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Discussion Starter #1
I am a potential owner of a new Bolt but I am dismayed by the costs of installing a level 2 charger at home. A Clipper Creek 32 amp EVSE is ~$600 including shipping and my electrician says I need a new subpanel to hold the 40 amp breaker in addition to running new wire which will cost nearly $2000, which is double what I had anticipated. There goes all of my state rebate (for the car, my state stopped doing EVSE rebates) which I was hoping to keep some of. Was anyone else in a similar situation before they bought their first EV? Do you think it was a good investment for your home?
 

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I am a potential owner of a new Bolt but I am dismayed by the costs of installing a level 2 charger at home. A Clipper Creek 32 amp EVSE is ~$600 including shipping and my electrician says I need a new subpanel to hold the 40 amp breaker in addition to running new wire which will cost nearly $2000, which is double what I had anticipated. There goes all of my state rebate (for the car, my state stopped doing EVSE rebates) which I was hoping to keep some of. Was anyone else in a similar situation before they bought their first EV? Do you think it was a good investment for your home?
Without knowing the layout of where your panel and garage are, it will be tough to know if that is a reasonable rate. If they are right beside each other or close, it shouldn't cost that much, but longer distances can be a pain to pull wire etc. The costs do add up. If you need a separate subpanel, it is probably because your main panel is full (does your main panel/service need to be upgraded?). Even then, there might be an opportunity to use tandem breakers to avoid that need. The install of an EVSE itself is quite simple, your situation however may not be. Also consider that the electrician has probably included for all the inspections and whatever else, as required by code.

You can probably get a decent guess about how much of the cost is for material and how much is labor/inspections simply by looking up material pricing on the homedepot website.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Without knowing the layout of where your panel and garage are, it will be tough to know if that is a reasonable rate. If they are right beside each other or close, it shouldn't cost that much, but longer distances can be a pain to pull wire etc. The costs do add up. If you need a separate subpanel, it is probably because your main panel is full (does your main panel/service need to be upgraded?). Even then, there might be an opportunity to use tandem breakers to avoid that need. The install of an EVSE itself is quite simple, your situation however may not be. Also consider that the electrician has probably included for all the inspections and whatever else, as required by code.
My main panel does not need an upgrade. I have 200A service and the electrician said that was plenty. The main panel is full of breakers which is why I'd need the subpanel. I thought that some were not being used but I guess I was wrong. I don't have a garage, unfortunately, so my panel is in my unfinished basement. As a quick guess I think about 30 or 40 feet of wire will be needed to get from my panel to where the junction box will be on the exterior of my house, but since the basement is unfinished they have easy access to the joists and whatnot to run wire so there should be minimal pain. More than half of the cost is due to the new subpanel that I was really hoping I wouldn't need. Thanks for your thoughts!
 

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You can double up some of the existing 120 volt breakers to make room for your EVSE breaker. As long as your buying a breaker and wire I would oversized it for future use (when I installed my first EVSE for a Volt I only neeeded 20amps, but ran a 50 amp). In your case I probably would ren 100amp service. This would allow 2 high power chargers simultaneously. For future use. 200 amp service should be fine unless you live in a giant energy sucking mansion, especially with overnight charging.

Think future, I started with a Volt and now have a Bolt and a Tesla
 

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You can double up some of the existing 120 volt breakers to make room for your EVSE breaker.
I needed to do exactly that on my already full main panel. The electrician should choose circuits with small daily loads (an outdoor shed and patio circuits in my case) for the double breaker(s).
Saved me from running a sub or even a new main panel...

If you want to save on labor... trench the run yourself for the electrician... have him lay the cable... you cover it up.
 

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Not that it will help with a full panel, but I've been quoted $300 to install a new 40A circuit and a hardwired EVSE that I'll supply. The charger will be outside on the same corner as my basement panel so just a punch through the exterior wall and seal up the holes.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Tandem breakers are allowed by code, and should be explored as a first option.
The electrician actually commented on the one tandem breaker that I have right now and told me that a home inspector would complain if I were to sell the house. I bought this house less than a year ago and my inspector didn't mention it. So now I'm thoroughly confused. Does this guy just want to bill me for a subpanel? Thanks for sharing.
 

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^ A home inspector might complain or comment on tandem breakers... but if it isn't against local code he really has no leg to stand on.

The main knock against tandem breakers is that it's like adding extra breakers to your panel that in theory could possibly allow you to exceed your panel design capacity if most all the circuits are drawing near full load.
Nowadays with LCD TV's, LED bulbs, Energy Star appliances, high SEER HVAC's, etc... that could probably never happen. But, in theory it could.... so some don't like tandem breakers.

Sounds like he's fishing for $$$$$ at your expense.
 

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I'm going to pitch in a "crazy" idea here.

Depending on how you plan to use the Bolt, maybe you could live off L1 charging?

I'm planning on replacing my Volt with a Bolt. My commute is only 32 miles a day. If I run some errands, perhaps I'll use up 50 miles on a weekday.

As long as I plug in when I get home each evening, L1 will still get me a full battery every night. And even if I lose a bit of range during the week, when the weekend arrives I'm mostly home. If we go somewhere for the weekend, like the 125 mile round trip to grandma's house, if needed, there will be DCFC stations along the way. And depending on where we're going, destination charging is possible. (And for my example, 125 mile trip, I won't need any DCFC or destination charging.)

