Electric Vehicle Charging Guide

Would you like to know how to charge an electric car? Charging an EV is easy! You can charge your car at home, at a public charging station or at work. Here is what you need to know before driving to a public charging station:

  • The difference between the level 1, level 2 and level 3 charging station
  • The type of connectors compatible with your EV
  • The charging networks available in the United States and in Canada

With this electric car charging guide, you will learn everything you need to know about charging.

This guide discusses 3 key places where you can charge an electric vehicle:

Before we get into those concepts, it's good to know the various terms used for charging stations. They usually all refer to the same thing.

  • Charging station
  • Charging outlet
  • Charging plug
  • Charge port
  • Charger
  • EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment)

Home charging

Charging levels

There are two types of charging at home: level 1 charging and level 2 charging.

  • Level 1 charging happens when one charges the electric vehicle (EV) using the charger included with the car. These charger can be plugged with one end into any standard 120V outlet, with the other end plugging directly into the car.
  • Level 2 chargers are sold separately from the car (although often purchased at the same time). Those chargers need a bit more of a setup, as they are plugged into a 240V outlet, which often requires the work of an electrician.

For any electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, the use of a level 2 home charging station is recommended to benefit from all the pros of driving electric.

Connector types

The pros of home charging

A fully charged battery in a few hours

With a level 2 charger, it takes around four hours to fully charge a 30 kWh battery car (standard battery for full electric cars), which allows you to make the most out of driving your EV, especially when you have a limited time to charge.

Starting your day on a full charge

In most cases, fully charging your car at home will be enough to meet the needs of your daily commute, and then some.

Cheaper charging costs

Another advantage of home charging is the low cost of electricity compared to public charging.

Making the most of government programs

Some governments have incentives in place to make level 2 home charger purchase and installation more accessible.

In the USA, we recommend you to check your government’s website to discover the available subsidies.

In Canada, the following provinces have incentives:

  • Quebec: $350 off the retail price and $250 off the installation costs.

Where do I get a home charging station?

In order to get the most out of your vehicle, we recommend that you purchase a Level 2 home charging station that will recharge 2 to 6 times faster than with a Level 1 terminal.

The best time to get a Level 2 Is just before receiving his EV, so the terminal is ready and installed the moment you receive your EV.

Do you have questions about home charging? Contact us without hesitation!

Public charging

This section covers the 3 majors aspects about public charging:

Charging Levels

There are 3 standard charging levels to charge your electric car. All electric cars can charge on Level 1 and Level 2 stations. However, some vehicles cannot charge at a Level 3 (also known as a DCFC or fast charger). Knowing your vehicle capabilities is therefore very important.

Charging Level Summary

Niveau 1 borne de recharge véhicule électrique illustration

Level 1

The Level 1 is the standard wall outlet. It is the slowest charge level. Several hours are required to fully charge a vehicle.

Level 2 borne de recharge de voiture électrique

Level 2

The Level 2 is the typical EV plug you'll install in your garage for example. Many public charging stations are Level 2. RV plugs are also considered Level 2's.

Level 3/ BRCC borne de recharge de voiture électrique

Level 3

Finally, there is the Level 3, commonly called the DCFC or DC Fast Charge. These charging stations are the quickest means to recharge a vehicle

Tip: Charging at a DCFC station is only effective if your battery state-of-charge (SOC) is below 80%. After that point, charging will slow down significantly.

Charging Station Connectors

The most common connector is the Level 2 J1772 EV plug. All vehicles can use this connector standard in Canada and USA.

Where connector standards may get confusing is for Level 3 stations

One way to remember Level 3 connector compatibilities is to look at the make.

  1. Asian: Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-Miev, etc. These cars use the CHAdeMO connector standard.
  2. American / European: Chevrolet Bolt, Chevrolet Spark, BMW i3, Mercedes, Volkswagen, etc. These cars use the SAE Combo CCS standard.
  3. Tesla: Model S and Model X. Tesla uses its own Tesla connector standard.

Before driving to a charging station, it is important to know if your vehicle is compatible with the connectors available. This is especially important for non-Tesla DCFC stations. Some may have just a CHAdeMO connector, others just an SAE Combo CCS connector, and others will have both. Also, some vehicles, like the Chevrolet Volt - a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, is not compatible for Level 3 stations. Make sure you know your vehicle compatibilities before planning a trip.

Charging Station Networks

There are many charging networks in the United States and Canada. Not all are present everywhere, but you can often have several in a region. They could be split in two categories:

  1. Smart charging stations, also known as networked charging stations or connected stations
  2. Non-networked charging stations. These do not require any membership to activate

Charging Networks Overview

Workplace charging

How does workplace charging work?

Workplace charging works very similarly to home charging. It is offered by an employer to their employees. The employees therefore have access to parking spaces with charging stations during the day. These stations are usually level 2 stations, and many regions have incentives in place to encourage their implementation.

The pros of workplace charging

A longer electric range

When combined with home charging, workplace charging can double your daily electric range. This is particularly interesting for plug-in hybrids, as you can use the electric motor for longer distances and therefore save on fuel.

Level 2 charging allows you to charge faster, which is particularly interesting for part-time employees or for workplaces where employees are not in for the entire day.

Large fuel savings

The electricity costs of workplace charging are often taken on by the employer, which means employees can charge at work for free. In other cases, the employer charges fees to use the charger, but the cost is usually lower than that of a public charging station.

Government subsidies

In order to encourage employers to install charging stations for their employees, many governments have put in place programs that reduce purchasing and installation costs, as well as different advantages for the employer. However, many employers are unaware of the existence of these programs, and it falls on interested employees to talk to them about it.

Where to get a workplace charging station?

In many cases, the chargers used at work are the same models as the residential chargers. We recommend a level 2 charger, which will make recharging faster and is most often subsidized.

You have questions about home charging Contact us without hesitation!