Why is there a 20A version? What's the difference between 15A and 20A.

Short answer: The 15A version can be retrofit anywhere, while the 20A *may* require new wiring. BUT! ~90% of the wiring done for outlets in parkades uses 12 gauge wire which can handle 20A chargers and provide upwards of 100km of charge overnight!

For a longer in depth answer, keep reading: 

 

We are well aware of the Canadian Electrical Code requirements for 20A circuits for dedicated charging outlets - which is why is one reason we offer a 20A version as well as a 15A version.

Plugzio devices are characterized as multi-purpose or multi-use, Electric Vehicle charging may be one of the use-cases. Plugzio devices are also often used to power vacuum cleaners or any other electric device.

Having a dedicated circuit is an essential requirement in any installation.

Before we get to the details, let's cover the most common scenario we have seen for Plugzio installations.

Building parkades are typically are already wired using a 12ga wire which can handle 20A current. The case we have seen most often is that the:

  • Electrician upgrades the breaker on the outlet from 15A to 20A.
  • Blocks off the other few outlets that are connected on the same circuit and are not being used.
  • Installs Plugzio 20A on the outlets that will be used for electric mobility charging.

20A Plugzio charger is more than enough in terms of speed of charge for an average driver, you can read more here.

Background Information (for non-electricians):

15A receptacle or outlet, which is the most common type of an outlet, is shaped like this:

20A outlet is shaped a little differently. You may find a outlet like this in your kitchen.

The difference is that perpendicular line. Plugs for devices that can draw more than 15A have the mating shape.

15A plug, nema 5-15

20A plug, nema 5-20

The shape of the plug is different so to avoid the possibility of inserting a 20A device into a 15A circuit which could cause the breaker to trip. Notice that a 15A device can still plug into a 20A circuit without problem, 20A outlets can take both shapes (mind blown).

 

Level 1 Supply Equipment

 

Our team has never seen a certified Level 1 EVSE with a 15A plug head that draws more than 12A. Therefore, technically speaking, your standard Level 1 charger can be easily plugged into a 15A outlet.

The best example is the Tesla mobile charger that comes standard with any Tesla vehicle. As the user manual indicates, the 5-15 adapter which is the default one (for 15A outlets) only draws MAX of 12A. The 5-20 adapter (for 20A outlets), which has to be purchased separately, goes up to 16A.

NOTE: By design, the 5-20 adapter will NEVER fit in a 15A outlet.

15v20_charge _rates

Can I replace an existing 15A outlet with Plugzio 15A as a retrofit?

Absolutely. When the outlet is used as a multi-purpose outlet then a 15A outlet can easily be replaced with another 15A outlet (such as Plugzio, which is certified as a smart outlet). Multi-purpose outlets are regular outlets in garages that can be used for all purposes such as vacuum cleaning or charging electric devices.

This is an example of a description of work submitted to the Technical Safety BC.

Description of Work: Existing duplex 15 amp receptacle to be replaced with "Plugzio" smart receptacle

Retrofitting an existing 15A outlet is quite possible for multi purpose usage, but if the the outlet is labelled to be solely used by an electric Vehicle the Canadian electrical code mandates that the outlet must be on a 20A breaker.

Here is the exact wording of the electrical code:

As stated by one of our supporters "Most electrical loads have some diversity to them (cycle on and off), but EV charging is a continuous draw, often for many hours. The weak link in the distribution chain is at the transformer on the street, which is historically sized taking load diversity into account. Primary feeder capacity is not generally an issue, and the service conductors coming into the home are also not an issue as they are (or should be) sized to the maximum capacity of the home's main disconnect. Utilities are really thrilled to have these new loads (they do represent revenue, after all) and would like to proactively make sure that the capacity exists to supply them. Nobody wins if distribution transformers fail. It's inconvenient for the affected customers, and costs the utility money in damaged equipment. I can utilize my smart meter network to create virtual meter points at transformers to watch for overloads, but by that time, it may be too late. Ideally, I can change that transformer in anticipation of the load and avoid failures and service interruptions."