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Question DetailsAsked on 11/27/2017

Need to run 220 line I n the garage to charge a Tesla. There is 110 there now, how much would it cost to upgrade?

There is 110 there now and would like to upgrade to 220. How difficult a job is it and what is the approximate cost?

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1 Answer


OK - you can't "upgrade" a 110V circuit to 220V - to run 220/240V power requires a totally different 4 wire (with much larger wire in your case) circuit and outlet, direct from the main breaker panel or sometimes from the meter base.

Cost depends on your existing household power setup and capacity, because a Tesla using 220/240V charging (as opposed to the very slow 110/120V charging of a normal household outlet) draws 60 amps at lower charge rate, or 90 or 120A at high charge rate, depending on model (the 120A is evidently actually two 60A lines to one Model S converted to very high charge rate capacity).

Here is a prior similar question with answer on putting in a 220/240V circuit, FYI:

Here is a Tesla article on basic power demands FYI:

Basically, if you have a fairly modern house with say 150A or more main service it might be able to handle it. Whether you will need to pull the power at the meter box or can take it off your main breaker panel depends on the capacity of both the panel and the feed from the meter to it - if your house has mostly gas-fired appliances you might be able to pull it off the main breaker panel for $500-1000 range depending on distance from panel to garage. This assumes surface-run conduit in the garage - double to triple that if you want it concealed in the ceiling or walls, including drywall repair and repainting.

Otherwise, if the main panel does not have the 60-120A double breaker capacity available - either because you do not have the 2 (or 4 for 120A charging) high amperage breaker slots available (takes two slots for 220/240V power - uses two breakers per circuit, one off each "side" of the 220/240V power feed), because the panel is already carrying near its allowable power demand, or because the panel is just not rated for that much power, then you have to either spend $1000-2000 range for an upgraded panel, or tap the new circuit off near the meter. The latter is my recommendation - I do not recommend that high a draw off a distribution panel, especially if already supplying high-amperage draws to electric water heater, range, clothes dryer, etc. Just makes for too much heat in the panel, and of course any short or poor connection fault can quickly become a major panel fire.

Then - if the distribution/breaker panel can not handle it, so you will be coming from the meter base or adjacent disconnect or main shutoff breaker panel next to the meter box, in addition to adding the new circuit power tap and its breakers there, the question next arises whether the incoming service drop (the wires from the utility) and the meter base can handle the added power. Probably not likely so if you have a mostly electric powered house or the house is older than about 1980-1990, when service drops were mostly designed for 125A or less total demand. If your incoming service has to be upgraded that can run the total bill up another $1000-2000 range commonly, PLUS any service drop upgrade install charge from the utility - which can run from free (where they figure they will recoup the upgrade cost in increased power charges), to commonly $1000-2000 if you are coming from a fairly nearby transformer, to sometimes much more if you have a long run to your house from the nearest transformer or if that transformer is near its capacity so needs upgrading.

So - could be a simple as $1000 or even less in some cases, to a couple or few thousand $ in many cases, and much more in some cases - especially in rural areas. Certainly if looking at more than 60A draw - high-amp charging or possibly charging two electric cars at the same time I would expect to be in the higher end of the range stated, because your existing electrical system is not likely to be able to safely handle the new load.

I would download the electrical charging station power info from Tesla, then get a well-rated Electrical (your Search the List category) contractor with electrical car charging station installation experience to give you a firm bid for the power station for the car you intend to buy (taking into account low or high charge rate desire). The Tesla page I gave you has a link to find electricians - I have no idea if this pulls off an electrician registry or if they have some sort of screening process to narrow the list to ones experienced with Tesla power supply installations.

Note this also does not include any cost for the Tesla wall connector and cord, if it does not come with the car, which it appears it does not - in 8.5 or 24' length according to their website, at $500-750 apparently - and apparently 2 are needed to charge a single Model S at double power (120A) rate if you have that (added cost) car option.

Note - it is a VERY bad idea to use the car-equipped cord for home charging on a regular basis - you do NOT want to be constantly plugging in and unplugging a cord from a 60 or 90A outlet because it will quickly start arcing inside the outlet as the prongs are repeatedly inserted and removed - a MAJOR fire hazard. You definitely need the home charging connector, which has a fixed outlet on the circuit, and the plugging/unplugging occurs at the car end, which presumably is designed for repeated plugging/unplugging - presumably with a latching or locking round torpedo-type connection.

You can find a LOT of blogs and articles out there (including Tesla webpage links) on the home charging installation and ocst issues by googling this search phrase - Tesla charging connector cost - or similar phrase - some shocking stories out there both about problems people have had - especially by apartment/condo dwellers, and about the real power costs.

(I always laugh at people buying electric cars thinking they will be saving energy, when actually even not including the added energy and environmental cost of junking their old but functional car and building a new electric or hydrid car, the total energy efficiency from fuel to wheel for an electric car is at best equal to internal combustion, and commonly much worse. The funniest is people thinking they are "saving the environment" from pollution by using an electric car, when they are charging their car off power lines powered by coal plants with a ground-to-wheel efficiency of around 20-30%, versus 30-40% for normal internal combustion engine cars. Adding in the energy involved in building the new car, swapping to an electric car "to save energy" can actually result in a car lifetime reduction in energy efficiency on the order of 50%.)

Answered 11 months ago by LCD

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