I really want to post some of the pictures of the projects I’ve been doing around the house but everything is kind of half done and total chaos. It’s like I just moved in except now I have 11 years of crap! The good news is, my two month long level two charger has finally been completed! It was… bureaucratic to say the least. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good bureaucratic task and at times even live for it but this almost broke me because of the paperwork involved. I purchased the charger on April 22nd because it was the last day of an Earth Day sale where the charger was 20% off and chose the electrician to install it. Due to his schedule, his assistant’s schedule and my schedule the soonest that we could all agree on to do it was June 16th which later got pushed to June 17th. I chose the Chargepoint Home charger because as it’s already been established, I’m a gadget girl. I love the fact that it’s a Wifi connected system and has an app that allows me to see charging data in real time. The Earth Day sale that was going on at the time also made the price competitive enough to some of the non Wifi counterparts. If I was going to get a “base” model that was just a changer I probably would have gone with the Siemens hardwired charger because it was reliable and low profile just like the Chargepoint one.
I’m going to apologize in advance because this may get a bit boring. If you are reading this an think that I have a bone to pick with the City of Burbank, you’re partially right. Here’s the thing, I LOVE Burbank and very rarely will you hear me write anything negative about it because my issues are pretty minor compared to the grand scheme of things. However, my entire experience getting a permit for a $1000 electrical job was a bit ridiculous. From the start, I was set on applying for Burbank Water and Power’s EV charger rebate, which gives a $500 rebate for the installation of a hardwired EV charger, pretty good right? I’m a huge fan of energy rebates and this is a good one. It almost offsets the cost of the charger itself and all you are doing is paying for is installation. All you have to do is provide the store receipt, installation receipt, proof that you own an EV and a copy of the permit you pulled for installing the charger. Pretty easy right? Normally yes, but I like many, live in a 1938 hours that was built for 1938 cars and people not fancy 2018 electric car chargers.
Some people have run into issues with their electrical panel itself when looking to install an EV charger. Thankfully, the electrical itself in my house is fine because it was upgraded and installed in 2007 when I purchased the house. The issue was with the placement of the unit. Like most people in Southern California, I make the joke that I leave my pretty cars outside and have useless crap in the garage. This is partly true but I also have a 1938 garage the was not meant for today’s cars. I took off a mirror once right after I moved in and have never navigated into my garage again. (Seriously). Since I do not use my garage, I needed the charger to be put on the outside exterior of the house which is not within code since my driveway is 8’-6” in that area instead of 10’. I can’t just pave that area and make it up to code because there are some shrubs and my gas meter. Needless to say, installing a charger would not obstruct my driveway in anyway that it is not currently obstructed and I would be no worse off than what I was dealing with pre charger. I knew from reading the ordinance if I didn’t want to put my charger in the garage, I would need to provide a site plan and fill out some additional paperwork which I already prepared. Basically, the building and planning department wanted to know where I was going to put this charger. Back when I thought I was going to be an interior designer and not an urban planner, I took several architectural drafting classes and so drawing up a site plan was not a big issue to me. It just required dusting off some drafting tools and some very rusty drafting skills. I (wrongly) figured that anyone would see that this is the obvious spot for a charger and wouldn’t impact the parking situation or my neighbors on my property. What I didn’t prepare for was the building department sending me to a planner who immediately told me everything that was not up to modern code in my house (yes, I know, it’s a 1938 house!) and then trying to convince me that the charger needed to be installed on my front porch. Looking at my house, this is not only the ugliest choice but made no sense from a wiring standpoint or a parking standpoint. After much back and forth they sent me over to plan check to discuss with them but plan check (the people that actually review my plans) had closed for the day so I had to come back the next day. I completely understand the process but GAH! I wanted to have a breakdown at that point since I had already been there for the morning.
I consider myself pretty well informed since I have a degree in Urban Planning and I fully understand the process of pulling permits. With that being said, I have never pulled a permit in a single trip. My “record” is 5 but I’ve gotten it done in two. I was determined to “only” make this a two day trip this time around as well. The next morning I camped out at the Community Services building at 7:30 (it opens at 8) and was assigned #1, yay! The planner reviewed my plan and seemed annoyed because he normally reviews additions and businesses and here he was reviewing my small hand drawn on 8.5” x 11” (but to scale!) site plan. He had no issue with where I wanted to put the charger but of course had some additional feedback about my house (geeze people, it’s a 1938 house, there’s only so much you can do without a massive remodel!) then told me to go wait for the building department to issue me my permit. About an hour later after speaking with the building department again, I had my permit. I was happy but felt like the process was a bit of an overkill. I only critique this process for one reason only, I understand the process but to the average homeowner this could have been a nightmare and really does not encourage people to pull permits like they are supposed to. I am willing to bet that most people when confronted with all of these obstacles would forget it and just not pull the permit at all. Granted, they could not take advantage of the EV rebate, but to many even the thought of $500 wouldn’t be worth the trouble to them.
The install itself went off without a hitch and the inspection the following Monday was a breeze. After the inspection, I hightailed it to Burbank Water and Power to submit my rebate. Hopefully if all goes well, in 6-8 weeks I’ll get my well deserved $500! Regardless of the bureaucracy I love my charger. So far, I since the install there have been no issues and my charging has gone off at night without a hitch. You can have an EV with just an outlet, but this makes it so much easier because I no longer drive during the day and have range anxiety at night. It also allows me to have two heavy back to back driving days when with just a level 1 charger, the next day would be spent charging it back up.