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There’s no doubt electric cars represent the biggest shift in the automotive industry in 100 years. Across the world, an increasing number of drivers are choosing electric vehicles (EVs) over traditional cars and here in WA, owning an EV is becoming a reality for more and more drivers. 

Whether you own an electric car already or you’re considering an EV for your next car, it’s important to understand how and when to safely and easily charge your EV, whether it’s best to use EV charging stations or charge at home – and how to determine the right EV charging level to suit individual driving habits.

When you’re used to driving to your nearest petrol station to fill your tank with petrol, the idea of charging your electric vehicle at home or a public charging station might seem strange at first. The good news is that charging an EV is easier than it might sound – and you can choose from a range of charging methods.


EV charger levels: Level 1, 2 and 3 charging

Unlike petrol and diesel vehicles where you need to head to a service station to fill up your car with fuel, with an EV there are several ways to charge your electric car. The EV charging type that’s right for you will depend on your car’s driving range, the EV battery and your EV charger type, as this can affect the charging time and rate.

EV charging stations are also known as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). This is the hardware which delivers energy from an electricity source to charge an EV battery. 

Depending on the EV charging type, chargers offer different charging levels. This refers to the rate of power that is delivered to a vehicle. Different EV chargers all provide the same electricity but can offer different rates or levels. The higher the level, the faster the charging time.

Here's an overview of Level 1, 2 and 3 charging types:

  • Level 1 EV Charger Type - AC Slow Charging:

    This is generally enough for people who do not drive their electric vehicle very often or very far. For example, they might drive less than 40km a day and can spend long periods of time charging between each drive.
  • Level 2 EV Charger Type - AC Fast Charging:

    This can suit drivers who use their electric vehicle regularly (40 km a day) and can recharge at home overnight.
  • Level 3 EV Charger Type - DC Fast Charging:

    This EV charging type is often a good choice for people who drive their electric vehicle frequently (more than 40km each day) and want to recharge quickly at public charging stations.

To help you choose which option might be right for you, here are some more details about each of these EV charging types. The information on driving range and charging time is general in nature and the exact time and distance will vary depending on your usage, EV battery and EV type.


Level 1 AC Charging 

Location: Home or work
Charging power: 1.4kW - 2.4kW

Also known as ‘trickle charging, Level 1 charging involves simply plugging your EV into an ordinary power outlet at home to charge, like you would your mobile phone. This is the slowest method of charging your EV as it can generally take up to 14 hours to fully charge a battery from empty, depending on your EV battery capacity. 

To help you work out an approximate charging time, divide the kWh of your battery by two. This number should give you a rough idea of many hours it would take to charge. 

The kW offered while charging is generally equivalent to the kilometres of driving range you could get from every 10 minutes of charging. As an example, 2.0kW will give you around 2km of range for every 10 minutes you charge. 

Most publicly available AC chargers, such as at the ones installed at some workplaces and local businesses, are universal sockets with no cable attached. You’ll need to bring your own EV charging cable to use these.

AC charging is best suited for smaller battery sizes such as those in PHEVS (plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles) or when you have more time to charge, for example charging during the day or overnight.


Level 2 AC fast charging

Location: Home, work, shopping centres, car parks, hotels
Charging Power: Up to 7.2kW

Level 2 EV charging provides mid-tier charging rates which are quite a bit faster than Level 1 EV charging.

In one hour, you will typically gain about 40km of range from a level 2 EV charger.

This EV charger type is often found installed in homes, apartment complexes, workplaces, shopping centres, hotels and places an EV can be parked for a while. If you want to use a Level 2 EV charger at home, you’ll need to have a wall box installed by a qualified electrician. This is normally an additional investment you will need to make, however sometimes Level 2 chargers can be included as part of a bundle with your EV. 

Level 2 EVSE charging equipment can cost a bit upfront if you’re planning to install it at home, but the investment could be worth considering when you look at the convenience and faster charging time.


Level 3 DC Fast Charging 

Location: Public charging stations; highways and key routes
Charging Power: 25kW - 350kw

Level 3 EV chargers provide rapid charging rates and can be up FIFTY times faster than Level 2 EV chargers.

