Queensland’s Home EV Charger Gotcha

Dedicated EV charger

Queensland EV owners looking to install a hard-wired charger on their homes need to be aware of a significant gotcha in the state’s electricity connection rules.

SolarQuotes founder Finn was recently asked about this by someone who had been told by a QLD electricity retailer it was “illegal” to have a dedicated home charger in Queensland without an off-peak electricity meter.

So, What’s The Story?

According to Ergon Energy and Energex:

“A typical 7kW (~32 Amp) single-phase EV charger can’t be connected to a continuous supply (uncontrolled) tariff. It can only be connected to an economy, or controlled, tariff.”

An economy tariff is a great way of saving money on charging an EV1, but this isn’t available 24/7. Ergon/Energex state an economy tariff (Tariff 33) is available for at least 18 hours per day. But the times of day it’s available may change from day to day and vary in duration.

The chances are pretty good it won’t be available during the evening peak, and that’s less than ideal for someone who want to top up after coming home from work before they hit the sack. Setting a timer is a possibility, but it will be a roll of the dice.

As for needing another meter, appliances such as a dedicated EV charger associated with an economy tariff need to be wired and connected through a dedicated circuit back to the meter; or a separate meter installed depending on the scenario.

Added: ..and if your solar power system is not connected to the same meter as your EV charger, then the solar electricity generated can’t be used to charge the car, or offset the cost of energy going into the car.

QLD Home EV Charging Alternatives

An alternative is a “granny charger” (aka Level 1, slow charger or brick), which plugs into a standard power outlet. But if you have a need for speed, then that likely won’t cut it as Level 1 devices generally charge at 1.8 to 2.4 kW

Another alternative is a 3-phase charger. Ergon and Energex state:

“If you want access to 24/7 charging at home at charging rates above 20A (~4.6 kW), your only option is to upgrade your electrical installation to 3-phase, and buy and have installed a 3-phase charger. However, this is only viable if your EV can accept a 3-phase charge.”

I don’t think this has been explained well. This isn’t so much about an EV “accepting a 3-phase charge”, just whether the car can accept the full charge – which it likely won’t. While 3-phase chargers are capable of 22kW, the maximum AC charging is limited by the car, not the charger. Here are some examples of maximum AC charging rates:

  • Electric mini: 11kW
  • Tesla vehicles: 7.7kW – 11.5kW depending on model (I’ve noticed a couple of mentions of 16kW at the upper end)
  • BYD Atto 3: 7kW

Upgrading home supply from single-phase to 3-phase is also costly.

Another alternative: some Queensland EV owners are asking their electricians to install a 32A socket and then buying a portable EV charger capable of 7kW. But Finn’s taken a quick look at QLD’s connection rules and says it appears installing a 32A socket on a single phase supply in that state isn’t permitted.

Stay tuned for another post confirming one way or another – and other potential (compliant) workarounds for the challenge (if we can find them).

Until then and on a related note, learn everything you need to know about EV chargers and charging here. And if you’re looking for options for topping up away from home, check out this interactive map of public EV charging stations.

Footnotes

  1. An even better way is using home solar power with an electric car.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Queensland EV owners with roof top solar want to maximise their solar self consumption. The QLD EV tariffs are just re-branded controlled load tariffs. These tariffs won’t give customers the flexibility they need. If forcing EV owners with solar to upgrade to three phase is the aim of this policy it just might work.

  2. Always great info. Keep it going .
    Mick Burden

  3. Gerard Palk says

    I live in Brisbane, I have just purchased an EV and upgraded my solar to a 10kW system (forgoing the generous FIT I had previously). I am on single phase, and in a one person household. I have just orded a 7kW charger. This is not good news for me. I was expecting to be able to use my solar for offsetting household use, as well as charging my car, and have extra solar for feeding into the grid when the car was not charging (probably most of the time). If my solar is connected to the controlled tariff circuit, then I can’t offset household use for most of the time. If solar is connected to the main tarriff, I can’t offset car charging. As explained, this policy decision really has quite detrimental impacts for consumers wishing to make the most of the solar and maximise their use of clean electricity. Seems the only option is to stick with the trickle charger from the 10Amp outlet. It is almost as though this policy is designed to penalise roof top solar owners. It will certainly have a significant negative impact on my return on investment time line for the solar upgrade.

