We are encouraging questions from readers about battery electric vehicles, and charging, and whatever else you want to learn. So please send them through and we will get our experts to respond, and invite other people to contribute through the comments section.
Today’s Reader Question:
My question is about Home Chargers for EVs.
I’m guessing they don’t come as part of the purchase price of the cars?
Do the car companies have charger options or do you need to shop around for a 3rd party option?
Either way, what price will I need to add to the EV purchase price to be able to charge at home?
Hi Brett – yes a car charger (properly termed an EVSE – short for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) is just as important to the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) as the fuel pump is to the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle – but we don’t have to install the latter when we buy the ICE one!
The first thing to consider though is that EVs are a paradigm shift when it comes to ‘refuelling’. Instead of the ‘fuel pump attendant’ model we have become used to, it changes to something we are familiar with in another context: the mobile phone.
And, just like the mobile phone, it can charge faster or slower depending on the charger you use. In EV parlance, charging speed relates to which ‘Mode’ of charging you use.
You can use any power point (Mode 2), using the cable that usually comes with any EV. It is the slowest of them all, but that doesn’t matter if you are asleep, or busy doing soimething else.
Mode 3 is fairly quick and done via fixed wall EVSEs that you will need to install, and Mode 4 is DC rapid charging which you will find in public places (shopping centres, next to highways, and increasingly at tourism places or in town.
(Please note that different speeds are also available within each Mode depending on how big a cable supplies the EVSE and what charge rates your particular EV is capable of).
See Table 1 for a diagrammatic representation of modes and charging times for a selection of BEVs.
Notes to table 1:
All charge times listed are estimates only and are not manufacturer endorsed.
Please refer to official specifications when purchasing an electric vehicle.
- Assuming 15kWh/100km efficiency
- Renault recommend that the Zoe not be regularly charged at less than a 3.6kW/15A charging rate.
- Kona has a max. 7kW (32A) single phase on-board charger.
– 3 phase 11kW is 16A/phase, Kona electric uses one 16A phase only
– 3 phase 22kW is 32A/phase, Kona electric uses one 32A phase only
- Kona has a maximum DC charge rate of 77kW
- Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a maximum DC charge rate of 250kW
- Renault Zoe ZE40 available in Australia does not have DC fast-charge
There are three separate issues to consider here.
- Do EVSEs come with the purchase of an EV?
- If you want to buy an EVSE for home use – what do they cost to buy and install?
- How do you decide what type of EVSE you need and/or are able to have installed?
Do EVSEs come with an EV purchase?
The short answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’. The ‘yes’ refers to the fact that all new BEVs and PHEVs sold here come with a portable (Mode 2) EVSE as part of the price1. Portable EVSEs plug into a power point to charge your EV (albeit at a slow rate – see the first row of table 1).
They are extremely handy if stranded, or for those people who don’t do a lot of kilometres in a day. However, much like a spare tyre, they are something to be used sparingly and should never be left at home!
(Unfortunately, they are an easy thing to leave behind if you use it as the primary charging option – which by the way I don’t recommend. See here on why I say portable EVSEs with 3 pin plugs should not be used as your primary EV charging option).
As I note in that article, installing a dedicated EVSE allows you to leave the emergency one that came with the car where it belongs (in the boot) and enjoy the benefits of getting a quicker and/or fuller charge when you need it or when the electricity tariff is lowest. (See table 1).
The ‘maybe’ involves the issue that mode 3 EVSEs do sometimes come with an EV. Tesla for instance supply a Tesla branded EVSE with every new Tesla sold, but the cost of installation is at the owner’s expense. Other vehicle makers offer EVSEs from selected suppliers as an OEM accessory.
Like window tinting, paint protection and towbars, it is also well understood that dealer supplied services and accessories are generally more expensive than aftermarket items. The same applies to EVSEs. Additionally, the limited range of EVSEs offered by the dealers may not have the sort of features that you would prefer.
If you want to buy an EVSE for home use – what do they cost to buy and install?
Even in Australia, your choice of Mode 3 wall-mount EVSEs is quite large and the features they can offer is, to some degree, mind-boggling. At their most basic – single phase, wall mounted EVSEs charging at up to 7-ish kW with a 5m lead start at around $900 for the unit.
Ones that can monitor your solar output and adjust your EV charging to suit start at around $1350. An all-singing, all-dancing one that offers Bluetooth connectivity and control, touchscreen, vehicle customisation and the like could set you back $2500 – $3000 or more.
Plus, if you are prepared to wait, in the medium term future (2 to 5 years at a very rubbery guess) a new crop of ‘smart’ EVSEs will be arriving that can run at flexible charging times and speeds depending on what the grid wants and how you set your preferences. Some of these will also include Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capacity. As for the cost of these – we will have to wait and see.
By the way, don’t forget that on top of the EVSE price you need to add the installation cost. For a simple install, this starts from about $700.
Obviously, longer distances to the switchboard (and/or trickier access between the EVSE and switchboard) require more time and material to install so setting an upper end for installation costs is a bit tricky – but $1500 to $2000 is unlikely to be exceeded.
How do you decide what type of EVSE you need and/or are able to have installed?
The issue to consider here is how to navigate the world of EVSE choice and salespeople who may/may not have the right EVSE for your needs (or understand how to match an EVSE with your needs, or for that matter – know how to locate it in the best position). This is a result of public EV and EVSE understanding still being quite low in Australia. (Including electricians and car salespeople!)
This is something I personally work hard to improve through my public and business presentations and writing (as well as through my consultancy EVChoice) but some effort and funding (and for that matter, policy) at state and federal level is desperately needed to provide the public, business and various levels of government with trustworthy, authoritative EV charging and EVSE information.
This will only increase with the introduction of smart EVSEs and V2G capacity. Interestingly, this is well recognised as important in other countries. Examples include Electrify America (https://www.electrifyamerica.com/) and GenLess in New Zealand (https://genless.govt.nz/for-everyone/on-the-move/consider-electric-vehicles/why-buy-an-ev/).
As Mode 2 (portable) EVSEs come with an EV purchase, you can charge your EV from day one.
However, in the longer term you will need to install a Mode 3 EVSE – which may come with the EV or be offered as an OEM accessory. If buying aftermarket, a basic EVSE with installation included starts from about $1600.
High-end EVSEs and/or complex installations can add $1000 – $4000 to that price. The stumbling block with finding the right EVSE for you is in finding or accessing independent and authoritative advice on EVSE choice.
This includes finding electrician installers familiar with EVs and EVSEs. Your installer must be able to offer useful advice about your proposed EVSE choice and location, as well as how to get the most out of your EVSE – both in relation to its features AND how to minimise the cost of charging through selecting the right electricity plan.
- Renault Zoe ZE40 was the exception. These were not supplied new with a portable EVSE – but they are no longer available new here.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.