New Zealand electric vehicle (EV) sales have risen year-on-year. Just 505 new and used EVs were registered in 2015, whilst reports show that 5,550 light EVs were added to the fleet in 2018. There are now over 12,700 registered EVs across the country.

With all of these EVs on the road, it’s important to make sure that electrical supply systems can cope with the appropriate charging and that the risks are identified and reduced, especially if charging at home.

Charging at home overnight is the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way to charge. You may be able to take advantage of ‘off-peak’ electricity rates and some power companies even offer special rates for EV owners.

With the New Zealand Governments target of having 64,000 EVs by 2021, whether overnight charging remains ‘off-peak’ is a question yet to be answered. In saying that, a number of organisations (Transpower, Orion & MBIE) have performed studies and claim that even if 50% of our light passenger fleet were electric the drain on the grid might only be around 4-8%.

Most homes should allow EV charging via a standard three-pin plug, but in the case of an older home, a standard electrical socket may not be safe or positioned in an accessible location. Modifications may be required to modernise your wiring to allow safe EV charging/charger installation.

If you want faster charging, specialist electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) or an EV charge station (EVCS) will be required.

We would recommend getting a home assessment done by a qualified professional. Electricians are also going through an educational process since the advent of EVs, with Master Electricians running a series of workshops to help educate their members about likely changes to industry guidelines.

It’s great to see some car dealers already offering home assessments for their customers, which helps ease some of the fears a potential owner may have.

A standard 8A 2.2kW Type 1 portable charging box for older EV’s can cost around $750, and a 4.6kW EV charging station starts at $2,686 as found on the Chargemaster website. The good thing with these products is that they conform to New Zealand safety standards, as they have a number of built-in safety features.

Quality chargers are rated for use in all-weather conditions, with both indoor and outdoor installation options.

Some important tips to remember when charging an EV at home:

1) Never use extension cords with any EVSE equipment. They are not designed to handle the large amounts of electricity required to fully charge an EV. They can melt, catch fire, or present an electrification hazard.

2) Be careful with adapters. Unless the adaptor has been approved by the charger manufacturer, it may not be built to an acceptable standard.

3) When building a new house or garage, you can future-proof by thinking about the potential of an EV charger and power socket location and fitment.

4) For your safety it is recommended that any charge unit or power supply installation be carried out by a licensed and qualified electrician familiar with NZ industry standards.

Note: Drive Electric is a not-for-profit group which undertakes research about issues affecting electric vehicles.

If you’re caught short whilst on the road, last year the AA and NZTA launched EV Charge Finder which uses the revolutionary and world-first EVRoam platform. Hosted on the AA’s Time and Distance calculator, EV Charge Finder enables drivers to plot their journey between charging stations, removing range anxiety stress for EV drivers who will now know with certainty there is a safe and reliable charging station on their route.

Go to aa.co.nz/travel/time-and-distance-calculator and select charging stations.

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