Is your home EV ready?

Children packing a charging electric vehicle

Tim Nicholson

Posted February 16, 2021

If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle, it’s worth considering a home charging unit.

Thinking of getting an electric vehicle? You’re not alone. According to a recent RACV survey, 60 per cent of people would consider going electric when buying their next car, and the most recent motor industry data shows a 19 per cent jump in EV sales over the past year.  

It’s not surprising that public EV charging stations are increasingly popping up across the country, but charging at home is often more convenient. Having a dedicated EV charger at home means you don’t have to leave the house to juice up your car, and you can get a full charge overnight. And if you pair your home charger with a rooftop solar system, you might also save money.

“A home charger is ideal for those who want to maximise returns on their solar panels and their EVs, says RACV product manager for energy, Lawrence Law. “Charging your car with solar power during the day boosts the business case for both your solar installation and your electric vehicle. It is certainly better than feeding electricity back into the grid for a meagre 10.2 cents per kWh.”

RACV recently released RACV Home Charging units that are compatible with most EV or plug-in hybrid vehicles on the Australian market. Priced from $2020, including installation by RACV Solar, they can potentially help you shave hundreds of dollars off your car running costs.

So how can you get your home EV ready? We asked Lawrence and JET Charge CEO Tim Washington to answer some frequently asked questions.

In this article

Charger install location

Power supply upgrade

Using renewable energy

Living in an apartment

Where should I install the charger?

The most logical spot is the garage or carport, but the ideal location is up to you. Consider which side of the garage or carport you want the charger – check where the charging port is on your EV, and factor in whether or not you usually reverse your car into the space. 

You don’t need a great deal of room. RACV’s charging unit measures just 380 millimetres high, 130 millimetres deep and 180 millimetres wide and weighs around three kilograms. It also doesn’t matter if you don’t have a roof over your car space, as RACV chargers are fully weatherproof.

Do I need to upgrade my power supply?

Technicians will need to install a dedicated circuit from the switchboard – the box with the circuit breakers that’s usually near your front door or in the garage – to the location of the charger. You’ll need to determine if you have a single-phase or three-phase connection. If your switchboard is equipped with a three-phase connection, it means that the conduit that connects to your charger is bigger and can charge your EV faster than with a single-phase connection. To determine which type of connection your house has, check the width of the main switch on the switchboard. The single-phase switches are one ‘pole’ wide and three-phase switches are three ‘poles’ wide and look like a triple switch.

You’ll also need to determine how far the switchboard is from the charger and think about how the cabling will get there. Could it run through your ceiling or under the house? If your switchboard is close to the charging location, you don’t need to worry about this.

Can I use renewable energy?

The environmental benefits of solar power are clear, but it can also save you money. With a home rooftop solar system, you could potentially charge your EV from your solar power. A home battery unit will allow you to store energy sourced from your solar panels to use at night or another time when the sun isn’t shining. If home solar isn’t an option for you, but you still want to charge your car with renewable energy, ask your power company whether they have a carbon offset or green energy plan. 

What if I live in an apartment building?

Most new apartment complexes are built with EV charging in mind, so installing a charger is relatively straightforward. But the process can be more complex in older buildings. Either way, speak with your owner’s corporation or strata manager to find out if they have an EV charging installation policy.