    • David Thrum says

      15 amp circuit should be fine. That would get you 3.5 or so kW – enough for 50% or more charge in daylight hours for most cars and plenty for most people.

      • Lyle essery says

        In qld I dont think solar grid inverters can hookup to controlled load circuits.
        Ive looked at this issue myself as have ev ordered too. I have a regular grid tied solar system and a small off-grid system ES as well. Thinking of getting a 16amp portable (3.7kw) charger which will be able to plug into either systems. Better than the supplied 1.9kw 10 amp charger, just need the get a couple of 15 amp dedicated power outlets installed.

    • The rules for things connected to the grid, only apply to things connected to the grid. Some safety rules apply to off grid, which are a good idea to apply. The cost of batteries is decreasing and the cycle life of them is increasing.
      Do your maths on costs and see if it might be better to have a separate off grid system for charging. The MPP PIP 8048 MAX will happily output the 7Kw you need for charging and is rated continuously at 8Kw with a much higher start up current available if required. This is of course dependent on the battery you have connected being capable of supplying the current you need. Generally a battery will have roughly 150A limit, so you might need 2 battery packs attached.
      I’ll leave it to you and your installer to sort out the legal nuts and bolts.

  4. Advice we at Anzu Charging have received from Energex is that it’s all about the rating plate and not what the charger actually does or is set up to do.

    Eg: A common myth workaround is that you can get a 32A charger and digitally or otherwise limit it to 20A or less, this is still non compliant if the chargers rating plate shows above 20A on single phase or above 45A on three phase.

    The best way to be compliant is to have a three phase power connection and install a 32A three phase charger (what the car actually draws is irrelevant according to Energex, it’s purely about the rated maximum for the EVSE unit), a three phase charger on a car like an Atto 3 will hust draw 7kW from a single phase (this completely undermines the entire purpose of this rule, but so far Energex has been uninsterested in discussing ways to better manage EV charging).

    I can also confirm that yes, Energex has confirmed that installing a 32A socket and using a portable charger instead of a hard wired EVSE wallbox still requires the circuit to be on a controlled load. Being a portable unit is completely irrelevant for this rule.

    I can also confirm that the punishment for breaching this rule is that Energex will reserve the right to cut off the power supply to the property until it’s rectified, there are no known fines or other punishments as it’s purely a network distributor rule, not a wiring regulation.

    Hopefully this information helps.

  5. Energex and Ergon are not policing this rule and most chargers are on peak and fed by Solar. This article may be correct to the regulations but in reality its way off the mark. Energex have a charging white paper released shortly that will allow peak with solar diversion.

    • Finn Peacock says

      If Energex and Ergon Energy don’t enforce their connection rules, it creates a “Policy In Name Only” situation. This is a bad thing because it makes it hard for electricians and consumers to know what’s expected of them, and it can lead to unfair or inconsistent enforcement. Plus, it puts the companies at risk of legal or ethical problems. To fix this, Energex and Ergon Energy should make sure their policies match up with how things really work, and enforce those policies so that everyone knows what the rules are and follows them. This will build trust and make things better for everyone involved.

      SolarQuotes will call out this kind of bullshit bureaucracy wherever we see it. We are seeing it with a lot of warranty documentation at the moment: “Our warranty document might explicitly say labour is not included – but everyone in the industry knows we’ll cover labour!”

      • Surely, in Qld you can use your excess Solar PV? If not, it seems to me to be a potential restrictive trade practice?

        Anyway, if Energex cuts off supply….well just go off-grid!

        Also, would it be possible to run a Solar Carport with an off-grid EV charger?

        just thinking… Doug

        (My ZJBeny in NSW is plugged into a 32A single phase (industrial) power point. I control the charge of my OCPP charger using the OCPP module in Home Assistant: a total home management software solution that is Open Source & runs on a rPi, or in my case on an Intel NUC. Fantastic solution!)

