Home charging stations aren't included in the purchase price of the growing numbers of electric vehicles from major automakers, so unless you live next door to a public charging station or are one of the 4,400 Volt owners to snap up a free one from GM, you’ll be forced to shell out some extra cash if you want a faster charging option than is possible with the included 120-volt cable. At least Ford’s home charging station for its new Focus Electric is shaping-up to be little cheaper and more flexible than some competitor offerings.

Instead of being hard-wired into the electrical breaker box, the home charging station for the Ford Focus Electric, which was jointly developed with Leviton, plugs into a 240-volt outlet. This means removing and replacing the charger, when moving for example, is as simple as unplugging and plugging it back in. The station is manufactured in the U.S. and its exterior housing is made up of up to 60 percent post consumer recycled material. It will recharge the 2012 Ford Focus EV’s 23 kWh battery pack in around 3.5 hours and Ford says it will also be compatible will all the company’s upcoming electric vehicles.

With a standard installation, Ford’s home charging station is expected to retail for approximately US$1,499, which doesn’t stack up too badly with its competitors.

The Chevy Volt’s 240-volt (level 2) Voltec home charging station will recharge the vehicle in around four hours and will set you back US$490, plus an estimated $1,475 for (permanent) installation.

Meanwhile the Nissan LEAF’s 240-volt home charging station, built and installed by AeroVironment, takes around seven hours to recharge the LEAF’s 24 kWh battery pack and costs around US$2,200 including (again, permanent) installation.

There is also a 500-volt level 3 quick charging option available in Japan for the LEAF that will charge the vehicle’s 24 kWh battery pack to 80 percent of full charge in less than 30 minutes. Although this will require an expensive three-phase connection on top of the JPY1,470,000 (approx. US$17,730) purchase price for the charger.

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