How To Find The Right EV Charging Station For You
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
Canadians all across the country have begun to embrace the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs). In 2021 alone, 86,000 battery-electric and plug-in hybrids were sold, a significant increase from the mere 56,000 sold in 2020 (though in fairness, we had other things to worry about in 2020). The infrastructure to support EVs has also grown to meet this heightened demand, with over 6,000 public charging stations around the country as of May 2022. Most recently, 68 commercial locations across six provinces have been slated to install 500 EV chargers by March 2024, which will be jointly underwritten the federal government and Indigo Park Canada. This investment, totalling approximately $4.8 million, represents a significant milestone in Canada's push to promote electric vehicles to the public. Ultimately, the goal is to have the majority of Canadians driving electric vehicles by 2035.
However, while the number of EVs has increased in recent years, charging stations remain relatively difficult to access for many Canadians. According to a May 2022 survey by Clean Energy Canada, 53% of Ontarians chose electric over gas or diesel cars, but were bothered by the province's slow integration of EV infrastructure compared to other provinces. Though provinces like British Columbia and Quebec have a fairly developed EV infrastructure, urban areas, such as Toronto or Calgary, are relatively sparse, with a distinct lack of publicly available chargers in commercial lots or gas stations. With this in mind, property managers looking to maximize their investments should look into installing an EV charging station, as doing so offers a multitude of benefits, in addition to promoting an eco-friendly alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
Installing an EV Charging Station Can Benefit Your Property
In order for EVs to become a truly viable alternative to the gasoline-powered vehicles that have been a mainstay in modern life for over a century, proper infrastructure – including charging stations – has to be established to support the growth of this industry. The main issue with the current distribution of EV chargers across the country is a distinct lack of “on-the-road” charging options – the majority of charging stations are installed in single-family dwellings, and many commercial properties that offer EV charging only have one or two dedicated stations. As such, EV owners charge their cars predominantly overnight at their homes, with limited options for mid-day charging should their batteries get too low.
With this in mind, installing an EV charging station at your commercial or multi-residential property could be a key method of attracting and retaining tenants and employees with electric vehicles. It is also a clear signal of your commitment to sustainable energy and eco-friendliness, and property managers looking to maximize their return-on-investment can also consider charging fees, providing a secondary revenue source (that said, charging fees are largely out of the norm, and implementing them may only dissuade EV owners from using your services). Installing a charging station will also help you earn points towards certification by BOMA BEst (Building Environmental Standards) - the country’s largest environmental assessment and certification program for existing buildings - further boosting your property’s overall attractiveness to potential tenants and clients.
The process of installing an EV charging station is fairly straightforward. Subsection 93(2) of the Condominium Act outlines that a property's reserve fund can be used for major repairs and replacing the common elements and assets of a property, including systems that serve the property manager's long-term goals. The first step to integrating EV infrastructure is to request an Electric Vehicle Study, which allows a corporation to account for the cost of installing an electrical panel for EV charging in their next reserve fund study. A property manager has 60 days to provide a plan of action after placing the request, with many having an agreement already drawn up by a lawyer so they know exactly what the financials will look like. Once the panels and charging stations are installed, their maintenance and repair becomes an expense for the reserve fund. However, the planning and installation of the stations can be handled by one of Ontario and British Columbia's many turnkey EV companies.
New buildings have it easier, as laws and regulations require all new developments to be EV-compatible. While the upfront costs may be daunting, when we consider the steps being taken to promote EVs in Canada - GM's $2 billion investment in Oshawa and Ingersoll's vehicle assembly plants, or the $5 billion being spent on a battery plant in Windsor, to name a few examples - forecast the exceptional potential return on investment for property managers as EVs multiply.
Sounds exciting right? Now for those of you who are considering adding an EV charging station to your property, there's just one question left to consider:
Which Charger is Right For You?
Just as there are different types of gasoline to choose from depending on the needs of your car, there are several different types of chargers. These chargers vary in connectors and charging levels, and every electric vehicle requires a different amount of power to be charged effectively. Confused? Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a rundown of the three different levels of EV charger below.
The most basic EV charger for residential or commercial properties is Level 1, which uses either a J1772 or Tesla connector and requires only a 120-volt outlet. However, the convenience of their installation comes at the cost of their efficiency; they can only charge between 3 to 4 miles of range per hour, meaning that most owners will only be able to use these chargers for cars that aren’t driven on a regular basis. These chargers also work best for hybrid vehicles, which have smaller batteries (approximately 25 kWh on average).
The most commonly installed form of EV charging station is the Level 2 station, which is optimal for daily charging and can installed anywhere from homes to offices to public locations such as shopping plazas and train stations. It is compatible with both J1772 or Tesla connectors and is able to charge between 12 to 80 miles of range per hour, depending on the vehicle’s maximum charge rate. As such, most EV owners choose Level 2 charging stations for their homes, as it allows them to fully charge their vehicle overnight.
However, as the Level 2 charger delivers up to 80 amps of power and charges up to 10 times faster than the Level 1 charger, it also requires a larger circuit and supply line. Property managers looking to install a Level 2 charger on their lot will also have to consider the costs of a 100-amp 208-240V dedicated circuit, though most will be able to suffice on a 40-amp charger, which can deliver 9.6 kW to their EV. A 48-amp charger will be slightly faster, charging at 11.5kW, but also requires a heavier gauge wire and compliance with the NEC code. In the long run, this can end up costing much more than a 40-amp unit at only a slight increase in efficiency and effectiveness. Overall, the installation costs of a Level 2 charging station can vary between $250-$1000 USD, providing options for every budget and solidifying it as the most accessible choice for property managers.
The fastest type of EV charger currently available is the Level 3 charger, which can recharge a battery at a rate of 3 to 20 miles per minute. Unlike the Level 1 and 2 chargers, which use alternating current, Level 3 chargers use direct current, which makes them rare for residential applications, given that most homes lack the voltage capacity to accommodate Level 3 charging (the average charger requires 400 to 900 volts). Moreover, Level 3 chargers can be exorbitantly expensive to install, costing tens of thousands of dollars, often more than the electric vehicle itself. As such, most Level 3 chargers will be found within commercial and office properties, and mainly service Teslas – which refer to their Level 3 chargers as Superchargers – or other high-end electric vehicles. Also of note is the different connectors used for Level 3 chargers, depending on the model of vehicle they are for; Tesla uses a self-named connector, while Nissan EVs use an Asian standard known as CHAdeMO, and other EVs that require Level 3 charging may use Combined Charging Systems. As Level 3 chargers are operated by private charging networks, recharging prices can vary, though all will almost always cost more than charging at home, sometimes costing the same as traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, though with much fewer total emissions. With this in mind, Level 3 chargers should mainly be considered by property managers who are taking care of commercial, industrial, or office properties, as these will be the most likely to attract the appropriate customer demographics and maximize return-on-investment.
In short, electric vehicles are quickly gaining ubiquity in modern society, and should be an innovation that is promoted and developed as we move towards our collective goals of carbon neutrality and long-term environmental protection. As such, it’s important for property managers to help establish a strong support infrastructure by installing EV charging stations on their properties. Luckily, our electrical team has the expertise and experience needed to help you choose the best EV charging option for your commercial, multi-residential, industrial, or office property. Give us a call today and join hundreds of Canadians in ushering in a new, greener age of vehicular transport.