Charging your EV
1 min 4 sec
An EV costs the equivalent of 40c per litre1 to “fill up” when charged at home, which is the easiest and most convenient way to charge.
In fact 82% of EV owners do most of their charging at home, but it’s good to know the ins and outs of public charging too, for when you need a bit of extra juice for a longer trip.
Kiwi rally champ and EV fan Hayden Paddon has the low-down on charging at home and while you're out and about.
Places to charge
Charging at home off-peak is the cheapest and cleanest option. You need off-street parking and access to a 3-pin power socket — or a dedicated charging unit. You'll have to sort out who pays the bill — installing a smart charger can help divvy it up. Make sure you're comfortable with the health and safety aspect too.
At your business
Super-convenient but there's a lot to consider. If vehicles are parked up overnight, charging overnight is the cheapest and cleanest option — the charging units are much cheaper than fast chargers too. Install a smart charger or use the EV's charging controls to manage when the EV is recharged.
On the road
The public charging network is growing all the time. If chargers are near the routes you travel or your business premises you could use them as your main charging option, or mix and match with home or business charging. Record vehicle daily travel for a month and map journeys against public chargers to see how well they match.
The most economical way to run your EV is to charge at home off-peak. That's when the demand for electricity is at its lowest across New Zealand — so it's cheaper and highly likely to be generated by renewable sources like hydro, geothermal and wind.
Charging at home off-peak is like buying petrol at around 40c/litre, depending on your electricity retailer. Prices vary at peak times and at public chargers when you're out and about.
Buying an EV charger depends on your individual circumstances – what kind of EV you have, how fast you want to charge it, how much you want to spend on electricity to charge it, and making sure your home’s wiring is up to the job.
Types of home chargers
Home charging requires either a wall-mounted charging unit or a portable 3-pin cable.
- Dedicated wall-mounted charging unit — makes charging your EV simple, safe and efficient. Many have 'smart' features, which give you greater control over charging – be sure to ask your supplier if the charger you’re looking at is smart capable.
- Portable 3-pin cable — a portable back up charger is typically supplied with your EV when you buy it. These can be used when other charging options aren't available, but are slower charging and are unlikely to be suitable for higher capacity EV models with extended range (as they are limited in the amount of electricity they can conduct).
The smart way to charge
Not all chargers are created equally. ‘Fuelling up’ your EV using a smart charger can reduce charging costs, take pressure off the national electricity grid, and help reduce New Zealand’s carbon footprint through prioritising renewable energy and avoiding fossil fuel electricity generation.
Hayden Paddon, New Zealand’s most successful rally driver and EV fan, has the details – check out the video.
Why choose a home smart charger
A smart EV charger is different to a standard wall mounted charger. They can receive a signal from your electricity supplier and automatically charge your car when the demand for electricity is at its lowest (and electricity is cheapest) across New Zealand. This can help you unlock benefits that other chargers don’t offer.
- Safety — Install with the guidance of a licensed electrician, who will check your house wiring and ensure it can safely cope with the additional EV charger load.
- Immediate savings — Although smart chargers are usually a more expensive option, they can be programmed to charge at times when electricity is at its lowest cost.
- Future cost savings — In the future, when a ‘demand flexibility’ service is introduced in New Zealand, smart EV chargers will be able to react to signals from the grid and reduce the level of charge or turn off when electricity is expensive and ramp up or turn back on when costs reduce.
- Smart home ready — Smart chargers are the first building block of a fully functional smart home, which connects your existing appliances in a network to optimise your household electricity use.
- Access electricity deals — Electricity supply companies can tell you if they offer lower cost electricity pricing for off-peak charging, and what EV or charger you need to access it (you might want to check if there are other supplier options that suit you better).
EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) is working on a list of recommended chargers to help people choose the right one.
You'll find public chargers at places like supermarkets, malls and gyms, and at least every 75km along most of New Zealand's state highways. The charging network is growing all the time.
- DC fast chargers — Offer a faster charge. Cables are supplied to fit all vehicles.
- Public AC chargers — Offer a slower, cheaper charge (sometimes free). You may need to supply your own cable.
Learn more about charging times and costs below.
Find a public charger
Websites and apps show the locations of public chargers, whether they're fast (DC) or slow (AC), if they're in working order and what type of connectors or sockets are provided or required.
- EVRoam(external link) — find public chargers and plan your journey by EV.
- ChargeNet(external link) — a nationwide network of fast chargers.
