Electric Vehicle Charging Guide
Electric vehicles are the new kid on the block in the automotive world, but their popularity is growing by the day. There’s no denying that driving an EV comes with a lot of benefits, from reducing exhaust emissions and protecting the planet to saving on running and maintenance costs.
However, there’s also a learning curve to take into consideration since EV’s have different characteristics than traditional cars. And the main difference is obviously made by their charging requirements. If you’re an EV owner or you’re planning on becoming one, you surely want to learn as much as possible about EV charging so you can enjoy your car to the fullest. That’s why we’ve put together this electric vehicle charging guide that will provide you with all the relevant information on the topic and help you become more EV savvy.
Let’s start by addressing the charging solutions you can use to power up your EV. All electric cars have three levels of charging that involve different electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and charging times. We’ll go over each level of charging and find out what they imply.
Level 1 charging is the simplest way to charge your EV as it requires nothing more than a standard 240-volt AC (alternating current) socket and the charger included with the car. This means you can charge your car at home any time you want, without any need for extra equipment. It’s a viable solution for topping up plug-in-hybrids overnight.
Although this is probably the most convenient method to recharge your EV, it’s also the slowest since it only offers about 2kW electricity power output, through a normal 10-amp socket, with a 10-20km range per hour. So, it can take up to 20 hours to fully charge your car, depending on battery size, if you want to enjoy longer rides.
Most EV owners require a faster charging solution that doesn’t imply leaving their car plugged in all night, every night. That’s why most experts recommend opting for level 2 charging, for both residential and commercial spaces.
Level 2 chargers or wall boxes can be installed at home or in any public location, and they can increase the power output coming out of a standard 240-volt AC socket found in every Australian home from 3.7 kW up to 22 kW. This will greatly reduce charging times and have your EV ready to hit the road daily. Keep in mind that these chargers are usually sold separately, so you’ll have to purchase one and have it installed by a qualified electrician such as Power Shift.
Level 3 chargers refer to the DC chargers (DCFC or DC Fast Chargers) that can only be found in public stations and provide the fastest charging solution for EVs. They are the equivalent of traditional petrol stations for electric vehicles. With charging capacities ranging from 50kW to 350kW, they can have your EV charged and ready to go in less than an hour. When using a DC station, a cable plugs directly into your car, feeding the battery with DC power directly from the grid, without the need for conversion.
Needless to say, this is the ideal charging option for longer trips as it can provide a lot of range to your EV in a short amount of time. However, you should be aware that not all EV’s can be charged at level 3 chargers, so make sure you understand your car’s specific requirements before you head to a charging station.
Types of charging plugs and ports available in Australia
Since EV’s are still relatively new on the automotive market, there are different kinds of EV plugs and sockets used internationally. Luckily, in Australia things are pretty straightforward as EV charging standards have already been established.
EV owners can use both Type 1 and Type 2 plugs for AC charging. Type 1 AC plugs, also known as J1772 or SAE J1772 are most commonly used in North America and Japan, but they’re also used in Australia for charging pre-2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs. However, considering Type 1 plugs are not commonly found at public charging stations across Australia, Mitsubishi Outlanders can also use Type 2 adaptors.
Type 2 plugs (Mennekes) are the standard plugs in Australia for AC charging, and all EV manufacturers use them. EV plug-in hybrids in Australia usually come equipped with a Type 2 charging port, and even EV’s with CCS2 ports can be charged using this type of plug.
When it comes to DC charging, things are a little different. Australians can use CCS and CHAdeMO plugs for DC rapid charging. CCS or combined charging system has both AC and DC charging inputs in the same plug, so it can be used for AC and DC charging. On the other hand, CHAdeMO or Charge de Move can only be used for DC charging. Currently, CSS plugs are becoming increasingly popular in Australia and they’ll probably dominate the industry in the years to come.
How to use an EV charger
The charging process can differ from station to station, especially when it comes to payment methods. But charging an EV usually implies the following steps:
- Connect the charging cable to the charging station
- Plug in the charging cable to your EV
- In free stations, the charging process will start automatically by plugging in
- Check the dashboard indicators to check if the charging has started
- For paid charging you’ll have to use a credit card, a dedicated card or you might be required to download an app
- After you’ve charged your EV, disconnect the charging cable and you’re good to go
EV charging FAQs
What’s the difference between AC charging and DC charging?
AC charging uses the charger integrated with your EV to convert AC power, while DC charging uses an external installation to feed power directly to your car’s battery. The main difference drivers will notice is the charging speed as AC chargers are slow compared to DC charging stations that can reduce charging downtime significantly and top up your EV in less than an hour.
How long does it take to charge an EV?
Charging times differ from case to case, depending on factors such as charger capability, battery size, the existing level of charge, temperature or battery capacity. Based on these aspects, we can make the following estimates:
- Standard socket (2.4kW) = over 24 hours
- Home wall box (3-11kW) = 7-12 hours
- Public AC charging (7-22kW) = 4-7 hours
- DC fast charging (25-150kW) = 1-2 hours
- DC ultra-rapid charging (150-350kW) = 20 – 60 minutes
How much does charging an EV cost?
In Australia, many public AC charging stations are completely free and the costs are covered from paying parking fees. However, DC charging comes with a fee, and the costs vary depending on battery size and driving habits.
Where can I charge an EV in Australia?
You can charge your EV at home, by using your standard 240-volt socket and the included charging cord or install a level 2 charger for faster charging. You can also top it up at work or in any other public location that provides EV charging stations. You can consult the official Charging map if you want to find all charging station locations in Australia.
How many fast EV chargers are there in Australia?
The data provided by the Electric Vehicle Council show that there are currently 2307 public charging stations for EV’s across Australia, of which 357 are fast public charging stations (data from 2020).
What are the different electric car battery sizes?
Electric car batteries come in different sizes, ranging from 40kWh to around 100kWh. Most batteries have a capacity of at least 50kWh and there are plenty of EV’s equipped with batteries that can receive up to 100kWh. Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to increase the range, so we’ll probably see great improvements in this area over the next few years.
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