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Preparing Your Home for an Electric Vehicle Charger🔌

Posted 9 Nov '23

How to Prepare Your Home for EV Charging

So you're looking into, or have just bought an Electric Vehicle, and you'd love to have the luxury of charging your EV from home. How do you prepare your house for such a big battery to be charged as fast as possible? Let’s first take a look at how most houses are configured.

This is a general overview of the many differences and processes that have changed over the years. Most houses will have single-phase power. A single phase house has a 80amp service fuse connection the house to the grid. Please note that this is not a resettable breaker.

The TOTAL house draw must be at most 80 amps. Most homes will have a few power circuits hosting some power outlets (GPO's). These are connected in your meter box by old-style fuses, circuit breakers, or modern safety switches (RCDs).

Electric vehicle charging limited grid


Option 1

The most basic would be a 10amp or 15amp GPO on a dedicated circuit. These options are the cheapest, but also takes the longest.
It is not a great idea to run 10amp or 15amp circuits at full capacity for long periods. Check if your lead is getting warm. This is the first sign that something is not correct.

Option 2

The first two options require an electrician’s visit, so why not go for the superior 32amp circuit option? The labour cost is the same. In single-phase setups, the best you could achieve is an EV charger circuit running 7kW (32amps) hard-wired into your home.

Option 3

If you are one of the lucky ones with three-phase power, or you can quickly get access to three-phase power, you could opt for a 22kW EV charger. Again, on a dedicated circuit.





If you are stuck with single-phase power, you can still do several things:

Turning down

Some EV chargers can drop or regulate the level of power they send to your vehicle. This is handy if you want your charger output reduced to not trip the circuit.

Future-proofing your EV charger

If you are thinking of adding solar or moving to three-phase power, or adding a battery, then an EV charger that can take a range of power inputs has merit. EV chargers work with a range of power inputs from single-phase to three-phase.

Portability

If you are going to the effort to get set up correctly, think about putting a dedicated outlet for the EV charger. You can then get a plug added to the EV charger that can allow the EV charger to be portable and moved around.

Where does Solar fit with Electric Vehicle charging?

Solar is an excellent way of generating power and charging your vehicle. It is worthy of its own article, where we investigate prioritising self-consumption, managing outputs, and exploring what level of panels you need to charge an EV.

In summary, there are solar compatible chargers, which allows you to charge your electric vehicle from complete renewable energy, from a variety of different modes. Some chargers can do a combination of solar and grid charging, and also grid or solar only modes.

Setting up a new home

The modern houses of the future should look at three-phase power. There are several reasons why.
Modern homes with high-powered appliances like air conditioners, large stoves and pool pumps are already reaching the single phase’s capabilities. EV charging potentially pushes them to or over the 80 amp service fuse limit. With three phases, you effectively get three single-phase circuits (3 x 80amp circuits) Can you retrofit an existing home from a single phase to three phases? Great question. Short answer yes, mostly.

When is the best time to charge your EV? You can’t beat self-consumption from your existing solar; there will be no cheaper power source. If you don’t have solar, think about adding it. For those where adding solar is not an option, there are a few things you can look at. Ask your retailer if they have a discounted rate for EV charging; some proactive retailers are now offering EV charger plans. If you have a smart meter, you may have a discounted rate at night; think about setting up a timer or scheduling when you charge to make the cheaper rates.




What is Off-peak & Controlled Load Charging?

Off-peak or Controlled load charging are 2 modes which chargers can power your vehicle through. Off-peak is charging your electric vehicle at times (usually around 10pm-7am) of cheaper electricity bills and not during dinner time when everyone is using power, when it is at its most-expensive (around 2pm-8pm).

A controlled load is a type of electricity rate/tariff provided by the electricity network for high energy appliances (EV Charging, pool pumps, floor heating etc.) that is metered separately to the rest of the property.

Some Electric Vehicle chargers have timers and 'eco friendly' modes where they charge directly from solar when available, or delayed until energy is off-peak or shoulder-rates (rates between on and off-peak) are available.

Things to Consider before Installing 

Cost of Installation
The cost of setting up an electric vehicle (EV) charging station at home can vary based on several factors. This guide provides information on the main considerations when setting up an EV charger at home.

EV Charger
The cost of the EV charger is an important factor to consider. The type and brand of charger will influence the price, with level 2 chargers being more expensive than level 1 chargers. Level 1 Chargers: These only require a standard electrical outlet and come with the car, making them free for most people. However, it is possible to purchase a different level 1 charger, which can cost between $0 and $450. Level 2 Chargers: These are more powerful charging stations that connect to a dedicated circuit and charge faster than level 1 chargers. Level 2 chargers are more expensive, with additional costs for connecting to a power circuit and installation. The average price for a level 2 charger ranges from $400 to $1700.

Labour Costs
The cost of installing an EV charger includes the labour involved. Factors such as the time, materials, and difficulty of the job can affect the price. An electrician’s experience, the materials needed, and the time taken will all impact the cost. It is important to compare prices from different electricians and not always choose the cheapest option as this may not result in proper service work. Our blog ‘how to choose a good electrician’ provides more information on finding the right electrician for the job.


Power Upgrades
In some cases, a switchboard upgrade may be needed to safely operate a level 2 charger. A level 2 electrician will upgrade the switchboard and connect and install the electric car charger. It is important to contact a reliable electrician to discuss whether the switchboard upgrade is needed. In conclusion, when setting up an EV charger at home, it is important to consider the cost of the charger, labour, and power upgrades. By understanding these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the right option for your needs.

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