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Despite moves to vastly improve the charge network for EVs across the UK, some prospective car buyers remain sceptical about how easy it will be to own and run an all-electric vehicle.
Below Trusted Dealers provides a guide to EV charging to help buyers understand what means are available if they choose to go green.
Charging an EV is one of the biggest issues for an electric car owner because without enough charge, a motorist will be unable to complete a journey. There are two options when it comes to charging an EV’s batteries – you can charge at home or at a public charging point. However, you’ll also need to consider issues such as the length of time the car will need to change, how much charging a car will cost you and whether you can get funding from the government to help reduce costs.
If you choose to charge your EV at home, you have two options. You can either plug your car directly into a standard UK three-pin socket, or you can get a special home fast-charging point installed. Choosing a standard charging socket will be easier and more convenient, but the charge time will be slow so you’ll need to make sure your car has plenty of time in between trips to re-charge – around 8 hours. Choosing to have a faster charge point installed will ensure faster charging times for those motorists on the go.
Installing a fast-charging point
Considering the fact that approximately 80% of all car charging happens at home, having a fast-charging point installed is a sensible option, providing you have a garage or driveway where the charge point can be fitted. The Government are currently covering up to 75% (or a maximum £500) of the cost of having a fast-charging point installed, a grant made available to anyone who owns or uses an eligible EV or Plug-In Hybrid vehicle (PHEV). In addition, some car manufacturers will supply you with a complementary home fast-charging point with the purchase of your EV.
Not all vehicles are compatible with fast charging, for example, the entry-level Nissan Leaf can only be charged at a maximum of 3.7kW meaning it will take 8 hours to fully charge. Also, slow and fast chargers come with different plug connectors. Slow chargers use a Type 1 connector which can be plugged into a regular wall socket at home or a fast-charging point. The other connector is a Type 2 seven-pin connector which can only be plugged into a proper EV charging point.
How long does charging take?
The length of time it takes to charge your EV will depend on a number of factors including which car you have, its battery capacity and what sort of charging system you’ve opted for. Slow charging at home or at a charging station on a car that’s ’empty’ will take around 8 hours. Fast charging will take around 3-4 hours to fully re-charge a car’s batteries from zero.
Rapid charging is currently only available on some electric vehicles, but cars such as a Tesla Model S or a Kia Soul EV will allow you to rapid charge your car from empty to 80% in around 30 minutes. In addition, Tesla has its own network of more than 400 rapid fast chargers across the UK for use exclusively with its cars.
How much will it cost to charge my EV?
The cost to charge your EV is entirely dependent on the type of car you’ve got. Some EVs have short electric ranges so they won’t need as much electricity to fully charge the batteries which means they’ll cost you less, but it also means you’ll have to charge the car more frequently. Whatever the cost, it will be considerably less than filling up a car’s fuel tank at the pump.
Public charging points
The network of public charging points is rapidly expanding by the day, and a lot of new electric cars now come with a sat nav system that will direct you to the nearest charging point. In addition, websites such as ZapMap will list the position of charging points and can even show you whether they are in use or not. ZapMap will also show you what sort of connector they are compatible with and how fast they’ll charge your car.
Most public charging points will require you to use a swipecard or mobile phone app to unlock the charging point and connect the charging cable from your car to the charging point. You’ll usually need to use the swipecard or app again to disconnect the electricity supply and unlock the cable. Different providers will have different ways of operating their charging points, so it’s worth doing specific research into how each company works.
Which charging points can I use?
There are a number of different operators that own the charging points across the UK. Companies such as Chargemaster, Polar and Ecotricity are some of the biggest, but there are also a variety of regional ones. Usually, you’ll have to become a member of one of these operators to access its charge points. You’ll pay a monthly flat fee for unlimited use. Joining Polar, the biggest company, costs around £8 a month, but some providers don’t charge at all. Tesla provides free use of its network of 30 ‘Supercharger’ charging points for owners of its Model S and Model X electric cars.
Charging on the motorway
Only Ecotricity provides charging stations on the motorway, with about 50 charging stations offering around 300 individual chargers which cost £6 for 30 minutes of use.
With new EV charge points being added daily, the landscape of UK charging point infrastructure is continually changing. The Zap-Map database is able to track how many charge points there are currently in the UK. At present, the total number of locations which have a public charging point installed is 5444, the number of devices at those locations is 9127 and the total number of connectors within these devices is 15630. There have been 529 new connectors added to the Zap-Map database over the last 30 days. The number of car charging points is on course to overtake the UK’s 8,500 fuel stations within the next couple of years. For more information, visit https://www.zap-map.com.