Over 45,000 electric vehicles (EV’s) were sold in the first half of 2023 according to estimates from the Electric Vehicle Council, meaning close to 10% of new car sales are electric.
Part of owning an Electric Vehicle is having a convenient and cost-effective method of charging your vehicle at home. There a number of different options and trade-offs to consider.
In this article, we’ll look at how electric vehicle chargers work, a comparison of the different types of chargers available in Australia and what they cost, and where EV owners can access public charging stations.
If you live in a residential strata apartment building then a different set of issues apply.
How do EV chargers work?
While charging an EV is as simple as plugging it into a wall socket as you would with any home appliance such as a toaster or kettle, there’s a bit more to it than that.
For example, a standard home wall socket delivers AC power which needs to be converted to DC power before it is fed into the battery of your EV, slowing down the charging process.
Faster charging stations, including those found in public places such as shopping centres or recharge stations, use DC power that is fed directly to the battery, for a much faster charge.
In the lingo of the EV market, the speed of EV charging is categorised as “levels”, while the physical plugs that plug into EVs are referred to as “types”. We’ll consider each in turn.
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EV charger levels
There are three basic levels of EV charger speeds – slow, medium and fast. In addition to the charging speed, the size of your EV battery will also play a part in the total time (and cost) to fully charge it.
Transport for NSW has a handy guide here that details various power sources, the output that can be expected, the driving range added per hour of charging, and total charging time sorted by the typical type of charging applications.
Level 1 charger (slow):
Also called a “trickle” charge, this is delivered by a standard power cable plugged into a wall socket delivering about 2kW per hour. Adequate for smaller batteries or infrequent driving. It costs nothing to install, but it is a good idea to take a look at your electrical wiring to ensure it is up to the task, and that a dedicated circuit is available for charging your EV.
Small to medium battery (approx. 40kWh) – about 20 hours to charge.
Large battery (approx. 75kWh) – about 37 hours to charge.
Level 2 charger (medium):
A dedicated, wall-mounted charging unit that delivers 7kW from a single-phase connection, or 22kW from a three-phase connection. At home, these chargers can provide a full charge overnight, and they can also be found in some public charging stations such as shopping centres. We’ll look in more detail at level 2 chargers available in Australia but expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for purchase and installation. These units must be installed by a qualified electrician.
Small to medium battery (approx. 40kWh) – about 5.5 hours to charge.
Large battery (approx. 75kWh) – about 10.5 hours to charge.
These figures are for a 7kW single-phase connection, so a three-phase 22kW connection will be around three times faster than the charging times quoted.
Level 3 charger (fast):
These are the high-voltage direct current (DC) chargers that are found at public charging stations. These chargers are featured in Tesla fast charger network. They can deliver a charge from 50kW up to 350kW – note that many EVs can only handle up to 50kW charging. They are expensive to install at around $25,000 each, so are generally only found in public charging stations. Charging times vary depending on the amount of charge your EV can handle, but most cars can be topped up in 30 minutes or less. There are around 2,500 public charging stations in Australia, and this number is constantly growing.
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What are the different types of EV charger plugs?
Most EVs come with a standard 10-Amp plug that is suitable to plug into home wall sockets. For level 2 (home) and level 3 (public) charging, there are a handful of different kinds of charger plugs available in Australia.
But not all EV chargers are the same. Different EV manufacturers supply their vehicles with different types of charger plugs which have multiple pins for transferring electricity and managing the flow.
Common charger connections or plugs used in EVs in Australia:
Type 2 (Mennekes):
The standard for EVs in Australia, is found on virtually all battery-powered electric vehicles in Australia. Suitable for AC charging.
Charge de Move (CHAdeMO):
A fast charger connection for DC charging, used by a handful of EV brands (mainly Japanese, but some European).
Combined Charging System (CCS):
A fast charger connection for DC charging. Many EV brands in Australia have a CCS Combo connection that can plug into a Type 2 connection at home and a DC fast connection when out and about.
Note also that there is a range of adaptors available to allow EVs with a particular plug type to connect to a different kind of charging station. Not all combinations are available but might be worthwhile if convenient charging options are not compatible with the plug that came with your EV.
Best Home EV Charger Comparison
While level 1 charging at home is the most simple solution that doesn’t require the purchase and installation of new equipment, installing a level 2 charger is a better long-term solution. There are costs involved, but it will deliver much faster charging and the ability to program charge times and co-ordinate with a solar system and battery to maximise savings.
Ideally, you need a garage, or at least off-street parking to install a level 2 charger at home. Choosing the best EV charger for you and your vehicle comes down to where you keep your vehicle overnight and your budget.
Some of the more popular level 2 EV home charger options in Australia include:
|Charger||Cost Price Starting From*||Notes|
|Tesla Gen 3||$750||
*Excludes installation costs
Important note – a qualified and licensed electrician must be used to install your home EV charger. There are many companies that offer level 2 charger packages including installation.
Home EV Charger installation considerations
EV home chargers need to be installed by a qualified electrician, and ideally an electrician that has experience installing the brand of EV Charger you have selected.
Each home is different, but here’s some of the factors that will change the price:
- The distance from your main switchboard to the EV charger location. Due to the high electrical demand of an EV Charger your electrician will need to pull a new circuit from the main switchboard with its own breaker. The length and difficulty of this cable run will impact some of your costs.
- 3-phase or 1-phase EV charger. Three-phase charging solutions require bigger cables and can require additional work at your switchboard to enable the new circuit.
- Outdoor and ground-mounted EV Chargers. If you want your charger to be mounted on your driveway, then you are looking at a more expensive install to cover the trenching, pole-mounting and weatherproofing the EV charging solution.
For a typical home EV charger that is wall-mounted in a garage, we would expect the installation costs for most homeowners to be between $500 and $1,000.
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Take charge with your new EV
If you’re new to owning an EV or considering making a purchase soon, it is important to research the charging options available to you at home, work or in nearby public places.
While you can easily ‘make do’ with the charging equipment that comes with your EV, it is worthwhile to research the options to purchase and install faster, level 2 charging at home.
What if I live in an apartment?
Whilst most new apartment buildings come with EV charging bays as standard, you might be wondering how to get a charger installed at your existing apartment.
To get an EV charging station installed at your apartment you need to check the options with your body corporate who can get an EV Feasibility Assessment to understand the requirements of the tenants and current infrastructure.
To read more about getting an EV charger installed at your apartment – Click here