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There are plenty of factors to consider if you’re thinking of adding an electric vehicle to your garage – including how you’ll keep the car charged up.

There is an ever-increasing amount of public EV chargers popping up in Australian cities and towns, and many owners of electric cars also like to charge at home.

But if you’ve never owned an electric vehicle, it’s natural to have some questions about how charging works, how much it costs, and whether you’ll be inconvenienced by it.

To help you understand the nature of charging (rather than refuelling), we’ll cover:

  • What kind of charging port does my car have?
  • How do I charge my electric car at home?
  • How do I charge my electric car when I’m out and about?
  • How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

What kind of charging port does my car have?

It has taken quite a few years for electric car manufacturers to settle on a standard charging port size and shape. That means you’ll need to carefully identify what type of charger will suit your EV.

There are 2 main types of charging port currently fitted to cars in Australia.

  • Type 1 and CHAdeMO – These were the earlier port shapes fitted to Australian EVs and plug-in hybrids. In fact, the Nissan Leaf is still being fitted with a CHAdeMO port. Public chargers that suit these systems are becoming rarer in Australia, as most carmakers and charging companies move to Type 2 + CCS.
  • Type 2 + CCS – This is the most common charge point around Australia, and thankfully, the type being fitted to most new cars in Australia. There has been a big push to make Type 2 the standard size port for alternating-current charging (for home use), while CCS is commonly built into the Type 2 port for direct-current charging (for faster public chargers).

How do I charge my electric car at home?

If your home has a garage or other parking spot with a power port in reach, you’re in luck. Charging an EV at home is the most convenient way to stay charged up. Much like your smartphone, your EV can charge up overnight and be ready to go the next morning.

A standard outlet

While you can charge an EV from a standard Australian power point, it takes a long time to do so – about 24 hours for a full charge for common electric cars like the Tesla Model 3 or Hyundai Kona Electric. That’s because the maximum speed from a typical power point is 2.4kW.

A wallbox charger

Starting at about $1,000, a single-phase wallbox gives you 3x faster charging at home, with a rate of 7.2kW. That means you can fully recharge common EVs to 100% battery in around eight hours – perfect for overnight charging.

Alternatively, a three-phase wallbox can deliver the maximum alternating-current charge of 22kW, delivering a full recharge in around three hours.

How do I charge my electric car when I’m out and about?

There is an ever-growing number of electric car chargers in Australian cities and towns, and even in useful spots like highway roadhouses, making road trips easier in an EV.

Tesla chargers

You might have seen electric car chargers being installed at your local supermarket or shopping centre. And it’s hard to miss Tesla superchargers, which are exclusive to Tesla EVs and provide particularly impressive coverage in Australia.

If you own a Tesla, you’re able to access Tesla’s Supercharger and Destination Charger networks. While there are fees for most Tesla chargers, the chargers automatically recognise your specific car, and fees are charged automatically.

Public charger options

Public chargers that are not exclusive to Tesla are growing rapidly in number. There are several companies vying to operate the largest charging networks. These include Chargefox, EO and Evie, while apps like Plugshare help you locate your nearest chargers.

Knowing what kind of charging port your car has is especially important for charging in public. Most chargers being installed are now fitted with Type 2 cables, with CHAdeMO cables becoming rarer.

Read more: EV Charging Point Coverage in Australia

Most electric cars are capable of charging at about 100kW, though the latest and greatest EVs can charge even more quickly. At 100kW, a full charge for a common 400km-range EV takes about 45 minutes, while at 350kW, a full charge would take around 15 minutes.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

If you intend to charge at home, your power bills will specify what your electricity costs, measured in kilowatt-hour (kWh) units, in peak times and off-peak times. Normally, charging overnight nabs the cheapest energy.

Let’s take charging up a Hyundai Kona Electric as an example. That car has a 64kWh battery and can travel about 450km on a full charge.

If you pay $0.20 per kWh at home, that means a full charge will cost you $12.80 – or about $2.84 per 100km. By contrast, a petrol car costs about $10 to travel 100km.

Public chargers are more expensive, typically costing about $0.40 per kWh. That means a full charge on the Kona Electric would set you back $25.60. However, at $5.69 per 100km, it’s still much cheaper than running a petrol car.

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