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For many potential—or new—electric vehicle owners, one of the least understood aspects of making the switch to a zero-emissions vehicle is how to charge your electric vehicle from home. While available charging stations are increasing in numbers steadily throughout the province, you may prefer the convenience (and peace of mind) that being able to ‘fuel’ up at home offers. In this article, we will examine the benefits of charging at home, the steps needed to choose, buy and install a home charging station, and your frequently asked questions surrounding how to charge your electric vehicle at home.

One of the big selling points of electric vehicles (EVs) is that they’re cheap to run. Charging one at home costs less than half the amount it would cost to refuel a petrol or diesel car. According to the Ministry of Transportation, nearly 80% of EV charging sessions happens at home. Choosing to equip your home with an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is an essential step to maximizing the savings and benefits EV’s have to offer. The good news is, each year, we see more and more governments, municipalities, utilities and businesses offering rebates to help new EV drivers in their territories

Getting plugged in

All electric cars need to be charged by plugging in. You can choose to recharge your EV using either a standard wall socket or an EV charging station:

1. Charge using a regular wall socket

Time of charge: One hour of charging = 8 km of driving range

All EV models come standard with a portable cord-set that lets you charge using any standard household outlet. This is called Level One charging. While it may be the slowest speed of charging, you don’t need to worry about having to find a station to top up. This is good news for those occasions that you may find yourself at a friend or family’s home and may be in need of a charge. However, you should not get in the habit of using it as a regular method of refueling.

Overall, if you are driving a plug-in hybrid, it is possible that Level One charging is all you really need. Level One will fully recharge most plug-in hybrids on the market overnight.

2. Charge using an EV charging station

Time of charge: One hour of charging = 30 km of driving range

This is called Level Two charging, and most EV drivers will install a Level Two charging station at home. All electric cars and charging stations sold in North America use the same plug standard, which means any car can use any Level Two station across Canada and the United States.

Advantage of a Level Two charging station 

The biggest advantage of owning a Level Two charging station is the ability to charge your EV up to five times quicker than with the car’s charger (110V charger). This means that your vehicle will be fully-charged every morning and that a short charge will allow you to go farther.

Cost of charging your EV

Indirect costs are also something to consider when thinking about the costs of charging EV’s – a standard charger versus a Level Two charger will have significant differences. While a Level Two charger will charge your vehicle faster, it can cost around about $2,500 for its parts and installation into your home.

If you are planning to install an EV charging station, here are some important steps from the Ministry of Transportation to follow:

  • Make sure the installer takes out a permit with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) prior to starting the installation
  • Installation is required to be done by a Licensed Electrical Contractor in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. You can easily verify or find a licensed electrical contractor online at esasafe.com.
  • Confirm that all equipment is certified for use in Canada by a nationally recognized certification agency – CSA, cUL, cETL – or displays other certification marks approved by ESA.

Remember, the time it takes to fully charge your electric vehicle at home is based on the level (or speed) of charging, and how full the battery is.

Finding an Electrician

Charging stations have similar electrical requirements to a clothes dryer or stove (240 Volts/30 Amps) and any licensed electrician can install them. The cost to install a charging station can vary dramatically from case to case. Do yourself a favour and have two or three electricians visit and assess your property to provide an installation quote. In Ontario, you can contact the Electrical Safety Authority for more information.

Best method of charging your electric vehicle

At any time of day, charging your EV with Ontario electricity will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Less air pollution is generated than by a car burning gasoline or diesel. That being said, you still want to find the most cost-effective way to charge your vehicle to help cut down on the cost of owning your vehicle.

To avoid paying “peak-pricing” on electricity during the day (when demand is highest), charging at night (when it is least expensive) is recommended. Charging your electric vehicle at night means you’re using ‘clean’ electricity sources. These cleaner energy sources are generated by wind, hydro and nuclear power. Unlike during the day when natural gas may be required to meet peak demand, cleaner resources can fuel your EV at a savings to your wallet.

It is not only the more convenient time for most drivers to charge their vehicles, but also offers significantly lower energy prices. Wake up each morning to a full battery of low-cost electricity!

How long does it take to charge your electric vehicle at home?

While it is true that EVs can take upwards of 12 hours to fully charge, the amount of time it actually takes depends on how full the battery is. Most drivers will only use ¼ of the battery in a typical day of driving, which means it will take ¼ of the time to charge. If you install an electric vehicle Level Two charging station, you can speed up your charging time even more. EV charging time is dependent on a host of variables, such as:

  • Battery size. The bigger it is, the longer it takes to charge.
  • Your home charging station’s max power capacity. Even if the vehicle’s on-board charger can accept a high power, it will not charge the vehicle as fast as it can if the home charging station can only output less.
  • Environmental factors. A very cold or very hot battery can limit the max power intake and thus, will affect charging time.

Is charging an EV at home safe?

It’s safe to charge an electric car at home however, just like regular electronics, there are some precautions you should consider. energyrates.ca offers these helpful tips:

  • Only use charging adaptors provided by your vehicle’s manufacturer or by an electric vehicle supply equipment manufacturer
  • Never use modified or damaged charging equipment
  • Don’t use any faulty charging equipment
  • Don’t use household adaptors like a multi-box, double plug or a travel plug between electric vehicle supply equipment and a socket outlet

FYI: As with most types of electronics, you should not charge your electric car every night. It isn’t necessary in most cases. The practice of charging an electric vehicle every night can shorten the lifespan of the car’s battery pack.

