What to consider to install an electric car charger at home

Children packing a charging electric vehicle


Posted October 06, 2023

If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV), it’s worth considering installing a home EV charger.

EV ownership is growing in Australia. The Tesla Model Y is one of the top-selling cars across the country each month, while new entry-level EVs such as the BYD Atto 3, MG ZS EV and GWM Ora are helping to make the transition to electric motoring more accessible.

So, how can you get your home set up if you're considering making the switch to an EV? We asked RACV EV Manager Liam Brady to answer some frequently asked questions.

Home EV chargers: what you need to know

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 charge your car, and you may be able to get a full charge overnight. Plus, if you pair your home charger with a rooftop solar system, you might also save money by charging your vehicle from renewable energy.

While some EV owners choose to simply plug into a standard 10 amp wall outlet to charge, this results in very slow charging which can limit your range. Wall-mounted home charging units in your garage, carport or workplace can facilitate much faster charging. These dedicated EV chargers can provide charging at a rate around 3 to 10 times faster than a standard wall outlet.

"An EV charger is ideal for those who want to maximise returns on their solar panels and their EVs," says Liam. "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 5 to 10 cents per kWh."

RACV now supplies home EV chargers that are compatible with all EVs sold in Australia. Priced from just over $2,600 including standard installation by a certified electrician, they can potentially help you shave hundreds of dollars off your car running costs by optimising solar self-consumption with EV charging.


Home EV charging can be just as fast as commerical stations. Image: Getty

Where should I install the charger?

The most logical spot for a wall-mounted home charging unit 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 ChargeMate charger, for example, measures just 38 centimetres high, 13 centimetres deep and 18 centimetres wide and weighs around 3 kilograms. It also doesn’t matter if you don’t have a roof over your car space, as the charger is also fully weatherproof.

Do I need to upgrade my power supply?

When considering a home charging unit, you’ll need to determine if you have a single-phase or three-phase grid 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 grid 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.

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. So, 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 generally don’t need to worry about this.

What if my house wiring is old? 

Some older homes many have an old switchboard that needs to be upgraded, which could cost anywhere from $100 to $2,000 extra before a home EV charger can be installed.

"That’s because if we’re doing work in your switchboard, we’re required by law to bring it up to current code, so the whole switchboard may need upgrading," Liam explains. 

Switchboard upgrades may also be required to make space for the new electrical protection switches. For example, if your home has old fuse blocks rather than new circuit breakers, you’re likely to need an upgrade of some kind. "However, those upgrades bring important safety benefits, so it’s a worthwhile investment for your home," Liam says.


man looking at wiring in his EV home charger

Technicians can evaluate your switchboard. Image: Matt Harvey

Do you need a home battery to charge an electric car?  

No. Charging an EV doesn’t require a home battery. In fact, most EV drivers tend to have a rooftop solar system, but not a home battery.

"The EV can be set to charge from free excess solar energy during the day (if you have solar) and/or overnight on cheaper off-peak electricity. This will keep your costs down," Liam explains.

In the future, bidirectional chargers will be able to discharge energy from an EV, which means they could be used to power a home and its appliances.

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 directly from your excess 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 electricity retailer whether they have a carbon offset or green energy plan. 

What if I live in an apartment building?

Many 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.


man plugging in his EV at home using a wall charger

Wall chargers are ideally placed in the garage or carport. Image: Matt Harvey

How long does it take to charge an electric car?  

Charging times vary from as little as 30 minutes to 18 hours depending on the speed of the charging point, the size of the car battery, and the car's remaining charge. Most drivers top up their charge, rather than waiting for their battery to recharge from empty to full.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Charging at home is generally the cheapest way to charge an EV, unless you’re lucky enough to have a free destination charger nearby (free public charging). Using excess solar to charge your EV is the lowest cost option for charging at home. However, if you don’t have a rooftop solar system, then the next best option is to charge overnight if your household has a lower off-peak rate (like a time of use tariff).

There will be an overall reduction in fuel costs compared to an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle. "Many people with the right EV and usage pattern will see a positive return on investment compared to sticking with a petrol car, once you’ve added in maintenance savings, fuel savings, etc. despite the higher up-front cost on the EV," Liam says.


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