How to pick the right EV charger
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How to pick the right EV charger

Oct 26, 2023

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The number of electric vehicles on the road is rising, and because of this, our infrastructure is moving toward making the necessary changes to accommodate this trend. How do you know you have the correct EV charger, and what should you look for?

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When choosing an EV charger for your home, consider these factors, including the kind of car you drive, how much you drive, and the electrical infrastructure in your house.

Home EV chargers come in two primary varieties: Level 2 and Level 1. Faster Level 2 chargers need a 240-volt outlet and are more efficient. Level 1 chargers are slower and work with a typical 120-volt outlet. A Level 2 charger can be the best option if you drive a lot or plan on having two EVs in your household — but it may require an electrical upgrade.

Your EV's charging speed (rate), is in Kilowatts (kW). The faster the charger, the higher its kW rating. A larger kW rating needs more electrical capacity, and may require you to upgrade (240 Volts/30 Amps) your home's electrical system. Ensure the charger you select is compatible with the connector on your car because different EV models use various connectors.

A Level 2 charger provides quick and affordable charging, and some Level 2 EV chargers offer multiple installation options for maximum flexibility, allowing the charge to be split between two vehicles. Charging time may be slower but efficient. Alternatively, you can install two separate chargers for each vehicle, depending on need and the capability of the EV charger.

There are portable EV chargers, but these are expensive and cumbersome. Plan your charging stops in advance, or at least until our infrastructure adapts to the increasing demand.

Depending on the brand, features, and installation requirements, EV charger prices vary greatly. When selecting a model, be sure to account for the price of the charger and installation. Consider a good warranty to protect your investment when deciding on an EV charging station.

Another critical component of a suitable EV charging station to consider is the smart features, like smartphone apps, scheduling and energy management. Residential EV charging management systems need to consider the battery level of the car, the homeowner's schedule, and the electricity cost to optimize EV charging at home.

These systems can monitor the battery's charge level, the charging rate, and the anticipated time needed to finish charging. Many also offer the money-saving features by controlling loads and charging during off-peak times.

The charging management system can lower the charging speed to prevent overloading the home's electrical system if it cannot support the EV's maximum charging speed. To prevent overcharging or overheating the battery, it can also monitor the EV battery's state of charge and regulate the charging speed accordingly.

I’ve heard many horror stories regarding life-threatening defects on installations, where the circuit breakers have melted in the panel because they were undersized. Your home's EV charging station is typically seen as a permanently installed fixture and is therefore covered under your standard homeowner's insurance.

To ensure you are adequately insured, contact your broker. If you adhere to the rules and have a licensed electrical contractor, complete the work using approved supplies and installation methods, you should be adequately covered.

I’ve also been told that most people need to become more aware of the charger's load. An EV charger is unlike your stove or dryer, which cycles on and off and requires a continuous load for eight to 10 hours. An EV charger is one of the biggest electrical loads in the house today. That's why you must hire a licensed electrical contractor when installing an EV charger.

Although many high-end automotive brands promise "white glove" services to their EV consumers, permits are often not issued. All electrical work and upgrades require permits in many provinces, including Ontario.

Ensure your "white glove" service includes a licensed electrical contractor and that a permit is secured for installing your EV charger. If you’re in Ontario, this means your LEC should have a seven-digit ECRA/ESA number visible on their truck, paperwork, and business cards. If they don't have it, they’re not licensed and I wouldn't recommend hiring them.

Make sure the model you plan to install is appropriate for your needs, as interior and exterior charging models have different requirements.

Consider the charger type, charging speed, connector type, portability, price, warranty, and smart features when selecting the best EV charger for your home. Your home EV charger will be installed correctly and to code when hiring a licensed electrical contractor and obtaining a permit — keeping you, your family and your electric vehicle safe.

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