I know that won't work for everyone, but for those of us with shorter commutes it would be just fine.
 

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The electrician actually commented on the one tandem breaker that I have right now and told me that a home inspector would complain if I were to sell the house. I bought this house less than a year ago and my inspector didn't mention it. So now I'm thoroughly confused. Does this guy just want to bill me for a subpanel? Thanks for sharing.
Most likely this. Get another quote.

Panels are usually designed to handle tandem breakers and have limits and/or specific spots where they can be installed. You'll often see a model like this:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Siemens-PL-Series-200-Amp-42-Space-60-Circuit-Main-Breaker-Indoor-3-Phase-Load-Center-P4260B3200CU/203058934
Listed for 42 spaces and 60 circuits (the Model number P4260B3200CU is a clue).

Some breaker styles have a slick "quad" option that lets you replace a couple of adjacent 15 (or 20) Amp breakers with one that retains the original circuits but adds in a 240 (2 x 120 from opposing legs).


That being said - not all panels are listed to handle tandem breakers (that listing requires a physical method to limit the number installed). Retrofit type breakers area available for most others, and that requires installers to have more knowledge of codes and capacities (as well as a healthy dose of common sense - which is often harder to come by).

A model number and/or photo of your panel would help if you want more feedback.

My EVSE and installation totaled about $175. I did the work myself. Permit/inspection was ~$110, the balance was conduit and wire. The EVSE and 14-50R came as part of the Fit EV lease. I had a spare spot in the panel after I did a kitchen remodel.

As a side note - most home inspectors will not pick up on anything electrical. At most they will likely make a recommendation to have an electrician evaluate the panel/system. I watched our inspectors don coveralls and go in the crawl space. They spent about 15 minutes down there and gave everything a clean bill of health. When I did the remodel, the minute I stuck my head down there I noticed unsupported wires drooping down and even laying on the dirt. These were both 120 and 240V circuits (from the PO remodel). When I went to relocate the oven, I found that they had grounded the 240V circuit to the wooden/particle board cabinet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm going to pitch in a "crazy" idea here.

Depending on how you plan to use the Bolt, maybe you could live off L1 charging?

I'm planning on replacing my Volt with a Bolt. My commute is only 32 miles a day. If I run some errands, perhaps I'll use up 50 miles on a weekday.
I've thought about this but it's not a good fit for me. My weekday commute is about 70 miles and sometimes I may need to drive extra on top of that, so I would feel better having the level 2 charger. The upside to just biting the bullet on a new subpanel is that I have also been wanting some additional regular outlets on the exterior and a new subpanel would give me the capacity to do it.
 

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I agree. I currently have a 50 mi round trip commute, but only use L1 charging with the occasional public charging, when available. When my efficiency is good (4.5 or 5 mi/Kwh), I can complete charging by 2am or so. On days when I drive longer drives or efficiency is not as great, sometimes I don't get quite full by the time I leave in the morning, but I usually catch up the next day or definitely by the weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
The label on the inside of the door says it's a Murray LC240PC.
I found a wiring diagram on the panel and it does not support any tandem breakers. Also, I thought a tandem breaker was something different up until now so I think my electrician may have complained about something else. Pardon my ignorant first time homeowner mistakes. ;) Anyway, I guess a subpanel really is necessary in this case?
 

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I found a wiring diagram on the panel and it does not support any tandem breakers. Also, I thought a tandem breaker was something different up until now so I think my electrician may have complained about something else. Pardon my ignorant first time homeowner mistakes. ;) Anyway, I guess a subpanel really is necessary in this case?
My guess is you were thinking double tapping (two circuits on one breaker). That is bad. Most panels are capable of tandem breakers, if not, put in a 60amp subpanel. it sounds like you are getting overcharged for the service. A panel is a couple hundred bucks and a breaker might be 60 bucks. Add a bit more wire and labor. I still don't see how he got to $2000.
 

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The LC240PC uses MH-T ("T" = tandem) type residential breakers that are available in tandem, triplex and quad
http://w3.usa.siemens.com/powerdistribution/us/en/product-portfolio/circuit-breakers/murray-circuit-breakers/mht-breakers/Pages/mht-breakers.aspx
the MH-T is listed on the LC240PC spec sheet:
https://www.downloads.siemens.com/download-center/Download.aspx?pos=download&fct=getasset&id1=BTLV_42112

They can be ordered from Home Depot (among other places):
http://www.homedepot.com/b/Electrical-Power-Distribution-Circuit-Breakers-Quad-Breakers/Murray/N-5yc1vZc9a0Z1z0mi3h

You can select to replace 2 adjacent 15 or 20 A single pole breakers with a triplex that will retain the 2 existing circuits and add a 20 to 50 A 240V circuit.
Here is a link to one that adds a 50A circuit to 2 existing 15A:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Murray-50-Amp-Double-Pole-and-2-15-Amp-Single-Pole-Type-MP-T-Triplex-Circuit-Breaker-MP25015/206632084

You can either use one of these triplex types to replace 2 existing breakers, or consolidate existing circuits on tandems. If your box is 100% full, you would need to install two tandems to open up 2 "slots" for a traditional 2 pole breaker to feed your 240V (and this might require a little reshuffling of existing breakers in the box).

If you have 1 open slot, you could install a single tandem to open up an adjacent slot.
 
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