The Basics of Electric Vehicle Charging


As you might know, charging stations put power into the electric vehicle battery so that your EV can take you everywhere you need to go. EV chargers come in a few different forms and deliver different amounts of voltage, which can be a little confusing if you’re not familiar with them. Read on to learn the basics of electric vehicle charging.

How EV Charging Stations Work

First of all, let’s talk about how charging stations actually work. The charging station uses two-way communication between the charger and the car to determine how much voltage your battery can handle. Some charging stations also monitor the battery for voltage, temperature and current flow to minimize charging time. Additionally, the charger gives as much power as possible without raising the battery temperature too high. This gives an extra level of safety and helps avoid damaging the battery.

Residential Charging Stations

Home is where the EV charger is, because almost 90% of charging happens at home. Charging your car at home is one of the best conveniences about driving electric. There are two charging levels of residential charging stations: Level 1 and Level 2.


Level 1

To start with, Level 1 is the most basic charging station and delivers the slowest charge. It has a three-prong plug on one end that fits into a regular outlet, and a connector on the other end to put into the vehicle. It’s portable and comes standard with plug-in vehicles.

A Level 1, which requires 120 volts, takes around 20 hours to get a full battery. This is a good option if you only drive a short distance each day. However, for a quicker charger that’s more reliable and safer, Level 2 is a better option for regular use.

Level 2

Second, Level 2 charging stations deliver a much quicker charge than Level 1. Level 2 stations require installation and are therefore not portable. They charge on 240-volts, delivering a full battery in about 4-5 hours. This means if you plug in at night that you can leave home with a full battery each morning. It also offers an added level of safety to your vehicle, while preventing damage to the battery, including short circuits and fire hazards.

Charge up to 5 times faster with FLO Home. Find out more info here.

Public Charging Stations

You may have noticed EV charging stations at retail stores, on city streets or parking garages. Public charging stations are a convenient way to top-off your battery while you’re on the road and are your car’s best friend on road tips. To find charging station on the FLO Network, click here.

Depending on the model of your car and its connector, there are two types of public charging stations available: the 240-volt charging station (Level 2) and the 400-volt charging station (Level 3).

Level 2

Just like the residential Level 2 charging station, the public Level 2 charging station delivers 240-volts. It works with a J1772 connector and can charge the battery of your electric vehicle in 4-5 hours. They’re ideal for times when you know you’ll be parked for a few hours, like while you’re shopping or going to the movies.

Level 3 (Fast Charging)

Need to charge up quickly? Fast charging or DC charging stations deliver 400-volts. You can get 80% charged in around 30 minutes. Fast chargers work with vehicles that have the CHAdeMO or the SAE Combo connector. Not sure if your vehicle is compatible? Check here to see if your EV accepts fast charging.


How to Access Public Charging Stations

There are thousands of charging stations across Canada. Some are free to use, and others require payment and/or membership. There are no set prices for charging stations. Although on average, it costs $1/hour for a Level 2 and $15/hour for a fast charging station.

FLO is Canada’s largest EV charging network. Your FLO membership gives you access to 33,000 charging stations in North America. Sign up here today.

Plug ‘N Drive
Union of Concerned Scientists

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