Charging your electric vehicle
Tips and resources about charging electric vehicles (EVs) at home or on the road from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). Vehicle charging 101, public charging, charging at homes with or without garages and driveways, charging at an apartment, condo, or multiunit dwelling.
There are many options for charging electric vehicles today, from at home or at work to along the highway during a road trip. While it’s often convenient to charge at home, there are over 350 public charging plugs in Portland. and more on the way.
Electric vehicle charging 101
There are three main types of chargers that you will encounter: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (also called DC Fast Charging):
- Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V outlet that you are likely to find in your garage. This is the slowest type of charging and will add an average of 5 miles per hour of charge. Also called “trickle charging,” this type of charging is not offered commercially and is typically only used at home.
- Level 2 charging requires a 240V outlet. These chargers can be installed in your home with a basic electrical upgrade and are very commonly used for public chargers. Level 2 chargers add 20 to 60 miles per hour of charge.
- Level 3 chargers, or DC Fast Chargers, are only used in commercial settings. These chargers are most often found along highways since they provide 60 to 100 miles per 20 minutes of charge. For example, the West Coast Electric Highway project is working to install DC Fast Chargers every 25 to 50 miles from the British Columbia to the Mexico border.
If you’re able to charge at home, that is likely the easiest and most affordable option. If not, the City is working to expand public charging opportunities, with a FOCUS on providing more convenient, safe and affordable chargers near multi-unit dwellings and commercial centers. Many workplaces also offer EV chargers in company parking lots or garages, so don’t forget to check with your employer when considering your charging options.
Public charging in Portland
Portland has worked with private sector partners to provide convenient, accessible charging for drivers since 2011 when Electric Avenue opened in downtown Portland, one of the nation’s first fast charging pods in the public right-of-way. The City has continued working to expand opportunities to charge since then, most recently with a new policy that is being developed to permit the installation of EV chargers in the public right-of-way in areas across the city.
There are several maps you can use to find available public charging stations and sort by network, connector type, power supply, price, and other filters. A few that are useful to be familiar with include the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, Plugshare, and ChargePoint.
How to use public chargers
How to charge your electric vehicle:
Locate charger of the correct plug type and speed
Make sure you can access the network
Park in the appropriate spot next to the charger
Follow instructions to plug the charger into your vehicle
Start the charge and relax!
Keep an eye on your charging app so you can move your car once the charge is complete
There are many vendors that manage public charging stations. The requirements for use vary by vendor, and while you might not need to be a paid member to use a vendor’s station, you do often need to have their mobile app downloaded. Often, becoming a member and using the vendor’s mobile app to facilitate charging offers a slight discount when you use that station. You should prepare to join at least one network but if you intend to rely heavily on public charging, you may want to consider registering with multiple vendors. Many vendors are making agreements to allow their users to “roam” freely by charging for no additional cost at another vendor’s station, so check your network’s roaming partners before registering elsewhere. Additionally, if you are planning a road trip, you might want to consider joining a network that focuses heavily on fast chargers along highway systems in the area where you will be traveling. The membership details for the most common EV charging vendors in Portland are below. The City of Portland does not endorse any of the vendors on this list. This list is solely for informational purposes, not for promotion: Chargepoint, Blink, Sema Charge, Tesla, Volta, OP Connect, EV Connect, Electrify America, Greenlots, and EVgo.
Home charging with a garage or driveway
The most common place to charge an EV is at home, and it’s often the least expensive.
If you live in a home with a garage or driveway you can charge your EV using a standard wall outlet, also known as Level 1 charging. This is a good option if you typically charge your EV overnight. You can also install a Level 2 charger for your personal use, which will charge your EV in a few hours. Level 2 chargers use 240 volts of electricity, which is similar to a standard electric dryer or oven and sometimes requires a simple electrical upgrade to your home. Before going forward with the electrical upgrade required for a Level 2 charger, you must apply for an electrical permit from the Bureau of Development Services.
Don’t forget to check for incentives or rebates – as of January 2023, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power customers are eligible for a rebate of up to 1,000 for installing an EV charger in their home. Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act extended the federal tax credit on charging equipment through 2032, which covers up to 30% of sales price up to 1,000.
Home charging without a garage or driveway
To support residents who want to transition to an EV but do not have a garage or driveway, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has amended the Encroachment Manual to allow residents to run a Level 1 (110 volt) charging cord from their house and across the sidewalk to charge their EV at the curb, provided that their residence meets the specifications listed below in the cord cover allowance section.
