Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Office of Energy and Sustainable Development

Residential Electric Vehicle Charging Systems

Interested in an Electric Vehicle?electric vehicle 

Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) ownership is gaining speed in Berkeley. A PEV is any vehicle that can operate partially or exclusively on electricity from an on-board battery and can be plugged in to recharge the battery. PEVs can provide many benefits for our community, including substantially less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cars.  

If you are interested in information about owning and charging a PEV at home, continue reading this webpage. If your business would like to install a PEV charging station in its parking lot, as a service to customers or employees, please see the Non-Residential Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging System Pilot Program.

Consider these issues before purchasing a PEV:

  • Access to charging system: Charging your PEV at home requires an off-street parking space with access to an electric circuit. To protect public safety, cords and connector equipment are not allowed to extend across sidewalks or any public right-of-ways. Vehicles must be parked entirely on private property while charging.
  •  Environmental: PEVs are an effective means of reducing the global warming emissions associated with car travel. In order to maximize the emissions reduction benefit, it is important that PEVs be charged overnight, during off-peak hours, when electricity demand is at its lowest.
  •  Financial: Consider all the costs related to your PEV before you buy -- not just the cost of buying or leasing the car. In addition to the on-going costs of refueling and maintaining your vehicle, you may need to upgrade your home's electrical infrastructure to accommodate the additional electricity demand of your PEV. 
  • Charging Safety: Consult with a qualified electrician to verify that your electrical capacity and condition of your electrical wiring are sufficient to safely charge a PEV.
  •  Charging Level Options are determined by PEV-owner preference and by vehicle manufacturer specifications for each charging level. Re-charging times will vary, depending on charging level and battery type.
    • AC Level 1 Slow Charging (120 volts, 15/20 amps) Standard wall outlet charging, typically comes with the car; slowest but simplest charging.
    • AC Level 2 Medium Charging (208-240 volts, max 80 amps) Level 2 requires a dedicated circuit and may require an electrical panel upgrade.

All Charged Up:  PG&E can help determine the best meter & rate options for your PEV. 

  • Keep your existing PG&E billing plan and pay your existing rate for the PEV electricity that you consume on your existing bill.
  • Choose a whole house rate for a shared EV-A meter with time-of-use (TOU) billing rate for both the house and the PEV. TOU charging offers a lower rate for charging at night compared to the day. Requires a SmartMeter.
  • Choose a separate EV-B meter to install a dedicated time-of-use (TOU) meter just for your PEV. TOU charging offers a lower rate for charging at night compared to the day. Note: Property owners are required to record a "Notice of Limitation on Use of Property" with the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder for submittal with the electrical permit application.

Steps:

1. Research car & get the charging specifications from the manufacturer.  
2. Verify that the car will fit completely on your property while charging. Must be clear of sidewalk.
3. Have your electrical system assessed by a licensed electrician for capacity and to determine if upgrades are needed. For safety reasons, it may be required to have a dedicated circuit for PEV charging.
4. Contact PG&E to apply for service and for help on charging levels & rate options. Call 1-877-743-7782.
5. Apply for permits with City of Berkeley. An electrical permit is required for all residential PEV charging systems when electrical work is needed. A zoning permit (Zoning Certificate) may be required for outdoor installations.
6. Obtain a final inspection from City of Berkeley once permitted work is complete. Call 510-981-7444.
7. Contact PG&E to set-up rate and/or service. Call 1-877-743-7782.

Permitting Requirements for Residential PEV Charging Systems
An electrical permit is required for residential PEV charging systems when electrical work is needed to install the equipment. A mechanical permit will be required if the manufacturer’s installation guidelines require mechanical ventilation. When attached to the side of a building, the charging system must be at least 3’ from the property line. Approval of PEV charging system location does not change the required legal off-street parking space(s).

A Zoning Certificate is required for outdoor PEV charging system installations that are not attached to a building, and may be required for other outdoor locations if the space where a car will charge is less than 8’ x 18’. A charging car or charger component cannot be in the public right of way (i.e. over a sidewalk or at a curb).

Permit Application Submittal Requirements: Applicants must submit four (4) sets of legible plans (11”x17”), drawn to scale, or at least fully dimensioned, with the following information:

  • Coversheet with project address, owner name, address, phone, and a brief description of project;
  • Site plan with property lines, garage or parking space dimensions & clearances of proposed charging system location including location of additional meter, if applicable;
  • Size (height, width and depth) of charging system, with a single line electrical plan;
  • Type of charging system: Level 1/Level 2, with approved product listing agency (i.e., UL) number;
  • Manufacturer’s specifications, installation guidelines, and, if applicable, ventilation requirements;
  • Existing panel rating, proposed charging load & calculations for systems over 220 volts and/or 40amp;
  • If installing an EV-B meter, meter must be labeled as “PEV Charging only”; submit a copy of the “Notice of Limitation on Use of PEV Charging Meter” deed restriction filed with Alameda County.

Application Submittal: Call 510-981-7502 for an appointment to submit completed permit application. If you have questions about submittal requirements, email planning@cityofberkeley.info.

Permit Fees: Most applications can be processed over-the-counter at the Permit Service Center. All residential PEV charging systems require a basic electrical permit. An outdoor installation may also require the standard Zoning Certificate fee. Alameda County will charge a deed restriction filing fee for the “Notice of Limitation of Use” if an additional meter is installed.
 

Inspection: Call 510-981-7444 or go online to: http://www.cityofberkeley.info/BuildingInspections/  

Wiring for the Future: Even if you are not currently purchasing a PEV or a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, consider including PEV charging and solar capability when upgrading electrical systems at home by installing conduit or wiring in an area accessible for charging.

Resources and Incentives:

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