Frequently Asked Questions
Level 1 chargers (120v 15amp regular outlet) is the bare minimum and is best thought of as the trunk fall back charger. It works in a pinch like at a motel or at grandma’s house. However, it is very slow, usually more than 12 hours to charge from empty to full charge for most makes.
It is not ideal if you are depending on the EV for commuting. Compare that to a Level 2 charger (240v 30-40amps usually requires a hardwire connection done by an electrician). You get less than eight hours empty to full charging. This is overnight charging, which is the sweet spot for most of us balancing install cost, charger purchase cost with adequate function.
There are two common service sizes out there, the 100 Amp and 200 Amp. If you have a 100 Amp service, you may or may not need a service upgrade. We need to do a site visit, or we can do a calculation after a phone consultation.
Our team needs to know the square footage of your home (on all levels) and a list of the major equipment in your home. How many electric ranges? Any hot tubs or saunas? Do you have electric heat? (count breakers for baseboards and how many amps per breaker) Is there any pool heaters? Outbuildings with subpanels or suites? Do you have air conditioning?
With this information, we can do a calculation for you and tell you for sure if you need a service upgrade or not. The detail of whether or not you have two breaker spaces available for the EV charger or not is more of a footnote, which can be rectified with a subpanel if you have enough capacity in your 100 Amp panel.
If it is determined that you do need a service upgrade, the good news is that an upgrade from 100 Amps to 200 Amps is almost always a request that is granted by BC Hydro. It is usually not as expensive a project as people think. We can help make sense of it and can show you some options on our first site visit.
For a 200 Amp panel, you will likely have more than enough capacity for a Level 2 charger. We still need all the same information as with the 100 Amp panel to say that for sure, as some 200 Amp properties have every optional electrical device known to man.
It is possible to have a 200 Amp property that actually does not have the capacity left for a level 2 charger (please see DCC or load management further down the FAQ)
The Tesla 80 Amp fast charger is a bit of an Elon Musk anomaly. It is the only high-Amperage fast charger approved for connection in a single family residence at this time. The good news is it will charge your Tesla from empty to full in an hour or two.
However, the bad news is that it usually requires a service upgrade as few services are installed with an extra 80 Amp available. Some 200 Amp services could be the exception, but usually these Tesla 80 Amp fast chargers require a service upgrade or at least some sort of load management system (see DCC).
as of March 2020 BC Hydro and BC government rebate program.
The Government of B.C. is offering a rebate of up to 50% of purchase and installation costs of eligible new Level 2 charging equipment, to a maximum of $350. BC Hydro is providing a top-up to the provincial offer for a limited time, bringing the total maximum rebate amount to $700.
If your eligible costs were $1,400 or more, your maximum rebate amount is $700.
$350 from the Government of B.C.
$350 from BC Hydro
If your eligible costs were $1,000, your maximum rebate amount is $500.
$350 from the Government of B.C.
$150 from BC Hydro
If your eligible costs were $600, your maximum rebate amount is $300.
$300 from the Government of B.C.
$0 from BC Hydro
This rebate has an application process that will require a licensed electrical contractor and a permit number for the installation with a passed inspection from the local inspection authority.
We can help you with all of that, but the contractor has a form that we fill out from the BC Hydro rebate website and forward to the homeowner. The rebate application has to be completed by the homeowner applying for the rebate.
We don’t push a certain brand above another here on the web site. There are always pros and cons, cost versus serviceability, etc. We can help you with that on our site visit. There is a list of chargers that have a CSA label and recognition from BC Hydro.
BC Hydro recognizes most major brands with a CSA rating. Just a word of caution when researching online: it is not always easy to see which chargers are CSA listed and which are not. This is especially important if you want to apply for an EV charger rebate for the installation afterwards.
Load management is just as it sounds. For example, this is typically done by not allowing the EV charger to charge while the dryer is running. Basically, it is a load-sensing relay that measures current going out to the dryer and will not allow a relay to close, which supplies power to the EV charger while the dryer is running.
This sounds like a great solution but it has its challenges. For instance, not all EV chargers like to be interrupted while they are halfway through a charge or just in the handshake or initiation process as the car was just plugged in.
For some EV charges to have a power, interruption at a critical point in the charging cycle is enough to put them into a fault condition. This is not something you would want to find in the morning when you are late for work.
This is a challenging issue and we will likely see chargers on the market soon that have much better provision built into their software for this or even have the entire load-sensing relay package built into the EV charger.
This is not currently available so for now, we reserve load management solutions for those with few other choices. (See 120/240volt 400 Amp residential service)
Yes, there is. That is the short answer. This is not a great solution for most and here is a list of some of the drawbacks:
- This size of service is by permission only from BC Hydro and is not always granted. It is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- The size of the equipment to comply with the commercial grade 400 Amp 120/240v metering requirement from BC Hydro makes the service entrance equipment very bulky. It consumes a lot of space in a residential setting as it is more designed for commercial electrical rooms. Do you have an electrical room?
- The cost. Both the BC Hydro 400 Amp residential service application costs and the costs from the contractor for equipment and install can be prohibitive.
The good news and why you may still want to consider this option:
- We have done these before and there are some properties where it makes sense, such as rural setting, farming setting, or in a live-on property business scenario where there are other reasons to want more power like large outbuildings and shops.
- Why not see if BC Hydro will say yes even if you already committed to that 80 Amp Tesla charger and your lifestyle demands one to two hours of charge time, or if you have the room and the budget for a 400 Amp residential service. We can help set the wheels in motion.
- The other upside is that the electrical industry has responded to this demand with many new space-saving 400 Amp service entrance solutions for underground and overhead services, which make the space demand and the looks of the end product of these large services much more appealing.
However, since they are relatively new products, some require longer lead times. So if you think this is the solution for you, we better get started.