The issue of charging EVs has become highly contentious. Lack of readily available public charging infrastructure has been cited as a real hurdle hampering broader take-up of electrical vehicles in Australia. But truth be told, charging an electric car is easy and can be carried out pretty much anywhere.
Despite being perfect for Australian weather conditions, when it comes to charging, electric vehicles (hybrid models) are preferred more compared to the battery-only vehicles since charging presents motorists with both challenges and opportunities.
Charging an EV is easy and there are various charging options available for electric cars. Based on the car’s range and size of the car’s battery, the rate of charging can be anything from slow, fast or faster.
For the car models with large batteries, charging can take about 7-8 hours although many models charge quickly (about 30 minutes) using high voltage quick chargers. Fully charged batteries can be used as replacement to swap out depleted ones.
Charging at home
All EVs are designed with a standard charging cable which can plug into the car and using its domestic plug, into a typical wall socket. This is simply the same plug you would find on your TV, fridge, kettle or phone charger, meaning that you can charge your electric car at home, in your garage or on your driveway if you have an outdoor socket.
However, it’s worth noting that while a normal household socket can perfectly power up your electrical vehicle, a survey has to be carried out by a competent electrician first to ensure the existing wiring can handle the additional electrical draw. If necessary, the wiring should be upgraded and if possible, a separate electricity circuit can be created for your EV charging socket. In most cases, charging cables are not very long and therefore you must ensure that the socket is located near your charging point since extension cables should never be used to power electric vehicles.
Charging times will vary based on your location. For an electric car with a range of 100 miles, seven to eight hours would do. To speed things up irrespective of where you are, you can opt to install a home EV charging unit for an additional cost. This will guarantee you safety and convenience and can power your car 2-3 times faster than a standard Australian socket, so we highly recommend them.
To make the charging process easier for new EV buyers in Australia, more dedicated home and/or office charging points are being installed. And since Australian motorists drive less than 40 miles per day, with 100 miles range being the current EVs industry standard, which means you’ll most probable charge at home.
Some important pointers from the Australian Electric Vehicle Association:
Electric cars have two charging options; slow and fast. The slow charge option is commonly used thanks to its convenience as you can plug in anywhere; at work or at home. Typically, the charging involves a 15 amp supply, standard 240 volt AC and the car’s onboard charger which powers the battery.
The rate at which charging occurs hugely depends on the onboard charger; normally 2.5 kW to 7 kW. For instance, a Nissan Leaf can be fully charged overnight at just 2.5 kW. The fast charge option is usually a publicly accessible ‘supercharger’ or ‘fast charger’ which takes power directly to the battery.
As the name suggests, fast chargers are more powerful and can charge a fully depleted battery in less than 30 minutes and at the same time put out starting from 25 kW to 135kW. Australians should expect to see more of these chargers all over the country especially in towns. Most converted electric cars already have a simple 15 amp plug, although there are more standard automotive kits available and which allow motorists to use public charge points.
Charging the battery
Electric cars using Li-ion battery can be charged in 3 different ways. The ‘Quick charge’ can power the battery to 80% charge within 30 minutes. A ‘Normal charge’ would take approximately 7-8 hours to fill an empty battery to full while the ‘Trickle charge’ takes about 14 hours.
Charging equipment for PHEVs and all EVs is categorised by the rate at which the car battery is charged. Charging frequencies will vary based on the type of battery, how fast the battery gets depleted, the energy levels the battery holds, and the type of EVSE. In normal cases, charging time ranges from 15 minutes to 20+ hours, depending on these few factors.
Can an Additional Electrical Vehicle Charging Load be Supported by Your Home?
One of the most important factors to consider before purchasing an electrical vehicle is your home’s ability to support an additional EV charging load. Why is this so? The energy supply of most dwellings particularly those built in or before 1970 may not have adequate electrical supply. If the home has not undergone significant renovation, then an electricity supply upgrade would be necessary.
Greg Bryant, a spokesman for Master Electricians Australia when asked in a recent interview with news.com.au why Tesla’s electric car had its plug pulled had this to say, “It is highly unlikely the mains cable coming into the home switchboard will be adequate to carry the extra 40 amp load to recharge the car.”
Considering that Australia uses a maximum of 20 to 40 amps of single phase electrical load, Bryant added that a worse-case scenario would require customers to pay up to $50,000 in upgrades and “if there is not enough electrical capacity in the street, the power upgrade may not even be approved.” Compared to most EVs in the Australian market which use a normal power point, the Tesla model requires installation of a special charger to power it.
Given the high demand for the amps in the market, Tesla now produces a unit that generates 40 amps of power. The unit is designed to be flexible and can be hooked up to the house. Heath Walker, Tesla’s spokesman was quoted saying that, “We’re taking a two-pronged attack in Australia: our supercharger network and also new hotel partnerships where we’re putting high powered wall units in different hotels – both single and three phase.”
These units are available and already being used by the Marriot in Melbourne and The Darling Hotel in Sydney. Even though having a modern home makes it highly likely that it will support charging your electric vehicle, it’s very critical to contact your area energy supplier to help you determine and understand your needs and the costs involved before purchasing the units.