On the road again?

If you tend to head over to your cottage on a weekly basis or have a career that requires you to move often, you might want to choose a portable charging station. Unlike a unit that is hard-wired and permanently-mounted, these simply hang on the wall and plug into a 240-volt receptacle. With these, pay attention to the plug that the portable charging station comes with and ensure it’s compatible with the wall receptacle. Some homes already have a 240-volt receptacle where the station will be installed, which makes it easy to match! If you don’t already have a 240-volt outlet, you can have an electrician install whichever matches the plug that you purchase.

FAQs on how to charge your electric vehicle at home

Can a Level Two home charging station be installed outside?

Most home charging stations are made for indoor and outdoor installation, and work well from -30°C to 50°C (-22°F to 122°F). If you plan on charging outside, we recommend that you verify this aspect since some chargers are only made for inside purposes. Among the units that are weather-proof, their levels of resistance will also vary depending on how extreme the climate is. So, if you live in an area that is exposed to icy winter conditions, heavy rain or strong heat, make sure to choose a home charging station that can handle these types of extreme weather conditions. Choosing a home charging station with a flexible cable is the best option to manipulate it in colder climates.

Can you charge an electric car with a normal plug?

The short answer to the question is: Yes. However, charging via a three-pin plug should be reserved for occasional or emergency use. It’s fine for when you’re staying overnight with friends or relatives, but not for regular domestic use. Be mindful of where you plan to install your charger as each Level Two charging station has a cable that varies in length from one unit to another. With your parking space in mind, make sure that the cable will be long enough to reach your electric car’s port!

Do electric cars increase your electricity bill?

The short answer is: Yes. Any device, appliance or machine that draws electricity will add to your electricity bill. Electric vehicles must be plugged-in and charged up regularly to run. However, there are rebates and incentives the help offset the price of purchasing an EV. Although there are no grants for residential charging stations, the City of Toronto provides a new funding tool to help residents improve the efficiency of their homes and save money. It is called the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP).Through HELP, Toronto homeowners can get a low-interest loan of up to $75,000 to cover the cost of home energy improvements. The City of Toronto provides the funding necessary to implement these improvements, and homeowners can then reimburse the city through payments taken from their property tax bills. Improvements include home EV charging stations (Level Two).

Do I need to have a garage to install a charging station?

Not having a garage on your property doesn’t mean you can’t home-charge an EV. As long as you have electric service and a dedicated area in which to park. You’ll want to have an electrician install a hardwired charging station, which is also called Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE). In North America, every electric vehicle (EV) uses the same plug for Level Two charging. The only exception is Tesla cars, which come with an adapter.

How much does it cost to install an electric vehicle charging station?

The national average for installing a standard electric vehicle charging station ranges between $463 and $1,128, while the median cost is $791 each. The price of the stations alone may run $400 to $2,000, depending on whether you choose a Level One or a Level Two.

How long do electric car batteries last?

This depends on a range of factors, such as the manufacturer, exposure to extreme temperatures and charging habits. On average, your electric vehicle’s car battery loses 1-2% function per year and generally, most individuals will change vehicles long before their electric vehicle battery becomes unusable.

As a general estimate, you can expect an electric vehicle battery to last between 10-20 years before needing a replacement.

Below are a few things to keep in mind in order to extend your electric vehicle’s battery life:

  • Avoid prolonged usage in extreme weather conditions
  • Keep your battery charged between 60-80% – depleting your battery to 0% frequently will cause your battery to degrade faster
  • Frequently fast-charging your vehicle will also cause your battery to degrade faster
  • Don’t charge your vehicle at home in cold temperatures as low temperatures will slow down the rate your EV charges at

Can driving an EV impact my car insurance?

Although driving a green or hybrid vehicle will not directly impact your car insurance rates, it is important to remember that when driving an eco-friendly vehicle, the unique lifestyle and environmental benefits will often outweigh the cost. Since electric cars are more expensive to maintain when they do require it, insurance rates will be higher than for an average car.

How much does it cost to charge your electric vehicle at home in Ontario?

In rural Ontario (the most expensive part of the country for electricity) 100 km in a Chevrolet Bolt will cost $4.21 (a little over half of that of an efficient gas car). By charging that same car at night or any time on off-peak weekends, the Ontario cost drops to just $2.36.

Does an EV charger add value to home?

While simply living near an EV station can raise your property values, having your own built-in home charger will definitely make your property more attractive to potential buyers.

What do SMART charging stations offer that others don’t?       

Smart chargers give you access to a variety of functions that others do not. For example, some stations allow you to see your charging data, remotely start your charging and to control the access to your charger with an app on your smart phone. Powering an electric vehicle is more affordable than using gas; it costs thousands to fill up at the gas pump, but only hundreds to plug in. The convenience of being able to charge your electric vehicle at home may make you want to consider installing a home charging system. Be sure to do your research on the types of stations out there, as well as research electricians to make sure it is done safely and professionally.

If you install a charging station at home, you will also need to update your home insurance policy to include the charging station equipment. For more information on home and car insurance savings, as well as possible rebates associated with your electric vehicle and charging station purchase, contact your isure broker today.

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