There are a number of key things to consider when thinking about where to install an electric vehicle wall charger in your garage.
And making the right choice can potentially save you thousands, if you know what to consider. Where to install it, whether you are preparing for just one EV or you might need to charge two vehicles in the future are some examples.
Do you have solar, and/or a battery? If so, you might need to think about how to manage where your solar power goes, particularly if the EV you are buying does not have scheduled charging as a feature.
EV expert Chris Vanderstock has pondered these very questions, and included some key recommendations in a recent video on Youtube.
“One of the first things you need to think about when getting a home charger is where you’re going to install them,” he says.
Tthe further away you get from your fuse box the more expensive it’s going to be.”
He cites examples of cases where charges have been installed up to 30 metres away from the fusebox, “substantially” increasing the cost of the install.
“I’m talking … thousands of dollars to actually do so,” says Vanderstock.
Another distance-based consideration when purchasing a charger is how long the cord is, as well as the location of the chargeport on the vehicle. Is it on the rear or front end of the vehicle? Will you be backing into or driving into your garage?
Where should you install an EV wall charger?
Vanderstock notes another consideration is future-proofing the install. While his example is whether or not you will become a two-EV family, it’s also good to think about a spot that will suit all EVs, in case you change your model or go to sell the house.
In his case, he says, “we actually chose the central post … if I was to charge another Tesla in this garage I’ll probably have to reverse the other one (in).”
The next consideration and probably the most important one for us was that we’ve got solar and a battery and I wanted a system that was able to maximize the benefits of those,” he adds.
Like many new EV owners, up until now he has been charging off a standard powerpoint using the mobile charging cable that came with the car (note: new Tesla buyers will no longer get this as a standard inclusion, but can choose between either a mobile charger for $550, or a wall connector for $75 – or both.)
“To date we’ve just been using a 10 amp (outlet), then a 15 amp charger like the mobile connector that comes with your car,” says Vanderstock.
But because that meant he always had to manually manage the charging schedule as their MG ZS EV does not have this feature, he decided to finally install a wall charger. The charger they ended up choosing is a brand (Zappi) that manages all this as well as solar and battery energy management locally, instead of a subscription model in the cloud.
Another consideration is whether or not you have enough room in your existing fusebox for the ampage you want to run through the wall charger.
In Vanderstock’s case, there wasn’t enough room for a 32 amp line (which would allow a Tesla Model 3 to charge at a speed of 50km/hr according to Tesla’s website).
“…we had to have this box installed underneath it to make the Zappi work to as fast as (possible) through a single phase (installation),” he said.
Commissioning the wall charger
When it comes to commissioning the wall charger, how it is configured can also be important.
In the case of the Zappi, says Vanderstock, the electrician “asked me a question which I actually really hadn’t thought through.”
He says the electrician told him to think about energy needs and the fluctuation of daylight hours and temperature between winter and summer.
“In summertime, our Powerwall will actually fill up by 12-1 o’clock, then when the sun goes down we start to draw power from it during peak electricity times, meaning that if we were to allow the Zappi to quickly pull power from it and fill up one of the cars (remember it’s only 13.5 kilowatt hours of usable energy for one Powerwall) it would very quickly take away all the power from the Powerwall and then you’ll be paying a really high premium for your electricity price.”
“We are currently on the EV Power Shop plan meaning that between 12 midnight and 4 am we paid just a bit over 9 cents per kilowatt hour for our energy, so it makes sense that we actually use the timers and the Zappi to maximize the use of that cheaper electricity,” says Vanderstock.
Of course, if you don’t have a Powerwall or other storage battery, and you have an EV that has shceduled charging via the vheicle or smartphone interface, you can set this up without the use of a Zappi charger.
How much did it cost to install the Zappi charger?
“Essentially $1,000 for electricals,” says Vanderstock. “It could have been actually a bit cheaper had we had space on our board,” he adds.
Then $1,500 for the Zappi – that included all the accessories like the wi-fi dongle so that I could actually talk to this through the cloud.”
For a limited time you can use Vanderstock’s code to get a discount off the Zappi.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.