A house with 200 amps of total service should be able to safely power a Tesla Wall Connector Charger — depending on how many electrical appliances are in use.
A house with 200 amps of total service should be able to safely power a Tesla Wall Connector Charger — depending on how many electrical appliances are in use. Credit: Tesla photo

Question: My wife and I recently purchased a new Tesla electric car and love not having to buy gasoline anymore.

The charger that we now have plugs into a regular wall outlet and is very slow to charge.  We would like to install a Tesla Wall Connector charger in our carport for a much faster home charge but don’t know what all is involved.

Your Handyman: As electric vehicles become more common, most EV owners are going to want to have a home fast-charging solution.

The regular wall electrical outlets in your home are 110 volts and will charge your Tesla at a 2-4 mph charging rate, which means it may take a few days to get a complete charge.

The Tesla Wall Connector charger operates at 220 volts, provides a charge rate of about 40 mph and requires a 220-volt outlet 50-amp electrical circuit.

I have read that the new Ford F150 electric pickup truck requires a 220-volt 80-amp circuit.

Most tract-style houses that were built prior to around 1970 originally were built with a circuit breaker panel on the outside of the home that provided a total of 100 amps of service.

Most houses built in recent years will have 200 amps of service, and many of the very large homes now sprouting up in our community have 400 amps or more.

If your home has only 100 total amps available, adding an EV charger that requires 50 amps may demand too much power from your circuit breaker panel. That could possibly overload it and create an unsafe condition.

If your home has 200 amps of total service, you probably can safely power the wall connector — depending on how many electrical appliances you are currently using.

After determining there is adequate available amperage for the wall connector, the next part of this puzzle is providing the power to the location where your car is parked.

An appliance or charger that requires 50 amps of 220-volt service will require large gauge #6 wiring as opposed to the much smaller gauge wiring inside your house’s walls for your outlets and lighting.

The #6 cable is about the same diameter as a garden hose and it will need to run the distance between the charger location and the circuit breaker panel.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, #6 three wire cable cost almost $10 per foot.

It may be possible to run this cable through your attic, under the house in the crawl space or in exposed conduit on the outside of your home. If the circuit breaker panel is nearby, it is much less work and expense than if it is all the way on the other side of the house.

Obviously, this project is beyond the abilities of the average DIY homeowner, so the best advice that I can give is to call a local electrician to get your charger safely installed.

Home Improvement Tip

A recent Wall Street Journal article described a national shortage of electricians as the country moves to electrify more of its infrastructure. As this transition speeds up, there will be a surging demand for electricians to upgrade electrical panels, rewire older homes and provide power for new electrical appliances like water heaters, ovens, clothes dryers etc.

This type of work is already very expensive and will only get more expensive in the years ahead.

Now may be the time to start considering what future electrical work your home may need and start working with an electrician to get it done sooner rather than later.

Mark Baird

Mark Baird

Santa Barbara general contractor Mark Baird is a UC Santa Barbara alumnus, a multigenerational handyman and a longtime DIYer. He is the owner/manager of Your Handyman, a family-run company that has been helping local homeowners since 2006. Email your questions about your homes to mark@yourhandymansb.com. The opinions expressed are his own.