Few would argue that we are currently living in the ‘Age of Convenience’ as technology advances. So why would we want to wait for our car to charge, or worse, organize our trips around charging? What was that old saying again? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
On the contrary, charging an electric vehicle does not have to be a hassle. In truth, EV drivers may be onto something: cheaper (and often free!) refueling, special parking spots, no emissions-based charges for ULEZ travel, and so on.
In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about charging an electric car, from the various charging stations and plugs available to the average charging time and how to pay. Whether you’re considering leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle, or you currently own one, this guide should be very useful!
Types of Charging Stations
The number of electric car charging firms has increased dramatically in recent years. Polar, PodPoint, and Ecotricity charge points are replacing Shell, ESSO, and BP stations. Each has its own set of benefits, such as 100% renewable energy or lower pricing. These public charging outlets can be found practically anywhere, from supermarket parking lots to highway rest stops.
One of the benefits of driving an electric car (or even a plug-in hybrid) is that you don’t have to leave the house to recharge. With a professionally fitted wallbox on the side of your house, charging your electric car at home is quick and straightforward. You can even apply for a government grant under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) to cover some of the costs if you choose an OLEV-approved supplier.
This isn’t always doable if you don’t have off-street parking. For now, the 3-pin connector may be your best chance for charging an electric car at home without a driveway. Keep in mind that a 3 pin plug is insufficient for quick charging, so if this is your only alternative, you’ll have to charge overnight.
Types of Charger Sockets and Cables
Whether you’re planning your travel or still shopping for the ideal electric vehicle for you, it’s useful to know what EV charging standards and connectors are available.
The UK 3 Pin is the slowest, but possibly the most accessible. The Type 2 Connector has long been the industry standard in the UK and EU, however it is being surpassed by the more adaptable CCS. While Type 2 is commonly referred to as ‘quick charging,’ actual ‘rapid charging’ requires a CCS.
Your car will come with a charging wire that can be stored in the boot (or, more accurately, the froot – oh, the delights of not having a nasty diesel car engine!).
Of course, there are a variety of socket types, and it’s very likely that you’ll arrive at a charging station only to realize that it doesn’t utilize the same plug as your car. Fortunately, there are numerous adaptors on the market. You may read our full post on EV charger types for a more in-depth review, or receive a quick summary of the plug kinds below (numbers derived from Pod Point).
Where Can I Find Charging Stations?
Many people are astonished to find that the number of charging stations in the UK is three times that of gas stations – and that more are being added to the UK charging network every week!
Still, they may not be as visible from the road as a bright yellow Shell garage with a flashing LED price display. Many new electric vehicles include a built-in GPS that allows you to arrange your excursions around charging; they can even inform you whether a charging station is free or in use before you arrive (We recommend a Tesla lease for an unrivaled navigation experience).
Alternatively, you can use our handy electric car charging map to see all the nearest charging outlets (sorted by socket type and charging speed).
Electric Vehicle Charging in the Workplace
With such low BIK rates and the expense of company car tax on electric vehicles, powering your fleet is a no-brainer! Fortunately, installing electric car charging stations for businesses is very simple.
Because the government is actively encouraging adoption, you can even apply for installation vouchers through the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS).
How Long Does It Take To Charge?
So, how long does it take to charge an electric vehicle? That truly depends on a variety of things, including the sort of car you have, the battery technology used, the type of charger you use, and the ambient temperature (yes, really!).
Manufacturers recommend that you maintain your vehicle charged between 20 and 80% of the time with current battery technology. That’s not to say you can’t obtain a full charge if you truly need the range for a lengthy trip, but there are a few reasons why you might not want to.
Keeping your battery within this range enhances its life and is also the quickest way to charge. Some manufacturers promise charging times of 0-80% in 30 minutes with their most recent quick chargers. It’s worth noting that these are much faster than ‘fast chargers’ like the CHAdeMO standard, and much faster than home charging using a UK 3 Pin socket.
However, regardless of the standard used, the final 20% generally takes much longer! However, electric car batteries have significantly wider range than they used to, so staying within the 20-80% range shouldn’t be too difficult.
Best of all, you won’t have to continually returning to see if your car is fully charged. Many come with useful smartphone apps that inform you how much energy you have left and how long it will take to recharge.
When Should You Charge?
There is no common response to the question “how often do you have to charge an electric car?”
If you’ve invested in the latest Tesla Model 3 Long Range, chances are you won’t need to charge it very often. If you’ve been eyeing a Nissan Leaf lease offer, it may be a different story, depending on whether you want to stay around town or hit the highway.