The thought of owning an electric vehicle is a completely new concept to most people, so there are no silly questions when it comes to wanting to learn more. One thing is for sure, your refueling routine will swap to a recharging routine, and hopefully become easier!
The most common questions are where is the best, fastest or cheapest way to charge my EV?
There are a lot of options available. You can use your normal three-pin socket at home, have a proper EV charger fitted to your house, charge at work or visit public fast charge stations. Here’s some more information on what’s out there.
Charging at Home
You can charge with your normal 3 pin plug socket. The power output is only around 2.3kW, which equates to very slow charging times. This might be OK if you have a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) with a small battery, you should be able to charge it fully overnight.
If your vehicle is full electric, you’ll probably want something that can supply more power. There are specific charging units available that have outputs of around 3kW, however it’s becoming more common for EV drivers to go straight for the 7kW fast chargers.
Let’s use a Nissan Leaf as an example, a 3kW charger will take about 6 to 8 hours for a full charge, with a 7kW charger halving that time to about 3 to 4 hours.
Newer cars coming to market with longer driving ranges need bigger batteries, so they take longer to charge, or more power to keep the charging time down. The 7kW charger is the way to go here.
Some of the home charger models come in 22kW as well. Have a think before you go down this road. Most UK properties have a single phase power supply. You’ll need a three phase power supply to support a 22kW charger, which will involve quite a bit of work on upgrading your electricity system. Your electric vehicle may have an upper limit on what level of power it accepts, so it’s worth checking this out too.
Your home is usually the cheapest place to charge too. Especially if you select an energy tariff that offers cheaper electricity at certain times. For example, if your energy is cheaper overnight which is when the majority of EV drivers charge, you’ll be paying a lot less per kW than at a public charging station.
This may be an obvious point, but charging at home is also the most convenient option, even more so than filling up a petrol or diesel vehicle. You don’t have to go anywhere! You won’t have to wait for your charge point to become free or risk driving somewhere to find an out of order charger, which can be a pain point for public charging users.
You’ll find public chargers at a range of places, although the networks are operated by different companies, meaning they have different prices and subscription models. At the time of writing, there are over 21,700 public chargers at 13,700 different locations. This is set to triple over 2021!
How fast can I charge my car at a public charging station?
Public charging stations tend to have fast chargers, from 7-22kW, which are similar to those you will find at home or work. However, the even more powerful rapid chargers are growing in number. Rapid chargers use DC current to deliver up to 50kW of power, meaning you only need to stop off for 15-30 mins to top your battery a decent amount. Tesla are now fitting ultra-rapid chargers that deliver up to 150kW of power, although there isn’t currently a Tesla model that can receive more than 120kW. It’s worth checking what the maximum power your vehicle can receive is, especially if it’s a few years old.
Where can I find public charging stations?
You’ll find public charging stations at a number of places. Ecotricity charging stations can be found at motorway service stations, Podpoint have stations at a number of public car parks at shops like Tesco. Networks such as Osprey, Instavolt and BP Pulse can be found at public car parks and at petrol stations. There are also some regional networks such as Source London and Chargeplace Scotland. Ubitricity specialise in lam post and bollard chargers. Tesla stations were designated only for Tesla drivers, but they’re now fitting Type 2 chargers so other users can access them. The UK’s very first designated EV charging forecourt opened in December 2020, which can charge 24 cars at once! So there’s plenty of options already, with more on the way.
How much does it cost to use a public charger?
As the charging stations are operated by different networks, charging fees vary. Some of the networks offer a pay as you go service using your card or paying via an app. Most networks have a subscription service for regular users and may send you an RFID card for you to top up and use like a contactless bank card.
Some public chargers are free, you might find these at some supermarkets for example, however you don’t tend to spend enough time there to get a full charge. The rapid chargers found at service stations will charge your car faster, but normally come at a higher price. This is normally around £6.50 for 30 mins of charge or around 100 miles of range.
For comparison, a full charge at home may cost around £6-10 depending on your battery capacity and energy tariff, which is usually cheaper than rapid charging in public.
If you’re lucky enough to work somewhere that has EV charging available on site, this may be the best option for you, as you’ll generally be there for long periods of time.
Businesses have different approaches to employee charging, some will charge and some may offer it for free. To encourage uptake, the government has made electricity used at the workplace for charging exempt from benefit in kind tax, unlike traditional fuel.
As long as you aren’t jostling with your colleagues for the charging spaces, it can be the most cost effective way to charge, and convenient if you can turn up having a slot booked or knowing the space is usually free.
Workplaces can also benefit from the Workplace Charging Scheme. The OZEV Workplace Charging Scheme grant makes government funding available to businesses to reduce the cost of their EV charging solutions.
To wrap up
There are a number of different ways to charge, and ultimately it’s down to individual circumstances. If you don’t have private parking at home, you’ll want to think about public and workplace charging, perhaps a subscription to a public network that has a station near your home is an option to explore.
If you do have private parking at home, a home charger will be the best value in the long run, although there’s the upfront cost of the charger and installation. We believe this is the best route for guaranteed charging convenience going forward, and you can get up to £350 off the initial cost with the OZEV Homecharge Scheme Grant. With a home charger, you’ll never have the disappointment of turning up somewhere and having to queue or realise the charging station you’ve travelled to is out of order. It’s even more convenient than fuelling a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle. That way you may only need to rely on public charging for those longer journeys.
We can help you understand the cost of having a charger installed at home by using our simple quote tool.