Installing an EV Home Charger
Since 2019, Canada has made it easier for residents to make the switch to hybrid and battery electric vehicles through its iZEV or Incentive for Zero-Emissions Vehicles program. Under this program, consumers who buy a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, hybrid plug-in-powered vehicle, or battery EV are eligible for incentives ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 upon purchase.
On top of this, we see an increase in charger rebates across the country. For example, British Columbia's charger rebate program lets consumers get a rebate of up to 50 percent of the cost to purchase and install a level 2 EV charger in a single-family home.
With all this in mind, you might be excited to head out and replace your reliable old car or second-hand vehicle (like a used police car) with an EV. But, bear in mind that setting up a charging station at home requires a bit of preparation. In this guide, we explain how you can prepare for and install an EV charger at home.
Preparing to Charge Your EV at Home
Here are some of the major considerations before purchasing an EV and a home charging station:
Electrical Service: Find a Qualified Electrician
Most electric vehicles come with a 120-volt portable charger that can be plugged into your standard wall socket. However, this type of charger is considered a level 1 charger. It will take longer to charge than a level 2 charger, which requires a level 2 charging station and a 240-volt outlet (the exact voltage needed for a clothes dryer or an oven).
Your home's electrical capacity may not be up to par with your charger's requirements. You must enlist the help of a licensed electrician to figure out whether your home is ready for installation and to perform the actual installation process as well. This is so you can be ensured of a safe and code-compliant installation.
In fact, in some places, you can't get a charging station rebate if you don't hire an electrician who has completed the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training program. Installation costs vary case by case, so don't expect your neighbour's installation quote to be the same as yours.
Location: Indoor vs Outdoor Charging
If you have a garage, then you won't have to decide over indoor or outdoor charging. However, if you don't have one, or if (for whatever reason) you can only put up a wall-mounted station on your exterior walls, you'll have to talk to your electrician about your outdoor installation plan.
When deciding what kind of charger to get, make sure to consider the type of weather you get in your area and how much coverage your station will get. Note that not all charging stations are outdoor rated, and even the ones that are have different capacities to withstand heavy rains, winds, snow, and intense temperatures. Some charging stations have a holster for the connector (the part that plugs into the car's charging port) to minimize exposure to the elements.
Besides considering where to charge your EV at home, it's also important to think about what time of day is best for charging. Depending on where you live, your cost of electricity may be lower during off-peak times or the hours when electricity demand is lowest (i.e. at night).
When you add low-cost electricity to the fact that an EV can take about 12 hours to charge, it's easy to see how charging overnight is the most cost-effective and convenient way to charge your vehicle.
Charger Type: Understanding the Different Levels of Chargers
Charging speed depends on how full your battery is and what charger levels you're using.
Level 1 charging uses a standard wall socket to charge your EV at home. It is the slowest charging speed, usually taking about an hour of charging to get you 8 km of driving range. Level 1 chargers require 12 to 20 hours to charge a battery fully. However, for hybrid plug-in electric vehicles, you only need to charge overnight.
Level 2 charging involves the use of an EV charging station. This level provides a faster charge, getting you 30 km of driving change for just 1 hour of charging. As a result, you only need to charge for 6 to 14 hours for a full recharge.
Steps to Installing the Charger at Home
Now that you more or less know what you’re in for, here’s how you can proceed to install your charger at home:
Step 1: Confirm your home's eligibility
Visit your municipality to confirm whether your home is up to standard for installation.
Step 2: Check your home's electrical service
Your home may or may not have enough electricity to support a charging station. Without sufficient electricity, you may end up under-charging your vehicle. Be prepared to pay an extension fee if you need to increase the capacity of your system.
Step 3: Make sure you have enough space on your electrical panel
Your electrical panel should have enough space for a circuit breaker. Your electrician can determine whether you have adequate space and inform you of the measures you can take if you don't.
Step 4: Purchase a charger
When choosing between chargers, consider the following factors:
- Ports: How many EVs do you own or are you planning to own? Some EVs come with a single port, while others – especially those designed for common use – have two ports that can be used at once.
- Size: Some charging stations are bulkier than others. Make sure you have enough wall space for the one you want.
- Networked charger: Some charging stations can be hooked up to your Wi-Fi and can be remotely monitored and controlled via an app.
- "Smart" charging: Smart charging stations can automatically adjust how much electricity is being sent to your car battery. They can also update you on information like your current electricity consumption.
- Cord length: Most EV charging stations come with either 5 metre or 7.6 metre-long cables. When considering cord length, bear in mind the proximity of your charging port to your parking space.
Step 5: Obtain an electrical permit
An electrician usually does this step. If you haven't enlisted the help of an electrician, you will have to go to your municipality to apply for a permit.
Step 6: Charger installation
Set a date for when your electrician can install your charging port, and set aside enough time in your day to oversee the installation.
Step 7: Inspection
Once the installation is done, test the device to ensure everything works. Watch out for the following problems:
- Your vehicle isn't charging fast enough
- Your car isn't charging fully
- Your cord is damaged
- Your charging station or the accompanying app is notifying you of an issue
Don't use your charging station if you encounter any of these issues, and immediately contact your electrician.
Though Canada has about 5,000 charging stations and counting, waiting hours for your vehicle to charge can be a pain. And with more municipalities and businesses offering rebates on home charging stations, it's becoming increasingly practical and convenient to have your own charger port at home.