March 31st, 2021, by Eamon Stack

 

One of the most common posts from newbies on the IEVOA facebook group is about buying a home charger. We recently held a virtual event dedicated to charging, which is available on YouTube.

 

The event covered the whole spectrum of charging from Public Charge Points [public like eCARS and private like EasyGo], apartment charging, home charging, smart charging, fleet charging and a wider European initiative, a loyalty programme called &Charge. I highly recommend you watch the video.

The Question

Many charge points are available, which one to choose ?

The big question remains: which chargerpoint should I buy? In this article we focus on home chargepoints/wallboxes. We have collated the various responses with the participants at the IEVOA webinar and have had further interviews with people who have commented on our IEVOA Facebook group.

NOTE: It is important to clarify that your EV has the AC charger installed in the car. Home charging requires a wallbox/chargepoint that delivers the AC power to your EV’s charger. The wallbox, although classified as an “appliance” is not a charger – in fact it is closer to an electrical socket. Unlike the normal 13amp sockets in your house, the wallbox is usually rated as a 32amp socket, the same rating as your oven, hob or emersion. The wallbox also has some electronics to allow the car to tell it to turn off when charging is completed or when an error occurred during charging.

Participants at the webinar made good points. From the perspective of his customers, home charging requires a “big investment”. House owners need “value for money” and “to be able to use the unit”. It is important to offer choices – as one installer said “choosing a wallbox is like choosing a car – some people buy a Nissan Leaf and others a Tesla model S. Each owner will choose a wallbox to meet their budget and level of nerdiness!”

 

Alec Story

Alec got a used Leaf and wanted to install a chargepoint. He did not want to spend more than necessary to charge his car. For instance, he knew that car had a charging timer built-in, so he did not want to duplicate this function. And his car’s max charge rate was standard – 6.66kw.

Many suppliers of “home chargers” offered him a service for €400-€800 on top of the SEAI grant of €600. Alec was not happy. He searched the web and found a UK manufacturer that sold a 7.5kw chargepoint, made in UK, for €329.69 including VAT and delivery to the Republic of Ireland.

The UK online company also offered a UK “regulation 18” requirement unit that comprised of a box fitted with RCBO type D and isolator for €143.54 , VAT included. Alec decided to invest. The alternative was to buy a RCBO type B and an isolator locally for € 80 euro approx and to fit it in his fuse board.

Alec purchased 10 meters of 10mm square cable. Alec next sought a registered electrician to complete the installation which took 1.5 hours and at cost of €150 bringing his total spend to €608.23.

Peter’s Story

Peter recently purchased a Renault Zoe and needed a charger. He contacted a reputable chargepoint installer and his house survey revealed one complication – Peter had an electric shower. The location of the new chargepoint box was less than 10m from the fusebox.

Peter was given a choice of wallboxes by the contractor and chose the EO Mini with load management. The installation took 2 hours and the total cost was €900. The contractor completed the necessary paperwork and €600 was refunded by SEAI to Peter’s bank account after four weeks.

Peter commented that the advantage of having a local electrical contractor install his wallbox means he has support if anything should go wrong.

John’s Story

John is delighted with his new VW ID3. Buying his first EV is a big decision and he thoroughly investigated his options. He also needed a chargepoint for his home. He decided to accept the VW offer of installing a VW chargerpoint. After installation, he received an invoice for €1622.40 SEIA will refund €600. If John had known that he could have purchased an equivalent unit for less than €1000, he would not have taken the VW offer. He said “you should also research your options when purchasing a chargepoint.”

A Framework – Six Key Issues

Issue

Options

Baseline

  1. Quality

EU and SEAI

Always use an electrician registered with Safe Ireland

  1. Type of wallbox

Standard

Smart

Load Balancing

Standard

  1. Socket or wire with plug

Untethered

Tethered

Untethered

  1. Fusebox or ESB Meter connection

Both allowed

Whichever is closest

but preference for fusebox

  1. Distance

Less 10m – 6sqr cable size

Greater 10m -10sqr

Depends on house

  1. Isolation Switch

New regulation

Check if required

The Baseline

Example of a home installation

Many people want to purchase a standard unit [no frills]. Therefore we want to identify a baseline.

  • First, you only need the baseline unit to safely charge your car. Everything else is extra.

  • Secondly, while most houses are in estates with common electrical systems, many houses have a unique set-up. A certified installer is required to ensure that your estate or individual home electrical system can safely support a device that will draw 32a of power, 7.5 kw, continuously for many hours [maybe 10 hours depending on the size of your battery].