Individual residents and businesses are prohibited from installing EV chargers in the public right-of-way. Given a variety of concerns. including health, life, and safety issues, liability concerns, state utility requirements, and more. this means Portlanders are prohibited from installing a Level 2 or DC fast charger curbside in front of their home or business. There are no exceptions to this and no process for appeals. Additionally, no public parking spaces are allowed to be reserved by private citizens for the purpose of EV charging, including for the cord cover allowance.
PBOT is currently developing policy to support public EV charging in commercial areas across Portland by permitted EV charging companies and local utilities, which would better support residents who are unable to charge at home. While that policy is being developed, PBOT is not issuing permits to install EV chargers in the public right-of-way.
Both public charging and workplace charging are valuable options for residents without garages or driveways at home. You can view all public charging stations in the area on this map and contact your workplace to see if there is charging availability there.
Cord cover allowance
In response to the many residents who have inquired about charging their electric vehicle curbside in front of their home, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has amended the Encroachment Manual to allow curbside charging with a cord cover in specific circumstances. Both renters and property owners are now allowed to run a Level 1 charging cord from their house and across the sidewalk area adjacent to their residence to charge their electric vehicle at the curb, provided that they use an ADA compliant cord cover. Parking spaces in front of residences may not be reserved for charging, and use of signage or other means to reserve the parking space in front of property is strictly prohibited and may be subject to penalties and fines pursuant to PBOT’s administrative rules. Cord covers must be used if there is a sidewalk or other hardscape walkable surface, such as concrete, pavement, or stone pavers, present in the area between your property line and the curb. Curbside charging with a cord cover is allowed by right if residents meet all the requirements below, meaning that no permit is required. Full details of the policy can be found in the Encroachment Manual.
Home charging in an apartment, condo, or other multiunit dwelling
If you live in an apartment building or other multiunit dwelling, the City of Portland is working to make EV charging accessible for you, too.
Building managers, owners, and homeowner’s associations can add EV charging to existing parking at multi-unit dwellings. If you’re not sure where to start, local nonprofit Forth Mobility helped assemble a roadmap to help guide the retrofit process of adding EV chargers in multi-unit dwellings.
Charging stations at multi-unit dwellings may also be eligible for incentives or rebates. As of January 2023, both local utilities Portland General Electric and Pacific Power offer their customers rebates for multi-unit dwelling charger installations.
The City is always looking ahead to find new ways to make transportation electrification easier, especially for Portlanders who cannot charge at home. One way this is happening is through the EV Ready Code Project, led by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. This project, currently under development, is crafting policy to ensure that new multi-unit dwelling and mixed-use developments with more than five units that include onsite parking will be built “EV Ready.” This means that electrical conduit will be installed in the parking area during construction to make the eventual installation of EV chargers cheaper and faster.
Charging your e-bike
E-bikes are becoming increasingly common on Portland’s streets and are a great electric mobility option that support the City’s climate and mode shift goals.
New models of e-bikes continue to enter the market, and their battery capacity ranges from 20 miles to 120 miles on a single charge. E-bikes can charge using a normal 120-volt outlet, so most people are able to charge their e-bike at home. However, recognizing that not all Portlanders can charge their e-bikes at home, PBOT included a requirement that 5% of bike parking must be near an outlet in a 2019 bike parking code update project.
There are also public charging opportunities for e-bikes across the state. The Oregon Department of Transportation upgraded all forty-seven charging stations along the West Coast Electric Highway in fall/winter 2022 to include a 120-volt outlet to provide free e-bike charging. The West Coast Electric Highway includes Interstate 5, Highway 101, and other major driving routes in Oregon and charging stations are available every 25 to 50 miles along the network.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I live in an apartment building and want to buy an EV. What are my options for charging?
Answer: Some apartment buildings that have onsite parking, either in a parking lot or a garage, have installed EV chargers for their tenants. Reach out to your property manager or landlord to see what options are available in your situation.
If you’re unable to charge at home, there are still many opportunities to charge at public stations in Portland. Think about the places you drive regularly and look up public charging stations on this map from Plugshare. Many grocery stores, like Fred Meyer and New Seasons, have fast charging stations in their parking lot which will allow you to charge up while doing your weekly grocery shopping.
Finally, you can reach out to your employer and see if there are existing EV chargers are your workplace or, if not, you can advocate for their installation.
Question: I live in a single-family home without a garage or driveway. How do I charge my EV?
