A Closer Look at ESA’s EV Charger Installation Blitz & EV Charger Considerations


November 24, 2023

By Blake Marchand

Earlier this year, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) conducted an EV charger installation ‘blitz’ as part of their campaign to educate homeowners and consumers, in an effort to improve EV charger installation safety in Ontario.

We spoke to Steve Nelson, General Manager for the Central Region of Ontario for ESA, who oversees all inspectors and senior inspectors for that area, to gain more insight.

The blitz found more than 400 violations. Nelson explained that through their routine inspections they came across “an increase in the number of electric vehicle charger installations” without a permit. That triggered a dedicated campaign in the city of Toronto, to help with education on the requirements of EV charger installations in Ontario.

As mentioned, they found over 400 instances of work without a permit, “so, as inspectors, we’re going to head out, take a look at these installations, and reach out to homeowners about these infractions.”

Nelson noted that when a violation is identified, it does require further action.

A key aspect for ESA in this is educating the homeowner about the requirements and implications of different electric vehicles and different levels of chargers. Once people buy an EV, they don’t necessarily know what comes along with that with respect to installing the right charger, ensuring their electrical infrastructure can handle the increased load, as well as who is required to complete the installation.

With respect to the latter, in Ontario, a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) with a registered ECRA number is required by law.

“A lot of homeowners are unaware they’ve hired somebody’s friend or somebody’s brother that only partially knows what to do. They’re unaware that they needed a permit and they’re not sure of the process, which indicates a need for further education and awareness,” explained Nelson.

ESA’s awareness campaigns extend to working with dealerships, attending auto shows, and working with automotive authorities.

“There’s a  page which anybody can visit  to enhance their knowledge. Through that resource, you can find a licensed electrical contractor. It’s not only a great way to find an LEC, but it’s also a way to validate whether that person that you hired is, in fact, a valid licensed electrical contractor.”

When it comes to the LEC side of things, Nelson said, “more recent electrical contractors will understand their work parameters, like which projects they need to get a permit for, and which will get inspected. This, in turn, increases homeowner safety.”

Although he recognizes that some LECs may not work with EV chargers as often as others and may need more education, as well. ESA has information on their website, as mentioned, but LECs can also reach out to technical advisors and inspectors for information at any time.

You can also consult Section 86 of the Canadian Electrical Code, or the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, which cover EV charger installations. Our monthly CE Code Series by William (Bill) Burr provides a guide for finding your way through each section of the code, you can find the Section 86 installment HERE.

“I would just remind homeowner that we are here to help every step of the way because we want a safe Ontario,” noted Nelson.

EV Charger Considerations

There are three levels of EV charger.

Level 1 chargers use a 120-volt outlet and are typically installed at the home because they take longer to charge – from 12 to 20 hours for a full charge – and homeowners can charge their car overnight when rates and load demand are lower.

Level 2 chargers require a 240-volt outlet, a full charge typically takes between 6-14 hours. Level 2 chargers are installed in the home, businesses, and common areas. They are available in different amperages, typically from 30 to 80 amps, higher amps mean faster charging. A 30 A level 2 charger (7.2 kw) will typically charge your battery 60% in 6-8 hours.

Level 3 chargers use a direct current to charge the car faster and more efficiently; they charge at 100km per 30 minutes, and 1-4hrs to fully charge a battery. They are more likely to be installed at businesses, rest stops, and common areas.

ESA EV Charger Installation Blitz & EV Charger Considerations
Charging Stations at an OnRoute in Tilbury, Ontario

The faster the charger, the higher the amperage will be, so depending on the load available with your electrical panel, a higher amperage may require a panel upgrade.

There are two approaches for installations, hardwired and plug-in. Hardwired is often a preferred option for a level 2 charger, it limits points of failure and better protects outdoor chargers.

Smart EV chargers can be set to adjust to load demand and timing factors and allow for monitoring. Similarly, an EV EMS (Electric Vehicle Energy Management System) can detect when an EV charger is using more than its share of the main circuit breaker capacity and will de-energize the EV charger in those instances. Technically, an EMS ensures that the “system” is not being overloaded; they would detect when there is not as much power available as the EV is requesting and will prevent it from overloading the infrastructure. There are many different systems on the market; some shut off the supply when the demands do not permit it to operate at full capacity, while others will scale the power available based on overall demand, first in, or other measures. Typically, these systems are implemented in commercial and multi-unit residential applications.

Other considerations include: the type of connector, vehicles compatibility, indoor/outdoor rated products, portable or permanent chargers, and cord length.

