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Electric vehicles and charging stations

Every year more and more electric vehicles are being purchased in Edmonton, and around the world. This increase in electric vehicles means that more people—and vehicles—will be relying on electricity to power their transportation. 

Before you buy an electric vehicle (EV), there are a number of things to consider when it comes to how you are going to charge it: 

  1. Determine which EV is right for you. The fun part – research and test drive to figure out which vehicle fits your lifestyle the best. 
  2. Determine your charging needs. Are you going to be driving short or long commutes each day, planning on going on long drives in the winter when batteries are used up more quickly than in summer months? 
  3. Contact a qualified electrician to determine which charging options are the right fit for your home.
    ​a. What level of charging is your home able to support?
    b. Is a power service upgrade or an EVEMS the right solution?

​​Whether you need information on electric vehicle chargers, solar panels or the application process for becoming an Independent Power Producer we're here to help you reduce your carbon footprint.​​

It all adds up

Every time you flip a switch or plug-in a device you are drawing from the amount of electricity your home can safely provide. Depending on how the amount of power (amperage) your home’s electrical system was built to provide, you may need to upgrade your electrical system before adding a device that draws a large amount of power. 

Installing an EV charger at your home can be like adding another large appliance, like an oven or clothes dryer, to your home’s electrical system. 

It is important to consult an electrician when you add large appliances to, or renovate, your home. This consultation can help you avoid the failure of your home’s electrical ​system, which can be quite costly to repair, and may even prevent a potential fire that can result from overloading the electrical system. 

Energy use of different household devices

 Mean power consumption of common household devices​​​

​Considerations before you purchase and install an EV charging station

While there are many different EV chargers on the market, all are divided into three levels. Each level has different power requirements and charge rates. Many electric vehicles come with a Level 1 charging adapter but that may not be the charger level suited for ​your use.
Note: Your EV dealer should be able to discuss the charging requirements of your specific model of EV.

​EV charger level
​Charging rate (approx.)
​Time to fully charge (approx.) ​Type of​ ​driving it is best suited for
​Level 1
​5-8 km per hour ​40-60 hours ​Short commutes and summer use. 
​Level 2 ​20-130 km per hour ​6-14 hours ​Daily in city driving and commuting, summer and winter use. 
​Level 3
​250-1500 km per hour
​15-60 minutes ​​Road trips or rapid charging in town, summer and winter use. 

NOTE: Level 3 chargers are not installed at homes due to the high power requirements.​ 

​Choosing an EV charging station for your home

Here are some things to consider when choosing a new charging station for your electric vehicles.​

1. Your home's power service​

A home’s electrical system can typically support the use of a Level 1 charger. H​owever, Level 2 chargers may require an upgrade to the power service to your home, as well as your home’s internal electrical system. Here are two ways to check the level of power service to your home:

  • Check the main breaker on your electrical panel. The number of amperag​e (the amount of power) coming into your home may be listed on the main breaker switch (e.g. 60A for 60 amps,100A for 100 amps, 200A for 200 amps). Note: Some main breakers have two switches that operate as one. The number on the switches is the service size – you do not add them together.​
  • Contact a qualified electrician. They can determine the amount of electricity coming into your home, and determine your electrical needs. If you don’t have an electrician, the Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta has a list of qualified electricians (Members) in the Edmonton area. For a list of qualified electricians, visit the Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta: ​

In this example image, the service size is 100A.

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2. What charging station level should I purchase? 

Level 1 chargers can plug into normal wall outlets, but are very slow at charging. For most Edmontonians, Level 1 chargers are not a practical option, unless the vehicle is only used for commuting within Edmonton and is stored in a heated parking area when charging. 

Level 2 chargers are much faster, charging most EVs overnight; they require a ​240 volt outlet which typically requires an electrician to install in your garage. The amount of time it takes to charge your battery depends on a few factors including the size of the battery (the larger the battery capacity, the longer it takes to charge), the charging station’s power capacity, and environmental factors like heat or cold (which is why it is important to consider where you are going to park your EV and install the charging station).​

​Charge​r Type ​Plug in requirements ​​Power service upgrade required?​
​Level 1 ​Standard 120V wall outlet   ​No
​Level 2 ​Dedicated 240V circuit   ​Possibly. Contact a qualified electrician to determine your needs.
​Level 2 - EVEMS ​Dedicated 240V circuit and an Electric Vehicle Energy Management System (EVEMS)     ​No​


EV charging at homeevems-test-3.jpg


Electric Vehicle Energy Management System (EVEMS)

Rather than upgrading the service connection to your home, an EV Energy Management System (EVEMS) may be an option.