Answer: The Portland Bureau of Transportation recently updated a policy to allow for charging curbside in front of your house if you meet certain conditions. The cord cover allowance in the Encroachment Manual allows for individuals that live in a single-family residential zone and on a local service traffic street with a running grade of 10% or less to run a Level 1 (110 – 120 volt) extension cord from their property across the sidewalk to their car parked at the curb, provided that an ADA compliant cord cover is used.
You can find out if you live in a single-family residential zone using this map.
You can find examples of ADA compliant cord covers under the section titled “Home Charging Without a Garage or Driveway” on this webpage.
Please note that this allowance only allows Level 1 charging cords, not Level 2 or higher charging cords, to be run across the sidewalk. It also does not allow for residents to reserve parking spaces specifically for their personal charging use. If you would like to consult the full rule, the full text of cord cover allowance can be found in Section C.22 of the Encroachment Manual.
Question: Can the Cord Cover allowance include L2 cords, not just L1?
Answer: Given a variety of concerns – including health, life, and safety issues, liability concerns and more – Portlanders are prohibited from using a Level 2 (220 – 240 volt) or higher voltage cord to charge curbside under the cord cover allowance. Only Level 1 cords (110 – 120 volt) extension cords can be used at this time.
Question: Can I install a 220 – 240-volt outlet with outdoor rated conduit underneath the sidewalk and into the furnishing zone to charge my vehicle curbside in front of my home?
Answer: At this time, the installation of an outlet in the public right-of-way by an individual resident is prohibited. There are several factors that contributed to this decision, including health, life, and safety issues, liability concerns, and state utility location requirements, among others. Additionally, private citizens are prohibited from installing infrastructure for their private use in the public right-of-way, which would essentially privatize a public space. This private asset in a public space also raises several difficult policy questions, including who is responsible for the asset if the owner relocates.
Question: Can I install a L2/DC fast pedestal charger curbside in front of my residence for personal use?
Answer: At this time, only utilities and charging companies that meet City requirements will be allowed to install EV chargers in the public right-of-way, not businesses, private groups, or individual residents. There are several factors that contributed to this decision, including health, life, and safety issues, liability concerns; and, state utility location requirements, among others. Additionally, private citizens are generally prohibited from installing infrastructure for their private use in the public right-of-way, which could essentially privatize a public space. Having private assets in a public space also raises several difficult policy questions, including who is responsible for the asset if the owner relocates.
Another concern is that the infrastructural requirements of siting charging stations and the multidisciplinary coordination necessary to connect to the grid and install the asset in a public space are complex and costly and present substantial barriers. While navigating this space and financing the process might be attainable for some individuals, groups, or businesses, it is not attainable for all and could exclude many Portlanders.
Question: Can I install a Level 2 or DC fast pedestal charger curbside in front of my residence or business if I allow it to be used by the public?
Answer: At this time, that is not permitted. In addition to the concerns listed in the above answer, the challenges presented by privately-owned, publicly available infrastructure in public spaces are numerous and difficult to reconcile. Many difficult policy questions are raised by a privately-owned, publicly available asset in public space: who is responsible for maintaining the charger in a state of good repair; should the City cite the owner if a charger remains out-of-service for an unreasonable amount of time; who is responsible for the asset if the owner relocates; and, who sets and collects the parking meter and charging rate. While these questions may have conceivable answers, considering the other barriers to participation in the program, PBOT has decided that limiting the permit to the charging station vendors who are best equipped to navigate and finance this process creates a practical regulatory environment to effectively manage the program.
EV Charging Station Cost
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The cost of an EV charging station can vary significantly based on the requirements and current electrical infrastructure, but averages ~1,000 all-in for a Level 2 home charger. This guide details the cost of EV chargers for home and also discusses the cost of Level 2 chargers for business and Level 3 (DC-fast charging) stations.
Many consumers tell us that it can be difficult to find electricians with specific EV charger experience. It may be worth checking out Amazon Home Services EV Charger Installation (the reviews have been excellent so far).
Electric Car Charging Stations Cost Level 2 Charging Station Cost EV Charging Station For Business Cost Level 3 Charging Station Cost Detailed EV Charger Cost Breakdown
Electric Car Charging Stations Cost
The cost of an EV charging station can vary depending on the owner’s preferences and there are two main options for individual EV owners:
- Use a Level 1 Charger (Free) – All EV models come with a basic chord that will plug into a 120V outlet, which is the standard outlet for homes in the U.S. Assuming you already have a 120V outlet in your garage, this option is essentially free. This set-up will only allow for charging rates of 3-5 miles per hour, so if you have a moderate commute, a faster charge is required.
