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Why Do Electricians Charge So Much To Install EV Outlets?

Discussion in 'North America' started by Qbenjamin, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. Qbenjamin

    Qbenjamin Frugal But Classy!

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    Let me preface my comments by saying that this is a rant thread...

    I'm on my third Tesla in 4 years, just so happens I moved into my third place as well. First house, I was new to the EV world and had no idea about the charging outlet being required, let alone its installation. Cost me $279 to install directly beneath the breaker box (plenty of space available to accommodate the new circuit; electrician was literally there for 15 mins).

    Second place didn't have any spots available in the breaker box, electrician had to move around and switch out several breakers. Cost was $300 again to install (electrician was there for over an hour; we were talking most of the time).

    New place has a brand new breaker box, I had/have about 20 spots available for a new circuit. I call around to get quotes and almost all came in at $300.

    This time I'm a bit more knowledgeable. This forum and YouTube has actually provided me with a wealth of knowledge. I ask questions about why the installation is so expensive. I'm given the run-around by all of the electricians. I finally ask for a breakdown of parts and labor, only one of the three electricians provide. It says $100 for parts and $200 for labor. I didn't mind so much about the cost for the parts, but I asked about his labor rate. He replies its $75 per hour, but he has to do a lot of running around to find the circuits since they aren't readily available, so he passes that cost on to the customer.

    At this point, I did what most other budget conscious consumers do, I went and looked up the parts required. I find the following all readily accessible at my nearest Home Depot (I'm normally a Lowe's guy, but they didn't have them): 50 amp, 2 pole circuit breaker ($25; specific to my panel [found out the hard way, went to install the first one and it didn't fit]); NEMA 14-50 outlet ($8); 6/3 Romex wire (6' X $3 = $18); 2 gang junction box ($3); 3/4 clamp connectors ($5) & 2 gang wall plate ($2).

    Yep, a whopping $57 for parts was all that was needed.

    I went home to do the install and it took less than an hour. I spent about 75% of my time fighting with this extremely rigid wire. I was a bit hesitant to start, so I was EXTREMELY careful. I plan to make a step-by-step guide for those with space available in their breaker box.

    At the end of the day, I understand that electricians are specialized in a trade, most specialists can charge a premium for their services. I'll caveat that comment with the fact that consumers nowadays are more than willing to take on simple projects like these due to the transformation of the digital world and accessibility of "how-to guides."
     
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  2. Qbenjamin

    Qbenjamin Frugal But Classy!

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    Forgot to pose my question at the end...

    So why do electricians charge so much to do this?
     
  3. CYBER_Y

    CYBER_Y Member

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    They are electricians. You pay for their expertise. 300 is cheap. I paid 365 to get mine installed and I consider that cheap compared to what I've seen what others have paid. It also depends on the gauge wire and amount of distance from box to where the outlet/wall unit is placed.
     
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  4. jmaddr

    jmaddr Member

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    Glad you did it yourself. It really isn't a hard thing to do, especially when you are installing the outlet or HPWC next to the panel.

    However, any professional...whether it's plumbing or electrician or gardener, has overhead besides the hour. I don't think a minimum of $300 is that bad for an hour's work when you consider he has to get the parts, travel to your location, actually do the work...and most importantly...warranty the work and place his work under the scrutiny of inspectors. Further, s/he needs to pay liability insurance if that circuit catches fire and burns down your house. For a true professional, a minimum job charge of $250-300 isn't terrible.
     
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  5. CO_MY

    CO_MY Member

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    I assume those electricians would also pull a permit for that work but you didn't specify that. Also assuming you didn't pull one for the work you did but you should to protect yourself if/when you sell the house. I'm considering buying the parts needed but paying the electrician for the labor, including getting a permit.
     
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  6. Qbenjamin

    Qbenjamin Frugal But Classy!

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    No permit required, didn't need one in FL either.
     
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  7. Qbenjamin

    Qbenjamin Frugal But Classy!

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    I'm going to assume you didn't read everything since I clearly pointed out the outlet being installed directly beneath my breaker and that I used 6/3 ($3 per foot).
     
  8. SSedan

    SSedan Active Member

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    Professions that have to travel between worksites will have minimum charges wether official or not.
    It really isn't feasible to schedule 8 separate 1hour appointments in a day so you are going to be billed a few hours.
    Keep in mind they had to take time to answer calls for quotes, have to cover the cost of labor for quotes that don't pan out, had to take the time to justify the quote to you despite it being reasonable.

    A lot of electricians seem to have an unofficial half day minimum, many folks report $500 minimum quotes.

    How does your employer bill for your time?
     
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  9. Qbenjamin

    Qbenjamin Frugal But Classy!

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    Totally understand where you're coming from with your comments. I'm a small business owner as well and have overhead. My mindset is a bit different though. I'd rather charge a reasonable price and have plenty of referrals, than to drain any one consumer. I would've been fine with paying a $50 trip charge and $75 for labor (considering it would've taken him less than 20 mins to do the install).

    Maybe I'm just being too cheap.
     
  10. Qbenjamin

    Qbenjamin Frugal But Classy!

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    Thanks for the comments, it seems the general consensus is that $300 is cheap for this type of job considering what others across the U.S. have paid.

    I'll say this though, once you have knowledge of a process and how to do it, you likely won't overpay anyone to do it.
     
