New Zealand Electric Vehicle (EV) sales have skyrocketed year after year, with many predicting the same for 2018. In 2015 just 505 EVs were registered, 1,526 in 2016 and last year a whopping 3,682 electric vehicles were added to the fleet.

Vehicle manufacturers are also launching an impressive variety of new EVs, so not only do we have a growing used EV market, but we now have more choice in new EV types and brands, with prices becoming more attractive too.

With all of these EVs driving around, it’s important to make sure that our electrical 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 New Zealand’s target of 64,000 EV’s by 2021, whether overnight charging remains ‘off-peak’ is a question yet to be answered. In saying that, a number of companies (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%.

However, Drive Electric board member Eric Pellicer advises that while many homes should allow EV charging, in a lot of cases a standard electrical socket on its own isn’t safe and specialist electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) or an EV charge station (EVCS) is required.

He recommends getting a home assessment done by a qualified professional.

“Electricians are 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,” he says.

Eric also mentions that some dealers are already offering home assessments for their customers, which helps ease some of the fears a potential owner may have.

A standard 8A portable charger to suit most small EV’s can start from around $699 (OEM wholesale audio), and a basic 4.6kW, 10-20A wall charger starts at $2,299 as found on the Chargemaster website.

The good thing with these products is that they conform to WorkSafe NZ standards as they have a number of built-in safety features. For more information, please visit chargemaster.co.nz.

Drive Electric charging expert Nigel Broomhall said quality chargers are rated for use in heavy rain, ice, snow and excess heat, and will not put you at risk of electrocution. 

“Some cheaper products warn not to charge in the rain, which is never a good sign,” he says.

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 will not be WorkSafe compliant.  
  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.
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