The Fastest-Growing Home Improvement Project Actually Has Nothing to Do With the Home
EV charger installation was the surprising top project BobVila.com readers took on in September.
Electric vehicle sales in the United States are reaching an all-time high, according to a report from Cox Automotive—and apparently, the number of people choosing to install an EV charging station at home is growing faster than ever too.
While the upward trend of EV buying comes as little surprise after 13 quarters of sales growth in a row, the choice to outfit a home with an EV charging station tells a compelling story about how homeowners are rethinking their energy consumption, carbon footprint, and ultimately, the future of their home.
To determine the popularity of EV charger installation, we reviewed how our readers have engaged with our content covering this project from September 2023 through October 2023 so far. We defined “popularity” by focusing on topics with a higher-than-average number of readers, clicks to our vetted and recommended professionals, and even direct bookings made through our links. We also considered external official reports and studies.
- EV charging station installation was the most popular project for BobVila.com readers in September 2023.
- Electric vehicle sales nationwide grew for the 13th-straight quarter, totaling 313,086 in Q3 2023 (defined as the period from July through September).
- According to BobVila.com data, readers from California and New Jersey made up 30 percent of those hiring for an EV charger installation in September 2023.
- The uptick in EV purchases and charging station installation projects has been fueled by concerns over climate change and climbing gas prices as well as lower EV prices, more vehicle choices, and better accessibility overall.
- Experts predict that technological advancements in EV batteries will make the electric vehicle the car of choice, and the experience of using it more streamlined.
Electric Vehicles Take a Bigger Share of the Car-Buying Market, With EV Charging Station Home Installations on the Rise
The Cox Automotive report, citing data from Kelley Blue Book, leaves no room for doubt: Electric vehicle sales are growing at a steady rate.
|Q3 2022||Q3 2023||Percentage Change|
|Number of sales||298,039||313,086||+ 5.04%|
|Portion of total industry sales||6.1%||7.9%||+ 29.50%|
Right alongside EV sales, home EV charger installations are also climbing; after all, these cars need to be charged in order to operate.
BobVila.com readers were right on trend: EV charger installation was the top project professionals were hired to tackle. Readers from California and New Jersey made up nearly 30 percent of the customers hiring for this project in September. Furthermore, reader purchases of best home EV chargers surged in August 2023. With the peak month of hiring directly following the peak month of purchasing, it’s possible to conclude that many EV owners who purchased a charging unit ended up hiring to have it installed in September.
While some of these devices can be installed by the average homeowner, there are key benefits to hiring. According to Christopher Maiwald, the founder and CEO of Lectron (a leading manufacturer of EV charging stations), “For a hardwired installation, which provides higher amperage and a more reliable, steady current flow to the EV, it’s recommended to hire a professional with the necessary specialized tools and knowledge.”
Even data from Google highlights that the overall popularity of EV-related topics has basically doubled since last year, with a vast majority of searches happening in California.
There’s an abundance of proof that more and more people are expressing interest in EVs and that this buying trend is on the rise. A closer analysis of the key drivers behind it reveals that exponential growth in both car sales and charger installations is possible in the near future.
Gas Prices, Global Warming, and Greater Access
Q3 saw three conditions come together to create a near-perfect storm that likely pushed car buyers to consider and ultimately choose more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Higher gas prices are likely a key reason for the growing number of electric vehicle sales and charger installations. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s log of the cost of gasoline shows that the price per gallon has been steadily increasing since January 2023. While 2022 overall saw higher prices due to the conflict in Ukraine, prices remained (and continue to be) high relative to the average price-per-gallon in 2021 and 2020. Gas prices for 2023 peaked in August at the height of the summer season—a season during which many choose to travel more than usual by car. In states where gas prices are higher, EV sales also tend to be higher: Data from AAA shows that California and Washington State have some of the highest gas prices in the country, which correlates with the U.S Department of Energy’s assessment that both these states have some of the highest electric vehicle registration counts.
The pace of climate change paints a picture so dire that many homeowners and car buyers are increasingly becoming conscious of their carbon footprint. Bleak headlines such as NASA’s news that July 2023 was the hottest month on record since 1880 seem to be more and more frequent, creating a sense of urgency. Gen Zers (defined as individuals born between 1999 and 2004) are more likely to address climate change, according to the Pew Research Center; coincidentally, in the past year, they have taken up a larger, albeit still small portion of all home buyers, at 4 percent of the housing market per a 2023 report released by the National Association of Realtors. With a new generation of homeowners with climate change concerns growing in size, it’s likely that EV purchases and charger installations will also rise. Maiwald adds that technological developments in EV battery production and charging station installation can play a key role in helping the EV market grow, “promising faster charging times in the near future. This means a more streamlined and efficient EV charging experience for consumers with high-powered home-charging stations.”
