Everything You Need To Know About Electric Car Charging
How Do You Charge An Electric Car?
In reality keeping your electric car topped up with electricity is no different to making sure your smartphone isn’t running on empty.
All EVs on sale today are designed to draw electricity from the national grid and you can do that at your home with a home electric car charger (or even as a last resort from a very slow but standard three-pin plug). When you’re out and about you’ll be using the ever-growing network of chargers that you’ll find everywhere from motorway service stations to supermarket car parks.
Whatever charging point you are plugging into, the basic process is the same: your electric car will use a charging cable that connects the car’s battery charging system to a charging station.
What Are The Different Types Of Electric Car Charging Cables?
Wherever you opt to charge up, your car will most likely be equipped to take one of four kinds of charging cable connector: Type 1, Type 2, CCS or CHAdeMO. They’re not the most exciting or memorable names in the world, are they? But bear with us!
Here’s The Basics:
Most cars in Europe use a Type 2 connector, this can be used on public charging points and at home
Many new electric cars come with a “CSS connector” which means you can use a Type 2 plug, but you can also make use of public DC “rapid charge” points, which can deliver an 80% charge to certain cars in 30 minutes
Brands like Tesla have their own charging infrastructure - it’s always worth checking the connection type of the car you’re thinking of leasing, and using an app like ZapMap to check the compatible public charging infrastructure in your area
If you really want to know everything there is to know about electric car charging cables, then here it is in more detail:
Type 1 cars are no longer made in the UK or Europe – you’ll usually find a Type 1 connector on older electric models. It’s not a problem though, as a ‘Type 1’ electric car can use a cable with a Type 2 connector at one end to plug into a much more common Type 2 charging point.
Most electric cars made in Europe will come with what’s known as a Type 2 or ‘Mennekes’ connector. This cable has a 7-pin socket, which allows for faster charging at public charging points but can still be used on slower chargers that you will install at home.
If you want to be able to benefit from the growing network of rapid chargers around the UK then you will need to ensure your car comes with what is known as a Combined Charging System or CCS connector.
A CCS socket combines a standard Type 2 plug with a separate rapid DC charging connector, allowing your car accept standard charging points AND hook up to a rapid charge from the fastest charge points throughout the UK and Europe.
Lastly, if you’re buying an electric car from some Japanese manufacturers (Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi) then instead of a CCS connector, you’ll have something called CHAdeMO, which is their equivalent connector and still works at rapid DC charging stations.
Can’t I Just Use A Three-Pin Plug To Charge My Electric Car At Home?
While you can charge from a normal household plug socket, it’s not recommended by electric car manufacturers for several reasons. Firstly, domestic electrical circuits aren’t designed to allow for big consumption, so at very best a home socket will draw 3kW of power – and that’s before you’ve turned the kettle on or tried to make some toast...
And at 3kW charging even the smallest electric car batteries will fill up very slowly – a 40kWh Nissan Leaf would take over 13 hours to charge from empty to full.
Far better to install a dedicated, wall-mounted home charging station which will be safer, faster and more convenient if your home has off-road parking available.
Why It’s Time To Get A Home Charger For Your Electric Car
The good news is home charging units for electric cars are widely available, easy to get installed by specialist fitters and you may well qualify for a government grant of up to £350 to cover around one third of the cost. And even better is that if you lease a brand-new electric vehicle from Vanarama, we'll give you a home charging wallbox worth £1049 for free! You won't need to arrange the grant yourself, fit the box, pay for it... all the hassle is removed.
However, if you want to do it yourself, the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme can be claimed on the majority of electric cars sold in the UK and you can claim up to two charging points per household (maximum one per vehicle).Your installer will apply for the grant on your behalf and deduct it from the cost of the installation (but as we said, this isn't a worry if you lease an electric car from Vanarama).
What Speed Home Charger Should I Get?
Most homes in the UK will have standard ‘single phase’ domestic electrical systems. That means you can install a home charger that is rated between 3 and 7kW. The higher the rating the faster the charge. Faster chargers cost more than slow ones.
It’s easy to work out how fast your car will charge. Just find out what battery rating it has. Take a 50kWh battery in a Renault Zoe: charging from empty at 3kW will take nearly 17 hours. That drops to around 7 hours with a 7kW charger. And remember that you’ll rarely need to charge from empty as your home charger will keep your car topped up for most journeys.
Some residential buildings may be equipped with less-common ‘three phase’ electrics. If you do live in one then you can install a significantly more powerful 22kW home charger. But be aware, the range of cars that can accept full 22kW AC charging from a home charger (as opposed to rapid DC chargers) is limited, so only go down the 22kW route when you are sure your car can cope.
What’s The Cheapest Way To Charge An Electric Car?
The reality is most cars will spend their nights sitting outside your home, which is ideal when you’re trying to find the cheapest charging solution.
Suppliers can offer significantly cheaper electricity at night when most people are not using the grid, so off-peak rates can be as much as a third of that charged during the day. Many suppliers are now setting up various tariffs now set-up specifically for electric car owners, many of which also come with added benefits like discounted or free subscriptions to public charging networks.
But if you’re really going all out to produce the cleanest, greenest charging solution to home charging then it’s time to think solar.
If you already own or are considering installing solar panels on your home, then the electricity generated from the power of the sun alone can be saved into a home storage system – like a Tesla Powerwall – and then called upon to charge your car.
- Four Factors That Will Influence How Long It Takes To Charge A Car
- The Battery Size
This is shown as a kilowatt Hour figure (or kWh)
- The Charge Power Rating
This is shown in kilowatts (kW) and can vary from a slow 3kW charger to a very rapid 350kW charger.
- The Ambient & Battery Temperature
Batteries aren’t so happy in really cold or hot weather - charging times can fall as a result.
- Your Recharging Habits
Are you a nightly charger or a once-a-week plug-in type?
What Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car?
The cost to charge an electric car in the UK varies between home, work and public charging.
For a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery and a 200 mile range:
Charging at home: Costs about £8.40 for a full charge (but prices can be lower with cheaper tariffs available).
Charging at work: Many employers will install workplace charging points and offer free access to employees and visitors.
Charging at public locations: Public chargepoints at supermarkets or car parks are often free to use for the duration of your stay (note: you may have a time limit on the charger or need to sign up via a smartphone app).
Rapid charging: Rapid charging points are normally found at motorway service stations and typically cost in the region of £6.50 for a 30-minute charge.