You don't have to buy a special charger for your electric vehicle (EV). A regular household outlet will get the job done… slowly.
That said, EV owners who install faster chargers at home (so-called Level 2 equipment) tend to be much more satisfied with their cars, according to a JD Power survey.
Good news for people who want to love their EVs: Some governments and utility companies offer hundreds of dollars in tax credits or rebates for this at-home Level 2 charging equipment. Here's where to find some of that free money.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes a tax credit for installing a home EV charger, equal to 30% of the total cost, including installation, up to $1,000—if you live in a rural or low-income area.
Loads of utility companies and some state governments also offer tax credits, rebates, and other incentives for installing EV chargers. These range from hundreds of dollars in cash or tax credits down to smaller gift cards for participating in demand-response programs. Start by checking the DSIRE database for programs in your zip code.
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The details change regularly, but at least a handful of state governments offer tax credits or direct rebates toward the cost of installing a Level 2 EV charger in a single-family home, including New York and Colorado, among others. (Many other states have programs incentivizing charger installation in multi-family housing.) The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) is a good place to start looking for programs in your area. (After you punch in your zip code, you can filter down by Technology -> Electric Vehicles -> Charging Equipment.)
Even if your state government doesn’t offer any incentives, there’s a decent chance that your utility company or their partner organizations will. These could include direct rebates, typically for a couple hundred dollars. Some are demand-response programs, where you’d have to buy an EV charger that allows the utility company to slow down or delay your charging during times of peak electrical demand in exchange for small cash payments. Again, DSIRE is a great place to begin looking for incentives.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) included a provision called the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit. EV chargers installed between the beginning of 2023 and the end of 2032 might be eligible for a tax credit. Here are the important details:
It’s available in rural and low-income areas only
You must live in a census tract that is either non-urban (aka rural) or defined as a low-income community. We’ve looked for a simple way to figure out which towns or zip codes will qualify, and can’t find one. A spokesperson from the IRS told us that they don’t have a map or list of qualifying tracts, but said there might be more guidance by the end of 2023 and referred us to the Census Bureau in the meantime. The Census Bureau has not yet responded to our request for guidance.
Image source: U.S. Census Bureau
The best we've come up with so far is this mini-site from the Census Bureau that might help you figure out if you live in a rural census tract. This map claims to identify all the tracts that qualify as low-income communities, although it does not appear to be an official government resource. If you really want to dig in, the closest thing to an authoritative source is the SAIPE database on the Census Bureau website, but it's a little tricky to navigate, and you'll need to manually confirm that you live in a low-income census tract. (Eligible tracts are those with greater than 20% of the population living under the poverty line or with a median household income of less than 80% of the state or metro area's median income.)
The maximum credit is $1,000, but you'll probably get less
The tax credit is equal to 30% of the EV charger installation costs, up to $1,000. The tax credit applies to the equipment (the charger itself) and any labor or other costs associated with the installation. Even if you live in a qualifying census tract, you probably won't get a full $1,000 credit because most EV charger installations don't cost enough to hit that full amount. It'll usually be more like $300 to $800 back—enough to offset the cost of a Level 2 EV charger but not the cost of the electrical work. The charger also must be installed at your primary residence.
Don't forget the dedicated tax form
To claim the credit, you'll need to fill out IRS Form 8911, which is specific to the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit. The credit can be carried backward for one year or forward for 20 years.
In most places, EVs cost less to drive than gas-powered cars. But EVs can be even cheaper to own when you charge them with rooftop solar panels. Check out the EnergySage Marketplace to compare several quotes from pre-screened installers so you can go solar with confidence. If you’re planning to charge an EV at home, make sure to add a note to your profile so installers can right size your solar system to sufficiently power your EV.