AA CAR CARE: Charging an EV at home

auto, autos, car, cars, aa car care: charging an ev at home

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Charging at home is one of the big advantages of electric vehicle ownership – you might never need to refuel again. It does raise some questions though: how fast will your car charge, what equipment do you need, and how much will it cost to set up?

There are two hardware options for charging your battery or hybrid electric vehicle at home: plugging it into a domestic socket or using a specialty EV charger. Each one has its pros and cons, and you’ll need to weigh up charging speed and costs when you make your decision.

auto, autos, car, cars, aa car care: charging an ev at home

You can charge using a domestic socket

The battery in your vehicle has a lot in common with the battery in your phone; both can be charged using a standard domestic three-pin socket. The advantages:

  • The set-up cost is low or zero. You will need a charging cable that works with your specific vehicle, but often this is included with your EV.
  • It’s convenient. You can plug into any socket in the house or garage.
  • The cost of charging is low. You can charge overnight using off-peak energy. Some power providers have EV plans with reduced rates on night-time energy use.

The main disadvantage of plugging into the socket is that it’s very slow. It can take 12-14 hours to charge a battery electric vehicle (BEV) sufficiently to give 100km of range. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will fully charge much more quickly. A long-range BEV is unlikely to reach 100 per cent charge overnight – it might take 20 to 30 hours, for instance.

A charge unit will speed things up

If you want to charge your car faster, you’ll need to step up to an at-home charger. An EV-specific charging unit, installed in your home, has several advantages:

  • Speed. Using a wall charger will cut your charging time by around two-thirds, so it will take only around four hours to charge a BEV with enough energy to travel 100km.
  • It’s a selling point. As EVs become the norm, having an EV charger in your home will be an attractive feature for future buyers or tenants.
  • You can quickly charge during the day. The speed of a wall mounted charger means you can top up your EV quickly when you stop at home for an hour or two.
  • You can heat up your car while it’s charging. On cold mornings, you can warm up your BEV before you get in, while it’s plugged into the charger. That helps optimise range because you’re using grid power, not battery power.

The downside of a wall-mounted charger is the initial installation cost. It needs to be fitted by a licensed electrician who has experience with chargers. The cost is typically around $2000 for the charger and another $2000 to have it fitted. If you buy a new BEV, the manufacturer may recommend the use of a wall charger.

Staying safe

Charging your EV at home for the first time can be quite daunting. To make sure that everyone stays safe when the car is being charged:

  • Use adaptors and cables supplied by the car’s manufacturer or the charger company.
  • Don’t use socket-outlet adaptors.
  • Don’t charge two cars from one socket.
  • Don’t use extension leads.
  • Ensure the charging hardware is compatible with the home power supply and the vehicle.

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