Electric vehicle charging

Planning is key for electric vehicle charging stations

Electrical contractors help to ensure installation safe and effective
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Sherri Haigh, Joint Electrical Promotion Plan

As president of Signature Electric, Mark Marmer’s job can be a combination of detective and problem solver.

“Sometimes, I’m asked, ‘What’s involved in being able to install EV chargers? It’s just a thing with two wires and you hook it up, right?’” says Marmer, who is also a member of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO). “Unfortunately, it is not that simple.”

Certainly, as more Ontarians transition to electric vehicles (EVs), high-rise residential and business properties will need EV charging stations and should seek expert advice to ensure their investments are managed safely and correctly.

“Each different place needs a different approach,” Marmer notes. “For example, a workplace might put in chargers to accommodate employees, while a mall might be installing EV chargers as a way of encouraging shoppers to stay longer.”

The challenge is that if electric charging station owners don’t plan their EV strategy well, they will run into problems.

“When dealing with multi-unit residential or workplace, a licensed electrical contractor with EV experience will have advice to offer in terms of how many chargers at what location and power management options to reduce electrical capacity needs,” agrees Cara Clairman, Founder and CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization and trusted source for information in the electric vehicle industry.

“An experienced person is going to have the knowledge to help the customer really get the best solution out there,” she adds.

Optimizing your EV installation

EV installations can be complex. In a multi-use residential building, for example, it requires working with property managers, condo residents, and an electrical contractor. To help, Plug’n Drive has created a guide for condo owners, boards, and managers that highlights the important considerations and steps for the entire process and stresses the importance of hiring a licensed electrical contractor who has experience with electric car charger installation.

While it can be a complex task, the benefit of bringing in experts at the beginning of the process is they can help make it a lot easier.

Says Marmer: “Electrical contractors are in a perfect position to be able to help move this forward. You just need to bring us an idea of what you need to begin, and we will figure the rest out.”

Marmer has worked with EV chargers in a variety of locations. Speaking from experience, he says each brings new challenges and can require creativity: “We’ve done workplaces, shopping malls, schools, or even cities. And it’s not just the level two chargers; we do a lot of level three chargers for auto manufacturers, so we’ve worked with this technology in all kinds of interesting places.”

Given the growing interest in electric vehicles and federal funding grants available, the demand for EVs will only increase. That means even homebuyers who are looking for an electric charger should be using an expert.

“I would definitely go with a licensed contractor,” says Clairman. “I just think it makes sense to go with somebody who knows what they’re doing because there’s a fire risk if you don’t. Also, it’s important to remember that an ESA approval is required.”

“It’s like the equivalent of hooking up a stove but keeping the stove on six hours a day inside your house,” adds Marmer. “Does this really seem like a do-it-yourself thing? I think not.”

To find a licensed electrical contractor in your region, visit ecao.org.

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