Congratulations! You’ve decided to jump into the new year with an electric vehicle charger of your own. This is a wise decision. Depending on public charging is a hassle at best, and a bad idea for those who own an electric vehicle. You are likely getting a lot of advice about how to have the charger installed. Let us give you two key tips. First, if at all possible, have your electrician hard-wire the unit. Second, if you are unable to do so for some reason, have the electrician install the NEMA 14-50 receptacle “upside down.”
Before we begin, let's agree to call the electric vehicle service equipment, EVSE, a charger. that's what EV makers, EV designers, and the folks who build chargers call them.
Here are a pair of stories you may also find very helpful before you begin planning your new EV charger installation.
Why You Should Hardwire Your New EV Charger
Electric vehicle service equipment like the charger you are installing carries more current for longer durations than any other single appliance in your home. Nothing in your house draws up to 48 amps for hours at a time without interruption. This kind of power puts a lot of stress on the circuit, circuit breaker, and panel. Heat is generated in the normal operation of such use. Over time, the cycles of heating and cooling can loosen connections and cause heat damage to components. One of the components you can easily eliminate is the plug and socket connecting your charger to the power supply. Rather than a plug, your electrician can wire the charger (EVSE) directly to the circuit. This is a more robust way to make the connection, and it eliminates the NEMA 14-50 socket entirely. If you can do the install this way, order your charger “ready to be hard-wired.” Your wall-mounted charger supplier will have the option.
Why You Should Install Your NEMA 14-50 Receptacle Upside Down
If there is a reason why you plan to plug in your charger, we suggest you re-think it, but we understand. In fact, our own testing setup uses a NEMA 14-50 socket because we test different units frequently and need to be able to change them out without the help of our electrician. Don't do what we do!
The reason it is better to have the ground hole down, based on our own experience, is that when the pigtail of the charger comes, it will connect much easier if the receptacle is configured this way. If you mistakenly mount the charger’s receptacle with the ground up, as we did, you will need to make a tight bend in the power cable. These cables are very stiff and making the u-turn is tough on the charger’s connection and also puts strain on the receptacle.
If you already have a NEMA 14-50 receptacle and it is mounted with the round ground plug facing up, your electrician can quickly re-wire it and remount it so the ground is down.
Many electricians mount the receptacle so that the ground faces up because the small writing on the receptacle’s face is written so it can be ready in this orientation. We reached out to a local licensed electrician, who is also the electrical inspector for two Metro Boston towns, and asked him if the code requires the ground to face up. He told us, “There is no code about how the outlet is mounted. The outlet can be flipped around very easily, the two screws that mount the plate to the box can be removed and the plate can be rotated so the outlet is facing the other way.”
So, once again, welcome to the club of EV owners who have a home EV charger. Be sure to read our two links at the start of the story for some additional tips on how to make your project go as smoothly as possible.
John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his eleven years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.