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  • Writer's pictureBarron Electric

Electric Vehicle Chargers

When spending a fortune filling up our vehicles these days, switching to an electric vehicle is becoming increasingly enticing! In a recent article [1] in Consumer Reports, it is stated that “dozens of pure electric models are set to debut by the end of 2024.” In fact, it’ll probably be difficult to buy anything other than an electric car in a decade or two.

Are our homes ready for electric vehicles? I'm getting more and more calls from customers asking for installation of electric vehicle chargers in their garages.

Just this week, a customer told me that it takes 67 hours (almost 3 days) to charge his Tesla Model Y using a standard garage 120 Volt 15 Amp outlet! As a result, he can't drive his EV (electric vehicle) more than a few times a week, and he must keep his EV constantly plugged in when it's parked in the garage,

Realistically, the only feasible way to have your EV available and fully charged each day, is to have a level 2 EV charger installed at your home. With a level 2 charger, you can charge the same vehicle in just over 13 hrs (ie overnight)!

So, what can and should you do to plan ahead to accommodate a level 2 EV charger at your home?

1) The first step is for me to do a “load calculation” of your home’s actual electrical use versus its available capacity. Most Calgary homes have a 100 amp electrical panel. If your home has an air conditioner or a hot tub, you may already be pushing top load capacity for your 100 amp panel. The personalized load calculation will determine if an EV charger can safely be installed in your panel without requiring any service upgrades or energy management systems (see points 2 and 3 below).

2) Usually, a 100 amp panel cannot accommodate a level 2 EV charger without either:

A) Upgrading your electrical service: ie increasing the wire size from the utility's transformer on your street to your home, an upsized meter base, upsized wires running from the meter base to your electrical panel, and a larger capacity panel (for example, 150 or 200 amps), which is often very expensive.


B) According to my research [2] , a feasible alternative to an electrical service upgrade, when your electrical panel is already at / near capacity, is an EVEMS (Electric Vehicle Energy Management System). An EVEMS is installed near your electrical panel at the same time that the EV charger is installed. The EVEMS will constantly monitor the real-time power usage of your home (via current transformers on the feeder wires). If the EVEMS detects your panel is exceeding it’s capacity, it will automatically disable the electric car charger for 15 mins, during which time it will measure current usage in the home. If the usage of power decreases sufficiently after 15 mins, it will reengage the electric car charger. This management system is critical, as it will prevent your electrical panel from being overloaded, and likely failing prematurely, or overheating the feeder wires, which is a fire hazard.

When you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, I'll be happy to provide you with a free load calculation and an estimate to install of a dedicated electric vehicle charger at your home.

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