs a permit, which the electrician would need to get. I called one of the Electrician from the Tesla web site, he too was familiar with the process. Without looking at the house, he told me labor/installation would be around 3K. Plus the hardware. So I am looking at maximum 3600 dollars. Which is a lot! I have an appointment with the electrician next Tuesday from which I will get a better cost estimate. I will post back to this thread what I find. In the meantime, thanks to all of you for responding. This is so great, that we have a virtual supporing system here with the Tesla Model 3 forum!!

TexasBob | 14/12/2017

Looks like a good solution! $3,600 is a lot of money but it is value-added capital to your house (much more so than running a line from the existing panel). So hopefully you will get it back in the end. Good luck with the HOA.

And my sympathies that you are stuck with SCE...$5 now but an extortionate $0.13 - $0.45 kwh tou or $0.16 - $0.31 tiered! Seriously I do not know how anyone affords electricity in California.

yaheya | 14/12/2017

@TexasBob like everything else, living in CA is a challenge! We have earthquake, fire, drought, over crowded and cost of living is out of the world. Thank you again for your feedback, it helped me tremendously.

TexasBob | 14/12/2017

@Yaheya well here in Houston we have Ted Cruz, mosquito swarms, hurricanes, humidity, and Biblical flooding every now and again, but at least my residential power rates are a more sensible 5-8 cents a kwh.

And no, I have no idea why, with electricity rates so low, Texas is not adopting EVs with wild abandon. Maybe when Tesla releases the Semi-based pickup truck. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

yaheya | 14/12/2017

@texasbob you beat me with Ted Cruz ;-)

dmm1240 | 15/12/2017

I have a townhome as well. What I did was to first go to my HOA for permission to install a wall mount charger on my front porch. I supplied them with photos and such and they okayed it. One board member said, "We're going to be getting a lot of these requests so I guess we should go ahead and do it."

Next, I have a friend who owns an electrical installation shop and he offered to run the 220 line and install the charger for $300. You probably won't be able to get it this cheap. He ran the 220 line from the circuit breaker one floor down up through a closet and drilled through the brick wall. Installing the wall mount was a snap. For the wall mount, I purchased the 25' cable option and that proved the right thing to do. Make sure to measure so that the charging cord will reach the charger on your parked Tesla.

An alternative is to run the 220 line and install an outlet on the exterior. Even the most stringent HOA board should be fine with that. In this case, you could then simply plug your Tesla in with the charging cord that comes with it.

The only downside to mine is the developer used circuits that only supply 125 amps to my house. To upgrade it, since each box services four homes, I'd have to get three other neighbors agree to bear the expense of installing a 150 or 200 amp circuit. They're not going to do that. The downside here is my MX will charge at around 50a instead of its full capacity. I've had the car for four months now and never had a problem with it fully charging overnight, even when I set the capacity to 100% because I'm taking a trip the next day. Takes about 8 hours to fully charge.

Anyway, that's what I did.

JFleischood | 15/12/2017

Okay, so this thread has me a little worried. I was under the impression that simply get a 220volt outlet installed in my garage would be no big deal (or cost).

I also live in a townhome. Luckily, my electrical box is right in the garage. I haven't looked at any of the amperage #s on the box, but the home was built in 2000.

Can an electrician not simply install a 220 volt outlet near the existing box and run the line to it? I figured a good location would actually be right there underneath the box. I planned on simply plugging the included cable right into the 220 volt outlet. My commute is only 40 miles a day, and I only plan on being in this home for another 2-3 years so not really looking to spend a lot on it.

Thanks for your help. Outside of installing a new light fixture or something, I have zero electrical knowledge.

Xerogas | 15/12/2017

Not a problem if your electrical box is close by. OP has a very different situation than most people. Call an electrician; mine was only $400 including permit and inspection, but your price will depend on lots of local factors.

JFleischood | 15/12/2017

@Xerogas - Thanks, that is what I was originally expecting. Does my electrical box need to be a certain amperage? I had assumed since it was a fairly newer home it would be perfectly fine for the situation.

Rocky_H | 15/12/2017

@JFleischood, Quote: "Does my electrical box need to be a certain amperage? I had assumed since it was a fairly newer home it would be perfectly fine for the situation."

That isn't just a yes or no situation. It's a bit like saying, "I have a new mixing bowl; will it hold enough?" Well, that all depends on how big your mixing bowl actually is and how much stuff you want to put in it. There is a thing called a "load calculation" that is done for your home. It looks at how much total capacity in amps your panel has, and then it starts calculating in how much and what types of usage your house has. That will show if you have extra capacity available to add another circuit and how big that new circuit can be. So when you do a load calculation, you may not have enough room to add an 80 or 100 amp circuit, but you might be able to add something a bit smaller, like 30 or 40A.

There are online versions of a load calculator, but also any electrician can take a look at your situation and run the numbers on it.

giskard | 15/12/2017

Also keep in mind if your existing panel does not have enough capacity it may not be that difficult or costly to have an electrician replace it with a higher capacity panel if it is easily accessible (you mentioned it was in your garage). I believe some can be upgraded with a larger main breaker, too, which would be a lot easier.

