Electric car charging guide

Written by Hejab Azam

13 August, 2019

The UK government has pledged that by 2030, at least half of all new car sales will be hybrid or electric as part of its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy. This strategy plans to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars completely by 2040, with the aim for almost every car on the road to be zero emissions by 2050. Despite electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid cars expected to continue to rise in popularity, many drivers are still unfamiliar with the relatively new technology like connectors, variable rates of charge and charging station options.

 

The truth is, electric car charging can be as easy as filling up with petrol or diesel once you know how it’s done – especially with the growing number of public charging stations across the UK. With EVs and plug-in hybrids now better developed and more powerful than ever before, there’s never been a better time to familiarise yourself with our electric car charging guide.

Where can I charge an electric car?

There are three different ways to charge an electric car: at home, at work, or at a public charging station. Which method is best for you will depend on how often you use your car, whether you have any budget restrictions and how many public EV stations are in your area. According to Zap-Map, there are currently more than 24,800 charging points in the UK across 9,000 locations, with new charge points being added daily. These charging points can take many different forms; while some are petrol-station-style forecourts, others may be located in shopping centre multi-storey car parks or found on city centre streets.

Electric car charging at home

Charging an EV at home each night is the most convenient option for the majority, particularly as the average UK driver covers just 20 miles per day so will rarely need to recharge on the road. New electric cars will be supplied with an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) charging cable that can connect to a standard three-pin plug socket at home. However, it’s advised that a trained electrician instead installs a dedicated charging wallbox for safety, which will cost around £1,000. A wallbox is safer and quicker than using a domestic plug socket and under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge scheme, drivers can apply for a grant of £500 towards the installation cost.

Electric car charging at work

Charging points at the workplace help make EVs a viable option for employees with longer commutes. They will usually be located in a workplace car park and be clearly marked by painted symbols or mounted signs. If your workplace doesn’t have an EV charging point installed, it may be able to take advantage of the government’s voucher-based Workplace Charging Scheme (WGS). This provides a financial contribution towards the upfront cost of purchasing and installing chargers to the value of £300 per socket for 20 charging points.

Public charging

The network of public chargers is best suited for longer journeys, with a rapid charging unit providing up to 80% of charge in as little as 20-30 minutes. The UK’s charging station network is owned and operated by several different organisations, the major ones being BP Chargemaster (Polar), Ecotricity and Pod Point. Payment and access methods across these networks vary widely, with some networks providing an RFID card and others a smartphone app to use their services. Although many EV charge points are free to use, the majority of fast and rapid chargers require payment at either a pence per hour and/or pence per kWh rate. 

What are the different types of EV chargers?

There are three main types of EV charging that represent the power outputs and therefore charging speeds: rapid, fast and slow. The power output of a connector is determined by how many kilowatts (kW) the station can provide and how many the car can accept – the higher the wattage, the faster the charge.

  • Slow charging: These are the slowest chargers available to EV owners. Units are rated at 3kW and a full charge could take as long as 12 hours, but more likely 6-7 hours. Their slow charging speeds mean that these connectors are unsuitable for public use and therefore tend to be found at home or in the workplace.
  • Fast charging: Fast chargers are usually found in supermarket car parks, shopping centres or anywhere an electric car can be left for an extended period of time. A 7kW charger will recharge an EV in 3-5 hours, while a 22kW unit can fully charge one in a couple of hours.
  • Rapid charging: A rapid charger can provide up to 80% of charge in as little as 20 minutes, making them the fastest means of EV charging in the UK. They are commonly found at motorway service stations and close to major roads and provide up to 50kW of power, while rapid AC units are rated up to 43kW.

It’s important to remember that not all cars can accept fast charging. To find out the required charging station output you need for your EV, check the performance of the onboard charger integrated in your car. Ideally, you should choose a charging station that offers the maximum power allowed by your electric supply and that can be tolerated by your car, as your next model could have a stronger onboard charger.

What are the different types of EV connectors and cables?

A key issue when choosing which EV to lease or buy is the type of charging inlets. For full EVs, manufacturers tend to use Type 2 and CCs, Type 1 and CHAdeMo and Tesla Type 2 charging inlet options. As of yet, there isn’t a universal connector for EVs and the different chargers available. The choice of connectors depends on the charger type (socket) and the car’s inlet port.

Most EVs are supplied with two cables for slow and fast AC charging; one with a three-pin plug and the other with a Type 2 connector, and both are fitted with a compatible connector for the car’s inlet port. The different types of connector and how they are categorised across types of chargers are:

Slow charge connectors

  • 3-pin 3kW AC
  • Type 1 3kW AC
  • Type 2 3kW AC
  • Commando 3kW AC

Fast charge connectors

  • Type 2 7-22kW AC
  • Type 1 7kW AC
  • Commando 7-22kW AC

Rapid charge connectors

  • CHAdeMo 50kW DC
  • CCS 50kW DC
  • Type 2 43kW AC
  • Tesla Type 2 120kW DC

Make sure to check the car’s handbook and the charging network provider websites for more specific information as to what charger and connector is best for your car. When charging your car, keep an eye on its charge status, as many manufacturers recommend that you only charge an EV up to 80% to prolong the battery life over time. If you’re planning a long-distance trip that will require you to charge your EV, check what charging stations carry a charger that’s compatible with your car’s charging input along the way.

In summary...

There’s no denying that owning an electric or plug-in hybrid requires more thought and pre-planning than a conventional petrol or diesel model. However, once you get the hang of EV ownership and charging, the environmental and financial benefits are clear.

At AMT Leasing, we’re committed to providing a quality service that’s tailored to you. If you’re looking for a new lease vehicle or want to know more about electric cars such as the Jaguar I-pace, Nissan Leaf or Teslas, contact our dedicated team today to discuss your requirements on 0113 387 4241.  

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