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  11. DSolie

    DSolie Member

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    The electrician has a minimum of 2 phone calls with the customer, a little bit of time researching the parts needed and formulating a plan, driving to get the parts, driving to your house, installing the outlet, answering a dozen questions from the client, and then spends a few minutes billing it out. All that is just time. Now, add in the parts he bought, his markup, the wear and tear on his vehicle, gas, insurance, federal taxes, resale issues, CC fees, merchant fees and then, he still has to feed his family at the end of the day. $300 is cheap.
     
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  12. CO_MY

    CO_MY Member

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    A permit when doing electrical work that needs to follow a specified building code almost always requires a permit in the U.S. The example below is from one of the counties in FL that references the state building code requirements. Hope you are correct.

    The installation, alteration, replacement, extension or repair of any irrigation, electrical, plumbing, mechanical work, fuel gas, fire systems, solar systems or any associated electrical work (low voltage). Including the change out of A/C equipment, electrical service changes or the addition of electrical outlets or circuits.
    Do I Need a Permit?
     
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  13. CYBER_Y

    CYBER_Y Member

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    I did read everything I was just giving supporting documentation regarding Len and gauge as a matter of variance, since if I did not, someone would have surely argued that. This is the internet, after all.
     
  14. Ostrichsak

    Ostrichsak Active Member

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    An outlet is an outlet is an outlet. The ONLY way it might matter is if they do shoddy work that normally wouldn't be exposed through "normal" non-EV use. If they take the extra 5-seconds (literally) to make sure the insulation is properly stripped and leads are properly landed and secured it doesn't matter if it's a dryer or an EV pulling 80%. If they want to charge more due to a "Tesla tax" it means they do lazy work normally and want to charge more to do it properly. Plain an simple. Find a new electrician. Bad behavior should not be rewarded.
     
  15. Spacep0d

    Spacep0d Member

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    #15 Spacep0d, Aug 28, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    $300 is a pittance compared to what I will have to pay to deal with this pathetic 60a wall panel in a townhome built in 1990. It might cost me 5k at the end of the day to bring in more power from the main to the outside meter box. Girlfriend doesn't want a bigger place with better electrical and we own this townhome together so it's not like I can sell it. Also, I had to get HOA approval (after writing convincing letters). I need neighbor approval to go through their garage with conduit, I need city approval, and the whole thing is a logistical web. My entire plan could be ruined by a neighbor saying 'no'. Still, cheaper than buying a whole new house I guess.

    So yeah, we're about to pay through the nose just to get basic L2 charging. I wish I had your problems! :D

    I've read through the installation procedure for the Tesla Wall Connector and watched Tesla's video for the same. With a bit of know-how and the right tools you could easily install one yourself. Turn the power off first! This is the 'know-how' portion. Electricians charge for their experience, speed, knowing how to circumvent issues, etc. I'm pretty handy and installed my own ceiling fan, and I'm certain I could install my own Wall Connector given enough time and thorough care. But, I'd jump at the chance to pay a qualified electrician a measly $300 to do it right the first time.
     
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  16. CyberGus

    CyberGus Not Just a Member

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    Do my own wiring? I don't even mow my own lawn
     
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  17. glide

    glide Active Member

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    Tesla tax

    They see a person with $70K plus car who cannot do their own wiring. That’s open season.
     
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  18. Rocky_H

    Rocky_H Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I find this pretty hilarious also, thinking that $300 for a professional's on-site installation job is "expensive".
    You are overlooking all kinds of overhead items. You talk about how it's easy and directly beneath your panel. You already know that as the homeowner because you live there and can see it, stepping into your garage on your own personal time, so you don't count that at all, as it costs you nothing. And you've already checked what brand and type of panel it is, etc. But these are things you are having to explain to him on his billable time on the phone to spec out the job to make the estimate.

    And you say with some annoyance how it only takes 15 minutes. You are starting your stopwatch when you grab hold of the wire or a tool. But his time has to include all of the driving on both ends of it. And if he doesn't have every one of those parts already on the truck, he needs to include the time to go to the supply shop to buy a few things. And as someone mentioned, he can't know that this job is going to finish at 12:38 and pre-schedule the next customer weeks in advance to start at 12:39. These kinds of things that they think will be an hour or so will effectively have to block out at least 2 hours of their day to make sure they can still fit their schedule.

    And here's the other one I don't see someone has mentioned yet: opportunity cost. With all of their travel and setup for your job that is going to take 2 or 3 hours out of his career work schedule, you want to pay him only about $150 or so? What kind of real paying work is he missing out on for that half a day that he's not getting to do because he decided to accept your tiny job?
     
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  19. SageBrush

    SageBrush REJECT Fascism

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    For the same reason you charge as much as you can for the job you do, even though some people are convinced that you are not worth anywhere near what you charge.

    What would you say to them ?
     
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  20. SageBrush

    SageBrush REJECT Fascism

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    #20 SageBrush, Aug 28, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    I will say this about electrician charges: a large part of the fee schedule is related to apprenticeship and guild. The barrier to entry to be a licensed electrician supports a class protected (to some degree) from competition, and the electrician who spent years and years being paid peanuts to gain the right to licensure is recouping his/her years of servitude.

    Is the apprenticeship system as currently run reasonable ? In some ways yes since electricity is dangerous and the guild has been mostly successful in making electricity for all pretty darn safe. Could it be made more efficient ? Of course -- just about anything can be improved upon. I personally would like to see minor and major licenses. It would lead to a more rational alignment between job complexity and cost.

    ---
    I am personally not too aggrieved by the system. I am allowed to DIY if I am able; and if I am not after watching videos and reading then I learn from the person I call in so that I can DIY in the future. I always view outsider charges as a mixture of service and teaching.
     
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