Fuelling up an electric vehicle (EV) is as easy as putting a plug into a socket. The amount and speed of your charge, however, depends on the technology in place. Right now there are about 1,000 public charging stations located in cities and towns across B.C.
About 80% of charging typically happens at home. Level 1 charging is the simplest option, using a standard 120-volt household outlet. Owners just plug in the cable adapter that comes standard with their EV and wait: from empty it takes eight to 16 hours to fully charge a battery EV and six to eight hours for a plug-in hybrid.
Costs accrue at normal residential electricity rates. Charging a Nissan Leaf in B.C. for 100 km of travel runs around $2.
For a faster charge, Level 2 (or 240 volt) will charge a battery EV in six to eight hours and a plug-in hybrid vehicle in three or four hours.
While Level 2 chargers incur standard residential electricity rates, owners need to purchase and install a special panel and adapter cable (around $700 to $1,000, which doesn’t include labour).
To perform the installation, hire a qualified electric-vehicle-charger electrician. BC Hydro recommends contractors through its Alliance of Energy Professionals (request a referral at bchydro.com/alliance).
Public Level 2 chargers are located around the province in shopping malls, community centres and coffee shops, for instance. But be mindful of other owners who want to juice up on the go. Be sure to move your vehicle once it has finished charging.
Level 3, or 480-volt direct current (DC) fast charging, involves pricier infrastructure and is typically reserved for public spaces. It’s also only compatible with certain electric vehicle models.
There are three varieties of charging ports: CHAdeMO, used by Japanese makes such as Nissan, Kia and Mitsubishi; SAE Combo (aka CCS), used by European and American makes like BMW and Chevrolet; and Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger.
All give a healthy charge in 30 minutes or less for most electric vehicles. BC Hydro maintains 30 DC fast-charging stations across B.C. and all but five are now compatible with both the CHAdeMO and SAE Combo plugs. Charging at those stations is available at 35 cents per kWh, which translates to about $10 for a full charge of a Nissan Leaf with a 30 kWh battery.
Six Tesla Supercharger stations currently provide charging for Tesla owners around B.C.