Helpful Tips to Charge Your Electric Vehicle and Extend Your Range in BC

With electric vehicle travel accelerating in BC and becoming easier for drivers wanting to get around with fewer carbon emissions and reduced operating costs, we’ve got some advice to help you charge on with greener transportation.

We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for electric vehicle (EV) drivers, and additional advice for those who travel in areas with fewer charging stations. We’ve also highlighted a powerhouse of information sources that answer all your EV questions, whether you own an EV, you’re thinking of buying one, or you want to install a charger for your workplace, home or community.

Top EV Charging Tips

  • Read your operator’s manual instructions thoroughly to understand your EV’s charging function, how to charge up, and the range you can expect. Today’s electric vehicles have about a 300-to-600-kilometre range per charge.
  • Find out if you need an adaptor to fuel up at various kinds of EV chargers, including Level 2 (slower) chargers. (Some EVs require an adaptor).
  • Plan charging stops around activities like meal breaks, short errands or when you’ll want to stretch your legs. EV users report having favourite charging locations, sometimes based on nearby amenities like eateries, grocery stores and walking trails.
  • Plan at least a 15 per cent buffer to reach your next charging station, in case of accident re-routing or sudden inclement weather.
  • Check PlugShare for details about charging stations, including notes and comments from users, helpful (and striking) photos showing EVs being charged at the location, and notes about any service issues.
  • Try out mobile apps — many EV charging station providers, including BC Hydro, list the stations in their network.
  • Be considerate when using this shared resource. You don’t have to stay with your vehicle while it’s charging, but we suggest that you use a charging station app to monitor when your EV is charged and ready to go, to make room for other EVs. More charging etiquette from BC Hydro here.
  • Report any charger damage or breakdowns to the contact indicated at the charging site, and update PlugShare to alert other EV users.

 Tips to Extend Your EV Range

Most people live less than 25 kilometres from work, so most EV owners need to plug in only once or twice a week. For all EV drivers, including those who live in areas with fewer charging stations or want to plan EV travel further afield, we offer these strategies.

  • Plan to ensure you can reach the charging station TWO stations away. That way, should the next station happen to have problems, you can continue your trip.
  • Be flexible and have a backup plan. (Pack a winter emergency kit – a smart practice for travel in any vehicle – to ensure you’re safe and comfortable should the unexpected occur).
  • Operate air-conditioning and heat with restraint – they require more battery power.
  • Maintain a steady speed — while EVs accelerate more quickly than gas-powered vehicles, accelerating depletes the battery. Consider using cruise control when travelling in clear conditions (but not in winter, reduced visibility or rain).
  • Be aware that steep hills and mountain driving can draw more energy. (But some can be regained on the downhill drive via regenerative braking.)
  • Consider installing a bigger battery if you’re planning longer journeys on routes with limited charger availability.
  • Consider smaller radius wheels/tires – they produce more range.
  • Turn off extra functions — things like security cameras — when charging (especially on slower Level 2 chargers), for a faster charge.
  • Keep within the speed limit to get the range displayed on the range calculator (although strong wind will affect that).
  • Be aware that cold weather demands extra power from EVs – expect to travel 30-40 per cent fewer kilometres in temperatures of -20 C or lower. However, EVs warm up quicker and offer some other cold weather benefits. Using heated seats and turning the heat down a bit will use less energy.
  • Make sure your tires are inflated to your vehicle’s recommended pressure, as it makes a difference on rolling resistance. Be aware that in winter, it’s common to lose air from tires, as the colder temperatures cause shrinkage and air escapes more easily.
Charging an EV in cold weather conditions
Cold weather may draw more on your battery. Courtesy Mark Vejvoda

Bonus Tip #1:  Apply for an  EV decal if you travel in the Lower Mainland or Kelowna. The decal allows you to drive in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, no matter how many people are riding along.

EV decal to allow drivers to travel in HOV lanes

Bonus Tip #2:  Consider participating in an EV club near you – there are about a dozen clubs in BC. With EV vehicles still being relatively new, you can talk to or message others with your questions or concerns.

Electrifying Information Sources to Get There Green

Explore these well-stocked websites to find all the answers to questions you might have about buying and operating an EV, including some appealing incentives to get you going and keep you charged.

  • CleanBC — Go Electric BC provides facts on fuel and vehicle maintenance savings, provincial rebates to purchase an EV, and the makes and models of EVs for sale in BC. You can save as much as $8,000 when purchasing an EV in BC. For those wanting to install a charging station, find out about rebates of up to $2,000 per charging station and five hours of free support from an EV charging station advisor.
  • CleanBC Go Electric Program delivers details for commercial vehicles, fast charging and hydrogen fueling station studies, a program to help public and private light-duty fleets to move to zero-emission vehicles, a program to support development and international investment in the zero-emission vehicle sector and ways for Indigenous businesses and communities to help with the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.
  • Plug In BC is a hub of information and incentive programs for consumers and fleets to go electric. It also offers a newsletter you can subscribe to, to stay connected with new programs, events and articles.
  • BC Hydro has an extensive circuit of webpages on all EV aspects and offers itineraries that connect with fast charging stations. If you like details, dig into to their electric highway report which analyzes how vehicle range misconceptions are affecting BC’s high electric vehicle adoption rates.
  • Emotive feels like a community of British Columbian EV drivers and shares experiences from amped-up EV owners in different parts of the province. “We know a lot about electric cars…Ask us anything,” the site helpfully offers. A collection of FAQ videos focuses on EV use in northern BC, snowy/icy conditions and rural areas. There are also resources for adults and children which are available in French, Punjabi, Simplified and Traditional Chinese (as well as English).
Charging an electrical vehicle at a rest area
Highway 5 rest area, north of McLure. A provincial rest area can be a pleasant place to recharge yourself and your vehicle.

