The Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution is here, and the infrastructure to support it is growing at an unprecedented rate.
With the rise in petrol prices, demand for EVs has also grown, and if you have the purchasing power to pay for one, then charging may become one of your concerns.
But don’t fret, we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide on EV charging. We cover connectors, sockets, charging speeds, home and business installations, any grants available, the network’s current state, and some common FAQs.
What does EV Charging mean?
Electric vehicles (EVs) have electric motors that are powered by rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries.
When you drive an EV, it drains the electricity from the battery which then needs to be recharged by connecting it to a power source.
The action of feeding electricity to your drained EV battery is “EV charging”, and is analogous to “filling your tank” with petrol on a traditional internal combustion vehicle.
What are the different methods of EV Charging?
For all intents and purposes, you need to plug in your EV to charge it. This could be at home, in public parking or at a business facility or your workplace.
There is a new concept of commercial ‘plugless’ EV charging stations currently being trialled, which we cover in our Inductive Charging section.
Regarding plug-in charging, you need to consider charging speeds and charging connectors to make sure that you have access to adequate charging.
What are the different charging speed methods available?
There are broadly three charging speed categories when your EV is plugged into a power source:
Slow charging (3-6kW) – AC
Also known as “trickle charging” entails plugging into the AC mains using similar infrastructure to that of charging your phone or laptop. This includes plugging in using your EV’s standard 3-pin plug (also known as an untethered connection)
Slow charging is common for overnight EV charging at home, where speed is not of the essence. Depending on your EV model and battery size, it may take 6-12 hours to fully charge your battery.
Slow charging EV-specific terminals that come with their own cable (Tethered) are also available for installation, and you may be eligible for an EVCG government grant to install one.
Slow charging installations are the cheapest as they use the car’s own current inverter to transform the AC current from the mains to the DC current your battery requires.
Fast charging (7-22kW) – AC
A more optimized way of using AC power, fast charging typically takes 1-6 hours to fully charge an EV and is the most widely available type of public chargepoint, balancing installation cost with performance.
Fast chargepoints normally come with their own cable (tethered) and have a Type-1 or Type-2 socket to plug into your EV terminal.
Rapid charging (43-100+kW) – DC
Rapid chargepoints are common in the areas in proximity to motorways and main roads as their prime purpose is to aid long-distance journeys and avoid the infamous ‘range anxiety‘.
They have their own in-built AC-DC inverter so can supercharge the battery directly without the limits of an EV’s smaller inverter.
EVs can be typically charged to 80% in 30-45 minutes, which forces drivers to take a short break before carrying on with their journey.
Charging times for an 80% charge are normally quoted for these installations as charging speeds are greatly reduced during the last 20%.
These specialized stations always come tethered with a CCS or ChaDeMO socket that permits DC charging.
What are the different types of connectors?
The same dilemma as laptop and mobile connectors apply to EVs, with different manufacturers choosing from three broad schools: the ‘Asian’, the ‘European’ and the ‘Tesla’ school of connectors.
Asian vehicles tend to be compatible with Type-1 (AC) and CHAdeMO(DC) sockets, while European vehicles typically work with Type-2 (AC) and CCS (DC), with most of the UK public infrastructure designed for the latter.
If you include direct connections to typical wall plugs, you will find a total of seven possible connectors in the UK.
What sockets are used for slow and rapid charging of EVs?
3-Pin Socket (3kW)
Also known as ‘granny cable’, all EVs will come with a charger that may connect to any UK wall plug (and whatever country’s, if you have a common adaptor).
This charging universality comes at the cost of the slowest charging speeds possible, and it may take your vehicle up to 12 hours to charge.
Commando Socket (3-22kW)
This type of socket is designed for light machinery like a lawn mower and is safer for outdoor plugging as its dust and water resistant.
So for outdoor slow charging, connecting to a commando socket by purchasing an adaptor for your ‘granny’ charger may be the way to do it; just make sure it is safe.
Just note that it is illegal to place extension cords in public spaces, so using your commando extension for on-street charging is a no-go.
Type-1 Socket (3-7kW)
Also known as the ‘Yazaki’ units, these sockets come in tethered charging units (with an existing cable) and plug directly into your EV.
This type of socket is typical in Japanese EVs, so your European EV might need a Type-1 adaptor if you want to go for this option.
You will find these sockets in the most economical purpose-built EV charging points, which you can install in your home or business premises.
Type-2 Sockets (7-42kW)
Most European EVs and PHEVs are directly compatible with the Type-2 socket found commonly in public and workplace charging points.
Type-2 sockets are the fastest of the fast chargers and can deliver AC power at up to 42kW if the vehicle’s inverter is capable.
What sockets are used for rapid charging of EVs?
CHAdeMO Sockets (25-100 kW)
These connectors are typical of Japanese EVs and can be found on many of the UK motorway DC rapid-charging stations.
These are DC adaptations of the Type-1 sockets found on brands like Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
CCS Sockets (50-350 kW)
The Combined Charging System (CCS) is the DC version of the European Type-2 sockets, so they are mutually compatible.
Although CCS can technically reach charging speeds of 350kW, at present most EVs cannot take advantage of this power output but show a promising future of charging even large batteries in less than half an hour.
What sockets are used for rapid charging of Teslas?
Tesla have their own Type-2 and CCS connectors and network of charging stations called the Tesla Superchargers, many of which are available in the UK.
