What you need to know about EV charging

Electric vehicle usage will grow from 3 million to 125 million by 2030, International Energy Agency forecasts.

A growing number of people are considering or have already made the switch to an electric vehicle. For those who have purchased or are ready to purchase an EV, there are a few things that are important to know and understand about EV charging.

There are two main types of electric vehicles:

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles
  • Grid Connected Vehicles

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

HEVs have two complementary drive systems: a gasoline engine with a fuel tank and an electric motor with a battery and controls. The engine and electric motor both turn the transmission at the same time with all of the energy coming from gasoline.

Grid Connected Vehicles

Grid Connected Vehicles fall into two categories, but both are capable of plugging-in to charge their battery.

  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) run on a battery and electric drivetrain, but also use the support of an internal combustion engine for recharging the vehicle’s battery or to replace the electric drivetrain if the battery is running low and the car needs more power.
  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) run entirely on a battery and electric drivetrain. They don’t have the support of a traditional internal combustion engine and plug into an external source of electricity to recharge their battery.

Image courtesy of YourMechanic

The Batteries

Most commonly, electric vehicles use Lithium-Ion batteries (Li-ion). These rechargeable batteries came into commercial use in the early 1990s. They are popular for EVs because they have a high energy density and are less likely to lose their charge when not in use. Li-ion batteries are also common in laptops and cellphones.

Here are some tips from YourMechanic to help prolong the EV battery life:

  • Don’t leave the battery at full charge. Leaving it at full charge too often stresses the battery and causes it to degrade faster.
  • Keep your EV in a garage or temperature-controlled space whenever possible to avoid temperature extremes.
  • Plan for outings. Pre-heat or pre-cool the EV before going out if you haven’t unplugged the car from your home charging station. This practice helps you avoid using battery power while driving.
  • Use Economy Mode if available. EVs with “eco mode” will turn off the car battery while stopped. It acts as a battery power-saver and helps minimize your vehicle’s overall energy consumption.
  • Try to avoid speeding. Battery efficiency tends to decline when you exceed 50 miles-per-hour.
  • Whenever possible, avoid braking hard. Hard braking uses the car’s conventional brakes. Regenerative brakes activated with gentle braking save battery energy, while friction-based brakes do not.
  • If you are planning a vacation, set the charge level to 50% and leave the EV plugged in while on long trips.

Time to Charge

Most EVs on the market need to be plugged in overnight to fully recharge their batteries. Actual charging times range from 3.5 hours to 8 hours, depending on the type of EV.

Cost to Charge

Is charging an electric vehicle cheaper than buying gasoline? Yes it is, considerably cheaper. The difference will vary with each EV, but the average plug-in hybrid charges for less than $1 and an all-electric car uses only $2-$5 worth of electricity to charge.

As a quick comparison, driving a 2002 Toyota RAV4, the expected cost is about $18 to travel 160 km ($1.21/litre). A 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV, on the other hand, could travel the same distance for less than $2.50 (8 cents/kWh).[7][8] That is a savings of $15.50 and that is considerably cheaper!

Plugging In

The best way to recharge an EV battery is to plug it in at home, leaving it to recharge overnight. With EV batteries changing with every new model, they are becoming more efficient and cost-effective. New innovations and design have contributed to the growth in popularity of EVs. With that growth, the need for charging stations has increased considerably. They have begun to populate our landscape, ready to provide a critical service to EV owners.

Home/Work
To charge at home or at work, you’ll need to make sure that the electrical system in your home or workplace has sufficient capacity to give the vehicle electricity at the right voltage and at the rate that it needs. A small vehicle might only need a conventional 120-volt outlet, already existing in most home garages. Larger EVs might need a 220-volt outlet with enough amperage, like the ones used for home clothing dryers.

Google Maps
Google Maps is a web mapping service. It offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets, real-time traffic conditions, and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle and air, or public transportation

PlugShare
PlugShare is Recargo’s free app for iOS, Android, and web,. It allows users to find charging stations, leave reviews, and connect with other plug-in vehicle owners. It has the most accurate and complete public charging map worldwide, with stations from every major network around the globe.

Chargepoint
ChargePoint operates the world’s largest and most open EV charging network. They also design and build its supporting technology. Their corporate mission is to get everyone behind the wheel of an EV and provide a place for them to charge wherever they go.

FLO
FLO is Canada’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network. They operate a charging ecosystem that fulfills EV drivers’ needs everywhere — at home, at work or on the go—by ensuring a consistent simple and seamless experience.

On the Rise

Across Canada, provincial governments are continuing to support EVs by installing electric vehicle charging stations, and offering incentives to new EV owners. With new government incentive programs, increased EV entries from car manufacturers, more efficient design, a better consumer price point, and an ever increasing network of charging stations, the number of people considering an EV is definitely on the rise.