      • LeroyBrown says

        I agree – it’s time Energy/Ergon updated their policy to remove this archaic rule

  6. So where does this leave QLD consumers that want to install induction cooktops? Most of them specify a 32A connection & are rated at 7kW or above.

    • Funny you ask – we are just going through this and Electricican is trying to work out whether Energex rules will require us to upgrade to 3 phase. If so will be a very expensive transition from gas to electric cooking.

    • Vince Garrone says

      My take on this is that Table 4.1, Sn 4.2 of the Qld Electricity Connection Manual Ver 3 requires switched loads on a single phase to be limited to 20A. I can’t see anything that specifically states that the CB must be limited to 20A, just the maximum switched current.

      The QECM Table 4.1 footnote specifically points out that App C2.5.3 of AS3000 provides an assessment of domestic cooling equipment “equipment limits”. AS3000 App C2.5.3 assesses the maximum demand for a 5-8kW single phase domestic cooking appliance as 20A, which seems to comply with QECM – even if the appliance has a 32A MCB.

      An 8-10kW unit however has a deemed maximum demand of 25A so would seem non compliant.

  7. David Thrum says

    My house (single phase) had a dedicated 32 amp circuit for two air conditioners – a small one and a large one. I think the large one was approaching 32 amp (anyway the seller warned us that the two air conditioners could not be switched on together without tripping. Since the smaller air conditioner had run out of gas, and we never used the large one, I got our electrician to repurpose the A/C circuit to a single 32 amp circuit to the carport. With the Tesla portable charger and a 32 amp tail this is more than adequate charging. I use Charge HQ to control the charging such that we only use excess solar. Works a treat.

    I don’t know whet the Energex rules were when the A/C circuit was otiginally installed..

    • .. Just to add – this was more than two years ago – not sure when the current Energex policy was introduced. Also, as with others, 99% of the time we only charge the car from excess solar (shout out to Charge HQ). If we need to charge overnight, it is always after the evening peak.

  8. Rules to assist with phase balancing are not unique to Qld. Most of continental Europe has a 16A limit for single phase car charging. In Germany its 20A but that’s rumoured to be reduced to 16A soon in line with their neighbours. Admittedly 3-phase homes are much more common in Europe, but not in rural areas and there are plenty of EVs there now having to cope with this restriction So by international standards, Qld’s 20A limit is pretty generous.

    I’m surprised by the advice Matthew (above) was given. If the solution involved having the end-user wind down the charging rate to 20A I can see it would be non-compliant but if the EVSE installer sets the dipswitches to 20A and those dipswitches aren’t readily accessible to the end-user, and the EVSE is hanging off a 20A breaker, then it really ought be considered in total compliance with Table 4.1 of the Connection Manual.

    The resultant 4.6kW charge rate is typically still way more than anyone needs, and actually a pretty good match with all the 5kW PV systems that have been installed over the last few years. For people with bigger PV systems who want to charge at 7.4kW there are smarter PV-aware options available whereby the 20A dipswitch setting sets a limit on the maximum draw from the grid, but allow higher power into the car courtesy of the excess PV power.

    • Gerard Palk says

      Hey DB can you please identify one or more of these smart chargers that can limit grid supply to 20A and draw the balance from the PV. Which would be considered ok under Qld regulations (meaning I will find a sparky who is happy to install and not connect to a controlled Tariff.) I don’t have an issue with limiting charging times outside peak periods, problem is not being able to use my 10kW PV for offsetting both household use and PV use.

      • SolarEdge have one but I think it might be integrated with their inverter, so possibly too late for you. Zappi are another big player in this field.

  9. As someone who has their EVSE on a controlled load meter I can tell you it’s not that bad. The 18 hour promise ensures that no dice throwing is needed, nor is there any need for a timer(*). I can plug my car into a dead EVSE when I get home in the evening safe in the knowledge that Energex will commence charging a few hours later when the evening peak dies down. Usually that happens about 9pm, but some nights as early as 7:30pm. Either way, it then has right through until 7am (when the morning peak starts) to charge. That’s 10 hours at 7.4kW… way more than I ever need – my charging always completes hours before the morning blackout period starts at 7am.

