One of the most important aspects of Electric Vehicle ownership is the development of the electric vehicle charging network. Rather than being fuelled by conventional petrol or diesel, Electric Vehicles use electricity from the national grid and as you would charge your laptop computer or mobile phone you follow the same process for your EV. Access to charging infrastructure is one of the most commonly referred to barriers to making the switch to Electric Vehicles.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
EV owners are advised that electric car charging time depends on a number of factors which include, the battery size in their vehicle and type of charger used. Although technology is improving at an impressive rate as a rule of thumb, owners may calculate the length of time required to charge the vehicle by dividing the battery size by the kWh outputs of the charger used.
Home charging will generally give 10 -30 miles of range per hour charged, public charging will offer 20 – 80 miles per hour while a rapid charging point with outputs of 50kWh and above can facilitate a full charge in around an hour. This assumes that a battery is being charged from flat (which is rarely the case) and that a 100% charge is required – often vehicles will limit the charge intake after an 80% charge has been achieved.
What types of chargers are there?
EV owners should be aware of the three main types of charging, slow, fast and rapid. These indicate the power output and the charging speeds available. Power is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). In addition owners should note that each charger has an associated set of connectors which are designed for low or high power use and for AC or DC charging.
Slow charging units are generally rated up to 3kw, however in reality most slow charging is conducted between 2.3kw and 6kw. Charging using a three-pin plug will allow the vehicle to draw 2.3kw electricity. Charging time will vary depending on the unit and the vehicle being charged.
Most slow charging units are untethered meaning that a cable will required to connect to the charge point. This is perhaps the most common type of charging at home, particularly for home owners who do not have a specially installed charger and charging using a 3 pin plug can take between 6 and 12 hours for a full charge.
Fast chargers are most commonly rated at either 7kw or 22kw and the vast majority provide AC charging. