The ability to charge an electric vehicle (EV) is a benefit, not a barrier, to owning one. We know information about charging an EV can seem complex at times, so in this guide, we will help answer some commonly asked questions, including:

How EV chargers work

In short, EV batteries are built for everyday life and use.

Just like the battery in your smartphone, an EV battery stores power as direct current (DC), even though most power that comes from the electricity grid is alternate current (AC). EVs have their own in-built converter (sometimes referred to as the onboard charger) that changes the AC current to DC when it’s plugged in.

What it’s like to charge an EV

We have become accustomed to charging a range of battery-powered devices in our lives today that we didn’t have five, 10 or 20 years ago. We know what chargers to use, which are best for our devices, and how readily available they are.  

So, like with other new devices and technologies that quickly became part of our lives and routines, charging an EV is straightforward, but there are a range of factors that can impact the process and its efficiency.  

The charging process will vary based on the EV, the EV charger, and the cable connecting to the charger. If you’re using a public charger, the experience will vary based on if it is free or is offered on pay-as-you-go pricing, or subscription-based pricing. By far the most common place of charging for EV owners will be where they live. 

At home, the typical process of charging an EV may look like this: once you park your car, you press the car’s charging port release button. You step out and grab the cable from your charging station that is installed in your garage or car space, which is a few feet away, and plug it into the EV charging port. There may be times when you will need to charge by plugging in your EV to a regular wall outlet - this still replenishes your EV battery but will take longer.  

If you want to keep an eye on its progress, most EV manufacturers will also offer smartphone apps that will let you monitor, and control charging and this may also include the flexibility to set the charge time to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates. You will also typically get notifications when charging is complete.  

Types of charging explained and compared

When you research and purchase an EV, you may come across some technical information covering the finer details of charging options. We have broken that down to ensure you’re across what some of the important details are, what they mean for you, and how they compare with each other.

You’ll notice two sets of terms below which are commonly used in relation to EV charging. Here’s what they are and what they mean:

  1. Level One, Two and Three charging: This is how different types of charging are referred to in the EV industry – you can think of them as three different options for charging your EV which include standard wall sockets, installed ‘wall boxes’ and fast-charging stations.  

  2. Phase One and Phase Three power: These refer to types of power, with Phase One being standard in most homes, and Phase Three being more common in commercial-style buildings. Phase Three is an option for the home though, and one that can be installed to support faster EV charging.

Level One: standard wall sockets

Description: What does this type of charging do?

  • This involves plugging in your EV to a standard household wall outlet. 
  • Most EVs will come with a Level One charging cable on purchase. 
  • This is also referred to as ‘slow’ or ‘trickle’ charging. 

Range: How far will it take me?

  • About 12 km per hour of charging.

Suitability: What is best for me?

  • This option is not generally ideal for charging from empty as it’s a slower process, it is most effective for topping up. 
  • Level One charging can be beneficial for short commutes; if you own a plug-in hybrid vehicle; or if you have access to alternate charging options such as at your workplace.

Level Two: installed ‘wall boxes’

Description: What does this type of charging do?

  • This requires a special ‘wall box’ which allows considerably faster charging than a Level One charger.
  • Level Two charging will likely become the most common charging option for EV owners, as they can be installed at homes and office buildings.
  • The rate of charging can be increased even further if EV owners have Phase Three power installed at their homes.

Range: How far will it take me?

  • Between 18 to 40 km per hour based on charger specifications, if using Phase One power supply. 
  • Between 45 to 120 km per hour based on charger and EV specifications, if using Phase Three power supply.

Suitability: What is best for me?

  • This is a great choice for cars that are fully battery electric, that require longer charging times due to the size of their batteries. 
  • Most EVs can be charged from empty to full by overnight Level Two charging. 

Level Three: fast-charging stations

Description: What does this type of charging do?

  • This is a fast-charging option available from dedicated public charging stations, which in most cases is offered as part of a network. 
  • Sometimes called ‘DC fast chargers,’ they can be found in large shopping centres and on major highways and freeways. 
  • They are a key part of EV infrastructure rollout plans of governments and private organisations to boost take up of EVs. 

Range: How far will it take me?

  • 50 km or more in 10 minutes, or over 300 km in an hour, depending on charger and EV specification. 

Suitability: What is best for me?

  • Fast chargers are important for long-distance travel and enable users to add substantial range in a short timespan.  
  • Most EV owners will not need fast charging for their daily commutes. 
  • Most plug-in hybrids do not support fast charging. 

"Just like with other battery-powered devices, charging is straightforward, but can be different depending on a range of factors."

Installing an EV charger at home

Choosing a specialist and a professional to install an EV charger is a must, just as it would be for other installations and permanent fixtures in your home.  

Level Two chargers should only be installed by a licensed and certified electrician. They should have specialist knowledge in Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE); have experience in Level Two charger installations and ideally will be accredited by the hardware supplier, or installation service provider. All installations should be conducted according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, and the applicable state or territory regulations. 

Prior to installing, the electrician will carry out a site assessment to determine if any changes are needed to the circuits at your house, and if any additional safety devices also need to be installed. 

Installing EV chargers at an apartment

Some new apartments are being built with EV charging facilities, and existing apartment blocks are making progress in updating their communal facilities.  

There are considerations that include gaining approval from a body corporate – that is, the apartment blocks’ owners –  to have charging stations installed, and installing a system that meters usage, to ensure owners are billed fairly. 

Many state and territory governments have enacted changes to laws making it easier for apartment dwellers to gain approval for EV charger installations. An example of this is the NSW government amendment to the Strata Schemes Management Act passed in February 2021.1

You can search your local State or Territory laws governing sustainability measures for apartment blocks. In the meantime, you can also visit the Electric Vehicle Council website to view a map of over 3000 public charging stations in Australia and find the closest charger to you. 

Looking ahead

The information about EVs can seem complex at times, just as the finer details of how smartphones, tablets and laptops work can be intricate. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that car manufacturers – as they always have – are designing cars with everyday use in mind. Infrastructure – again, as it always has – will continue to service this growing market. What we are experiencing now is simply a change, and it’s a change for the better.

Find out how Macquarie can help you transition to an electric vehicle



EV technology continues to evolve. Readers should make their own enquiries in relation to charging EVs and any changes to legislation. Always follow the guidance provided by the relevant EV manufacturer. Macquarie makes no guarantee concerning the accuracy of data and information contained on third party websites.

Ready to take the next step?

We’re the first Australian banking group with a specialised electric vehicle buying service that helps you transition to an electric car easily.