Once installed, an EVEMS allows two devices (e.g. oven and EV charger) to share part of your home’s existing electrical service in order to help prevent overloading the electrical service.

An EVEMS can help avoid a potenti​ally costly​ service upgrade. For more information about EVEMS and to determine if it is a good option for you, please contact a qualified electrician.

For a list of qualified electricians in the Edmonton area, visit the Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta.​​​​​

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​​​3. 100 Amp vs 200 Amp Service - which do I need?

It really depends on your home and your lifestyle. In general we say, 100 Amp power service can support the standard household appliances and typically allow you to add one high draw appliance like a hot tub, air conditioner or EV charger without the need for a service upgrade. 200 Amp power service can support the standard household appliances and typically allow you to add three extra high draw appliances.

4. Hardwired or Portable? What type of electric car battery charging stations should I consider?

There are two main types of charging stations you can purchase for your EV. What you choose will mostly depend on how you plan to use your EV. 

  • Hard-wired or permanently mounted charging stations connect directly to your electrical panel. They are preferred if you need to use the charging station in one location and would prefer a cleaner and professional looking installation.
  • Portable charging stations can hang on the wall or get placed near an outlet that they need to plug into. Portable charging stations are great for EV owners that plan on taking their vehicle to multiple locations, and that need the flexibility to be able to charge from those different locations. If you intend on regularly taking your EV to your cottage or cabin, for example, this may be a better option for you.​
    The type of plug and 240-volt receptacle you will need for your portable charger is the most important consideration. There are a variety of 240-volt receptacles and each has a slightly different plug.
    • The NEMA 14-50, NEMA 6-50, and NEMA 14-30 receptacles are the more common outlet and is usually used for appliances that require a larger capacity such as electric stoves or dryers.
    • It is best to consult your portable charger’s manufacturer to determine the type of plug that it requires.​

5. ​Wha​t cord or cable length will I need?

You will want to ensure that your charging cord or cable length is long enough to reach your vehicle from where the charging station is being installed. 

  • Keep in mind that if you intend to own more than one EV, you will have to consider this for each of your vehicles. 
  • The placement for the charger unit or plug installation will need to accommodate your required access in this case as well.
  • Consider your cable management when looking at the placement and installation of your charging station or plug. Some charger models include cable management such as holsters or hooks for your cords and cables. Protecting your cables and keeping the area clean and free of clutter ensures a longer life for your cords and cables, greater user safety, and the charging station itself.
  • Depending on the type of equipment you choose to purchase, you may need to consider whether there is a locking mechanism on the unit and the connector cable. Portable units should include this feature to avoid theft and tampering.​

6. Scheduling EV charging

Charging your electric vehicle can be taxing on your home's electrical system, so try to schedule your charging during a time when you're not using a lot of power. Typically we use more power when we're getting ready in the morning and when you get home from work. EPCOR recommends charging your EV later in the evening or when you're sleeping.​

7. Extra features

  • Some models offer a smart charger feature through web portals and apps to allow you to schedule and monitor EV power usage. If this is som​ething you think you'd want, choose a charger that has the smart charger function and internet capabilities. 
  • Also make sure you confirm the installation process for your charging station before purchasing. Does it have a wall mount, does it allow me to plug in more than one EV at a time, does it work for my EV or am I going to need an adaptor?​​
    The good news when it comes to the type of plug used by EVs is that across North America, except for Tesla models that come with an adaptor, most EVs use the same plug (SAE J1772 connector) for Level 2 charging stations.

​​​​​​​Regardless of what options or features you want, the best electric vehicle charging station is the one that is going to work for your electric vehicle. Plug'n Drive offers more information about electric vehicles and electric charging stations for vehicles available in Canada.​​​​​​

​EV charger installation 

Once you have chosen the electric vehicle charging station that works best for you, have it installed by a qualified electrician. For a list of qualified electricians in the Edmonton area, visit the  Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta.

​EV rebate program

Did you know the federal government now offers a zero-emissions vehicle rebate to make it easier to own an EV? Battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and longer range plug-in hybrid vehicles are eligible for an incentive of $5,000, while shorter range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are eligible for $2,500.​