- Purchase a Level 2 Charger (~1,000) – Most EV owners elect to purchase a Level 2 EVSE, which stands for Electric Vehicle Service Equipment, for use in their home. The Level 2 chargers require a 240V outlet ( NEMA 6 which many clothes dryers use). The cost of a Level 2 charging station is typically around 1,000 all-in, which includes the equipment and installation cost. There are a range of Level 2 models ( read our detailed EV charger model review) and costs, which we discuss below.
If you are interested in electric car charging stations for your business or retail location, please refer to the section on Level 2 charging stations for business or read our detailed review of these products. There is also the option for businesses to purchase DC fast charging stations (also called Level 3), but the cost of a Level 3 EV charger is significantly more and is typically purchased through one of the EV charging network providers.
Level 2 Charging Station Cost
The chart below includes the of the most popular EV chargers available as of December 2017.
|JuiceBox Pro 40-Amp||Smallest in class and great for California drivers||Wi-Fi enabled with app and connection to rewards program||10 x 6 x 3 inches||Check Current Price on Amazon|
|Siemens VC30GRYU Versicharge 30-Amp (Editor’s Pick)||Best value and high quality ratings||Siemens quality (UL labs), Wi-Fi options||20.5 x 18 x 15 inches||Check Current Price on Amazon|
|ChargePoint 32-Amp||Sleek and lightweight||App connects to Chargepoint network, Wi-Fi enabled||18.5 x 15 x 7 inches||Check Current Price on Amazon|
|ClipperCreek HCS-40P||Sturdy U.S.-made model||Best-in class 3 year warranty||NA||Check Current Price on Amazon|
The installation cost data is from a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a leading cleantech institute, which broke the installation cost down into electrician labor, materials, permitting and mobilization (traveling to the installation location). The study was completed in 2014, so please note that we have adjusted the EV charger equipment cost in our estimate as have come down.
EV Charging Station For Business Cost
According to RMI, the installation for Level 2 chargers for businesses is the largest component of the cost and can be between 4,000 and 7,000. If the charger is located in a public parking garage the installation cost will be less than a curbside installation as the charger can be wall mounted and wiring is easier. A curbside charger is typically free-standing and trenching or directional boring for wiring increases the installation cost.
Level 3 Charging Station Cost
A Level 3 or DC fast charging station are typically installed through one of the EV charging station networks and can cost more than 50,000 to install. The main contributors to the increased cost are both the equipment and installation. The installation can require a 480V transformer and the electrician labor hours can be greater than 40 hours.
Detailed EV Charger Cost Breakdown
The chart below details the costs for Level 2 home chargers, Level 2 chargers for business and Level 3 chargers.
As noted by RMI, installation rates for home EV chargers can fluctuate based on the electrician labor time at 50-80 an hour depending on the location. A new breaker can also increase the price by 500-1,000.
Commercial installations have a wider variance based on the current electrical infrastructure and the extent of trenching/boring required.
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What does a ‘standard installation’ involve?
We split all installations into two categories: ‘standard’ and ‘non-standard’.
A standard installation is likely to involve fewer hours of labour and materials.
We take into account factors such as:
- How long will it take to run a cable from your main fuse box to your charger? Will we need to drill through any walls?
- Distance from the charger to the main fuse box – how far away from your main fuse box is the desired charger location? Is it over 10m?
- Is your cable going above or below ground? Anything that requires digging will generally take longer
- Do you have a single-phase meter? Most households in the UK have a single-phase meter. If your property has 3 phase supply, you have more power available but the installation will get a bit more complex.
Our team will talk you through the different factors that will impact your installation (and installation cost) so that there are no surprises on the day.
A ‘standard’ chargepoint installation generally includes:
- The fitting of the charger on a brick or plaster wall, (or other suitable permanent structure)
- Routing of the cable through 1 x drilled hole in a wall up to 500mm thick (where required)
- Up to 10 metres of appropriate cable, run and clipped to the wall between the consumer unit and the EV charger, up to a height of up to 1.8m
- Electrical connections at the origin of the supply and the charging unit
- Type A RCD in metal Consumer Unit
- Electrical testing and NICEIC Certification
- Demonstration of the Chargepoint functions and App.
Do I have to be an Octopus Energy customer?
Nope! Anyone can apply for a charger installation.
How much does an installation cost?
Our charger installations start from £999 for a standard installation. We’ll be able to let you know what kind of installation you require once you complete the application form.
How is the cost of an EV charger installation calculated?
