Watts Up: EV Charger Installation Safety

Approximately 80 per cent of EV charging happens at home

By Wheels.ca Wheels.ca

Feb 13, 2023 4 min. read

Article was updated 8 months ago

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Sales of electric vehicles have been surging in recent years, with roughly 1 in 14 new cars sold in the first half of 2022 being an EV. That’s a decent uptick from the 1 in 20 statistic recorded in the initial six months of the year prior. Whatever the motivator, EV sales are likely to jump by further leaps and bounds in the coming annums, partly because of government decree but also thanks to large advancements in battery technology which permits longer driving ranges and shorter charging times.

Another fun statistic for all you numbers nerds (*raises hand*) is the realization that approximately 80 percent of all EV charging happens at home. Like buying an electric vehicle in the first place, the reasons for this are varied – convenience, lack of public infrastructure, cheap residential electricity – but it cannot be denied the vast majority of EV owners juice their cars whilst parked at home.

Since charging an electric vehicle with a standard wall plug is akin to drinking the Pacific Ocean through a straw, many folks are investing in robust at-home charging infrastructure. Some companies such as Ford even sell their own branded units in a move that is sure to delight their shareholders and accountants in equal measure. These chargers are generally referred to as “Level 2” units thanks to their ability to recharge an EV much more quickly than a standard charger but understandably slower than the big Level 3 public chargers found in parking lots.

It’s important to harness the immense power of electricity safely, especially when dealing with EV charging tools. Look for a certification mark on the charger you’re considering, making sure it carries the official mark or label of a recognized certification or evaluation agency. Electrical equipment needs to be approved by an accredited certification or evaluation agency before it is used, sold, displayed, or advertised for sale in Ontario. This indicates the product has been independently assessed for safety.

“The mark is critical. That way we know the product has met the Ontario safety standard instead of bearing certification from a market whose requirements are different,” said James Fraser, General Manager of Electrical Safety Authority, Ontario's electrical safety regulator, based in Mississauga. “Assembling parts and pieces from vendors selling uncertified equipment could lead to failure or fire.” Good advice, to be sure – especially in the face of the danger improperly installed electrical gear can cause.

The importance of hiring a licensed electrical contractor for this installation cannot be stressed enough, especially since almost everyone either “knows a guy” or has someone who can “do it cheaper”. In today’s climate of interest rate hikes and hyperinflation, it may be tempting to take that route. But as they say in Monopoly: stop – do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

Improper installation of an EV charger can lead to a world of issues, not the least of which could be an electrical fire. People who are trained and proficient with residential electric work will know the steps to take and safety procedures to follow whilst connecting your new Level 2 charger. In fact, the province of Ontario stipulates that anyone hired to complete electrical work in your home must, by law, be a Licensed Electrical Contractor with an ECRA/ESA electrical contracting licence. Visit esasafe.com/contractor to find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you.

Alert consumers will have clued into the fact EVs can draw a lot of electricity depending on charging demands. This is why it is important to ensure a home’s electrical panel can handle the extra load – a determination easily made by a Licensed Electrical Contractor but potentially overlooked by Uncle Walt who said he could handle the job for a good price. And whilst many people equate the requirements of a Level 2 EV charger with that of an electric stove or clothes dryer, Fraser points out an important distinction.

“Those common appliances aren’t typically operating for eight hours at a time,” he explains. “A Level 2 charger draws electricity continuously, making it the highest demand load in your house.” Ensuring the wiring and panel breaker can safely handle this stress is why ESA partners with only the best Licensed Electrical Contractors. This point of order applies to Level 1 chargers as well, by the way.

Like most home renovations, a raft of paperwork is required to be on the up-and-up, including filing a notification of work with ESA before starting the job and an ESA certificate of acceptance once the work is complete. The latter is of particular note since your home insurance provider may ask to see the certificate after getting wind of that snazzy new EV charger on yer premises. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle which cannot be overlooked.

The experts at ESA are fonts of EV charger knowledge, offering up tips and advice online at esasafe.com/ev or through their social media channels. Similarly, if you happen upon an unsafe EV charger – or discover your own Level 2 unit at home does not have a certification mark – report it to ESA by visiting their website or calling 1-877-ESA-SAFE.


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