Electric vehicles have really grown in popularity in recent years. In fact, most automotive manufacturers have released several electric or hybrid vehicle models – from small cars to full-sized pickups. (There are even electric semi trucks being designed and in service).  The increase in EVs (electric vehicles) on the road means growing demand for available charging stations. One way to alleviate the need is by building your own detached garage to accommodate electric vehicles and charge your car from home.

Understanding Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles, as the name suggests, run on electricity. Unlike their carbon counterparts, you cannot stop at any gas station for a quick “top-up”. Electric vehicles need to be charged with very specific equipment – EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) – making it essential for owners of electric vehicles to find compatible charging stations. The EVSE takes a DC energy source and converts it to AC electricity that can be stored in the battery cell of the vehicle. Thankfully, with careful planning, you can build your detached garage with all the necessary equipment to effectively and efficiently charge your car at home!

Choosing The Right Equipment For Charging

As mentioned, electric vehicles require specialized charging equipment to convert DC power to usable energy in your EV. There are 3 standard charging levels when it comes to EVSE. Level 1 is the most basic – your car is plugged directly into a 120v outlet with the included charging cord (an SAE J1772 connector).  This is the slowest way to charge your car, often taking well over 20 hours to bank enough to go a mere 200 km. If your car is your daily commuter, this likely isn’t your most sustainable option.

Level 2 chargers use the same SAEJ1772 connector but are plugged into a separate charger with a 240v outlet instead of the standard 120v found in most homes and garages. For the same 200km range, a modest-sized car only needs to be plugged in for an average of 5 hours.

The fastest charging is done with a Level 3 connector and a DC Fast Charger. Not all electric cars are compatible with the DC Fast Chargers and connectors (CHAdeMO or CCS sockets). It is important for you to know what equipment your electric vehicle requires for charging so that you are not left stranded somewhere with no means to recharge your battery

**It is also important to note that Tesla vehicles have their own unique EVSE exclusive to Tesla, though adaptors are available for purchase.

Garage Planning

Designing a detached garage that is properly equipped to charge your electric vehicle is the best way to ensure your vehicle is always ready to go when you need it. Whether you are planning to build a brand-new garage or want to upgrade your current one, you will need to enlist the help of an electrician. Their expertise is required to determine how much electrical draw your supply can handle. Sometimes, a second service line needs to be run to the property to provide a sufficient electrical current – especially if you are planning to set up a Level 2 Charging Station.

Other important things that must be considered when planning your garage to accommodate your electric car:

  • Where will you park your car inside your garage? This will determine where a new service needs to come into the building (if necessary) and where to install your charging station for convenience and practicality.
  • Where will your electrical panel be in relation to your charging station? This will impact the overall cost of EVSE installation – 8-guage wire (required for a Level 2 charging station with a 40-amp circuit) is over $3/foot.
  • Does your municipality require a permit to install a charging station? The City of Edmonton requires a homeowner or professional electrician to apply for an EV Charger Permit before work begins. A load calculation must be performed to determine if you need a new service wired or if an Energy Management System is sufficient.

A well-built garage is also important for protecting your battery life. It should be no surprise that Alberta gets darn cold in the winter months. If you’ve ever forgotten your cell phone in your car in December, you know that freezing temperatures are particularly hard on electronics. Your EV is no exception. Building a detached garage that is adequately insulated to protect against the cold will ensure your battery effectively charges and holds that charge.

Conclusion

Whether you are building from the ground up or retrofitting your existing detached garage, adding a home charging station for your electric vehicle can save you time and money in the long run. You do not have to worry about factoring in travel to find a charging station nearby, as you can conveniently pull into your garage and plug your car in to recharge at the end of the day (and you won’t have to sit around for hours waiting at the public charging station). With a little extra planning, you can install an efficient charging station in your own garage and ensure your electric car is protected and always ready to roll!

Not sure where to start? Reach out to Alberta Garage Builders for a complimentary consultation. We will help you determine your next steps in building a detached garage in Edmonton to best accommodate your electric car.