Where Can I Charge My Electric Car?
You can charge your electric car at a public charging point, or at home using a dedicated charger. For home charging you will usually need off-street parking, whereas public chargers can be found at your nearest supermarket or at a standard petrol station.
Read on to discover which method of charging an electric car is best for you in this guide.
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Around 60% of EV owners don’t have access to home charging, according to Pod Point founder Erik Fairbairn. Today’s public charging infrastructure for EVs recognises this, with nearly 32,000 charge points located across the UK*.
Not only do public chargers provide much needed charging when on the move, public chargers also make use of DC (Direct Current) electrical charge which allows for much faster charging compared to AC (Alternating Current) home chargers. This makes them a great choice when you need to top up in a rush.
*Figures courtesy of zap-map.com
Numerous charging networks exist to offer competitive charging at a wide range of locations. Each network operates in their own unique way and some are larger and more widely available than others. These are paid for networks and will charge based on the energy used. For a list of charging networks, check out this comprehensive table in our guide to electric car charging costs.
One thing you should be aware of however, is the type of charger compatible with your vehicle (type 1 or type 2) as this may impact where you can charge your vehicle. Type 1 connectors are almost being phased out with no networks even offering them at public charging stations. Instead, they’re all either positioned where there’s residential on-street parking, dealerships or facilities such as pubs, restaurants, country parks and hotels. Make sure to check the availability of Type 1 connectors in your area with ZapMap before opting for an older EV model.
Charging at the supermarket
Supermarket chargers are a good example of one of the ways public charging is becoming more and more accessible. An increasing number of supermarkets are now offering EV charging bays. These bays allow you to charge while you shop, meaning you can recover the range lost getting to the store.
Tesco partnered up with Volkswagen and Pod Point in order to install charging bays across 400 of it’s stores by the end of 2020. All of the 400 stores will offer free 7kW chargers and selected stores will also offer paid for rapid chargers. These 7kW fast chargers will add 13.5 miles of free range to a typical EV for every 30 minutes of charging. Chargers can be accessed via the Pod Point mobile or web app.
Finding these stores is also easy thanks to Pod Point’s store map that highlights every store that currently offers EV charging. You can even estimate your potential free charge too with this charging calculator.
Charging at work
Workplace chargers are similar to supermarket chargers in that they allow you to charge your vehicle while you go about daily life. However, workplace chargers tend to opt for faster than standard charging (7kW) and you can take advantage of them for longer.
This can result in a significant range boost. For example, you can plug in when you arrive at work and get a good 3-4 hours of charge in before lunch.
Public charging for Tesla owners
If you own a Tesla, you will be allowed to access the Tesla supercharger network. This is exclusively for Tesla owners and there are superchargers located all over the world so there’s bound to be one near you.
Superchargers offer fast charging for your vehicle near to convenient locations such as shops and restaurants, and have an average cost of £0.25p per kWh in the UK.
If you don’t like the idea of relying on public charging stations, then home charging is a good alternative. Not only do you have the convenience of charging at home, you also get the added security that you know your vehicle is charging somewhere safe.
Most electric cars come with a basic charging cable known as EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) which allows you to plug into a standard mains socket. However, this isn’t advised as a long-term solution as the amount of power required to charge an EV can overload it, which could potentially be dangerous.
As a result of this and an increased uptake in electric car ownership, a new solution is in place to allow you to install a dedicated home charger if you have off-street parking. These home chargers are more reliable, efficient and faster than their standard predecessor.
If you don’t have access to off-street parking, don’t fret as you may be able to ask your council about the possibility of installing on-street parking near you.
Looking to get the best home charger for your electric car? Our specialist partner Rightcharge compares EV energy tariffs and chargers to get you the best price on a charging solution.
Types of home charger
When shopping for your desired home charger, there are a few different types of chargers available to you and these differ in terms of connection points and charging rates.
Home chargers are available in the following types:
- Tethered: With a tethered charger the cable is permanently fixed meaning you can just park up and plug in, but it does mean you have to coil up the cable which could look unsightly.
- Untethered: An untethered charger looks tidier and is future proof since you can update the connector interface, however if you need a replacement cable it can set you back over £100 and you’ll need to dig your cable out of your car every time you want to charge
- Smart charger: A cloud connected charger that connects to a back-office system/mobile application that can receive commands.
However, something you might have less input on is the charge rate, as this is limited by the onboard charger of your vehicle. What this means is that if your onboard charger only accepts charge at 7kW, that is the maximum charge that it will take even if the charger itself is capable of more.
Once you’ve decided on your charger, the supplier will send out an engineer to see whether or not you can have one installed. You may also be eligible for a government grant to reduce the cost of the installation.
On-street residential charging
While home charging is most convenient if you have access to off-street parking, there is a government backed scheme in place to assist local authorities with covering the costs of installing on-street chargers.
Councils have access to a range of potential chargers, but most are likely to be Type-2 untethered units similar to public charging points. However, the vast majority of on-street stations will be slow 3kW chargers with only the occasional 5kW and 7kW stations due to integrating with existing infrastructure.
