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What is the difference between a hardwired installation and a plug-in installation?


So you’ve done your research and decided on the electric car you’re going to buy, and you’re ready for the next big step: figuring out what kind of charging station to buy.

The first major thing to consider when getting a charging station is making sure you have a safety certified charging station and you have the capacity in your electrical panel to install a charging station. To investigate panel capacity check out our electrician locator tool for a list of local licensed electricians that can assist in verifying panel capacity at

The next consideration will be whether you purchase a hardwired charging station or a plug-in unit.

So, what’s the difference? Let’s start with the hardwired charging stations.

Hardwired charging stations can typically be installed indoors or outdoors (check with manufacturer; all ClipperCreek charging stations, whether they are hardwired or plug-in, are rated for installation both indoors and outdoors).

A hardwired station has three feet of flexible conduit coming from the top or bottom of the station (depending on the model) and service wires that come out of the conduit about six inches for easy installation into a junction box.

When it comes to installation, hardwired units are typically more permanent and are always recommended for outdoor installations as hardwiring the appliance provides a better and more weather resistant connection to power. They can be moved, but you’d probably need to have an electrician come out to uninstall and then reinstall the unit at your new location. With a hardwired station the supply power wires from the station will be connected directly to the power wires coming from the electrical panel (circuit breaker).

Plug-in units don’t have the conduit, but instead have a high quality 240V supply cord/plug that is 12 inches long (this is the longest length allowed per National Electric Code); this includes the plug itself in the measurement. A plug-in station will be connected to power by plugging the supplied plug into a matching receptacle (outlet). All ClipperCreek charging stations are safety certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory and must meet the requirements of UL 2594 and requirements of National Electric Code Article 625. If a charging station is available with a supply plug length of longer than 12 inches the product is likely not safety certified. Visit our “EV Charging Stations: Staying Safe” blog to find out more about why safety certification is very important.

Before you purchase a plug-in model there are few things to consider about plug and outlet safety. This includes things like turning off the circuit breaker before plugging in or unplugging the unit, not supporting the station by the outlet, and only unplugging the station occasionally / if needed. Most outlets are not rated for consistent plugging and unplugging.

For more information on plug and outlet safety please review the manual for the model you are planning to purchase. You can view all ClipperCreek manuals at or see the list included at the end of this blog.

If you decide to purchase a plug-in charging station you will also need to decide on which plug type you will purchase. With 240V plugs / outlets there is no standard type which is why ClipperCreek offers a wide variety of 240V plugs with our charging stations to fit your needs.  In fact, some homes already have a 240V outlet and you can order the plug that matches what you already have! This allows you to simply mount the station and plug-in. If you have a 240V outlet, but are unsure if ClipperCreek carries the matching plug type, please call us at (877) 694-4194 or email us at Our customer service team can help you determine what type of outlet you have and which electric car charging stations would be appropriate.

Read: What different plug types do ClipperCreek EVSEs offer?

If you don’t already have a 240V outlet, you can have an electrician install a new outlet which matches the plug you purchase. Once the outlet is installed, simply mount the station to the wall, plug-in, and start charging!

Installing outdoors?

Hardwired charging stations are recommended for any outdoor installation and there are a few reasons for this:

  1. The 3 foot flexible conduit provides more installation flexibility than the 240V 12 inch supply plug.
    • When installing a plug-in charging station outdoors you would typically be required by electrical code to have a “While-in-Use” Weather Proof Outlet Cover installed over the 240V outlet. These covers allow for the 240V supply plug to enter from the bottom which will require the 12 inch supply plug to make a 180 degree bend if the supply plug comes from the bottom of the unit (varies by model)
      • ClipperCreek HCS models have the supply plug coming from the bottom of the unit.
      • ClipperCreek LCS models and the AmazingE models have the supply plug coming from the top of the unit.
    • Below is an image showing how a plug-in HCS model could be installed outdoors:

    • The charging station must be installed close and to the left of the outlet.
  1. With a hardwired charging station you generally do not need to have a GFCI circuit breaker in place whereas you would be required to have this for any 240V outlet used for an electric vehicle charging station per National Electric Code requirements.
    • Note – using a GFCI breaker to supply a charging station can result in nuisance tripping of the breaker during charging. The trip threshold for a standard U.S. GFCI breaker is 5mA which is relatively low for electric vehicle charging. For comparison, charging stations have 20mA GFCI protection built it. At the 5mA trip threshold you may experience nuisance tripping of the circuit breaker during charging due to noise on the line generated by the vehicle.
  1. Level 2 (240V) charging stations are high power, continuous use devices and hardwiring will provide the best connection to power. This is consistent with other outdoor high power continuous use devices such as HVAC equipment, sprinklers, etc.

Still not sure which model to purchase? Give our Product Specialist Team a call at 877-694-4194 or email the team at for further assistance.

Plug and Outlet Safety:

  • 240V plugs are specifically designed for occasional relocation, such as moving from one home to another home.
  • For personal safety, the circuit breaker MUST be turned off prior to plugging in AND/OR unplugging 240V appliances (including this EVSE).
  • A dedicated NEMA outlet (receptacle) is highly recommended. NEMA outlets wear out over time particularly when repeated insertion and removal of NEMA plugs occur. Check the receptacle to be sure it is not worn. A worn receptacle can cause the plug connection to overheat and become a fire hazard. Do not use a plug that gets excessively hot. It is recommended that plug-in EVSE remain plugged in.
  • Have an electrician verify all wiring to the outlet is correct and in compliance with local code requirements before connecting the EVSE.
  • Do not use this EVSE with an extension cord or wall plug adapter. Plug this EVSE directly into the receptacle.
  • Ensure that the EVSE is mounted to the wall or placed on a support so it does not hang from the receptacle. Receptacles are not designed to support the weight of the EVSE.

11850 Kemper Rd., Auburn, CA 95603
(877) 694-4194
2021 © ClipperCreek®


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