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Electrical engineering considerations for making the switch to an electric vehicle

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As the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to surge, more people are looking to install EV charging stations. While the benefits of owning an EV are numerous—ranging from lower environmental impact to reduced fuel costs—there are electrical engineering considerations to address before setting up your charging infrastructure.

The surge in electric vehicle adoption brings forth the challenge of creating a robust and accessible charging infrastructure. Long wait times at charging stations not only inconvenience drivers but also hinder the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering setting up a charging station:

Charging capacity and power supply

The available electrical capacity of your existing facility (single or multi-unit) is the biggest driver in determining whether you can add EV chargers and how many. Ensure your main electrical panel can handle the additional load. EV chargers, especially Level 2 chargers, can draw significant power (typically between 16 to 40 amps).

An electrical engineer can perform a load calculation to determine if your panel can support the charger without overloading the system. An engineer can also provide you with different solutions for adapting your existing electrical capacity without necessarily having to upgrade the infrastructure. An energy management system, for example, can be an affordable option for a condominium building to share the available load between multiple chargers.

Additionally, you may need to upgrade your electrical service to a higher capacity, particularly if you have other high-power appliances or plan to add more in the future. This is the first critical step in ensuring that your home or facility can handle the increased electrical demand.

Safety and compliance

Compliance with safety standards and local regulations is crucial for a secure and legal installation.

The Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC) and the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) provide guidelines for the safe installation of electrical systems in the different provinces of Canada, including EV charging stations. Adhering to these codes ensures safety and prevents potential issues. Additionally, you will need to check with local authorities for any specific requirements or permits needed for installation.

Compliance with local regulations not only ensures safety but also helps you avoid fines and delays.

Supplier and experience of installer

Choosing the right supplier and installer is vital for the success of your EV charging station installation. Ensure you purchase your EV charger from a reputable supplier that provides reliable products and excellent customer support. All products used in Canada must be CSA-certified to allow its installation.

Hiring a licensed electrical engineer and electrician with experience in EV charger installations ensures that the job is done correctly and safely. A professional will also be familiar with local codes and can handle any necessary upgrades to your electrical system.


The location of your EV charging station impacts both convenience and safety. Choose a location that is easily accessible to your vehicle. Consider the length of the charging cable and ensure it can comfortably reach your car’s charging port. Install your charger in a location that is protected from the elements. While many chargers are weather-resistant, providing some shelter can extend their lifespan and reliability.

Design requirements for permits

Securing the necessary permits involves specific design considerations.

Working with an electrical engineer, you can prepare a detailed site plan showing the location of the charger, electrical panels, and any necessary upgrades. This plan will be essential when applying for permits.

Future-proofing your installation

When installing an EV charger, think about your future needs. If you anticipate adding more electric vehicles, plan your electrical system to accommodate additional chargers. Also, consider installing a smart charger that can manage electricity use more efficiently and even integrate with renewable energy sources like solar panels.

Installing an EV charging station is a significant step toward embracing sustainable transportation. By considering these electrical engineering factors, you can ensure a smooth and efficient installation process. For personalized advice and professional installation services, reach out to LRL Engineering and let us drive you toward a greener future.

LRL Engineering is a multidisciplinary engineering firm headquartered in Ottawa, offering services that support your needs for your next building, infrastructure, or land development project.