Costs for these stations vary, but they generally mimic the implementations of public charging networks. As such, you can expect the following payment types:
- Mobile app
- RFID card
There may also be an additional charge based on the amount of energy used. However, prices are likely to equate to the average costs of home charging with a dedicated wall mounted charger.
Funding for these chargers is shared on a first come first served basis and is only available to councils. So if you feel your area could benefit with on-street charging then it might be worth voicing your opinions with your local authority.
Government legislation on installing charging for residential and non-residential buildings
The government’s Road to Zero strategy aims to facilitate a transition to zero emissions transport in the UK by 2050 (and maybe even beyond). As part of this change, the government wants every new home to have a chargepoint, where appropriate. This includes newly built homes and those homes created using a material change of use of another building.
This plan is aimed at homes with an associated parking space that allows for the charger to be installed.
According to the official document for the strategy, this will add another £976 per car parking space for an average home. In areas where significant electrical capacity reinforcements are needed in order to install an EV charger, an exemption threshold of £3,600 is set to avoid negative impact on housing supply.
How much does it cost to install a home chargingpoint?
On average, the costs of installing an electric car charger at full retail price is around £800.
Because most EV charging is done at home, the government introduced a grant scheme for chargers that would incentivise more people to switch. Known as the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, this grant offers up to 75% off of charge points installed at eligible UK properties. A maximum contribution of £350 is in place for this scheme.
Want to get the best price on an electric car home charger? Our specialist partner Rightcharge compares EV energy tariffs and chargers to get you the best price on a charging solution.
What is the process of installing an electric car home charger?
Before you start enquiring to charging providers to have a home charger installed, you should first make sure that you qualify for one.
The way that you do this is by booking a site survey of your home by a charger provider. This is where they gather information about your location and charging requirements before sending out one of their engineers to install it. It’s only a short online survey, but they may need to visit your home for a greater insight into your needs before recommending a suitable charger.
- Choose a provider. There are multiple providers of EV chargers, including PodPoint and Smart Home Charge. If you’re not sure, Zap Map lets you find a suitable provider using your postcode.
- Decide on a power output for your charger. Depending on your manufacturer and model, you can choose between a 3.6kW ‘slow’ charger, 7kW fast charger and rapid 22kW charger.
- Have an engineer inspect your property to ensure you’re eligible. Part of the process of having an EV charger installed requires an engineer coming out and making sure your property is suitable for the work to be carried out. This includes checking that there’s an electric supply close to where you park your car (e.g. in a garage on your drive).
- Confirm your order. Once you’re happy with the price and specification of your charger (and an engineer confirms that it can be installed) you’re ready to order!
Bear in mind that when you’re choosing a chargepoint, you should check that your car’s onboard charger is able to charge at that output. For example, the Smart EQ ForTwo only has a 7kW onboard charger as standard, meaning that it’s limited to maximum charging at this rate.
Are chargers included with electric car leasing?
All new electric cars (including those that are on a lease) come with the EVSE we mentioned earlier. However, if you want a designated home charging point installed for faster charging, you’ll (for the most part) need to arrange for this to be done separately.
In some cases, leasing providers may be partnered with EV charging suppliers and can offer this as part of your lease agreement. The cost of doing this can either be divided among your monthly payments for the vehicle, or in a one-off payment. If you’re interested in a lease deal for an electric car, be sure to speak with the provider of the agreement about your options for charging.
How long does installation take for a home charging point?
A standard installation of a electric car home charger takes around two hours.
Before an installer comes to your home, you should give them as much information as possible. This is especially important in the audit phase where the company you get your charger from will find out as much as possible about your home’s electricity and access.
There are some preparations you can do in advance to help speed up the process, including:
- Clearing the area around the distribution board/electricity supply meter so that the cable can run through.
- Have your Wi-Fi password to hand so that the installer can connect your charger to the internet.
If you’re wondering why you should connect your charger to the Wi-Fi, it’s so that the chargepoint can offer a number of benefits.
- Remote diagnostics and issue resolution
- “Over the Air” software updates
- Energy usage reports
- Access to smart features (if applicable to your charger)
Is faster charging better?
Whether or not faster charging is better for you depends on your vehicle and how far you drive it. The range of most modern electric cars is around 200 miles on a single full charge and this is something that many people won’t do day in and day out. But if you are a high mileage driver, then this is where fast/rapid charging really shines as you can charge around 80% of your EVs battery capacity in 30 minutes.
However, having an EV is not like having a combustion vehicle where you often fill up to full. Lithium-ion batteries operate best when charged partially, not fully, but be careful not to let your battery fully deplete either. This is known as ‘deep discharging’ which manufacturers suggest could cause cell deterioration and reduce performance in the long run. Keeping your battery between 20-80% charge is optimum.
Thinking of purchasing an electric car? Moneyshake finds you the best electric car lease deals, simplifying your search for a brand-new EV.
Do you have more questions regarding electric cars or leasing in general? Find out more by heading over to our electric car guides.