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Watt’s happening: Electric cars are coming. Is your home ready?

You’ve got three options for home recharging, but only one really makes sense.

A battery electric vehicle (BEV) charges on a level 2 home charge point on April 21, 2022 in Manchester, England.Christopher Furlong/Getty

If there’s an electric car in your future, maybe there ought to be an EV charger in your driveway.

After all, there aren’t nearly enough public car chargers to sustain millions of electric vehicles. Even if you find a public charger, you’ll have to compete with those apartment and condo dwellers who can’t plug their cars in at home. Besides, it usually takes hours to power up a vehicle. With a home charger, it’ll happen while you sleep.

You’ve got three options for home recharging, but only one really makes sense.

Just about every electric car comes with a basic Level 1 charger — a fancy description for an extension cord and adapter that will plug into any standard 120-volt power outlet. If you’ve already got one of these in the garage or driveway, you’re all set. But prepare for a long wait. Level 1 is the slowest-possible charging method. It’ll add about three or four miles of driving range per hour and can require several days for a full charge.

On the opposite extreme, you’ve got “Level 3″ chargers that can fill up a car battery in under an hour. But these require special electrical transformers and power cables and can cost more than $100,000. Not a problem if you’re Tom Brady, but hardly practical for the rest of us.

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The best home option is a Level 2, a charger that can add about 25 miles of driving range per hour. Hooking up a Level 2 charger requires a 240-volt electric circuit, the same kind used to power electric stoves or dryers. It’s a matter of running the new cable from your home’s electrical panel to the outside of the house or over to the garage and then installing the charger.

The whole process typically runs about $2,000, but clever innovators are looking to lower the cost. A Philadelphia company called ConnectDER is teaming up with German industrial giant Siemens to offer a car-charging station that plugs into the slot now occupied by your home’s electric meter. Then the meter is plugged into the charging station.

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The ConnectDER charger draws power directly from the electric cable as it enters the house. There’s no need to modify the electrical panel or drill a hole through the wall to run a cable. A ConnectDER official said the new system will go on sale in the first half of 2023, at a price significantly lower than a standard Level 2 installation.

But if you’re hoping that an EV charger will boost the value of your house, prepare for disappointment.

“I have seen no evidence at the residential real estate level that an EV charger increases home value,” said Craig Foley, founder of Sustainable Real Estate Consulting Services in Winchester. That’s hardly surprising, given the relative simplicity and low cost of adding a charger.

Perhaps more surprising is how few home buyers seem interested in having an EV charger. In a 2021 survey by the National Association of Home Builders, about 3,200 likely home buyers were asked to rate their interest in 21 high-tech home features. An EV car charger came in dead last, with only 38 percent saying they considered it an essential or even a desirable feature. By contrast, 77 percent were eager to have smart thermostats.

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Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research, said home builders have only so many dollars to spend on amenities. They rely on this survey when deciding what to put in and leave out, especially with mid-priced homes with thin profit margins.

But EVs are becoming a commonplace feature in many high-end homes. And Foley said the chargers can definitely enhance a home’s appeal and make it easier to sell.

Besides, the NAHB survey indicated that much of the resistance to EV chargers comes from baby boomers. Younger home buyers are almost twice as likely to look for an EV hookup. That’s one more way that a home car charger can pay off.


Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.