I often get asked about EV Chargers. The EV Group has worked diligently to encourage merchants around Salt Spring to install Level 2 Chargers that are mostly free to use (some have donation boxes - please use them). The charging stations are primarily for tourists, but are also intended for our use. I’ll take this opportunity to thank the business owners again for their generous support. However, is this where you would charge your new EV? Not exclusively, that would be totally uncool. So what options do you have?
The first thing to say is that charging is easy. Just like you plug in your lap-top or phone when you get home, you will mostly charge your EV the same way, at home. Come out in the morning to a full charge. A lot of people are bothered because it can take hours to charge a big battery, but the truth is that you are mostly asleep and the total ‘charging time’ is the time it takes you to plug in and unplug your car. Less than 60 seconds.
How long will it take to charge your car?? Well, that’s a bit like asking how long is a piece of string? The charging time will depend on the size of your battery, how depleted it is, how much power your charger can provide and how much power the EV battery can accept.
Level 1 just means the 110v socket in your house. Every EV comes with a charge cord that will let you plug into a regular plug socket. That means, technically, you can charge pretty much anywhere. It is slow though…up to 8km an hour of added range, so 80km overnight. On Salt Spring this will probably work just fine… but you may want to consider putting in a Level 2 to speed up the process, particularly if you live way up north, or way down south, or you have multiple errands to run in a day, kids sports etc, that will not allow you enough time to fully charge again between outings. In addition, most manufacturers recommend using 120 for occasional or emergency use only.
Level 2 is a dedicated charger on a 240v plug (basically a dryer plug) which delivers about 30 - 50km of range in an hour, so 300km overnight. These are the free chargers that you see around Salt Spring Island (see the full list of current locations). I find that the free stations can be very useful especially if I’ve been out and about, and my older 2011 Leaf with its small battery is running a bit low. An hour on the Art Spring Charger while I’m having coffee (and an impromptu meeting) will easily get me home. They are also handy if it snows and you can’t get down your long driveway to your own charger. We have 10 free public level 2 chargers on SSI with 16 wands (the thing that plugs into your car).
You can install a Level 2 charger at your home and most manufacturers recommend it. The EV group does as well. Your car will be fully charged in a few hours. Some new EV’s come with a Level 2 charger. The total cost can vary widely, based on many variables, but there are programs (like Zap-It) that can subsidize the cost.
Level 3 is a different animal. This is a DC Fast Charger (the others are AC) and will be your go to charger on your next road trip. This charger can deliver about 250 - 300km range in an hour, so 8 - 10 times faster than a Level 2. The difference in charging times and range depends on the speed of the DC Charger, the size of your battery and the amount of power your car can accept. These are often pay stations, although some BC Hydro stations are still free. Not all EVs are DC compatible, so check before you buy if you want to go on longer trips. The EV Group is currently investigating Level 3 charging stations on SSI.
So, when you are done charging, what’s it going to cost you? Will your hydro bill become astronomical? Reckon your home charging at an average 10 cents per kilowatt, with taxes etc, let’s be generous and say 12 cents. I have a 24 kWh battery, which will take me about 110kms, so a total cost of about $2.60. That’s not even 2 litres of gas, which might take a ICE car 20kms. I’ll let you do the rest of the math….
If you go off island (or even on island!), you can check the charging stations along your route with Plugshare. Plugshare has a route planning tool to help you find chargers for a longer run. Also the website A Better Route Planner is very helpful for planning a longer trip.
BC is building out DC Charger infrastructure at a great rate, so you will soon be able to go pretty much anywhere in an EV. No more range anxiety, and no more gas stations!
Brought to you by Jim Standen and the EV Group
Promoting Sustainable Transportation on Salt Spring Island