Blog A Guide to Electric Vehicle Charging in Canada

Nov 22, 2022

How to charge an electric vehicle

black car charging at tesla charging station

Have you purchased an EV? Or maybe you are on a wait list for one? You may be wondering where you can charge your electric vehicle and how to set up a system at home. You may be shocked to know it’s not as complicated as you think. Strides are being made to make charging easier and more accessible.

In 2021, the federal government announced $700 million to install an additional 50,000 EV chargers across Canada and have them operational by 2026. Closing the electric vehicle charging infrastructure gap is key to moving forward to having all light-duty cars and passenger trucks are zero emission by 2035. Whether you have a full EV or a hybrid vehicle, you’ll need to know how to charge it.

In this blog, we outline how to EV charging tips, what the process looks like, what it can cost, and if it will affect your car insurance.

How do you charge an electric vehicle?

Once you receive your new ride and set up electric car insurance, you’ll want to understand the process of charging your car. Charging your electric vehicle occurs by connecting the vehicle to a power source, known as the charging station. The charging port and onboard charger convert the external power into the battery, causing the battery to gain power.

EV charging is like filling up with fuel, but you’ll insert a connector at a charging station. Here’s how it works :

  1. Open the charging port cover.
  2. Remove the charging station connector from the dock.
  3. Insert it into the car’s charging port. Look for a notification that the charging port is working, it will often flash green.
  4. The screen will let you know how much time is remaining and the charge percentage.
  5. Once the process is complete, press the connector button, remove the charger from your car, and return it to the dock.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

Depending on the car model, battery size and output of the charging station, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to eight hours to charge your EV. Here is a look at the different types of chargers.

Type Volts Charging Speed
Level 1 120 8-10 km per hour
Level 2 208-240 20-130 km per hour
Level 3 400-900 5-32 km per minute

Most Level 1 chargers come with the vehicle and can be used with any standard 120V outlet. Level 2 chargers are usually sold separately from your car, and require a bit more setup because they need to be plugged into a 240V outlet. There is a wide range of charging stations you can invest in for your home. Be sure to check out incentives and rebates to lower costs.

Can any electric vehicle use a Tesla charger?

Before 2021, Tesla did not offer charging for non-Tesla vehicles. As of November 2021, they announced a plan to update select stations in some countries to charge a wider range of vehicles. Drivers of these cars need to use the Tesla smartphone app (version 4.2.3 or higher). Then tap on the new ‘Charge Your Non-Tesla’ option and add a payment method to get started.

Some locations may not have this option yet. EV owners can use a Tesla charger, but they will likely need to use an adapter to connect to the power source as the Supercharger Pilot rolls out. These adaptors cost between $150 to upwards of $300.

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?

While you are out and about and need to charge up, there are various options available. There are Level 2 public charging stations that are free to use, and some that are pay-to-use are between $1.00 for an hour or $2.50 per charge. Level 3 chargers are often pay-per-use or by the minute. On average it will cost $15-20 per hour.

As of March 2022, at home charging costs Canadians around $277 per year, depending on the vehicle, charging time (off-peak or on-peak), and charging system. With gas costing around $1.50 per litre (as of November 2022), EVs are almost half the price (if not more) to charge compared to fueling up weekly, even if you have a fuel-efficient vehicle. Some of the best electric trucks can also have lower charging costs compared to fueling up weekly

How to charge an electric vehicle at home

Ditch standing in the cold to fuel up for charging your EV at home. All electric vehicles come with a Level 1 home connector kit. This will support your vehicle to be charged to a 110/120 V outlet. If you are seeking a faster charge, you can install a Level 2 charger, but it will need a 240 V outlet.

white EV charging at home

Consider where you park (you don’t want your charger directly in extreme weather), where the available outlets are, cord length, and how often you drive. You will also want to speak with your home insurance provider to see if installing one will impact your costs.

How to use public electric vehicle charging stations

Public EV charging stations are located at grocery stores, gas stations, offices, and select parking lots. They are open to the public for free or with a small cost that can be paid through an app or the charging station. Using a public EV charging station is as easy as following a few simple steps.

  1. Park your vehicle and turn it off.
  2. Open the port of your vehicle and remove the connector for the station. Plug it into your vehicle.
  3. Start the charge by following the on-screen prompts. Some stations require an app to pay the fee starts the process.
  4. The connector will be locked until the end of the charge – now it’s time to wait until you reach the amount of charge you need.
  5. End the charging process by using the app or using the station/touch screen.
  6. Remove the plug and replace it with the station.
  7. Check for any tripping hazard and that plugs are properly put away.

What type of battery is used in an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles are made with lithium-ion and lithium polymer because of their high charge energy storage and lightweight. They are also often used in consumer electronics such as laptops and cell phones. Different EV models use one of the three different types, cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch-type.

How many charging stations are there in Canada?

Since May 2022, Canadians have had access to more than 16,000 chargers at over 6,000 public charging stations, according to CVMA. Over the last two years, there has been a 39% in the number of public chargers available for drivers.

Electric vehicle charging FAQs

You can fully charge your electric vehicle within 30 minutes to over 12 hours. Depending on the size of the battery and the speed of the charger, you can calculate the charging length.

If you've been browsing through best electric vehicles in Canada, you’ll be thinking about what charging station to have at home. At home chargers can cost between $700-$1,500 and this can be done through a Licensed Electrical Contracting (LEC) who will evaluate your electric panel and find the best option. You can visit the Government of Ontario to learn more about charging rebates.

Some EV charging stations are free, but the majority of them have a fee. You can check online before choosing which one to stop at.

Some batteries receive power through regenerative braking. This process uses torque to flow the car, recapturing the energy that is lost and used later. This can improve the charge, but it is not the primary source of charging.

As Canada continues to grow their EV charging infrastructure, many gas stations have charging stations available, but not all. You can find stations by visiting PlugShare, ElectrifyCanada and ChargeHub. You can also use the option in Google Maps.

EV charging is on the road to improvement

Transportation accounts for 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. As the country moves towards EV charging stations, the Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) is a $680 million initiative that will end in 2027. Its goal is to address the lack of charging and refuelling stations in Canada; one of the key barriers to drivers switching over.