Home Electric Vehicle charging: what, why and how
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Should you or shouldn’t you, that’s probably the question facing most EV/PHEV owners, both now and in the future. With a number of public charging systems still free (for now) and the price of EVs still on the high side of practical, we’re still in the early days of EV charging – especially when charging at home.
Should you fit a home EV ‘wallbox’ style charger? It’s full of pros and cons, so it’s down to if they suit your situation. The convenience of charging at home, overnight is very appealing, offering around 1.2kWh of charge, which is perfect for most PHEVs to charge from flat to full overnight – provided there’s a nearby wall socket.
But what if there isn’t? And what if a typical PHEV driving weekend requires top-ups? What about pure BEVs that offer more range and therefore demand longer charge times? It’s not uncommon for an EV with 400km+ range to require 48 hours to fully charge, which makes it less practical. And if you’re daily distance is above the 29km average, PHEV or BEV, there are increasing reasons to future-proof and fit a home EV charger.
Who to, first? If buying new, the manufacturer might have either a charger as part of the package, or recommend a brand/style or third party consultant to handle the advice and installation. But if buying used, then that might be the only option. And just how cost-viable is it?
We’ve just gone through these questions and been able to answer them. At DRIVEN, we are driving an increasing number of EVs/PHEVs, and as the furthest staffer, my Auckland office-to-Hamilton-home drive easily exhausts a PHEV’s battery, and puts a decent dent in most EVs - and an overnight charge on a portable charger adds around 50-60km – not enough when my drive is 135km away. Sure, I don’t represent the majority of NZ driving, but my situation virtually required it.
Not having purchased an EV, we consulted a third-party company to advise and install. Auckland’s ChargeMaster is a company specializing in such installations, offering a range of home EV chargers including Wallbox, EVNEX and more.
As a customer, the first decisions to make are cost, style and choice of plug. A typical EV “wallbox”, to use a proprietary eponym, starts around $2500, plus fitting – one aspect to consider is if the charger itself is fitted with a Residual Current Device (RCD), as this could add $500+ to the cost. The style is dependent, from a compact Wallbox brand, though indoor or outdoor, wall-mount or post-mount could dictate which unit it chosen. Generally from home use, a single-phase charger will fit easily on a wall, offering around 7kWh charging – six times that of the portable charger.
And the plug style relates to the car, either Type 1 (Leaf, Outlander), or Type 2 (increasingly the global standard). With our unique situation requiring both, ChargeMaster selected for us an EVBOX, which allows easy plug/cable changes.
Charge features include the ability to choose off-peak charging times when the rate is lower (a couple of energy companies currently offer discounts), and charge cards or keys for semi-public areas like residential car parks.
For our installation, within a few days of choosing a charger, ChargeMaster facilitated a visit by Laser Electrical to inspect and consult on the installation, checking wiring, practical location and providing a final quote/cost.
Being a reasonably new house, we chose just inside the garage as the best location, offering the ability to charge a car parked both inside and just outside the garage.
A week later, Laser Electrical returned with a team of two, and around 3-4 hours later, the charger, RCD and circuit breaker was fitted, tested and powered up. This particular charger also has a smartphone app, allow it to be customised for name, charge status LED intensity. This unit itself also has ‘smart’ tech, allowing remote access over Bluetooth, 4G and WiFi, plus scheduled charging.
A cable holder also allows neater storage, with sockets for either Type 1 and 2 plugs, and an isolator switch keeps it all code complaint and the ability to switch off when not in use.
Total installation bill was $2250+GST, which combined with a $2100 Wallbox Pulsar Plus, for example, totals $4350+GST.
Naturally this cost could be configured into the purchase price of a vehicle, though it’s typical for an average installation regardless.
The final payoff, of course is in the use, and with the convenience factor of plugging in at night, being able to quickly recharge after short trips and not visiting petrol stations, for the EV future, the key advantage is charge speed up to six times faster. With full charges of our Outlander PHEV taking seven hours, a quick provisional check of the new charger has halved that time, for a vehicle whose battery has a relatively slow charge rate.
Next time, we’ll quantify the charging results for both PHEVs and EVs, and see if the convenience and appeal of six-times faster charging remains as the cost consideration dissipates.