Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

vehicle charger By William Burr

Pike Research recently forecasted North American electric vehicle sales will grow from around 66,000 units in 2012 to 1.8 million units in 2020.* Whether this prediction is met or exceeded, the batteries driving these electric vehicles will need to be charged. The one challenge facing the adoption of electric vehicles today is no longer related to the length of the “extension cord” but limitations around location and proliferation of charging sites.

By enabling electric vehicles to be charged, not only at home base, but at any destination where the driver may park, barriers to electric vehicle adoption can be lowered. On-board recharging through a hybrid fuel cell or generator system may be desirable for long distance travelling. However, for urban applications it is likely that a more common charging method will be by electric vehicle charging systems installed in parking stalls or along the roadside. There is also ongoing research and development of induction recharging systems that can be located in the floor or roadbed without a physical connection to the electric vehicle. Electrical equipment manufacturers, electric vehicle manufacturers and standards developers are working diligently on technology and standards to address these potential buyer concerns.

The Canadian Electrical Code, Part I** and associated Part II Electrical Equipment Standards provide the standards and installation rules for electric vehicle charging systems.
Section 86 of the Canadian Electrical Code outlines the particular requirements for the installation of electric vehicle charging systems and amends or supplements the general requirements of the Code which also apply.

It needs to be noted that this section of the Code covers charging systems for automotive-type vehicles for highway use such as passenger autos, buses, trucks, vans, and other vehicles that draw current from a charging system, but excludes electric motorcycles, scooters, off-road electric vehicles such as industrial trucks, hoists, lifts, transports, golf carts and similar equipment that is charged from normal or dedicated distribution equipment.

Also note that the Installation Code does not apply to the electric vehicle inlet which is the conductive or inductive device for charging that is a permanently affixed to the vehicle. The standard for this equipment is contained in CSA - C22.2 NO. 282-13 Plugs, receptacles, and couplers for electric vehicles.***

Section 26-700 of the Code requires that a charging system be installed in a residential garage or car park where required, by the National Building Code of Canada.
Rules 86-200 and 86-400 outline the requirement to install warning signs about the need to provide ventilation for operation of the equipment as per manufacturers' instructions. Ventilation must be provided where battery charging causes hazardous off-gassing of the batteries. Where electric vehicle charging equipment is located indoors and requires ventilation, it must be adequately provided in each charging area and must be interlocked to operate with the charging equipment to render it inoperative if the ventilation is interrupted. Note also that equipment installed in commercial garages and flammable liquid dispensing and service areas must comply with Section 20 of the Code.

The Electric Vehicle charging system must be supplied by a separate branch circuit that may also supply associated ventilation equipment. For the purposes of load calculation, the charging and ventilation equipment are considered a continuous load. In addition a separate disconnecting means needs to be provided for each installation of electric vehicle charging equipment rated at 60 Amps or more, or more than 150 volts to ground. These requirements are contained in Rules 86-300 to 86-304 of the Code.


Receptacles for electric vehicle charging need to be conspicuously, legibly and permanently labelled as such, and must be either a standard 5-20R configuration for a 20amp/125 volt branch circuit, or as per CSA configuration contained in Diagram 1 or 2 for a branch circuit more than 20 amps or 125 volts. A standard 20 amp/125 volt receptacle installed outdoors within 2.5 meters of finished grade must be protected with a Class A GFCI (86-306).

There may be applications where an electric vehicle may be used as a power production source or a standby power system. Such a vehicle must be specifically approved and marked for that purpose. The interconnection equipment must be installed and used in conformance with Section 84 of the Code.
The latest development I've found, through internet research, is a Japanese car-maker and electric vehicle pioneer that has been investigating building wireless charging points along major highways that would continually charge electric vehicles as they travelled. Apparently there is a test stretch of road in South Korea capable of automatically charging electric buses as they drive by.

William (Bill) Burr is the former Chair of the Canadian Advisory Council on Electrical Safety (CACES), former Director of Electrical and Elevator Safety for the Province of BC, and former Director of Electrical and Gas Standards Development and former Director of Conformity Assessment at CSA Group. Bill can be reached at Burr and Associates Consulting billburr@gmail.com.

* Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, Level 1 and Level 2, DC Fast Charging, and Wireless EVSE: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts. Pike Research, October, 2012
** References to the Canadian Electrical Code or the Code are to the Canadian Electrical Code, Part I, Twenty-second edition, published by the Canadian Standards Association
*** CSA - C22.2 NO. 282-13 Plugs, receptacles, and couplers for electric vehicles is published by the Canadian Standards Association.

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