If you have an electric vehicle or are thinking about purchasing an one, an important consideration is whether or not you’ll be able to keep it’s batteries charged. Here is a short guide on what you’ll need to consider before deciding on an EV charger and how to make it easier for yourself as a resident of Vancouver.
Checking for Rebates
Checking this first can help cut down you selection list. Often times, rebates are available for new installations from BC Hydro or other organizations. The CleanBC website is a good source for finding the latest info on BC energy grant programs. BC Hydro has posted a list of models that are eligible for grants. You can find that list here.
Choosing a Level
Once you’ve gone through the list of brands, and models it’s time to choose the model that’s right for you. Recommended units have safety features that make them suitable for home use , so you likely won’t have to worry about product safety as long as you stick to rebate-eligible units. You should know that there are 3 “levels” of charging that a electric vehicle can accommodate at this time. Higher level charging units will offer shorter charging times and often measure their output in amps. Generally speaking, the higher the amperage, the faster your EV’s battery will charge.
Level 1 Charging
Uses a typical household outlet. In Vancouver this would be a standard 120V socket. You can charge your EV using this method and you’ll typically get 3-8 kilometers worth of charge per hour. It could take a up to 20 hours to fully charge your car from empty depending on your car’s battery capacity. This is fine for occasional drivers however, if you’re using your EV everyday, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a Level 2 charger.
Level 2 Charging
Level 2 charging uses more voltage and will use a 240V outlet, similar to the outlet for your laundry machine and dryer. These units will typically deliver between 10 and 80 amps. Unlike a Level 1 charging system, this will usually require a separate appliance. If your parking area doesn’t have a 240V outlet or circuit, you’ll have to get one installed before you can use one.
Level 3 Charging
You’ll see Level 3 chargers in public areas like shopping malls or areas with special EV parking. These units use direct current to deliver super fast charging and can fully charge an EV within 2 or 3 hours. You can get approximately 250km of range per hour of charging. These units are not made for home use and require special considerations to set up. They are also prohibitively expensive for the average consumer and wouldn’t be suitable for home charging. At this time you probably won’t consider level 3 chargers at all.
Indoor vs Outdoor
If you are planning to charge your car outside, special considerations should be made to make sure the charging unit is weather proof. Rain, snow, sunlight or extreme temperatures could have a negative effect on the unit.
Make sure that the unit you purchase has ample cord length to reach your charging port. You should also consider times when there might be obstructions like storage boxes or a second car. If you have more than one EV or are considering buying another, it might be wise to make sure that both can be charged at the same time. Selecting a model that allows for multiple vehicles will offer you added convenience and adds the benefit of a future proof home.
Charging Port Type
Most EVs use the J1772 type charging port however Mitsubishi and Nissan have been known to use the CHAdeMO plugs for charging. Teslas have their own proprietary charging port but newer models have opted to included J1772 types as well. When choosing a charger, you should be sure that it can use the proper charging port. That said, many chargers are able to be adapted to other port types with minimal efficiency loss, so even if you switch cars.