Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 2/12/2017

How much does it cost to upgrade an old outlet

I live in a very old home and am looking to update an outlet and get it grounded in order to charge an electric vehicle. I am wondering what the cost would be for this.

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

3 Answers


Us be best to have 2 or 3 professional electrical contractors come out. Can the old wire handle this? Does the fuse and or circuit breaker need up grade. You don't want the house to burn down do you ? I would look into alternative powered car port powered by solar or wind or both if its possible.

Answered 3 years ago by the new window man


IF the wiring and breaker are rated for what the car needs (unlikely unless a low-amperage slow-charge car - usually only hybrids), just changing the outlet itself should run minimum service call charge of from about $75-300 depending on local labor costs - usually around $125 plus or minus $25-50 for the first 1/2-1 hour of work.

The cost of the outlet itself - from around $20-100 for commonly used normal configuration outlet depending on amperage rating (lower end for 120V, mid to higher range for 220/240V), up to $500-1000 range for a third-party integrated charger/outlet, or commonly $1000-2000 if from the car manufacturer. (Some electric cars have all the current limiting and charger/transformer function built into the car, many or most it is at the charging point so costs a lot more at the wall.) Note also a lot of current chargers mount on the wall and have plug-in cords to an outlet (so as far as the outlet goes only a readily available economic standard outlet is needed) - but this is not legal in many areas, especially if outdoors, so a careful code check is needed. In many areas, but expecially commonly for outdoor charging stations, it is required to be hardwired. PErsonally, I would not put a charging station "outdoors" - I would put it inside with a feed-through of the charging cable through the wall, or outside in a weatherproof enclosure. However - in some code areas you are required to have a disconnect switch within a certain distance (commonly 6-10 feet) of the charger - some allow it to be on the charger itself, some allow a push-to-test GFCI or similar outlet type, some require a main power switch within sight and easy reach, which for a high-amperage circuit means a lever-type disconnect switch rather than just a wall switch for reliability - which can add a hundred or so $ to the picture if needed.

Plus maybe $50-250 additional (depending on amperage and type needed) for a new protection circuit breaker of the type needed for the car - some want a GFCI breaker, some want an EQ or GFEPD or other special type breaker to protect the charger and car from fault damage. In many areas, you need a GFCI breaker in the breaker panel by code because it is an outdoor outlet, PLUS the special equipment-protection breaker (which can be at the outlet in most cases) to protect the equipment, not people, from faults in the charger or car, in some the special breaker is built into the charger itself - different action of the breaker in each case. And it can get VERY frustrating when the two types of breakers fight with each other, because sometimes the specialty types of breaker or protection devices can cause GFCI or AFCI breakers to trip inconveniently frequently.

You might also consider if you want a power-loss alarm on it - though some brand chargers might have that - which will send a wireless signal to an alarm inside the house to indicate if the unit shuts off or loses power when it is supposed to be charging. I have seen them in catalogs - probably takes a bit of trickiness in doing the wiring so the alarm does not sound if the charger just shuts off due to the charge being complete. I really don't know how many chargers have that functionn built-in, but might be nice to have if you depend on the electric car exclulsively to get to work each day.

You said a very old house - if the wiring and breaker are original - personally I would replace the breaker, wiring, outlet - everything for typically $500-800 depending on accessibility for running the wiring - NOT including the charger. I would do this especially if this is more than a 8 or 12A slow-charge system, but nether would I trust a 20, 30,50, 80, even up to 200A continuous load with some systems, on old insulation and wiring. Especially because you do not knowthe condition of the existing system, whether the wiring is intact or damaged, the quality of any splices, etc.

It is also becoming a common recommendation, though not yet in code that I have seen, that for electric car charging the maximum amperage being carried should not exceed 2/3 of the rated capacity of the wiring/breaker rather than the normal 80% allowed by code for continuous loads - so it might well be that even if the circuit rated capacity is equal to or more than the amount of current the charging will draw, it may present such a high continuous load that any weak link in the circuit might become a fire hazard, or the wiring may overheat which can damage the insulation. For instance, technically by general electrical code a standard 10A or 15A circuit can carry a continuous load of 8A or 12A respectively (hence why many cars use 8 or 12A charging load), or a 20A one 16A (another somewhat common charging load) - those are based on 80% or rating continuous load - an iffy thing in my opinion even with new wiring, because the wiring and components are not really rated for that high a continuous load - most of the testing that determined "safe" loads was based on only a 15 minute test period, not many hour long-term high loads.

Cost for all new wiring run, not including the outlet and breakers or charger mentioned elsewhere here - commonly $500-800 range for normal about 25' run if exposed studs or running in conduit, more like $600-1000 range probably if having to break into drywall to run it - including the couple to few hundred $ for a handyman to do drywall repair and repainting if you do not do that yourself.

What your capacity has to be you of course need to check the car manual - and also consider what other makes or models you might own in the future. Also, Level 1 charging stations typically feed 8 or 12A 120V power - but newer cars can demand 20A, needing a 30A circuit. Likewise Level 2 220/240V charging usually wants 16, 24, or 30A - but some newer models run 40, 50, 60A demand. Level 3 rapid charge commonly runs 50, 60 or 100A - even up to 200A for at least one model according to an electric car wiring cheat chart covering all brands that I saw.

So - you might consider, after a bit of research, putting in wiring capable of the maximum you might need (120V or 220/240V as applicable) and upsize the wiring to the max capacity likely to be needed in the future. The outlet itself will be unique to a specific amperage (each capacity has a different prong configuation) but changing that is only a couple hundred $ down the road if needed - a small portion of the cost of a higher capacity charger. And the breakers of course have to be sized for the current demand, not oversized because that is dangerous - but cheaper in the future to replace that with the new correct rating than running new wiring too. And running larger wire is not real costly - commonly only a buck to three $ per foot more for much higher capacity in 220/240V wiring - less than $1/LF extra in 120V most likely, and the labor should be the same regardless of wire size.

One other MAJOR consideration - the charger has to be on a dedicated circuit, so the electrician has to ensure there are not other loads (typically garage outlets or lights or porch lights) on that circuit if it was not originally installed for car chrging or block heater use. Not only can you not have other loads on the circuit, but if the wiring passes through other outlet boxes or junction boxes, each of those connections has the opportunity to become a hot spot and a hazard in continuous use. The wire should be continuous and uninterrupted from breaker to charger.

Also - and the electrician should look at this closely and check the existing demand on the breaker panel if more than a 120V low-amperage slow-charge system - to be sure the incoming service and the breaker panel have the capacity for the added demand. In old houses with low-capacity boxes and services even a moderate new charger demand might be too much without a service and/or panel upgrade - and with a Level 2 or especially with a Level 3 charger that can frequently exceed the available excess capacity - which can mean another $1000-2000 ballpark for upograding the service. In extreme cases, with a high-demand charger like the 90A Tesla charger, that can increase the household demand by as much as 100% or more, and overload most current house systems. In those cases, in addition to the in-house upgrades needed (commonly including a second breaker panel and a second tap off the main service at the meter box), ifthe incoming service is not high enough capacity (frequently not) then a service upgrade from the utility can be needed - sometimes free because they figure they will get it back in usage fees, but in extreme cases like one case I read about in the mountains in California, meant bringing in a new service line 3 miles and new transformer and new meter panel - totalling over $150,000 ! So be sure the COMPLETE picture is assessed before getting bids on the upgrade.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


My best estimate for something like this would be $500-1000!

Answered 3 years ago by baummmnyc

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy