Charging your EV
Keeping an Electric Vehicle (EV) charged can be easy - it just takes a bit of planning and forming good habits.
Just like owners of petrol cars, some electric car owners like to ‘top up’ regularly, while others prefer to ‘fill up’ when they see the battery getting low. Some EV owners charge at home most of the time, while others rely on charging at work, shopping centres, or public charging stations.
Most people use a combination of charging options. When going on long trips you may need to plan where you are going to charge your EV.
Whether you already own an EV or plan to buy one, the following information will help you develop the best charging solution for your needs and priorities.
Optimising your EV battery life
Much like your mobile phone battery, an EV’s battery life can be extended by not fully charging it every time. A battery will typically be less stressed when maintaining the battery charge at between 20% and 80%.
Of course, for longer trips, charging the battery to as full as possible might be necessary. Talk to your electric car dealer for more guidance on this topic.
Safety tip: Well before you bring your new EV home, it’s critical that your proposed charging solution is evaluated by a licensed electrical contractor, ideally one who is experienced in installing EV charging systems (your EV dealer may have some recommendations). They can test and evaluate the wiring from your switchboard to your garage and advise if any upgrades are needed for your chosen charging arrangement, and to ensure the electrical safety of you and your home.
Charging at home options
You can charge your EV from a powerpoint, or if you want to charge your EV faster, have a dedicated EV charger installed by an electrician. These devices are known in the industry as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).
In Queensland, passenger vehicles travels an average of 40km each day, but consider your own circumstances when determining your charging needs.
Safety tip: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never use a charger that is faulty or has been modified in any way.
Some EVs come with three-pin charging cables that can be plugged into a powerpoint. The rate of charging will depend on the amperage (A) of the powerpoint. Most powerpoints are 10A (2.3kW), and it will take approximately 4 hours to charge your EV if you have travelled the average daily distance of 40km.
Charging will be faster with a 15A (3.4kW) powerpoint. An electrical contractor can install one for you.
These are some options for charging via a powerpoint:
- Overnight charging - If you regularly charge overnight and your EV battery is rarely below half full, then charging via a powerpoint could be fine for you most of the time
- Day time charging - If you mostly charge during the day and your EV battery is rarely below half full, then using a powerpoint should meet your EV charging needs. If you have a solar PV system, charging your EV during the day when your system is operating should help you save on your energy costs
- Time-of-use tariffs - These are a great option for charging via a powerpoint and could help you to reduce your power bill
- Economy tariffs - You can connect a powerpoint for EV charging to an economy tariff, but you will lose the ability to charge off your solar PV system with this setup.
Safety tip: The electricity demand of a charging EV can be high, even if only charging from a powerpoint. Powerpoint circuits are not typically designed to take such a high load for an extended period. A dedicated EV charger installed by a licensed electrical contractor may provide you with a safer solution, with a lower risk of electrical overload at your home.
Many EV owners choose to install a dedicated EV charger in their garage. The advantages are:
- Faster charging - The Tesla Model 3 will charge from 20% to 80% in around 7 hours, more than three times faster than charging from a powerpoint. This can be handy when the car is used often and/or not at home for long periods, or you don’t want to be plugging it in regularly
- Three-phase charging - If your home has three-phase electrical wiring, you can install a three-phase EV charger for the fastest and most convenient at-home charging possible.
Most homes have single-phase electrical wiring. More information is below for single-phase and three-phase wiring.
Most homes have single-phase wiring which allows you to have a 32A (7kW) dedicated EV charger. There are three options to choose from to install a dedicated charger on single-phase wiring.
All these options require a licensed electrical contractor to undertake work at your premises.
Option 1: Economy tariff
Economy tariffs are great for appliances that don't need a constant supply of power. They're cheaper because the supply on these tariffs is interruptible and the network manages the times when power is available.
The time of day this will occur may change from day to day and vary in duration and location. Economy tariff 33 (sometimes referred to as a controlled load tariff) has a minimum of 18 hours of power supply available per day, which is typically only interrupted during the evening in summer. This option won’t allow you to charge off a solar PV system.
Option 2: Primary tariff with a dynamic connection
Dynamic connections are a new technology where there is two-way communication between the dedicated EV charger and us. With this connection type you can charge off your solar PV system and take advantage of a time-of-use tariff.
