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NEMA 6-50 v NEMA 14-50 Level 2 EV charging

Most new EV owners have common questions related to level 2 EV charging and the differences between the different EV plug outlets. Home charging is increasingly popular due to costs, convenience, and location.

Level 2 EV charging has quickly become the gold standard in residential EV charging. Level 2 EV charging generally refers to residential EV charging (although there are some commercial chargers that are level 2 EV chargers). Level 2 EV charging has the following general, common components: –

  • 220 volt nominal (208 – 240 volt operating range). Voltage can be lower or higher in different areas
  • Residential charging
  • Up to 50 or occasionally 60 amps (very rare)
  • Indoor garage or external to property EV charging
  • The EV charger is plugged into a 220 volt wall outlet
  • Alternatively, the EV charger is hardwired into the electrical panel

There are many 220-volt plug types in the U.S., and over time, homeowners have used existing or had electricians fit 220-volt outlets to suit different needs and take care of EV charging at home. The most common ones are below:-

NEMA NameVoltage and max amps*Number of Pins
NEMA 14-50220 volts, 40 amps4 pin
NEMA 6-50220 volts, 40 amps3 pin
NEMA 14-30220 volts, 24 amps4 pin
NEMA 6-30220 volts, 24 amps3 pin
NEMA 6-20220 volts, 16 amps3 pin

*Maximum voltage for continuous load applications such as EV charging, which is 80% of the circuit/plug capacity. For example, a 50 amp (14-50 NEMA outlet) should run at a maximum of 40 amps.

NEMA 14-50 EV plug overview

The NEMA 14-50 outlet is an outlet rated for up to 50 amps for voltages between 125 volts up to 250 volts. The receptacle is used for generators, RVs (commonly mobile homes, RV parks and campgrounds), and some industrial machinery. The NEMA 14-50 has prongs – two live legs, one neutral and one ground.

As the “50” in the name denotes, the 14-50 is capable of up to a 50 amp charge, which makes it ideal for residential, in-home EV charging. The NEMA 14-50 level 2 outlet is the most popular, mainly due to its versatility, wide availability, and being introduced by Tesla as the main 50 amp outlet.

The NEMA 14-50 is slightly more expensive to install. The NEMA 6-50 has the same current capacity but omits the neutral, which makes it cheaper to install when a long wire run is required. It only requires 6/2 wire instead of 6/3. Installation and use of a 14-50 means the extra cost of wire with a third heavy gauge copper conductor.

14-50s were widely installed at campgrounds and RV parks, so many EV drivers preferred using the 14-50 EV plug, and because it is dual voltage, i.e., two live wires, it can provide more versatility for different applications.

NEMA 14-50 level 2 EV chargers are the most popular.

NEMA 6-50 EV plug overview

NEMA 6-50 was typically found in more unusual places such as hospitality locations, farms, and light industrial/commercial spaces rather than at residences. We speak to customers who occasionally have a NEMA 6-50 in a detached garage or residential work shed since they are sometimes installed for welders. That said, the NEMA 6-50 is more of a legacy set-up, with NEMA 14-50 EVs being more common and the norm.

One slight advantage of a NEMA 6-50 outlet for EV chargers is that it does not have a fourth prong and omits the neutral, making it cheaper to install. This is especially true when the EV charger will be located a long distance away from the panel and a long wire run is needed since it only requires 6/2 wire instead of 6/3 (no third heave gauge copper conductor)

Both a NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 level 2 EV charger will provide up to 9.6 kWh of power per hour of charging. If a typical EV has around a 60 kWh battery, then you will enjoy a full charge from an empty battery in 6 hours (60 kwh divided by 9.6k per hour). This will typically provide 30-38 miles of electric driving range per hour, depending on the car, battery age, and conditions. 

NEMA 6-50 level 2 EV chargers are our 2nd most popular charger type after NEMA 14-50

Physical Product Differences

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The 6-50 is often confused with a NEMA 5-15. A NEMA 5-15 is a regular residential 3 pin is found in the home and is used for level 1 EV charging. If in doubt, a NEMA 6-50 will often have the names stamped around the outlet and it is one prong longer than the other.

What are the benefits of using a NEMA 14-50 vs. 6-50?

NEMA 14-50

  • The plug outlet provides flexibility and versatility for other applications
  • The NEMA 14-50 EV charger is common and can work in more locations
  • 14-50 EV plugs are found in sites away from commercial charging stations such as RV parks and campgrounds
  • Electricians generally have more familiarity with this type of plug
  • A wider range of EV chargers to select from with a NEMA 14-50 EV charger

NEMA 6-50

  • Cheaper to install compared to a 14-50. The extra wire (neutral wire) means additional cost
  • The receptacle outlet is cheaper than the one for 14-50
  • Easier to install (smaller cross-section and contains fewer wires) 
  • Size: The NEMA 6-50 outlet is smaller, which is useful if space is tight

We do get frequently asked by clients about level 1, and level 2 EV chargers, particularly the NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50

FAQs

What is NEMA 14-50 used for in the home?

Most commonly, the NEMA 14-50 plug is built into higher-power devices like stoves and dryers.

Can you plug NEMA 6-50 into 14-50 or use an adapter?

Adapters are never recommended with 240-volt charging. The NEMA 6-50 plug does not fit in the 14-50 receptacle.

How long does a NEMA 14-50 or NEMA 6-50 EV plug installation take?

Assuming there are no required panel or breaker upgrades, this can generally take around 2 hours

What are the main benefits of a 14-50 level 2 EV Charger?

Both plug types will do the job, providing power and convenience. The more common installation in different settings (RV parks, neighbors, other families with EVs, campgrounds) of NEMA 14-50 outlets, makes it the best option.

Is NEMA 14-50 best for Tesla?

Yes, the 240-volt NEMA 14-50 outlet is a recommended home charging installation made on offer by Tesla.

What are the approximate costs of NEMA 14-50 or 6-50 EV plug installation for an EV charger?

The cost of installing a NEMA 14-50 and 6-50 outlet ranges between $450 to $2,600. The costs vary on many factors, such as using a local qualified electrician or national companies that outsource installations, panel location and age, available breaker slots, and distance of the EV charger and plug install from the main house electrical panel. 

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