However, as the EV markets have grown and competitor charging stations are more ubiquitous, many Tesla owners and some models come with adaptors.
How long does it take to charge an EV?
Charging an EV takes anywhere between 40 minutes to 12 hours, depending on the size of the battery, its age and condition, and the charging speed capable at your chargepoint.
At home, EVs are normally recharged slowly overnight, while most public parking charging supports fast charging, and rapid charging is generally available in proximity to motorways and main roads.
How many EV charging stations are there in the UK?
According to Zap-maps, there were >50k charging stations all over the UK as of June 2022, at almost 20k locations, with approximately 800 installed in May 2022.
A third of the charging points are in the Greater London area, and ubicitry with its network of lamppost charging points has the highest market share of public charging stations.
How much does it cost to charge an EV?
This truly depends on where you are charging your EV. According to pod-point, The price can range from completely free at your workplace or a supermarket’s charging point to around £15 for fully charging your battery at home.
Charging stations hosted by some supermarkets and restaurants are free in order to attract a growing customer base of EV owners, but often have time limits to stop any abuse.
Charging your EV to 80% in a motorway service area costs about £11 and will give your vehicle >200 miles (depending on the model) in about half an hour of rapid charging
Slow Charging at home at current electricity prices has been estimated to cost around £15 for a full charge.
Can I install my own EV charging point at home?
Yes, installing a specialized EV charging point at home is recommended in the long term due to superior speeds and durability, although plugging using a wall plug or commando socket is also possible.
Charge Point installation businesses are thoroughly available in the UK, and there are tens if not hundreds of different models available. It is worth checking if the business you hired to install your chargepoint is certified by OZEV.
These tethered points can be installed directly onto a wall or may require a special concrete stump to pull the cables to an area where you can connect directly to your car’s Type-1 or Type-2 port
This is analogous to installing a cable in your bedroom where you could directly plug your laptop, tablet or mobile into, without you having to worry about having your charger.
Can the government help me install an EV charging point?
Yes, and the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) is a specialized government unit designated for giving out EV grants.
The EV Charging Grant (EVCG) designed for household charge points, can fund up to 75% of installation costs up to a maximum of £350 per vehicle, including VAT. It is worth noting that sometimes manufacturers offer free installations with the purchase of an EV.
How can I charge my EV overnight on-street parking?
This is certainly a major hurdle for EV adoption in the UK, as around 30% of households don’t have an off-street parking space.
You can ask your local authority to build on-street residential charge points in your street with funding available for them through the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.
Note that using an extension cable to recharge your EV parked on the street is illegal due to the tripping and fire hazards it presents.
What is EVHS (Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme)?
In the past, household ChargePoint installation grants were given out by the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) scheme but were replaced by the new EV chargepoint grant on the 1st of April 2022
Can I install my own business EV charging point?
Like the grant for households (EVCG), there is also a Workplace Charging Scheme (WCG) which pays for 75% of installation costs up to a maximum of £350, including VAT (per socket, with a limit of 40 sockets).
This covers the cost for small, medium and large businesses and is may be seen as a cost-effective way of improving the benefits package of your workforce, especially if you give the electricity free of charge to your employees.
Is there a list of EV charging points in the UK?
There are tens of thousands of charging points in the UK, so providing a list is not very useful.
However, this live charging station map may be extremely helpful in finding them, and perhaps you can contact them to have access to their database.
As far as we know, they have the most comprehensive database of EV Charging Stations.
What is the cheapest way to charge an EV?
Believe it or not, there are over 5000, totally free charging stations where you can recharge your EV battery for free, and there are two main reasons for giving out free electricity.
Firstly, governments like the Scottish government have incentives for people to switch to EVs as fast as possible in order to meet their 2050 climate targets.
Secondly, businesses like shopping centres can attract the growing EV-owner customer base by providing free charging facilities while they shop, go to the cinema, eat out, etc.
Can I charge my EV using wireless charging?
Similar to how we charge our phones on wireless chargers supporting the Qi standard, it is also possible to charge EVs without plugging them into the mains via inductive charging.
However, the technology is still in its infancy, and the concept is still in beta. For example, only recently has there been a ‘successful’ commercial trial in the UK.
Static inductive chargers may be a game changer as they would eliminate the need for overground infrastructure in private and public property.
And for those interested in Sci-Fi, dynamic inductive charging would permit the charging of EVs as they drive on the road, reducing the need for problematic Li-Ion batteries.
What is a PHEV?
A PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is a type of hybrid that allows you to fill your tank with petrol as well as recharge your battery at a charge point.
This is in contrast to traditional hybrids like the Toyota Prius, where the battery is re-charged internally through usage (i.e. car breaking, coasting, etc), as the electric motor acts as an auxiliary/complementary source of power.
Some examples of PHEVs sold in the UK include the Toyota Prius Plug-In, VW Golf GTE, and BMW 225xe.
Are there special EV charging tariffs?
Yes, many domestic energy suppliers are now offering special EV tariffs for all customers, regardless of their meter type.
This means that you can ask for one even if you are sceptical of smart meters and their privacy concerns and only have a traditional energy meter.
However, business electricity suppliers have not yet introduced these special tariffs, which we think are going to be massive for forward-thinking businesses.
As soon as these are available, we will issue a comprehensive guide, as it directly affects our business utility comparison services.
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