Ask any EV driver and they will tell you that most of their charging takes place at home, but there are times when you need to use a public charging station. There are two levels, or speeds, of public charging.
Destination/Opportunity Charging (Level 2)
1 Hour of Charge ~ 30 km of Driving Range
Level 2 public charging is often referred to as a destination or opportunity charging. There are thousands of Level 2 stations across Canada at restaurants, malls and parkades. Level 2 public charging is a great solution if you plan on staying at your 'destination' for several hours or are looking for a quick 'opportunity' top-up.
All Level 2 public charging stations, (with the exception of Tesla), use the same plug standard, which means any car from any brand can use any Level 2 station across Canada and the United States.
Many Level 2 public charging stations are free-to-use. For those that are pay-per-use, the average cost is $1.00/Hour or $2.50/Charge.
Fast/DC-Quick Charging (Level 3)
1 Hour of Charge ~ 250 km of range
If you are going on a road-trip, but don't have the time to stop and use a Level 2 charging station, then Level 3 is for you.
Level 3 charging stations are gas station replacements for electric cars that will charge your battery from empty to 80% in 30-45 minutes. There are well over 1,000 Level 3 stations across Canada that are located along major roads and highways.
There are three plug standards for Level 3. Tesla has a unique standard that only Tesla vehicles can use. All other North American and European manufacturers use SAE-Combo and most Asian manufacturers use CHAdeMO. Fortunately, most Level 3 stations have both SAE-Combo and CHAdemo attached, which means any car from any brand can use any Level 3 charging station across Canada and the United States.
Most Level 3 charging stations are pay-per-use and most of them bill by the minute for an average cost of $15/Hour.
Finding Public Charging Stations
Canada has well over 5,000 public charging stations and growing, but they can be difficult to find. Charging stations take up very little space and are often not accompanied by the large brightly-lit signs that we are accustomed to seeing when looking for a gas station. Fortunately, there's an app for that.
PlugShare and ChargeHub are two independent user-verified public charging maps that track the location and operating status of every public charging station across North America in real-time. Both platforms have user feedback loops, in-built navigation features and search filters that can help you find public charging stations along your route. Both maps can be accessed online and are free to download from Google Play and the App Store.