Charging Stations 101

With the advent of electric cars, the Electric Circuit is a recent Hydro-Québec initiative (created in 2012, to be exact) to set up charging stations throughout Québec. Quite literally, it gives the province’s electric vehicles a place to recharge their batteries. What’s the scoop with public charging stations?

There are two types of stations. Most have a 240-volt capacity. A Nissan LEAF (the most popular electric car), for example, can be completely recharged at one of these in about four hours. Note that most users don’t fully recharge the battery, preferring to connect just long enough to gain a few kilometres of range. The Electric Circuit isn’t free, and you’ll be charged $1 per hour or a flat rate of $2.50. The cost of parking, if applicable, is not included in this price.

The other type of station is faster, with 400 volts. Here, you’ll be billed by the minute (to a maximum of $10 per hour). With this option, the LEAF will recharge to 80% of its capacity in just 30 minutes, meaning you won’t have to stay long. However, these stations are not for all cars: the LEAF, i-MiEV and Kia Soul EV Luxury, among others, can use the CHAdeMO outlet directly, while other models like the Chevrolet Spark EV and Tesla need an adaptor. Still others, like the Volt, simply cannot use these quicker charging stations.

Of course, you can also plug your electric vehicle in at home. There, you have two options. The first is to use the 110-volt adaptor provided with most vehicles to connect directly to the house but, at about 20 hours to completely charge your Nissan LEAF, the charging time can seem interminable. The other option is to have a 240-volt station installed at home. Manufacturers generally offer this option with your vehicle, but installation will set you back a few thousand dollars.

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