Everyone who has ever owned a car is familiar with the gas pump. They’re also familiar with the sinking feeling that comes with realizing you’re dangerously low on gas and there isn’t a gas station in sight. But what if you had a gas pump right in your garage at home? Wouldn’t that be something? You’d never have to worry about being late for work because you had to stop for gas and every time you left the house the tank would be full. That’s essentially what happens when you purchase an electric vehicle (EV) and engage in Level 1 charging in your home.
Revolution of Electric Vehicles
The EV has been around for more than 100 years but until the past decade or so it was never able to attract enough buyers to sustain a market presence. Advances in battery technology and support from governments however have finally put some wind into the sails of the EV movement and today more than 8% of all cars sold in Canada are plug in vehicles. A large percentage of homeowners who have purchased EV’s have done so for reasons laid out at the beginning of this piece. Below we’ll take a close look at Level 1 charging, what it is and how you can recharge your electric vehicle right in the garage of your GTA home.
A Detailed Look at Level 1 Charging Installation
Electric charging stations carry 1 of 3 designations:
We’ll cover Levels 2 and 3 in other posts. But here we’re going to concentrate on Level 1 charging.
First off, we need to clear something up. A Level 1 charging station has another name you probably recognize: an outlet. That’s right. Level 1 charging requires nothing more than having an outlet in your garage that you can plug your EV into when you get home at night. To say it’s not rocket science would be the understatement of the year. The only reason you may need to contact an electrician to “install” a Level 1 charging station is if you don’t currently have an outlet in your garage that can deliver the juice to your new EV.
So the term “Level 1 charging station” doesn’t mean you need any fancy pants technology installed in your home. It just refers to a standard 110 Volt or 120 Volt AC outlet that you can plug your car into. (The fancy technology will come in the form of a special connector that will enable you to plug the car into the wall.) As you can imagine this type of charging appeals to plenty of homeowners who, of course, have AC outlets in their garage. They currently use these outlets only rarely for power tools and the like. So the idea that they can now re-purpose them as a kind of gas pump for their car is very attractive.
Why it is Not More Widespread
The idea of never having to visit a gas station again, indeed, the idea of being able to recharge your new vehicle through any old 110 Volt AC wall outlet seems like the type of breakthrough that would signal the dawn of a new Golden Age. So why hasn’t it? For one good reason: recharging your electric car in this manner can take up to 20 hours if the battery is depleted or close to depleted. That said, most people drive less than 30 miles a day. Which is only about ⅓ the range of the typical electric car. Therefore there’s a good chance they could plug in at night when they get home and the battery will be fully replenished with they woke up the next morning.
Nonetheless the glacially slow nature of Level 1 charging is a turn off to many people who want their car to recharge completely between the time they get home from work and the time they go out at night to meet their friends. And in that regard Level 1 charging is less a help than a hindrance. These folks may want to consider having a Level 2 charging station installed in their homes. It’s much faster and it may qualify for tax credits which will help offset the cost of installation. But we’ll get into that in our Level 2 post.
One more thing about Level 1 charging: very cold temperatures can have a significant impact on charging times. Perhaps doubling or even tripling that 20 hour full recharge time. And since the GTA tends to be a pretty cold place… well, you can imagine the dampening effect this can have on EV Level 1 charging enthusiasm. Cold weather will also extend the charging times for Level 2 and 3 charging. But in those cases, the extra time isn’t nearly such a big deal. As we’ll see in our Level 2 and 3 posts.