Everything You Need to Know
If you're thinking about purchasing a electric vehicle, chances are you're thinking about installing a home charging station. And so you should. Home charging stations make EV ownership as easy as plugging in your cellphone for the night. Indeed, many home buyers and renters expect them to be installed.
Home charging stations are ideal for residents of single-family homes, town homes, or duplexes with dedicated off-street parking. Current rules in most Canadian municipalities prohibit cables from crossing over sidewalks, making charging a vehicle parked on the street very difficult. While these rules may ease in the future as EV ownership becomes more widespread, for right now municipalities are standing firm.
But let's get started: everything you need to know before you install an EV charger.
Types of Chargers
Level 1 chargers
- Uses a connection to a standard 120-volt outlet
- Charges 8 km per hour
- Takes 12 to 20 hours to fully charge a battery EV (6 to 12 hours for a plug-in hybrid)
- Used mostly in homes
- Not installation required - it's as simple as plugging in a cord
Level 2 chargers
- Uses a connection to a 240-volt outlet, like those used by ovens and clothes dryers
- Charges 30 km per hour
- Takes 6 to 14 hours to fully charge a battery EV (4 to 8 hours for a plug-in hybrid)
- Used in homes, businesses, and common areas
- Eligible for rebates from BC Hydro
- Installation required by a licensed electrician.
Level 3 charges, aka Fast Chargers
- Uses a direct current connection to an electrical system
- Charges 100 km per 30 minutes or 80% charge at 50 kW (varies by vehicle type)
- Takes 1 to 4 hours to fully charge a battery EV (15 minutes to 3 hours for a plug-in hybrid)
- Used mostly in businesses and common areas
- Prohibitively expensive for home installation.
So as we see here, Level 2 charging stations are what most people choose to install in at their residence. Let's take a peek at what features to keep in mind when shopping for your own station.
Home EV charger features
Wondering which EV charger type is right for you? Consider the EV charger features below to make sure your selected model will accommodate your vehicle(s), the space and your preferences.
Features related to your vehicle(s)
Most EVs have the "J plug" (J1772) which is used for home and level 2 charging. For fast charging, there are two plugs: the “CCS” used by most manufacturers including BMW, General Motors and Volkswagen, and the "CHAdeMO" used by Mitsubishi and Nissan. Tesla has a proprietary plug, but can use the “J plug” or "CHAdeMO" with adapters.
Single or dual port
Select charging stations are available with two plugs, some of which allow two vehicles to charge at the same time if there’s sufficient electrical capacity.
Features related to your space
Cords are available in a range of lengths, the most common being 5 metres (16 feet) and 7.6 metres (25 feet). Shorter cables are easier to store but longer cables provide flexibility in the event drivers need to park further from the charger.
Indoor or outdoor
Many chargers are designed to function inside or outside, but not all are. If your charging station needs to be outside, make sure the model you choose is rated to work in the rain, snow, and cold temperatures.
Portable or permanent
Some chargers only need to plug into an outlet while others are designed to be installed on a wall.
Features related to your preferences
Level 2 chargers are available in models that deliver between 15- and 80-Amps. The higher the amperage the faster the charging.
Some chargers will connect to the internet so drivers can start, stop, and monitor charging with a smartphone.
Smart EV chargers
Smart EV chargers ensure the most efficient charging by automatically adjusting the amount of electricity being sent to an EV based on timing and load factors. Some smart EV charging stations can also provide you with data on your usage.
Where to Install
Your home has either 100- or 200-amp service. Most older homes have only 100-amp service unless you or a previous owner upgraded the service during a past renovation. Most EV chargers pull 30-50 amps of current, which means there wouldn’t be a lot of power left for the rest of your home if you only have 100 amps to begin with. If your home has 100-amps you will need an upgrade before installing your Level 2 EV charger. This is a job for a licensed electrician.
Things you need to know about your electrical service
- How much current (amperage) will the EV need to charge?
- What is the capacity of your existing electrical service panel (e.g., 100-Amp, 200-Amp, etc.)?
- Is there a 240-volt circuit installed and available to be used?
- Is there room in the electrical service panel for a new 240-volt circuit breaker (it must be double-pole)?
Where to Install Your EV Charger
We recommend that you install your EV charger where you most commonly store more than one car. Each vehicle should have easy access to the charging cable. While you may just have one vehicle to charge currently, chances are that in the future you (or future homeowners) will have more than one EV. This means even if you commonly park your EV in the driveway, you may still want to install your charger in the garage so both vehicles have easy access. Your electrician will be able to help with this as well.
Cost of Installing an Level 2 EV Charger
At home, you’ll pay about $2/100kms to charge your vehicle, regardless of whether you use a Level 1 or Level 2 charger.
A Level 1 charger is simply a cord that plugs into your home outlet and does not require anyone to install it.
A Level 2 charger will cost roughly anywhere from $400 to $1500+ to purchase, based on the style, model, and features that you're looking for. Depending on the amount of work required and your location, you can expect to pay an electrician anywhere from $300 to $1,500.
Currently, single-family homes can get a rebate of up to 50% of the purchase and installation costs of an eligible Level 2 EV charger, to a maximum of $350 through BC Hydro.