This kind of charging speed comes at a cost – and DC Level 3 is generally the most expensive to install. This is why DC rapid charging is normally only installed by larger businesses or through government deployment such as the WA EV Network.

Level 3 EV chargers are intended to be used in much the same way that fuel stations are used by petrol or diesel vehicles. For example, on a road trip or long-distance drive, you might plug into the DC fast charger and have time to get a coffee or snack while you charge up.

Typically, you might get 60 to 70km of driving range for every 10 minutes of charging for this EV charger type. This means you could have almost a full charge from empty in the time it takes to finish that coffee.

Most EVs on the market are capable of accepting a charge rate of at least 50kW. When you’re planning how and when to charge your EV, it’s important to know that some EVs (such as plugin hybrids or PHEVs) may have a lower acceptance rate and might not suit Level 3 charging.


AC vs DC fast charging: What’s the difference?

AC stands for alternating current. The appliances and devices you plug into your wall at home use AC electricity. 

AC charging generally refers to Level 1 or 2 charging. When you connect to AC power, your EV's onboard inverter converts AC power to direct current (DC) power which means it can be stored in the EV battery.

Most Level 3 charging is DC. With DC fast charging, the electricity by-passes the AC/DC inverter and is fed straight into the EV battery, allowing for faster and more efficient charging. 


Types of EV charging plugs

The level of power that the charging point on the wall can deliver is only one part of EV charging.

An important element of EV charging is the type of charging port on the EVSE, or charger, and the car itself. 

Think of an EV charger plug as being similar to the plugs you plug into power sockets. For example, across the world, each country has their own specific type. With EVs, these plugs and ports have multiple pins; some are for transferring electricity, and others are data connections used by the car and EV charging stations to manage the electricity flow in the best way. Some EVs have multiple connection type options. 

There are 4 main EV plug types found on EV chargers. These are designed for either AC or DC charging.


Types of EV charging plugs



AC Charging

  • Type 1:

    This is a five-pin design and is not as common in Australia these days. This EV plug type is also known as J1772 or SAE J1772 and is mainly found on older models of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV or Nissan Leaf.
  • Type 2:

    Australia has adopted this EV plug type as standard with every new EV. It features a seven-pin design and is the EV plug type you'll find on most current battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sold in Australia. It's also known as an IEC 62196 or Mennekes plug.

DC Charging

  • CHAdeMo:

    Fun fact! “CHAdeMO” is short for "charge de move" ("move using charge" or "charge and go") in French but also "(o)cha demo ikaga desuka" ("do you want some tea?") in Japanese. This is because this DC fast charging type can charge an EV in the time it takes you to have a tea break. This connection is used by several EV brands.
  • CCS/CCS2:

    CCS stands for Combined Charging System and is another DC fast charging type. The plug has a set of small pins and two large pins below them. There are two types: CCS1 (compatible with Type 1 connections) and CCS2 (compatible with Type 2 connections). In Australia, many EV brands have a CCS2 port on the car, so it can plug into either a Type 2 charger or a CCS fast charger. This is a popular EV charger type since it means you can use a Type 2 charger at home and a CCS fast charger when out and about. 
    The WA EV Network charging stations are all CCS2 to enable them to be used by most EV owners.


EV charging adaptors

Just as you might need a travel adaptor when you’re travelling, there are many adaptors available to allow a car with one plug type to connect to a different type of EV charging station. 

Adaptor connectors or charging cables usually cost a few hundred dollars and can be a useful investment to give you extra options for charging your EV.

There are limits of course – and not all combinations are available. While the right adaptor might allow a car to charge from a Level 3 fast charger which might not otherwise be compatible, the EV battery will still only charge at its own maximum rate. 


Charging at home vs a public charging station

One of the biggest benefits that electric cars have over internal combustion engine (ICE) cars is that you have the option to charge your vehicle without leaving home, as well as out on the road. Unlike driving an ICE vehicle, you aren’t limited to filling up at petrol stations. 

If you would like to charge at home, your EV will probably come with a standard charging cable which can plug into the car and into a regular household power point. This works in the same way as you would charge your laptop or smartphone, but charge times will be very slow. 

