How quickly can you recharge your electric car’s batteries on your cottage commute? —In partnership with Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi.

By Cottage Life Staff

If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle (EV), but you’re concerned that the battery life won’t get you to the lake, here’s what you need to know. The EV industry uses a Level 1-2-3 classification for charging methods based on how quickly they transfer power. Here’s the rundown of current and future ways to refuel your electric vehicle.

Level 1: Plug it into a standard electrical outlet. Most EVs come with a charge cord that plugs in just like a block heater. You can pull into your driveway on an empty battery and head out in the morning, 8 to 12 hours later, fully charged. You’ll never need to gas up in the morning before you hit the highway.

Level 2: Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). If you need to shorten the wait you get from a standard household outlet, a certified electrician can connect an EVSE outlet directly to a breaker in your circuit box. This will charge you up within 3 1/2 hours. Level 2 chargers make up the vast majority of Canada’s 3,000 existing public charging stations. Forward-thinking marinas should be installing more Level 1 outlets and Level 2 chargers for their cottagers (and tacking on charging fees).

Level 3: DC Fast Charge (DCFC). These units look just like gas pumps and can charge your battery in about 25 minutes, which is comparable to the average time that travellers spend at a highway rest stop. These seem like a natural replacement for service stations until you realize that, as electric vehicle batteries improve their range, no one will ever need to charge for trips of less than 500 km. They’ll just plug in when they get to their destination. The Outlander PHEV is the first plug-in hybrid SUV with DC quick charging capable of charging the battery to 80 per cent in about 25 minutes.

Level 4: Flash Charge. Engineers now envision a future in which the next generation of charging stations don’t draw directly from the grid to your car. Instead, giant batteries inside a gantry-crane structure, which straddles the road, will store energy from the grid. When you need to juice up your car you’ll pass beneath the gantry, and its batteries will transfer power to your car in two minutes or less. It’s a system now being developed for electric buses, so they can recharge in the time it takes to let passengers on and off at a single stop. No matter which level, as Canada’s charging station network expands, so must the capacity of its electrical grid. This is good news for cottagers who’ve been long accustomed to spotty service, who’ll likely see improvements to their local grids. If we’re all going to drive electric cars, power outages will have to become a thing of the past.