12 Dec 2023

Decoding Electric Vehicle Charging

Not sure about Electric Vehicle (EV) charging? Let’s take you through the basics. 

With around 17% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions originating from the road transport sector, transitioning to sustainable transport plays an important part in reducing national carbon emissions (source: Climate Council) Decarbonising company fleets will help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and FleetPartners has developed our comprehensive “5-step Journey to Carbon Zero” to lower fleet emission. The program is an end-to-end view of how to size and set your fleet-related ESG goals and activate them through a series of integrated vehicle and charger management solutions.      

A key step in the program is setting your charging strategy (it’s actually step 4) as the range of EVs is rapidly improving and EV charging being a key enabler to confidently transitioning.           

However, it can be tricky to know where to start. At FleetPartners, we have extensive EV charging expertise, and we're here to guide and enable your charging strategy. To help you on your journey, let’s explore the world of EV charging, from the basics on how the charges work to how to choose a solution for your business.

What you need to know about EV chargers 

The optimal approach is to install a dedicated AC charger in the location where each EV is garaged overnight. However, installing a dedicated AC charger is not always practical, so, your charging strategy will usually require a blend of home, workplace and public ‘on-the-go’ charging solutions.  

Where you can install a dedicated EV charger and knowing which one to install can be daunting. Here’s some helpful tips. 

Electricity supply 

The electricity supplied to your premises will either be single-phase or three-phase.   

  • Single-phase chargers will charge up to 7.4kW  
  • Three-phase chargers will charge at up to 22kW (although current generation EVs generally accept a maximum of 11kW). 

The majority of residential homes are single-phase and most commercial sites are three-phase, so knowing your electricity supply arrangement is a key first question to ensuring you select the charger that can provide the maximum possible charging speed.      

Connecting to your car 

When it comes to the charging cables, there are a number of different plug types. The majority of EVs in Australia are equipped with the Type 2 plug, also called Mennekes. Older generation EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, use Type 1 or CHAdeMO plugs.  

It’s easy to get adaptors for different plug types and is sometimes necessary (and therefore recommended) when you’re looking to share a charger between different EVs in a workplace charging location.  

Another consideration with cables is that some chargers are hardwired to a charger while others are removable and can be taken to destination chargers for use on the go. Keep in mind that the end of the cable is the most common component that starts to show wear and tear with repeated use so, a removable cable can prove handy as it’s easy to replace.     

Charging management 

Most EV chargers can connect to the internet either via Wi-Fi, an ethernet cable or a 4G modem.   These are commonly referred to as ‘smart’ chargers. Within the category of smart chargers, there are charges that adopt a standardised communication protocol called “Open Charge Point Protocol”, or OCPP for short. The advantage of OCPP-compliant chargers is that they can easily communicate with sophisticated cloud-based charger management platforms which enables remote support, consumption and carbon reporting, as well as access control. Non-OCPP compliant chargers and chargers that cannot connect to the internet are not as future-proofed. 

Load management 

EV chargers should always be safely installed on their own dedicated protected circuit. It’s important to keep in mind that EV charging in the home or workplace can materially increase the electricity load on a circuit so, you’ll need to consider your existing infrastructure and electricity usage – peaks and troughs throughout a day. It is a requirement that licensed electricians understand the loads on a circuit where the charger is being installed. Depending on the amount of electricity that is supplied to the circuit, there may be times throughout the day where this isn’t enough available electricity to allow the charger to charge at full speed. The good news is that there are flexible approaches to overcoming this issue. Here are two of those approaches:  

1. Active load management involves an electrician installing a monitoring device on the electricity supply to the circuit. This device measures the total amount of electricity being consumed on the premises. The charger knows the maximum amount of electricity available and calculates the amount of available electricity, directing this to the charger. This method is considered as the superior option as the realised charging speeds are always the fastest possible and it reduces the chance of tripping the circuit.  

2. Static load management involves taking the total electricity supplied to a circuit and estimating the potential load from all existing appliances. The charger is then limited to never use more than the calculated remaining electricity available. This approach assumes maximum load at all times on the circuit and results in the charger being permanently downrated which can impact charging speeds.      

How dedicated EV chargers work 

Electrical currents can flow in two forms: Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). 

  • DC is primarily used for high-voltage power transmission and for storing energy in batteries. 
  • AC is generally used for everything else. 

EVs can charge using either AC or DC chargers, with the difference being the speed at which the vehicle can convert the electricity and store it to the battery. The vehicle’s conversion capability is via a device called an onboard AC rectifier and it is this device that is often the charging bottle neck (illustrated below). In the case of DC charging, the onboard AC rectifier is bypassed and electricity flows directly to the battery.   



Choosing the right EV charger       

The world of EV charging can seem daunting, so we’ve listed some practical considerations for evaluating EV chargers:      

  • Match electrical supply – a single-phase premise should have a single-phase EV charger installed and a three-phase premise home should have a three-phase EV charger installed.       
  • Warranty protection – Comprehensive EV charger, hardware and installation warranties are important. Some EV charging providers offer extended warranties, and we recommend you ask and consider the options.  
  • Online connection – we recommend EV chargers that are internet-enable and connected (smart chargers). The gold standard is an OCPP compliant EV smart charger. 
  • Active load management – a monitoring device guarantees the fastest possible AC charging, regardless of the fluctuating load on the circuit. Most leading EV charging providers offer active load management as standard. If not, they are typically a few hundred dollars and (we think) worth the investment.  

The EV charger installation process      

EV chargers must be installed by licensed electricians on a dedicated, protected circuit. The installation process will generally take four to six hours for one or two electricians.  

AC EV charger home installation process 

AC EV charger home2.jpg


How we can help 

FleetPartners are well placed to support your fleet transition to EVs, including gathering and clarifying your EV charging requirements and assisting in the development of your EV charging strategy. We have charging infrastructure partners who share our understanding of the unique needs of an EV fleet and uphold our no-compromise position on safety and quality. Our approach is to always work collaboratively with customers to support a charging strategy that optimises availability, productivity, convenience and cost-efficiency. Pairing suitable EV charging hardware with FleetPartners support, expertise and management helps to ensure you’ll have the operational, consumption and environmental insights you need to optimise your fleet and deliver on your ESG goals. 

FleetPartners are here to support your transition to EVs, and we can provide you with the confidence and clarity to develop your EV charging solution.  

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