You can charge your EV at any time, however if there is high demand on the network during peak times, we may reduce the charging rate via a signal to a device installed on your charger (the EV charger will still have a minimum supply of 1.5kW). These peak times are typically during the late afternoon or early evening. All power usage is charged at your primary tariff rate.
Option 3: Primary tariff with basic active management
This option also allows you to charge off a solar PV system, with a device installed in your meter board and connected directly to your EV charger.
The device may be operated if the network is under pressure, to turn off power to the circuit supplying the dedicated EV charger. These supply interruptions are generally during the late afternoon or early evening peak period and only when the network is in high demand.
With this connection type, your dedicated EV charger is connected to your primary tariff and energy usage is charged at that rate. It’s not available in some areas, such as remote communities, and you can use our NMI* Search tool to check your premises.
*Your premises National Metering Identifier (NMI) can be found on your electricity bill.
If you have three-phase wiring in your home, your dedicated EV charger can be up to 32A (22kW) per phase, allowing much faster charging.
You can upgrade single-phase wiring to three-phase wiring and your licenced electrical contractor can advise on costs.
Many EV owners also have a solar PV system and are keen to run their EV on renewable energy as much as possible.
However, many EVs consume much more power than the existing solar PV system can provide. And it’s often challenging to charge an EV in the middle of the day when there is most likely to be excess solar power.
The average EV uses around 10kWh/day. The average 5kW solar PV system generates around 23kWh/day and exports around half of that to the grid. Therefore, if you want to maximise charging your EV from renewable energy, you’ll need to prioritise charging in the middle of the day, almost every day.
Another option is to install a battery energy storage system to store your renewable energy, so you can use it to charge your EV at night. This is an expensive investment, and the entire EV/PV/battery system needs to be carefully designed by an experienced professional to optimise the benefits and minimise the upfront and ongoing costs.
Consider your charging options at home before purchasing your EV and talk to a specialist EV dedicated charger installer, or a licensed electrical contractor, for advice on options and costs.
When you first purchase your EV, it’s also a good idea to charge your EV via a powerpoint for a few months until you have a better understanding of your charging needs and whether you think you need to have a dedicated charger installed.
Some electricity retailers offer attractive rates for EV charging, so make sure you do some research on what’s available in your area.
Safety tip: Be prepared for some potential additional costs when setting up your EV charging, to cover upgrades to your switchboard, wiring, electricity metering and electrical safety measures if needed. You also need to consider the practicalities of charging at home, e.g. can you provide a suitably weatherproof and secure environment for charging?
Charging away from home
Charge your EV at public charging stations or possibly even at work.
The number of public EV charging stations in Queensland is increasing in both towns and on popular travel routes. You can generally charge your EV at a much faster rate at these charging stations than you could at home.
The rate of charge can vary from 25kW to 350kW DC, allowing you to charge your EV from low to full in as little as 30 minutes. However, the maximum rate of charge will be determined by your EV’s capability.
Check with the EV manufacturer or dealer for specific details and compatibility with various types of public charging stations. Different EVs have different standard plug types that may not be compatible with all charging stations. Adapter cables are available to increase your charging options if necessary.
Some EV dealers offer free charging to some customers for a period of time, at specific charging stations, as part of the EV purchase.
Some businesses, like hotels, tourist attractions and shopping centres, provide free or subsidised EV charging to their customers while using their business’s services. Other commercial public EV charging providers charge 20 to 50 cents/kWh.
Check out the public charging stations near you, and on your potential routes, on PlugShare and A Better Route Planner. More stations are being added all the time.
Some employers may be happy for you to charge at work when you need to, either from a dedicated EV charger or a power point. Always check with your employer before charging your EV at work.
Planning long trips
If you’d like to take a long trip in your EV, that’s quite feasible in most areas of Australia. You just need to research where public EV charging stations are on your route (try PlugShare), what type they are, and roughly how long it will take you to recharge based on the kilometres travelled.
You can then plan your breaks and overnight stays, and even your route, based on the charging locations. There’s a network of charging stations from Brisbane north to Cairns and west to Toowoomba.
Always check with accommodation providers before using their electricity and power point to charge your EV. If you’re visiting people, they may allow you to charge at their home.