Charge On!

Currently, there are about 2,500 EV charging stations across the province, and more stations are coming on line. Manufacturers are producing new EVs in various price ranges – about 36 different kinds can be bought in BC. There are rebates to help make the switch from a gas-powered vehicle to an EV, and for individuals, businesses and strata councils to install chargers at places like single family homes, apartments, workplaces and condominiums.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is part of the charging network, with about 22 EV charging stations at highway rest areas and other ministry-owned locations. You can fuel up for free there – it’s a “no-charge charge!” (Note: a few rest areas are closed in winter, like Mount Robson and Wasa, so check our website when planning your charging route.)

Our charging stations are part of the CleanBC Plan for a low-carbon economy that creates opportunities while protecting BC’s clean air, land and water. The transportation aspect of the plan focuses on making getting around cleaner, more convenient and more affordable. Besides ways to increase EV use, the plan connects with active transportation grants to improve pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, compressed natural gas buses operated by BC Transit and the Island Discovery hybrid ferry launched in 2020 by BC Ferries.

We hope you’ve found this blog helpful for learning more about routes to greener travel in an EV, the best ways to drive (and charge) an EV and the rapidly expanding realm of EVs. Do you have any questions or EV travel experiences you’d like to share while on your quest for a cleaner commute or lower-carbon road trip? Please let us know in the comments section, below.

 

Page 1 of 12 comments on “Helpful Tips to Charge Your Electric Vehicle and Extend Your Range in BC”

Leave a Reply to Paige P Dunn Cancel reply

  1. In addition to that 15% (I prefer 20%) buffer, in times of variable road conditions be sure you have enough to return to a charger if the road becomes impassable OR know when you will pass your point of no return. All EV owners know that frigid temps reduce battery capacity by up to 30%, however around 0C with heavy slush, rolling friction climbs and range drops, too (I’ve seen drops of 10%). The flooding/snow this fall has really emphasized the importance of planning with these details in mind.

    Reply
      • Hey, no worries. This is probably outside of your swimlane, so-to-speak, but with the floods in the interior, gas rationing was necessary to provide certainty of supply. Similarly, EV owners were uncertain about recharge sites in flooded areas (Princeton, Merritt, and Hope, specifically). As a result, I (and others) returned from the interior via the US because the charging network conditions weren’t known. Usually, its easy to determine, but with comms networks down its hard to trust charger status reports. I realize that these networks are not a government responsibility, but it might be an idea to post advisories/verify the network during future events. One more thing to do in a crisis…

        Reply
        • Thanks for this, Simon. Glad to hear you were able to make it home via the US safely. Ministry staff responsible for the EV charging stations have been monitoring the situation and were aware this event might leave some in a lurch. We will share your message with them. Safe travels.

          Reply
  2. We are going to travel to vancouver at latest October.
    Please let us know if all seaon tires which has M+S and tire chains are allowed.
    Our tires are not winter or all weather tires.
    But they are all seaon with M+S sign and we have tire chain.

    Please let us know if it is ok.

    Thanks

    Reply
  3. Won’t work for us We like to do our trips in one go of 18 hours have high winds and mountains cold weather in winter I don’t see this being practical at all I really don’t want to be forced into a EV car it is planes that cause greater damage as far as I am concerned.

    Reply
  4. “Consider smaller radius wheels/tires – they produce more range.” Have you got a source for this information? Sounds unlikely to me – though if you don’t adjust the odometer gearing you will appear to go further! As an extra ‘benefit’ your speed will ‘increase’ if you don’t adjust the speedometer gearing. If it is true perhaps we should all fit smaller radius wheels to our internal combustion engine vehicles to get better mileage.

    Reply
    • Hi there Nick,

      This information came from our EV user experience group. Smaller radius wheels/tires produce more range so on my Tesla Model 3. I use 18″ tires in winter and get 5-10% more range than my summer 19″ tires 2. When charging (especially on slower Level 2 chargers) I turn off Sentry mode (security cameras) which saves me about 1kw and hour 3. Driving the speed limit or slower means that 95% of the time I will get the range displayed on the range calculator unless wind is extremely aggressive. Hope that this information helps clarify.

      Reply
      • Lets be clear. From that it sounds like you are using different size rims. To know what the rolling radius of the tire is you also need to know the width and the aspect ratio. I can believe that changing each one of these will change the rolling resistance, (as will different tire compounds and constructions) but I doubt it is as simple as smaller is lower resistance. N.B If you have changed the rolling radius and haven’t adjusted the odometer gearing then your distance and speed readings won’t be accurate and can’t be used to accurately judge range.

        Reply
      • Why wouldn’t you use 13” tires year round to increase your range even more? I would be interested to hear the science behind this.

        Reply