Connectors include J1772 (J plug), used for level one and two chargers. CCS (BMW, GM, and Volkswagen) and CHAdeMO (Mitsubishi, Nissan) are utilized for fast charging. Tesla chargers are proprietary, although adaptors can be used for J plug and CHAdeMO.

All of which speaks the importance of education for LECs so they can properly educate and consult clients on the various elements and considerations for EV charger installations.

More important, as Nelson speaks to with respect to ESA, is that the work is carried out by a certified professional and registered with the appropriate authority of jurisdiction. This is the best way to ensure installations are safe and to code.

“The licensed electrical contractor knows that they’re  required to fill out a permit and work with ESA before starting the installation which, in turn, gets inspected,” Nelson reiterated.

“If, as a homeowner, you are hiring someone to do work on your house in Ontario, it is law that they must be a licensed electrical contractor with that valid ESA ECRA license.”

Ultimately, he explained, “We want to reduce the risk of electrical fires or other damage to your new electric vehicle due to unlicensed or unpermitted work.”

Examples of unsafe work ESA found as part of the Toronto blitz

Nelson said they came across EV chargers mounted on trees, extension cords running across sidewalks and roads, indoor rated equipment installed outdoors, as well as installations without the proper overcurrent protection. Nelson noted this is often to appease the homeowner who wants the EV to charge faster.

“Just because it works, doesn’t mean it was done safely.”

Related Articles

Latest Articles

  • Video: LEDVANCE Lightpoint Learning Facility

    Video: LEDVANCE Lightpoint Learning Facility

    February 23, 2024 LIGHTPOINT Studio & Showroom, the brand-new corporate classroom training facility, located at their national customer service and sales center (NCSSC) in Westfield, IN. Go HERE for more information Read More…

  • How Effective Communication Reduces Plant Hazards

    How Effective Communication Reduces Plant Hazards

    February 23, 2024 By Rick Farrell, President, PlantTours In plant operations, the margin for error is notoriously slim. The smallest oversight, a single misinterpreted instruction, or an unnoticed alert can be the difference between smooth operations and catastrophic failures. While advanced technologies and protocols play an undeniable part in ensuring safety, the bedrock upon which… Read More…

  • A Guide To The Most Essential Hand Tools for Electricians

    A Guide To The Most Essential Hand Tools for Electricians

    February 22, 2024 By Jonard Tools It is currently a great time to be an electrician- however, you’ll need the right hand tools for the job. In this article Jonard Tools highlight the most essential hand tools for electrical work, as well as dive into the specifics of how they are utilized and why they’re… Read More…

  • New Research on Smart Home Technology and Market Trends

    New Research on Smart Home Technology and Market Trends

    February 22, 2024 AI-driven features in home energy management and security systems excite more than half of the current smart home users, concludes new research exploring the perceptions, preferences, and reservations of residential renters and owners regarding the adoption and usage of smart home technologies. However, the survey also highlights data privacy concerns and high… Read More…

Changing Scene

  • LEDVANCE Canada Welcomes Cristiano Konofal as National Account Manager

    LEDVANCE Canada Welcomes Cristiano Konofal as National Account Manager

    February 26, 2024 LEDVANCE Canada has introduced Cristiano Konofal as their National Account Manager. “I am thrilled to announce the return of Cristiano Konofal as a National Account Manager. Cristiano has extensive experience working with our customer base and has technical skills that will be an asset to our team. We look forward to seeing… Read More…

  • Government of Canada Invests in TDG Transit Design Group

    Government of Canada Invests in TDG Transit Design Group

    February 23, 2024 The Governemnt of Canada has announced a FedDev Ontario investment of over $1.6 million for TDG Transit Design Group, a manufacturer and designer of made-in-Canada, energy-efficient LED lighting systems for the global rail transit industry. Through this investment, TDG Transit Design Group will adopt new equipment at its newly expanded 10,000-square-foot facility… Read More…

  • Alberta to Invest in Apprenticeship Seats Through 2024 Budget

    Alberta to Invest in Apprenticeship Seats Through 2024 Budget

    February 23, 2024 Through their Budget 2024, Alberta’s government would invest an additional $24 million per year over the next three years to create 3,200 apprenticeship seats at 11 post-secondary institutions across the province. The new investment would bring the total funding through the Apprenticeship Learning Grant for the 2024-25 academic year to $78 million…. Read More…

  • PataBid and City Electric Supply Introduce Estimating Software Promotion

    PataBid and City Electric Supply Introduce Estimating Software Promotion

    February 23, 2024  City Electric Supply Corporation CA and PataBid have joined forces to offer our mutual customers an exclusive discount on Quantify electrical estimating software.  Sign up for a free trial and link your CES account to your PataBid Quantify account to unlock this special offer. If you’re not registered with CES yet, drop by… Read More…