Every home is different, and every customer has their own preferred setup, so it makes sense that every charger installation is unique.
There are a number of questions to consider when installing your EV charger, from where you want the chargepoint to be, how you want it to look, and where your fuse box is situated. So what kind of things do we take into account when giving you a quote?
- Does your charger of choice have a tethered lead (attached to the chargepoint) or do you want an untethered charger?
- How long does the cable that runs from the fuse box to the chargepoint need to be?
- Where do you want the charger to be installed?
- Aesthetically, do you want the cable hidden where it runs along the wall inside your house,
- Do you want your cable to run underground outside your house?
We’ll be able to work out some of this information such as whether the electricity supply coming into the house is suitable for a car charger, or whether the fuse box might need an additional fuse to accommodate the EV charger.
At Octopus we can be pretty flexible when it comes to meeting your needs, but as a rule of thumb the longer the installation takes us the higher the overall install cost will be.
What will I need for a remote EV charger survey?
You’ll need to answer some questions about where you want the EV charger to be installed, and send us some photos so we can check your eligibility. That way we can decide how best to go about your installation.
Our top four 48-amp EV charger recommendations for 2023
Choosing the best home electric vehicle charger can be a daunting task. Only a few years ago there were just a handful of offerings, but now there are dozens. The good news is we did all the work for you, and relentlessly reviewed dozens of chargers to bring you our top picks for the best EV chargers of 2023.
Unlike some of the other outlets that offer their top picks, we actually do deep-dive reviews and use the units to charge many different electric vehicles before publishing our comprehensive EV charger reviews. We also compare and rate the chargers against comparable units, and don’t lump all of the chargers into one pool and compare apples to oranges.
For that reason, we’re breaking our Best Of 2023 series into three parts, and we’re starting off here with the best high-powered 48-amp EV chargers of 2023.
WallBox Pulsar Plus 48 Key Features
WallBox Pulsar Plus: 699.00
The WallBox Pulsar Plus is an extremely compact charger, by far the smallest 48-amp charger that we have ever tested. It’s an extremely capable Wi-Fi connected Smart charger that also has the ability to power charge between units.
That’s a great feature to have if you have two or more electric vehicles in your garage because you can use one 60-amp circuit to power two chargers and the Pulsar Plus chargers will intelligently split the power between units so you don’t overload the circuit.
ChargePoint Home Flex Key Features
The ChargePoint Home Flex: 749.00
The ChargePoint Home Flex has been one of the top-selling home EV charging solutions for the past three years. It’s the second generation of ChargePoint’s Home products and a stylish high-powered charger.
Its led-backlit integrated connector holster swivels to make holstering the connector easy and it has the best cable for cold weather installations that we have ever tested. Even in temperatures well below freezing, the ChargePoint Home Flex’s cable remains flexible and easy to manipulate.
The ChargePoint Home Flex would have been a contender for the top spot if it weren’t for its high price of 749.00.
Emporia Charger Key Features
#1(Tie) Best For Non-Tesla EV: Emporia EVSE: 399.00
The Emporia EVSE is our top choice for high-powered EV chargers for a number of reasons. Like the other units, it is a Wi-Fi-connected Smart charger that comes with an app to monitor charging, start and stop a charging session, schedule delayed charging and review data from past charging sessions.
It can also charge your EV exclusively from excess solar generation if you have a solar array and purchase Emporia’s VUE 2 energy monitoring device.
However, the biggest reason it’s our top pick is the price. At 399, it is the least expensive 48-amp charger available today that is also safety certified, a must for us to recommend a charger.
Tesla Wall Connector Key Features
(Tie) Best For Tesla Vehicles: Tesla Wall Connector: 425.00
The Tesla Wall Connector is the best-selling electric vehicle charger on the market today and Tesla has sold more than one million of them to date. Since it has the native Tesla connector attached, there’s no need to use an adapter, and while adapters work fine, we prefer EV owners use them on occasion when they need to and not for daily charging.
The Tesla connector will also open and close the charge flap on Tesla vehicles, another advantage of using a proper Tesla connector. The Wall Connector can also accept OTA upgrades and remote diagnostics via Wi-Fi and can power charge with up to six Wall Connectors.
We use our proprietary ChargerRater scorecard that has five different categories for a point-based score and then factor in our personal opinion after using the unit for two to three weeks and charging at least three different electric vehicles with the chargers.
The ChargerRater scorecards for our top four 48A EV charger picks
Let us know what you’re using to charge your EV in the comment section below and what you like and dislike about the unit.