Charging your EV or hybrid at home: Everything you need to know
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New Zealand electric vehicle (EV) sales have risen. In 2019 we saw a 25 per cent increase of both new and used pure-electric vehicle registrations compared with 2018; we are still seeing continued growth into 2020. There are now more than 20,000 EVs across the country.
With all these EVs on the road, it’s important to make sure that electrical supply systems can cope with the appropriate charging and that the risks are identified and reduced, especially if charging at home.
Charging at home overnight is the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way. You may be able to take advantage of “off-peak” electricity rates and some power companies even offer special rates for EV owners.
Whether overnight charging remains “off-peak” when EV numbers really take off is a question yet to be answered. In saying that, a number of organisations (Transpower, Orion and MBIE) have performed studies and claim that even if 50 per cent of NZ’s light passenger fleet was electric, the drain on the grid might only be 4-8 per cent.
Most homes should allow EV charging via a standard three-pin plug, but in the case of an older home, a standard electrical socket may not be safe or positioned in an accessible location. Modifications may be required to modernise your wiring to allow safe EV charging/charger installation.
If you want faster charging, specialist electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) or an EV charge station (EVCS) will be required.
We would recommend getting a home assessment done by a qualified professional. Electricians are also going through an educational process since the advent of EVs, with Master Electricians running workshops about likely changes to industry guidelines.
It’s great to see some car dealers already offering home assessments for their customers, which helps ease some of the fears a potential owner may have.
A standard 8A 2.2kW Type 1 portable charging box for EVs can cost around $600, and a 7.4kW EV charging station starts at $1454 as found on the Chargemaster website. The good thing with these products is that they conform to NZ WorkSafe electrical standards. With built-in safety features, their products are certified Green Premium.
Quality chargers are rated for use in all-weather conditions, with indoor and outdoor installation.
Some tips to remember when charging an EV at home:
- Never use extension cords with any EVSE equipment. They are not designed to handle the large amounts of electricity required to fully charge an EV. They can melt, catch fire, or present an electrification hazard.
- Be careful with adapters. Unless the adaptor has been approved by the charger manufacturer, it may not be built to an acceptable standard.
- When building a new house or garage, you can future-proof by thinking about the potential of an EV charger and power socket location and fitment.
- For your safety it is recommended that any charge unit or power supply installation be carried out by a licensed and qualified electrician familiar with NZ industry standards.
If you’re caught short while on the road, last year the AA and NZTA launched EV Charge Finder, which uses the world-first EVRoam platform. Hosted on the AA’s Time and Distance calculator, EV Charge Finder enables drivers to plot their journey between charging stations, removing range anxiety stress for EV drivers who will now know with certainty there is a safe and reliable charging station on their route.
Go to aa.co.nz/travel/time-and-distance-calculator and select “charging stations”.