On average, Canadians drive about 40 kms a day. That’s well within the range of today’s new EVs, which can run for 400 kms and more on a single charge. Not to mention, most of the charging happens at home, which is the most convenient and affordable solution. And even if you have to charge on the go, the EV charging network is extensive and growing all the time.
According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian commute is 15 km each way. If you’re able to, plugging in at home and at night gives you a full charge each morning with plenty of range for daily driving. If you plan to drive very long distances, or don’t have access to at-home charging, your best choice is an extended-range EV, plug-in-hybrid or hybrid. You could also opt for a fully electric vehicle and rent a gas-powered model for long trips, vacations, or transporting bulky items. Those who own multiple vehicles often use their EV for everyday driving and keep a fuel-efficient gas-powered car for special trips, like weekends away with the family.
All EVs come with a portable cord-set that lets you charge using a standard household outlet. This is the slowest speed of charging, but doesn’t require installing any new equipment in your home.
EV chargers deliver energy to both all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. There are two main types of EV chargers, alternating current (AC) chargers and direct current (DC) chargers. AC chargers provide alternating-current electricity to the vehicle and come in Level 1 and Level 2 chargers. DC chargers, also known as fast chargers, are a Level 3 charger that provides direct current electricity to the vehicle.
Level 1 charger
This type of AC charger is included in the purchase of your EV and provides up to 8 kilometers of range per hour of charging time, making it the slowest of these three options. They require only a standard 120 V wall outlet. Since they are so accessible, Level 1 chargers are typically used at home.
Level 2 charger
This is a faster AC charger that provides up to 97 kilometers of range per hour of charging time depending on the type of vehicle. These chargers require a 208 or 240 V wall outlet, which is the same used for major power appliances like dryers, ovens and air conditioners. You can have this type of charger installed at home (retailing between $800 and $1,500 CAD) and it requires work from an electrician. Some provinces even offer incentives and rebates when purchasing and installing in-home charging systems. Level 2 chargers can also be found at some businesses and public places.
Level 3 charger
A type of DC charger that provides the fastest charging time. They’re typically found in public places and businesses.
Tesla cars most commonly use Level 2 and Level 3 Supercharger stations but do come with an adapter that can be used for Level 1 chargers.
The most popular way to charge at home is by installing a level 2 charger. Some provinces even offer incentives and rebates when purchasing and installing in-home charging systems. However, installing a level 2 charger requires hiring an electrician, which is an additional cost to the cost of the charger itself.
In most provinces, the best time to charge your EV is overnight when electricity is less expensive. Some provinces have “peak pricing” making charging during the day more expensive. But for the average EV owner, charging at night is the most convenient time to charge anyway.
There are over 5,000 EV charging stations in Canada. Find one near you:
There's no doubt that extreme weather drains battery power faster, real life testing in Canada by CAA-Québec has shown that range can decrease as much as 40% when temperatures drop below -15°C.
Additional testing in Norway found that, on average, electric vehicles lost 18.5% of their official driving range in cold conditions. There are also ways to reduce these efficiency losses. Some models have apps that can be used to pre-heat the cabin while the car is plugged in, which draws power from the grid instead of draining the battery. Keep in mind that battery heating happens automatically when the vehicle is plugged into a charging station, whether at home or on a public network.
At present, drivers need to use several membership accounts to have full access to the various charging station networks in Canada. This is not a great driver experience!
Leading EV charging network companies across the globe have recognized this and are coming together to improve the driver experience and make it more seamless to drive electric. They are doing so via roaming partnerships.
Much like using your bank card at ATMs across the globe, driver roaming will allow you to use one network membership to find, start, and pay for a charge at any partnering station. This means that drivers won’t need multiple membership accounts to access charging within and outside of their communities.
Roaming is available in Canada through some companies like ChargePoint, Electric Circuit and Flo EV. Remember to plan ahead on where and when you intend to stop and top up when charging away from home.
Looking for charging tips and tricks? Here are some suggestions for proper charging etiquette from EV Society.
EV spots for EVs
If you drive a gas or diesel Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle, please do not park in a spot designated for an EV. EV drivers rely on these stations to make it to their next destination.
Charge only when necessary
Remember that electricity at free charging stations is privately funded and provided as a courtesy to EV drivers who might need the charge to safely complete their travels. Unless you need a charge to reach your destination, please leave the spot free for another EV driver who needs the charge to complete their trip.
Charge and move on
Only occupy a charging spot while your car is being charged. Please unplug and move your car once you have adequate range to comfortably reach your destination.
Never unplug another EV or PHEV unless it has clearly finished charging or you’ve received permission from the owner.
As you begin charging, please do “Check in” on the mobile charging app (if available) to let others know that the station is in use and also leave feedback for future users.
Route the cord from the station to your car such that it lays flat on the ground and is not a trip-hazard. Before you leave, please wind the cord neatly on its holder.