- AA time and distance calculator(external link) — tick 'charging stations' to add them to the time and distance map.
- Plugshare(external link) — crowd-sourced map and chargers from all networks.
Tips for using a fast charger
Companies installing fast charging stations include local electricity networks, ChargeNet and Chargemaster.
- No cable required. All fast charging stations have tethered CHAdeMO and/or CCS Type 2 cables.
- Create an account online first. Once signed up, you can access the fast charging network and enjoy easy billing and payment.
- Fast charge occasionally rather than frequently. It seems to be better for your battery.
- In a hurry? Charge to 80%. The last 20% of the battery takes longer to charge, so use the option to charge only to 80%.
- Check with your manufacturer to find out what's best for your particular vehicle.
Public chargers can be in hot demand, especially during peak travel times, like school holidays. Make it easier on yourself and your fellow EV drivers by planning your trip and charging stops, and remembering good public charging etiquette:
- There are several resources for planning an easy, stress-free trip. Check out the PlugShare app for the full list of chargers within NZ. Make sure to take note of the kW rating, so you understand how long your charge will take.
- While it may be tempting to charge your EV right to 100%, it is encouraged to take only what you need, or only to charge to 80%.
- Only use public chargers if you cannot charge at home. Keep them free for those that need them.
- Parks displaying an EV charging sign are for charging only. Do not park there if you are not charging, even if you’re in an EV.
- Only unplug another vehicle if you are certain it has finished charging, or you have been given permission, eg: on the Plugshare app.
- Make use of apps or txt alerts to monitor the state of charge. Plugshare is a safe way to communicate, but is optional.
- Stations are designed to allow you to leave your vehicle charging. But you must be back before charging stops, and before any parking time limits are up.
- Check for Parking/Charging Limits.
- Look after the stations, cables and plugs. Report any damage to the service provider, & ensure cables are safely tucked away
The Better NZ Trust, Zilch, and Drive Electric are all good sources for more information on public charging.
How to charge an EV
Charge an EV by just plugging it in
- Charge inside or outside. It's all good, rain or shine, so long as all equipment is designed for use in New Zealand and for the conditions in which it will be used.
- Smart home chargers make off-peak charging easy. Smart wall-mounted units can receive a signal from your electricity supplier to charge when the cost to you is lowest.
- Choose the right power company. Check off-peak times and tariffs, and if they offer special rates for EV owners.
Get more out of a single charge
- Fully charge your EV before you set off.
- Warm up the interior before you unplug the EV.
- Inflate tyres to the right pressure.
- Drive smoothly at a steady speed.
- Be aware that cold weather reduces an EV's range, particularly if heaters and demisters are used.
- Remove heavy luggage or accessories you don't need, such as roof racks.
How to charge an EV safely
It's important to use the right equipment, in the right way, to protect your wiring and keep everyone safe.
- Never use extension cables.
- Never take a cable across a footpath to charge.
- Do not use devices to connect the charging cable to the power supply (such as multi-boxes, double plugs or travel plugs).
- You can use an adaptor to connect the charging cable to the car, provided it is confirmed for use by the manufacturers of the vehicle and the cable.
- Never use modified charging equipment such as overseas equipment that has been fitted with a New Zealand plug. Never use damaged or faulty charging equipment. Have it checked by the manufacturer.
EECA commissioned Standards New Zealand to develop a free guide to buying and using an efficient, smart home charger.
Equipment safety checks
When buying an EV, including a used import, you should only be supplied with charging equipment (such as cables) designed for use in New Zealand.
Do not use equipment that doesn't display a voltage range that includes 230V, doesn't have a New Zealand plug, or has been modified (even to fit a New Zealand plug). It isn’t suitable for New Zealand’s electricity supply. Even if it appears to work, you can’t be sure the in-cable safety device will work when it needs to.
Some cables come with an industrial or caravan plug that allows faster charging. These require an electrician to install a special wall power point.
When buying a charging cable or wall-mounted charging unit, or purchasing an EV with a charging cable included, ask the seller for a signed copy of a Supplier Declaration of Conformity. This declaration shows the unit has been tested and meets electrical safety standards.
Wall-mounted charging units must be installed by a registered electrician who should:
- install a separate sub-circuit
- make sure the cable to the socket is capable of supplying the power that the unit can deliver. A circuit capable of supplying 32 Amps will futureproof the installation
- install a Type B RCD
- be able to confirm the charging equipment has a Supplier Declaration of Conformity to show the unit has been tested and meets electrical safety law.