    For those of us still on the generous FiT it’s a no-brainer. Should I wish to charge on a sunny day like today, I can charge from 9am (when the morning peak ends) right through until 6pm (when the evening peak starts). 9 hours at 7.4kW – again way more than I can use. But the good bit is I can do it without disturbing my generous FiT. I export through the main meter at 50c and buy it back through the the T33 meter at 20c. Not only do I know my car is being powered by the sun but I get paid 30c for every kWh I take off the roof and put into the car.

    (*) – you could argue that it’s the folk who aren’t on a controlled load who might want to consider a timer. Coming home from work at 6pm and plugging your car in is not very civic minded – it would be better to wait a couple of hours. Those of us on a controlled load circuit don’t have to worry about such courtesies – Energex take care of it for us.

  10. This is a giant beat-up. There is no law stopping people connecting 32amp EV chargers to their solar. Whoever said this at Energex is a desperate naysayer or out of touch with reality!
    Ask your Electrician/installer if you’re unsure and they will confirm you’ll be charging off free electrons in no time (less foregone FIT of
    course Finn!)

    • Recently had a 7kW charger installed by my works installer – on tariff 33 – to be compliant (lol).

      Any contacts on the GC to assist in re-wiring the charger back to the main tariff so I can charge during the day via excess solar?

  11. solarchargeplz says

    “Stay tuned for another post confirming one way or another – and other potential (compliant) workarounds for the challenge (if we can find them).”

    Is there any update on this? Any responses from Energex or insight into how to get a proper EV charger installed without giving away your solar and buying it back at a more expensive rate?

  12. OK, this does not make sense to the homeowner, you end up paying for your own solar to the balance of the control load tariff to the FIT. Granted that for 6.6kW roof top solar and 5kW export limit, you are not going to be 100% solar unless you throttle the charge rate.

    Yes, I do think that a lot of homeowners could be confused about saving costs for solar + EV charging at home. I’d be studying this carefully if I was looking 10kW systems, 3 phase etc

    However, if you look at the sums and numbers, the out of pockets pa is not that high. Currently, our EV is using around 30% of our “exported” solar, (which does not leave the premises) This works out at around $100pa for the current post July 1st 2023 ERGON tariffs. I am not going to lose sleep over this, even if it was 100% solar

  13. Brett Tobin says

    The Electric Vehicle Council had quite a lot to say in their response to the Queensland Electricity Connection Manual Service and Installation Rules Version 4 Draft. Here is a link for those that are interested: https://electricvehiclecouncil.com.au/submissions/evc-response-to-the-queensland-electricity-connection-manual-service-and-installation-rules-version-4-draft/

    The QLD Government did not engage with existing electric car owners in QLD and seems to have fallen for the urban myth that charging electric cars from the grid is going to result in a massive increase in demand. I went down the efficiency path in my house before I took delivery of a Tesla Model 3 in September 2019 and I have been tracking the power consumption of my house for the last 15 years. I found that the efficiency improvements that I made in my house (better insulation, replaced old fridges and LED lights) more than covered the power consumption of charging my car at home. The power consumption of my house is still lower than 15 years ago even though I am charging an electric car primarily at home.

    I would have made a submission myself about the draft Version 4 but I only discovered that the QECM was out for public comment 2 days after public submissions closed.

    I won’t be affected by the silly limit of 20A to my electric car charger as I am in the process of changing my house connection to 3 Phase and installing a 9kW solar system and a Powerwall battery system. According to the installer I couldn’t install a single phase solar system with a 5kW inverter and a Powerwall battery without being export limited to 1.5kW which is unusable. I don’t trust the QLD Government to do the right thing with the transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles as under Peter Beattie they sold off the retail arm of Energex to Origin and AGL in 2005 in order to reduce power prices but since then power prices have massively increased. Beattie didn’t get the nickname Power Point Pete for nothing.

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