The vast majority of electric car charging happens at home or at work, well within the range of a typical electric car. However, public charging infrastructure is also needed to allow people to top up while they go about their daily errands, to support longer road trips, and to provide peace of mind for drivers.
You can find public charging stations on the PlugShare website or app. Use PlugShare’s filters (network and plug type) to zero in on the stations that work best for you and your vehicle.
PlugShare’s helpful maps include colour-coded station icons to highlight which stations are public Level 2 or fast charging, and often include valuable crowd-sourced information such as whether a station is not working, or detailed directions for on-site navigation in large parkades or parking lots.
“Level 2” (240 volt) Charging Stations
Level 2 (240v – J-1772 plug) chargers are very common and can be found anywhere from parking garages and community centres to rest areas. These chargers provide more power than a household outlet and most vehicles will gain 20-40km of range per hour of charging. All modern electric vehicles can use the J-1772 connections found on these charging stations (Teslas come with a small adapter). Drivers will often need to join a service network to access these stations using an RFID card or smartphone app. Learn more about service networks and accounts.
You’ll also notice some Tesla “destination chargers” in your travels. These are equivalent to Level 2 charging stations, but are exclusive to Tesla vehicles and do not require a service network account to use.
“Level 3” Direct Current Fast Charging Stations
You will see these referred to as “Level 3,” “DCFC,” or simply “Fast Chargers.” These high powered stations can be found at shopping centres, community centres, rest areas and even gas stations. B.C. has well over 100 of these stations. They usually have both CHAdeMO and CCS plugs, but only one will be usable at a time.
Charging times depend on several factors, such as the size of your vehicle’s battery and the capabilities of your car. On average, it would take about an hour to charge from completely empty to 80%. Like other public charging stations, many of these will require a service network card or app to activate. Read about service networks, RFID cards and apps before you hit the road.
Some other points to consider about fast charging stations:
- EV etiquette is important at fast charging stations. We recommend you limit your charging time to 30 to 40 minutes to minimize the waiting time for others who need to charge.
- Your charging speed will slow down as the battery fills up. This is done to avoid damage to your battery, but it means that your car will charge slower as the battery gets topped up. Fast charging stations are increasingly being accompanied by Level 2 stations so that you can switch in case you need to top off your charge.
- Fast charging stations range from 25 kW to 250+ kW. Most are currently 50 kW. A higher powered station can charge batteries faster, but only if the vehicle is designed to use it. Don’t worry, you can still use a vehicle with a lower charging rate at a higher powered station – you just won’t get an extra benefit from it.
- A Tesla vehicle can only use public fast charging stations with a CHAdeMO adapter, sold separately from the vehicle.
Tesla’s own network of Superchargers are the counterpart to public fast charging stations. Only Tesla vehicles can use these charging stations, and they don’t require signing up for a service network account.