With high-end Tesla being the dominant EV manufacturer in the industry (reaching a 2023 high of 62 percent market share in Q1, defined as the period from January through March 2023), it’s almost no surprise that up until recently, it’s likely that buying an electric vehicle was seen as something only a person with a relatively high income could afford.
However, the market is changing quickly:
- There is more competition. Other car manufacturers, including makers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, and General Motors, have started releasing EV car and truck models and are progressively taking a bigger share of the EV market. In fact, while Tesla still dominated the market in Q3, its share fell precipitously from 62 percent to 50 percent.
- Prices are down overall. To entice more customers, manufacturers are keeping their prices low. In fact, Cox Automotive reports that transaction prices actually decreased in Q3 overall, with Tesla cutting prices by about 25 percent. Luxury car manufacturers tended to lower prices as buyers flocked to cheaper models from non-luxury brands. And with non-luxury brands growing their selection of EVs, they have been able to increase prices by less than only 1 percent year-over-year.
- Access to charging stations is growing. Electric vehicles need charging stations, and an increasing number of available charging stations might also be fueling more demand for electric vehicles. A 2023 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory highlights that Q2 (defined as the period from April through June) saw an overall 4 percent growth in the number of public EV charging ports. This increase likely stemmed from demand, and the availability, visibility, and access to more public ports likely fueled even more EV purchases. Homeowners and car buyers can opt for a more environmentally friendly vehicle with the peace of mind that a charging station may be available close by. Owning an EV isn’t as demanding on time and resources as it was before, and more people are choosing to own an electric vehicle and have a charger installed at home.
Getting an EV Charging Station Installed at Home
While electric vehicle owners don’t necessarily need to have an EV charging station installed at home, choosing to do so has upsides to consider. Simply connecting the car to a standard outlet has associated risks and downsides, too, such as overloading the home’s electrical system and slow charging times. It’s generally ill-advised to resort to this type of charging daily on a long-term basis. Getting an EV charger installed reduces safety and electricity overload risks and is best for long-term EV use. It’s also the option that offers the most convenience. There’s also still a pervasive significant gap in public EV charger availability, despite a noted increase; a map created by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that public charging stations are more concentrated in large urban areas, with some regions totally lacking the infrastructure to support EVs. EV owners who do not have easy access to a public charger may want to consider installing a home unit.
Maiwald highlights all these benefits, saying that installing a charger at home “offers several advantages, including avoiding frustrating wait times at public charging stations, reducing long-term charging costs, and gaining full control over your EV charging schedule. It eliminates the need to leave your home for charging and ensures compatibility with your specific EV model. This means you have more time at home or on your journey instead of searching for an available public station.”
Furthermore, where an EV can be parked at home wouldn’t necessarily be close to an outlet. In this case, it’s much simpler—and safer—to get a charger installed.
The cost to install an EV charger at home sits around $1,000, depending on factors such as type, location, and brand. For individuals considering the long-term cost of gasoline, the negative impact gas-powered vehicles have on the environment, and the growing fleet of relatively affordable models on the market (with some EV prices matching the prices of non-EVs), this is almost a no-brainer decision. The up-front cost of buying an EV and installing a charging station at home is a small price to pay for so many benefits.
Those considering hiring for this project can turn to the best EV charger installers. Many of these companies have attractive financial incentives, flexible payment plans, and purchasing programs that can make choosing an electric vehicle and installing an EV charger at home easier and worthwhile.
Will EV charging stations become a standard home feature?
At first glance, the most popular project among BobVila.com readers is surprising, but a closer look at the EV landscape, consumer behavior, and the factors contributing to the rise of the EV make it less so. With such a consistent increase in demand, it’s worth wondering if electric vehicles will be the most dominant type of vehicle on the road in just a few years’ time—and thus if EV chargers will be a standard home feature. Maiwald says, “Traditional combustion car sales peaked in 2017, and by the middle of this decade, we believe more will be scrapped than sold. It’s a common industry prediction that EVs will account for more than two-thirds of market share by 2030.”
Currently, there are some anecdotes that support that EV chargers add value to a property. Home sellers can decide if they want to include the EV charger in the sale or take it with them. In some cases, it can be more cost efficient to choose the former option. However, with mortgage rates still reaching highs and the housing market simultaneously cooling, more homeowners are staying put, preferring to remodel or update their existing home over purchasing a new one. If EVs continue on this course, experts expect that the majority of cars will run on electricity in the not-so-distant future—which means more stations installed, both on the road and at home.