Charging an electric car is not that much different from filling the tank of a petrol or diesel vehicle, but with one big advantage: you can also do it at home.
Instead of finding a petrol station, you will need to find a charging point location. At the time of writing there are over 18,000 of these in the UK, with almost 30,000 chargers between them. This figure is increasing every day.
You can find public chargers at places such as supermarkets, car parks, and motorway service stations. Many employers provide charging points at their premises. And in addition, you can have a charging point installed at your home (depending on suitability), for easy charging overnight and any other time your electric car is not being used.
The cost of charging will vary with the price of electricity, the speed of charging and the location of the charger. For example, an overnight charge at home will normally cost less than a rapid charge at a motorway service station.
When you drive an electric car, you have a range of options for charging its battery. Instead of being limited to a petrol station, you can charge at home, at work, or at a charging point – some of which are free. Where you charge and for how long will affect the amount of range added, and the cost.
There are 5 different charging plugs. Which one you use will depend on your electric car and the power rating of the charging point:
- UK 3-pin- For charging at home from a domestic socket. Very slow (30 minutes to add approximately 5 miles range) and for safety reasons not recommended.
- Type 1 - No longer common in new electric cars. Adds approximately 12 miles range per 30 minutes of charging.
- Type 2 - Becoming the standard European solution. Adds approximately 75 miles range per 30 minutes of charging. All Volkswagen Group electric vehicles use type 2 charging plugs.
- CHAdeMO - An older type of rapid charging plug, compatible specifically with Japanese vehicles. Adds approximately 85 miles range per 30 minutes of charging.
- Combined Charging System - The most versatile connector and likely to become the DC connector standard. Adds around 85-200 miles range per 30 minutes of charging.
Having an electric car gives you the ability to charge your vehicle with ease and at a time that suits you from the comfort of your own home. You can use a domestic three-pin socket to charge it however, it is recommended that you install a home wall box.
How to charge an electric car at home
It is possible to charge an electric vehicle from an ordinary domestic wall socket, with a three-pin plug. However this is very slow and definitely not recommended. A dedicated home charger is faster and safer, and gives you more choice.
Which type of charger do I need for an electric car?
A tethered charger comes with its own cable. It may mean that if you change your electric vehicle in the future, you will have to change your charger.
An untethered charger uses the charging cable supplied with your electric vehicle, so there are no compatibility issues if you change vehicles. It also means you can store the cable away out of sight when the charger is not in use.
There is also a choice of chargers – 3.6kW, 7kW and 22kW – offering different charging speeds, though not all homes are suitable for all types of charger. You can compare different charge points and energy tariffs here.
Are electric car chargers expensive?
Do I need to have a driveway to charge an electric car at home?
Being able to park off the street while your vehicle is charging is the best option. You will need a driveway or garage or other off-street parking where power can be connected. Running the charging cable across the pavement to a vehicle parked on the street could be a danger to pedestrians or an annoyance to your neighbours. It may even be prohibited by some local councils.
What if I can’t charge my electric car at home?
Perhaps your employer already provides charging points in the company car park, where you can charge your vehicle during working hours. (If not, perhaps they can be convinced it’s a good idea.) Alternatively, there are a growing number of public places to charge your vehicle and apps such as Zap-Map and pod POINT to make it easy for you to find them.
Together with Tesco and podPOINT, Volkswagen are also providing free charging points at Tesco stores nationwide. More installations are being rolled-out every month and you can find a full list of locations here.
Want to know more about home charging and wall box installation?
There are now thousands of public charging stations across the UK including motorway service stations, supermarkets and car parks.
Each public charging point is owned by a charge point operator which means there are plenty of ways to pay for them, from pay-as-you-go schemes to subscription models - some points are even free, like the ones that Volkswagen have joined up with Pod Point and Tesco on now in many Tesco car parks.
Find out more information about the different public networks, their charging methods and payment options by visiting Zap-Map.
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