Thinking of buying an EV? One of the things you need to consider is how you’re going to charge it.
Should you install a charger at home, or should you use public charging stations? How much would it cost? What kind of a charger should you install? These are just some factors you may need to consider before committing to buying an EV.
REDnews spoke to the experts at Planet Electrical and EVNEX about everything EV charging to get you the answers you need.
First things first – Get your home inspected
If you’re buying an EV, you will definitely need to consider sorting out a means of charging your car. Keep in mind that many car dealerships supply charging cables with the cars they sell, which can be plugged directly into the socket at your home.
In order to do it right, Planet Electrical, one of the home charging installation specialists in the industry, strongly advises getting the electrical systems in your home inspected, the reason being, wall sockets – a 3 pin-plug – can be inefficient and possibly dangerous to use for EV charging. If you’re looking for worry-free charging, you will need to install a dedicated smart charging system, which cannot be done without a thorough inspection.
According to Planet Electrical, “It is crucial to ensure that the power outlet is connected to a residual current device (RCD) and in a suitable condition to handle the additional current.”
“Furthermore, selecting a charger unit with overload protection is highly recommended as it can detect the load of your household, preventing an overload of the power supply that could lead to blowing the pole fuse or causing damage to your fuse board.”
But how much do they cost?
According to Planet Electrical, the cost of EV chargers can vary depending on a number of factors. These can range from the type of charger being installed, the charging capacity, any other additional features and eventually the installation process.
Planet Electrical works to determine the cost of installing a charger by first assessing the location of the residence, and then the switch board.
Typically, the cost of a charger including the installation process can start from $2500 if the installation location is close to the main switchboard.
Considering the long-term costs of charging, the cost will greatly depend on charging habits, location, electricity rates and the EV charging system.
New Zealand owned and operated EV charger manufacturers, EVNEX suggests that charging your EV at home is far more efficient in terms of convenience and cost as compared to public charging, however, before picking the best charging option for yourself, consider what electricity plan suits you best.
There are a range of electricity plans available in New Zealand that are structured depending on the given time of day or electricity demand.
Anytime between 9:00 pm to 7:00 am is considered ideal for charging your EV overnight, as this period is cheaper compared to other times during the day. If you are planning to install an EV charger at home, make sure you review your electricity tariffs for this time slot.
Another factor to keep in mind is “free hours” of power at night. Even if you’re on an “anytime” tariff, it might still work out to be cost effective for you. So, if your current plan does not include free hours, you should definitely consider switching to a plan that does.
Are EV chargers car specific?
Figuring out the logistics of how and where to charge your EV can be a task in itself without having to worry about a charger’s compatibility with your car.
The good news is, most EV chargers are universal. Tesla chargers used to be the only exception, however, the newer models all come with a Type 2 plug, including the Tesla wall chargers.
EVNEX said their chargers support industry standard charging protocols, making them general use and not specific to any particular car model or brand, making them compatible with various EVs on the market.
Even though most EV chargers are universal, they can be categorised into three different types – Type 1 Charging (120-volt AC), Type 2 Charging (240-volt AC) and Type 3 Charging, also known as DC Fast Charging.
Type 1 & 2 plugs use the same standard plug and are the most commonly found EV chargers. DC chargers on the other hand are not commonly installed in homes due to a high ownership cost, and so are more suitable for roadside public charging, especially when going on long EV trips.
What does the installation process involve then?
Now that you have everything else figured out, you can get on to getting a charging station installed at your home.
The process involves a few steps, according to Planet Electrical:
- Electrical assessment: The installer will assess your home's electrical system to determine its capacity and whether it can support the additional load of an EV charger. They will then check the main electrical panel, existing circuits, and available capacity to ensure a safe and efficient installation.
- Charger selection: Post the assessment, you can choose an EV charger and the preferred colour that suits your needs, taking into account factors such as charging speed, compatibility with your vehicle, and any additional features you may want. Consider the installation requirements of the charger, including the type of outlet or dedicated circuit it requires.
- Upgrading electrical switchboard: In some cases, the electrical switchboard may need to be upgraded to accommodate the increased power demand of an EV charger. This may involve adding a new RCBO (Residual Current Circuit Breaker with Overcurrent Protection), expanding the switchboard capacity, or installing a sub-board dedicated to the charger.
- Wiring and installation: The installer will run the necessary wiring from the switchboard to the location where you want the charger installed including a 32-amp supply and control cable and install the power sensor that will detect the house load and reduce output of the charger to prevent the switchboard overloading. They will mount the charger and connect it to the electrical system.
- Testing and safety checks: Once the installation is complete, the installer will test the charger and verify that it is functioning correctly. They will also conduct safety checks using specialised testing equipment meant specifically for EV chargers.
- Software commissioning: As a final step, they will commission the charger with the software and reduce capacity if required. They will also update the customer profile and go over the features of the smart charger and the app with the customer, ensuring that they have a clear understanding of all its functions.
There are a number of companies in the market that specialise in EV charger installation, so make sure to speak to one that is right for your needs, before taking the plunge.