These EV charging cables are not very long, so you need to make sure the power socket is located near your charging point. Extension cables should never be used to power electric vehicles. Generally, most people charge their EV in their garage. You can also use your standard EV charging cable away from home or on road trips, so it is a great idea to store one in your car boot just in case.

Safety tip: Never use household power extension cables when charging your EV.

Using Level 1 trickle charging is fine if have plenty of time, for example if it suits you to charge at home while you’re home during the day, or overnight. 

Most EV drivers find it much easier to charge at home by having a Level 2 EV charging unit installed. This can charge your car up to three times faster than a standard power outlet. 
AC fast chargers increase the power output to 7.2kW for standard 240-volt single-phase wiring, (which would require a dedicated 32A circuit run to the EV Wall Box) and 22kW if you have 415-volt three-phase power at your home. You can speak to a qualified electrician who would be able to advise you further on getting a dedicated EV charging unit installed. 

Charging at home is one of the most convenient parts of owning an EV. You can fully charge your car overnight or during the day and you won’t need to leave your house for top-ups. You can even set up your home EV charger to charge at off-peak electricity times if you are on a time of use tariff, such as the Synergy EV Add On electricity plan.

If you have solar power at home, you could choose to set up your charge to only charge when your solar power system is generating energy. According to recent reports, around 70% of EV owners across Australia today also have a home solar system, allowing them to make the most of their solar energy to help charge their EVs.

When you’re out and about, you might use public charging stations to quickly charge your EV (depending on the EV charger type) or top up the battery if you need. In many locations, you’ll find fast or ultra-rapid charging to get you back on the road quickly – for example, WA’s EV Network which will add even more fast-charging stations across WA. You can use apps such as Plugshare or join a community of local EV drivers to find your nearest charging station.

Charging tip: Many destination chargers don’t have their own cables for security reasons, so remember to keep a compatible lead or adapter in your EV. 


How often do you need to charge your EV?

Most electric vehicles have enough battery capacity to cover the average daily commute for most Australians for an entire week. This means, unless you’re planning a long road trip, you should only need to replenish the battery once or twice a week. Unlike your mobile phone, it doesn’t need to be recharged every day.

Most car-makers recommend that you should only recharge the battery between 20  and 80% of its capacity. It could also be better for your EV battery to deplete each charge cycle before you top up again to support your EV in maintaining its useable driving range and prevent the battery cells from degrading quickly.

Safety tip: Don’t leave your EV in the garage with a full battery for long periods of time.

This can stress the battery cells and speed up the degradation. In a worst-case scenario, over time this could create enough heat for the battery to catch fire.

In short, the ideal time to recharge your EV is only when you need to. These are general tips only and you should always follow your EV manufacturer’s recommendations.


When is the best time of day to charge your EV?

If you drive your EV every day, you could potentially save money by recharging at certain times of the day. For example, if you are on a time of use electricity plan, such as Midday Saver or EV Add On, the best time to recharge your EV is between 9am and 3pm during the super off peak period  or between 9pm and 9am during the off-peak period for the Midday Saver or 9pm to 11pm and 6am to 9am (off peak period) or 11pm to 6am (overnight period) for the EV Add On.

Curious about how much it costs to charge an EV? We have compared charging at home on different electricity plans, and compared them to charging at public charging stations to work out when (and where) you could charge to get the most cost-savings.  Find out if you could save.

If the thought of charging your EV overnight makes you think you’ll need to get out of bed at all hours to either plug in or remove the charger, here’s some good news. Most EVs have a function that allows you to schedule charging times. This might work either through your EV’s infotainment system or through an app.

Using this tech could allow you to plug your EV in to the charger and the battery shouldn’t start drawing power from the grid until the designated time. It should also stop recharging when either your EV battery is full or at a designated finish time.

If you have a smart home charger you may be able to benefit from  pre-programming it to charge only at certain times of the day.

Charging your EV can become part of your normal routine – it’s not that different to keeping your mobile phone charged. The simple rule is to only charge your EV battery when you need to and charge when you don’t need to drive your car, which is usually at night.


