When the first plug-in vehicles hit the market, buyers had little choice in regards to the home charging stations they got. For example, General Motors, maker of the Volt,and Nissan, maker of the Leaf, each offered their own proprietary stations.  That was that.

Today, there are more than a dozen EV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles on the market and owners of these plug-in vehicles can choose from many home car-charging stations from more than a dozen manufacturers.The sales staff at Thompson of Baltimore, a Maryland-based Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM dealer, suggest you give them a call if you need help choosing the right one.

The best charger for your garage depends on several things. There’s the make and model of plug-in vehicle you have, or are planning to get, and is there the possibility you might own another one someday. Your general garage layout and where you store stuff comes into play too.

An electrician qualified to install home car charging stations can help you decide things like the gauge of the feed wires you’ll need, the right circuit breakers to install, and where to locate the charging station to minimize installation costs.As a rule of thumb, expect to pay $600-$1,000 for a home car charging station and $500 to $1000 for installation.

All About the Connector

Perhaps the most critical part of your electric car charger is the connector that plugs into the car’s charging receptacle.With the exception of Tesla Motors, carmakers and charging-equipment manufacturers around the globe have standardized the design of the connector.  It is universally called a J1772 connector.

Cord Length

Most charger manufacturers offer several cord lengths, typically between 12 and 25 feet. The best rule of thumb is to figure out exactly where the charger will be mounted, where the car will be parked and then buy acharger with a cord that’s at least a several feet longer than the distance youneed to span. Just use some common sense here.

Level 1 and Level 2 Chargers

There are different levels of electric car chargers. Level 1 charging equipment delivers standard household current at 110 or 120 volts. Level 2 chargers deliver power at 220 to 240 volts.

Almost all plug-in vehicles come with a Level 1 cord set charger as standard equipment. It is a stand-alone charging cord with a standard household plug at one end. The nice thing about Level 1 charging is that the cord sets are portable and can plug into any standard wall outlet.  The problem  is that Level 1 charging is very slow. Level 2 chargers come in 2 different flavors.

Hard-Wired or Plug-In?

Until recently, the only Level 2 home chargers were wall-hung models permanently installed or “hard-wired” directly into the home’s electrical service.Now the industry also makes models that can be plugged into a specified 240-volt wall socket. This socket is similar to an electric dryer socket which is a commonly available item.

Where to Buy Your Charger

Some of the charger manufacturers sell directly to the public via their Web sites. Others list retailers (and often their recommended installers) in the regions where they market their products.Additionally, some chargers can be ordered on Amazon.com and eBay, and Home Depot and Lowe’s also sell a variety of home charging stations via their Web sites.