Transitioning to an EV lifestyle can seem like a big investment but it's one that pays off in the long run. In fact, EV drivers save approximately 75% on the cost of fuel with electricity compared to a gas vehicle. What’s more, your CO2 footprint will be 80% lighter than driving a gas vehicle.
Once you've decided to make the exciting switch over to an EV, the next step is choosing the right charger for you. Having your own EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) is a lot like having a personal “gas station” conveniently located at your home. You simply drive home, plug-in, recharge and your car is ready to go when you are. However, not all EV chargers are built the same, so it’s important to select the right one based on your needs.
Here are 7 questions to ask if you’re in the market for an EV charger:
1. Do you need smart features?
Having smart features in an EV charger can make your life easier by saving you time and money. With access to real-time data you can make informed decisions about charging your vehicle and help reduce the strain we put on our resources and environment.
Smart features in EV chargers can include:
- Viewing activity, usage history, as well as the status of a charging session from connected smart devices
- Scheduling features allow you to take advantage of your local utility’s off-peak energy saving program and save money on your electricity bills, regardless of when you plug in your vehicle
- Monitoring for any operational issues
- Compatibility with new EV models with remote, automatic software and firmware updates
2. Are EV chargers easy to install?
The design and build of the charger will determine the cost of installation. It’s easier to install a charger that’s close to the electrical panel and has space for cable routing, which could potentially lower the cost of installation.
TIP: Find a licensed electrician that can install your charging station.
3. Should you install the charger indoors or outdoors?
It's important to consider where you live, what the climate is like, as well as the range of your Wi-Fi before deciding where to install your EV charger.
Indoor vs. outdoor considerations:
- If you choose to install your charger indoors, you get additional protection from the elements, invasive critters, vandalism, and theft
- If you go with an outdoor placement, make sure the model you choose is weatherproof and works in extreme hot or cold temperatures and can handle rain or snow
- If you plan on using a smart charger, look for one that offers Power Line Communication (PLC) — this will allow you to connect to your Wi-Fi easily and offer extended range from your router
4. Are all EV chargers universally compatible?
The short answer is, well, yes and no. You’ll want to consider a charger with a universal connector that can work with all EV models. Most fully electric cars can be charged with Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast Charging stations. There are three levels of chargers that vary in the amount of time and power it provides to fully charge an EV.
Level 1 - 1 Hour of Charging = 8 km of driving range
This portable cord can plug into a standard home outlet and offers the slowest speed of charging. That being said, if you drive a hybrid car then Level 1 charging may be all you need.
Level 2 - 1 Hour of Charging = 30 km of driving range
Most EV drivers will install a Level 2 charger at home. All electric cars and charging stations sold in North America use the same plug standard. This means that any EV can use any Level 2 station across Canada and the United States, making it the gold standard.
DC Fast Charging - 1 Hour of Charge = 250 km of driving range
DCFC charging uses direct current (DC) instead of alternating current (AC). This type of charger is only available in public settings like businesses, shopping malls, and highway stop locations. It's also important to note that DC Fast chargers are not compatible with older EV models or hybrids, so be sure to double check.
5. How long is the EV charging cable?
Standard cables are 25ft but there are other options available. A longer cable makes it easier to reach your EV from different parked positions. Not everyone likes to back into the driveway! Lastly, make sure that the cord will easily reach your car’s charging port from where you are installing your station — a real pain if overlooked!
6. Do you qualify for a provincial rebate for installing an EV charger?
Some provinces such as Quebec and British Columbia offer specific rebates and incentives towards the cost of EV chargers and/or installation.
Keep in mind that there are also federal and provincial incentives that are specifically for buying new or used zero-emission vehicles. Learn more about the iZEV program.
Did you know? FLO members get an exclusive discount on home and auto insurance through Sonnet. Plus, you can save even more when you bundle!
7. Will all your charging be done at home?
On average, 60-80% of charging is typically done at home or at the workplace (where charging stations are available). However, public charging stations are handy during long road trips or when they’re conveniently located close to public attractions.
TIP: Download the free FLO app which gives you access to over 55,000 public charging stations across North America!
It’s time to choose your EV charger
After mulling over these considerations, it’s time to consider your options. In Canada, you’ll need a robust home charging solution that can withstand our cold winters and hot summers. Be sure to keep in mind how your needs may change in the future so that you can get the most out of your charger.
TIP: Looking for an EV charger that is well-suited to our Canadian climate? Check out the FLO Home X5™.
Regardless of the charger you choose, take pride knowing that driving an EV has a positive impact on the environment now and in preserving the health of our planet for future generations.