How to use EV chargers at public charging stations

Now that you know how charging stations work, where to find them and when to charge, you’ll need to know how to charge your EV when using a public charging station. 

The exact charging process may change depending on the type of EV charging station you’re using but in most cases, you’ll need to drive into the public charging station and:

  1. Connect your charging cable to the charging station, if there is not a cable already attached.
  2. Connect the cable to your EV. Usually there’s a lock-in sound. If the charging station is free or does not require an extra payment method, your EV battery will start charging automatically. Look for indicator lights on the dashboard (if there are any) to check whether charging is in progress. If the charging station is not free, companies might use different payment methods through mobile apps, credit cards or dedicated cards.
  3. The app will indicate the status of charge or when your EV is fully charged. Once charged, you need to unplug the connector cable from your EV and move out of the charging station. Leaving the charger plugged in for a while is not likely to damage your battery or the charger – but it could annoy anyone else who is waiting to use the charger!


Public EV charging station etiquette 

Other EV drivers can be a great source of tips and recommendations related to your electric vehicle – and it’s worth doing the right thing by them. If you’re planning to use public charging stations, it’s a good idea to follow these basic rules of etiquette.

Don’t hog the chargers

Drivers who leave their EV unattended on charge for longer than they need to are at the top of the list of frustrations for other EV drivers. This is sometimes referred to as ‘camping’. To avoid this, you can:

  • Know what type of charger you’re using and around how long it will take to charge your vehicle.  Level 2 charge points typically deliver around 40 to 100km of driving range per hour while Level 3 fast chargers will generally deliver around 70km of charge for every 10 minutes of charge time.  Of
  • course, this will vary depending on your usage, EV battery and EV type.
    Download and use the smartphone app PlugShare. This app gives you the option to allow other drivers to contact you should they need to check how long you’ll be. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave your vehicle on the charger while you go grab a coffee or quick bite to eat but using the apps could help to prevent any grumbles from those waiting in line on your return.
  • Don’t park in an EV charging spot if you’re not plugging in to charge. It’s not a free park for you just because you drive an EV – and it could attract a fine.


Look after the charger

If something is wrong with the unit, try to report it to the charging operator as soon as possible. You can usually find the contact details to report a charger issue somewhere on or around the charging unit. 

When you leave the charging station, leave the charger in the condition you found it and make sure you leave the area ready for the next driver to use. Hang up the cord when you’re done to reduce the chance of it being run over and damaged. And make sure to pick up any litter or rubbish!

Plan ahead and be patient

Planning your EV charging ahead of time could help to streamline the process and avoid stress. Different EV charger types can have their own smartphone apps, such as Chargefox, which will show you charging locations and whether they’re currently in use. 

If you’re planning a long trip you may want to stop at the second last available EV charger along your route to give yourself a safety buffer.

If another driver has breached EV charging etiquette, try to be patient and don’t try to unplug their unattended vehicles from the charger.

Be prepared to accept less than 100% charge
At busy charging stations, it’s worth considering other EV drivers in the line and how much charge you really need at that point. The charge time in older EVs can slow down considerably after 80 per cent and some EV manufacturers even recommend keeping your vehicle charged between 20 and 80 per cent to prolong the battery life.

Of course, you can recharge your EV to as high a level as you want. You might need extra charging time for road trips in country areas where you want to get as much range as you can for the next leg of the journey.

Remember that free EV charging only means you didn't pay 

Any business or venue with an EV charging station is likely to have invested many thousands of dollars into their charging facility that enables to you easily and reliably get a top up. This could cost anywhere from around $6,000 to $10,000 per charging station. Then there’s the ongoing maintenance, cleaning and support required to keep the chargers operational, safe and pleasant to use.

If your charging is free, consider how you might support the business itself, for example by buying a coffee or snack. You could also let the operator know you're there because they have installed an EV charging facility.


Now that you know all about EV chargers and how to safely charge your electric vehicle, you can check out our map of the best places near you to charge your EV, or learn more about the WA EV Network, Australia’s longest electric vehicle network which is under construction to help improve WA’s energy future.