Electric cars and hybrids are very popular right now and with good reason. Fuel and maintenance costs are significantly lower than a gas or diesel powered vehicle. Insurance is usually less expensive too. Its a very popular trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Interest will continue to increase in Evs as ranges extend and more charging stations come online and the upfront cost continues to come down. A question that comes up for us from our customers is “how do I charge my car quickly and safely?”
LEVEL 1 Charging – this charger comes with the vehicle you purchase, plug it into a regular 120V 15A outlet and start charging. The problem is this isn’t much more than a trickle charger and it can take a long time to fully charge the battery. Which isn’t an issue if you have lots of time for your car to charge. If you’re using your EV as a daily commuter, level 1 charging won’t work long term. Its always better for your battery to be between full charge and and half charge than to be between half charge and no charge
LEVEL 2 Charging – purchase a level 2 charger for roughly $1000. Plug it in to a 240V outlet and you can fully charge your battery overnight, or sooner! Bad news is most houses don’t come equipped with a 240V outlet in the garage. Usually your main electrical panel is in the garage so its typically a pretty straightforward job. Call us for a free estimate. We also sell competitively priced chargers
1. Does your electrical service have enough capacity? a 100A electrical service in a basic 2000 -3000 sq ft house with a stove, dryer, and gas heat and hot water is probably ok. If you have a suite, AC, hot tub, electric heat, shop, welder, etc. you’ll likely be overloading your electrical service by adding a car charger. There are options such as load sharing switches to overcome this. You may also need to upgrade your electrical service. We provide a no cost electrical service calculation to see if this is necessary
Maybe you’re thinking of buying a Tesla! Adding a hot tub or air conditioner. Building a detached shop or other outbuilding. Renovating or adding on to your existing home or business.
A service upgrade from 100A to 200A will increase the value of your home and make it easier to sell. The investment you make in a service upgrade almost always results in added value to your home above and beyond the upgrade cost.
Your electrical service is the system which brings power from the electrical grid (BC Hydro) to your home or business. There are 2 different types.
OVERHEAD: Wiring is run on power poles then distributed to individual homes and buildings.
UNDERGROUND: Wiring is run underground through conduits or cables to your electrical panel . I personally prefer underground electrical services. Your electrical service cant be damaged by wind, trees or sun
They do cost more up front. In the long run, in my opinion, they’re better value.
Today (January 2023) governments are restricting access to fuel sources such as natural gas and encouraging us to switch to a completely electrified system
With this in mind, the past standard of 200A for your typical large house often isn’t enough. We’ve installed a number of 400A electrical services for new homes lately
Options other than a 400A service are load share and demand share devices
A load share is a device that uses one dedicated circuit for two electrical loads, for example a dryer and an EV charger. You set the primary load to say the dryer, when the dryer is not being used the electricity can then be used for the EV charger
A demand share is a device that measures the electrical power you are using and will shed a load like an EV charger or hot tub when too much electricity is being used for your service size. EG: 200A service with a demand share set to 80%, 160A. If you are using more than 160A the EV charger will drop off line until your electricity use is at a safe level then turn back on again
3) REPLACE AN OUTDATED OR DAMAGED SYSTEM
4) Damage from wind, vehicle impact, etc.
Panel Replacement or Upgrade
This involves disconnecting power to the building, removing the existing electrical panel, then installing a new panel. The grounding and bonding systems are inspected to confirm they are intact.
Grounding: Approximately 70% of the homes where we have replaced the electrical panel have had no grounding system prior to our work. In older homes (25+ years old) the main water line has often been replaced. The original main water line was copper and this was also the grounding for the electrical system. When the original copper line is removed and the new PVC (plastic) water line is installed the home has no grounding system. The electrical system ground has essentially been disconnected from the earth. Check at your main water shut-off inside the building. There is a clamp that attaches a copper wire to the water lines. If you do not have a minimum of 10 ft of copper water line in the earth at this point you have no ground. The solution is to install an approved grounding plate or grounding rods.
Solar panels generate electricity when the sun shines and will power many electrical loads in your home or business. The panels are electrically connected together and a cable is installed from the solar panels back to a inverter charger, the electricity is converted from DC to AC, the type used in modern electrical appliances and devices. If you produce excess electricity it will go back into the BC Hydro grid and they will issue you an annual credit based on what you produce over and above your usuage. You can also add a battery bank to store electricity in an off grid situation.
A great way to add electrical capacity to your home or office.
With the current government incentives its approximately 6-7 years to pay back the cost of the solar installation. Solar panel are guaranteed for 25 years. They often continue producing electricity for 30-35 years so as you can see its a cost effective way to reduce your electricity bill and reliance on the grid. The Federal government of Canada is now offering up to a $40,000 interest free loan over a 10yr time period as an incentive to go solar. We can walk you through the process
Bonding: All metal plumbing, waste or natural gas lines in the building must be bonded (electrically connected) together. Usually natural gas lines installed after the home was built have not been connected to the bonding system. There should be a visible clamp connection from the metal plumbing and gas lines to the electrical panel. If not, the solution is to install a copper wire from the metal lines to the bond connection in the electrical panel.
Installing a Sub-Panel
Often this is all that’s needed if you need space for new circuits or an addition or renovation. The sub-panel is installed close to the original main electrical panel or where the new circuits will be needed (outbuilding, suite, new kitchen etc.).
Sometimes the existing breakers can be reconfigured or replaced to free up additional circuit space as well.
Metering for a secondary suite can be done a number of ways. You can replace the single meter base with a duplex or double meter base
This way you can set up 2 BC Hydro accounts, no disputes over whos using the most electricity. One caveat, the existing wiring inside the suite must be isolated from the main residence. A great idea when doing a new house with a suite. You can also install a private meter within the home and track electrical usage that way. An electronic power meter can be installed as well
400A Electrical Service
400A services require a BC Hydro meter cabinet and CT’s installed. Basically, there are no meters that are capable of more than 200A so the current must be stepped down through the CT (current transformer) so the electricity usage can be determined
CT cabinet on the left, meter base on the right. CT’s and meter still to be installed
For questions, or a free estimate on upgrading your electrical service contact us today.