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What you need to know about installing a personal residential EV charging station in the District of Columbia.

Personal use EV charging stations can make charging your vehicle more convenient and ensure that you always have enough power for weekly use. But District of Columbia residents first need to know what the process is for installation of an EV charging station on private property. So read on and get your EV charging station project started!

Getting Started | Which Type of EV Charger Do You Need?

Do you plan to install a Level 1 or Level 2 charger? Higher charging levels increase the speed of the charging process as well as delivering more distance power. Each EV can accept different levels of power from the EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). EVs regulate the power delivered to them by the charger.

  • Level 1:  These chargers typically generate an average of four miles of driving range per hour of charge. A common 120-volt household outlet is used for Level 1 charging, and as long as there is one available in your garage, you can just plug in without any further fuss. This is the slowest way to charge an EV, but the least expensive in terms of equipment and installation. If you don't have a garage or exterior GFCI, you'll need to have an electrician install one. An electrical permit and potentially a 'heavy up' may be required.  Level 1 charging is appropriate for PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) which contain smaller batteries. Daily Level 1 charging for EVs may not be practical unless the vehicle is only being driven short distances each day.
  • Level 2:  These chargers generate an average 32 miles of driving range per hour of charge.  Appropriate for EVs/BEVs, (which contain much larger batteries than PHEVs). With up to 80 amps of power and a charging speed of 12 to 80 mph (up to 10x faster than Level 1 charging), Level 2 charging is the most common choice for daily EV charging. A Level 2 charger needs a dedicated 240-volt circuit like the one needed for an electric clothes dryer or kitchen range. There are several options for Level 2 chargers; You could deliver up to 80 amps of power by installing a 100-amp 208-240V dedicated circuit and a heavy supply line from the circuit breaker box. This will require electrical permits and probably a 'heavy up' from your power company. But is that really necessary? Most EV owners find a 40-amp charger delivering 9.6 kW quite sufficient. A third option is the 48-amp charger, which charges a bit faster at 11.5 kW, but requires beefed up wiring and your charger will need to comply with the NEC code. This significantly increases the cost for a 48-amp charger, and creates only a light benefit.
  • Level 3:  Overkill. These chargers (DC Fast Charging or Supercharging), are primarily reserved for commercial and industrial use. Aside from the great expense of installing a Level 3 charging station, they require specialized and powerful equipment for operation.

Forbes offers a detailed article on EV chargers:

Key Question In DC | What Type Of Parking Do You Have?

Electric car charging equipment requires a permit in the District of Columbia. The type of parking you utilize can determine what type of permitting and approvals your new charging station will require.

If you have a driveway that is not public space, or a garage or carport, you should be able install a Level 2 EV charger. But, it’s sometimes like installing a stack washer/dryer in a condo: seems simple–until it becomes complicated and expensive. Just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you have the other components near enough to comply with code and make it work.

Installation is easier and less expensive if you park near an existing power source. Chargers with approx. 25′ of cable can help, but further than that, you must connect to your electrical panel. Running electricity and adding a 220v outlet to an outbuilding or post/kiosk near a driveway could involve some fairly extensive work and expense.

Few Washington DC homes have dedicated garages or driveways, and many front yards in the District are considered public spaces (the area between the building or property line and the curb), so in addition to an electrical permit for install of your charger, any construction done on public space requires a separate public space permit issued by the District Department of Transportation.

Your Electrical System | What's Its Capacity?

With a full charge taking more than a day to complete, you’ll want to consider the capacity of your current electrical system. Will it be able to handle the burden of charging your EV in addition to running the household lights, appliances and devices like vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and electronics? Does your electrical panel have space for an additional breaker? If not, you’ll likely need a new panel, and a ‘heavy up‘ from the utility company before you can install your EV charging station.

Start With DC's Postcard Permit

What is it?
An online permit for small scale common construction projects, including EV chargers, that are limited to specified scopes of work determined by DOB.

  • Post Card Electrical General Permit
  • Post Card Electrical Heavy Up Permit
  • Post Card Gas Fitting Permit
  • Post Card Mechanical Permit
  • Post Card Plumbing Permit
If you're trying to get a building permits for one of the 50 most common home improvement and small construction projects you can now apply, pay for, and receive building permits from your home or office computer.

The EV Charger & DC Street Parking

If you park on the street, it is likely that you will have trouble installing a legal Level 2 EV charging station--and fines for infractions can be heavy. You can petition your neighborhood's ANC to support the proposition, then your contractor can apply for the installation of the charger, but DDOT wants you to know that any curbside charging station you finance would be a public good and not exclusively for your personal use. Alternatively, you can use a Level 1 charger connected to your home, run the cables perpendicular to streets, and cover the cord with a cable ramp.

If your home is located in an historic district, you'll need to reach out to your Historic Preservation Board and ANC to determine if it is possible.

The District's Curbside Charging Station Program

Electric Vehicle Curbside Charging Station Program
The EV Charging Station Program creates a public space permit available to EV charging station vendors to install a charger at eligible curbside spaces in the District. The stations are required to be dual-port and Level 2 or DC (direct current) Fast Chargers. Eligible curbside spaces include both residential blocks and business corridors to allow charging while at home and while engaging in commercial activities.

At this time, the permit is not available to individual applicants. Residents seeking to install a charger on or around their block are advised to work with their neighbors, their Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and a charging station vendor to identify a location best suited for a charger.


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