Haggy | 15/12/2017

I was on an HOA board back when satellite dishes started to become a thing. It took a while for boards to realize that having one doesn't drag down property values. Of course, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 helped a lot too by eliminating most restrictions, but I doubt that even without it, there would be HOAs that ban them. Nobody can claim that a wall connector is an eyesore anymore than a hose reel. If it's not hurting property values, they may not have a legal leg to stand on because it's not hurting the community. All it would take is one lawyer to set them straight. But a letter might do just as well. Pointing out that it's less obtrusive than a hose reel, will become more common as more people get EVs, and it might affect property values positively if an EV owner doesn't decide to look elsewhere when buying property, might convince them that it's a good idea to approve it.

insanityabounds | 15/12/2017

If you do go the 2nd service route, SCE has a special EV rate. If you drive a lot it may even be cheaper in the long run. There is a calculator on their site where you can enter some scenarios regarding usage and driving.

vp09 | 15/12/2017

Sell out and buy your own property. You can be your own advisory committee.
We are in Whittier and are with SCE.
In a few minutes our two Model S90Ds will start charging.
Not at 48c per kWh but at 15c or so.
Time of day plan, or something.
Sell out and buy your own place.
Screw the Home Owner's Whatever Assoc.

msmith55 | 15/12/2017

Keep in mind that if you get temperatures below freezing, you will need a 240V level 2 or better (HPWC), to protect the battery (battery heater uses 6 kW ).

Model_D | 15/12/2017

Don’t forget to apply for the $450 EV credit from SCE. Also, if you install an additional meter, it might save money to tell SCE it is for an EV and it will bill at different rates (better than all their rates at night except TOU-D-A and then only a 1cent/kWh more). Plus it won’t effect any baseline allocation that you EV will use and then it would save money on almost any plan unless you have solar. You should run your own numbers because I might be incorrect.

yaheya | 16/12/2017

Thank you for all the comments. I am going to get a more concrete estimate next week and I will post what it is. As of now, I have a public charging station a mile from my place, that charges 20 cents a kilowatt. Home charging may be around 15 cents. Investing 3600 hundred upfront to save 5 cents is not that attractive at the moment. The home charging does provide the convenience though. Anyway, nothing has been deciided. I live in Santa Barbara, a town home here is more than a million. Getting an independent house without hoa is tough to say the least.

Model_D | 16/12/2017

I would try charging using 110 and see how it goes. I charge my car (non Tesla) at 110 and only unplug the wife’s Tesla charger to plug my L2 EVSE in about once or twice a month. I add over 40 miles during super off peak hours. If you drive less than 250 miles per week it might work.

Mtangri | 16/12/2017

Hi Guys, Have asked and received permission from My HOA. Still waiting for my T3 to finalize details. your discussion is most helpful. Live in Texas too.

cafutter | 17/12/2017

If you are going to the trouble of installing 1 outlet, it may be worth installing a second one at the same time. We have a basement level garage and when we bought a Leaf 1 year ago, I wanted to install an outlet for the EVSE. Fortunately, the circuit breaker was in the basement, not too far from the garage. I had the electrician install 2 wires for 2 -240 Volt outlets because I knew we would eventually have two cars. I am glad I did, while awaiting my model 3. Total cost ~$1,100.

SUN 2 DRV | 17/12/2017

@JFleischood Rocky's suggestion to have a load calculation done is the best answer. In the meantime to give you a general feeling for what you have to work with, see if your circuit breaker panel has a main breaker labeled anywhere from 100 to 400 amps. Most of your breakers are likely to be 15-20 amps with a few 30-50 amps. Find the single large one, often located near the top of the panel.

Once you identify your main breaker you can use this table as a rough guideline:

100-125 Amps Small
150-200 Amps Medium
200-400 Amps Large

How much unused headroom you have will of course all depend on what other electrical appliances you have; the big ones would be electric heating, electric water heater, electric range, air conditioning, etc.

Even a 240V outlet at 20-30 amps would be a big improvement (3-4 times faster) over just a 120V 15 amp circuit. Since your panel is located so conveniently, I'm sure it'll be worth getting at least some level of 240 outlet installed ideally a NEMA 14-50 if your panel can support adding a 50 Amp breaker.

Yodrak. | 17/12/2017

"well here in Houston we have Ted Cruz, ..."
"you beat me with Ted Cruz ;-)"

I hear you, but a lot of somebodies voted for him.

JFleischood | 20/12/2017

@SUN 2 DRV - Thanks for that! I checked. The main breaker says 200. The next highest breakers are 2 30s, which both say they are for the A/C. All other breakers are 20 or below. My heat, water heater, oven and dryer are all gas powered. What is the best outlet I could install if my panel presents no issues? The 240V 14-50 NEMA? Or is there one higher than that?

Thanks for all of the guidance.

Xerogas | 20/12/2017

Yes, install NEMA 14-50

SUN 2 DRV | 20/12/2017

Personally I prefer to install a HPWC for virtually any size circuit. And since you apparently have lots of headroom in your panel you could install a 60 amp circuit to take full advantage of Tesla's common 48 amp chargers. (A NEMA limits you to 40 amps of charging current even if your car can take more.)