  • Thirdly, everyone who purchased an EV, new or second hand, since 2018, is eligible for a grant of €600 [needs to be applied for and agreed with SEAI before installation].

NOTE: For the baseline we assume that your house electrical system can support the charging and you have no conflict of loads [e.g. electrical shower, heatpump], and your electrical source is less than 10m from the location of the wallbox. We will look at exceptions after establishing the baseline.

 

Wallbox units that meet the baseline:

  • There are a wide range of 32a Wallboxes for home charging. The baseline ones include : Rolec, QUBEV, EO mini, ABL, EV Box. There have been reported issues with some of these units, you need to do your homework. More advanced units common in Ireland include Zappi, Ohme and Wallbox;

  • Prices of the baseline units range from €300 to €400 [including VAT];

  • Tethered units are usually more expensive but should be less than €100 extra;

  • Some EV manufacturers are offering a free chargepoint with the new EV, eg. VW;

  • While SEAI does not provide a list of approved wallboxes, just the technical standards, the UK does. All recommended units are “smart” Click here;

Installation that meets the baseline

  • Installation costs vary with location – major urban centers cost more than rural areas;

  • The standard time to install is less than two hours according to one of Ireland’s leading charge point installers;

  • The cost should be between €150 to €400 [unless there is a specific exception]. Check what is included in any estimate [certification, site survey, grant application].

IEVOA Recommendation

  • We believe that it is possible to fully buy and install a baseline chargepoint unit for around the amount of the grant plus €100-€200, if your house meets the baseline requirements.

  • Ireland needs to scale to over million home chargepoints in 8 years, to meet the Climate Action Plan 2019 target. Therefore, the cost per installation needs to drop significantly. But for now, we understand that we are not at scale and prices are higher.

  • We need a National strategy for a Smart Grid with smart metering, smart tariffs and smart charging. In the absence of a clear strategy, it is difficult to future-proof our chargepoint installations.

  • At scale: we believe the government should plan for mass installations, especially in large housing estates and stop the piecemeal approach.

 

What are the exceptions to the baseline case ?

Most houses are part of schemes and have common electrical schema. One survey can determine if the whole estate meets the baseline. But many homes are once off. It is important to know that a survey of your premises may reveal requirements over and above the baseline. Each extra requirement will add cost in terms of hardware and installation.

  1. Distance from electrical source to wallbox [and car]. The baseline says up to 10m. If the distance is significantly more, not alone do you need to pay for extra cable, the cable needs to be of a higher standard due to electrical losses;

  2. Load Management: If your home has an appliance that uses more than 3kw of electricity, e.g. electrical shower, 5kw induction hob, heat pump, then a load management unit will need to be included in your wall box or separately; An, Irish made, separate load management unit is on offer at €165.00 delivered.

  3. ESB Meter box connection: your ESB meter may be closer to your wallbox but it may not have the required isolation unit or slots available to connect your wallbox cable.

  4. Solar Panels – existing or planned – if you have solar panels or plan to install solar in the near future, then we recommend a smart wallbox that can opt to use the solar to charge the car when solar power is available.

 

Smart Technology in charge point

Firstly, there is an argument that we need to prepare for the smart grid or smart tariffs that may be offered by electricity retailers. We need to point out that there is a national rollout of Smart meters but there is no guarantee this will be completed in a timely manner. Therefore, you need to decide if you want to invest in a more feature rich wallbox.

Secondly, if Electricity Retail providers opt to offer tariffs then having a connection to your home WiFi will enable you to avail of this feature. This is very common in the UK, i.e. Octopus is the leading provider. However, no provider is offering this service in Ireland and again you need to decide if you want to invest in this potential future.

 

Day/Night Meter

Electricity is typically half price at night, as we generate electricity, especially by Wind, for which there is low demand. Most Electricity Retailers offer day and night rates: Typically 18c per unit day and 9c per unit night. It is important to note that ESB Network will install the Day/night meter for free. However, the standing charge will increase by €60 a year. If you regularly use electricity at night, and charge your car, this is highly recommended. Also note that day/night meters will be outmoded by smart meters and tariffs so consider waiting for that instead.

 

Other practical examples of installations carried out

Watch the two videos below : one is a Tesla home charge point, and the other one is a “ESB Ecar” unit (these were distributed to early EV owners before the €600 grant was put in place).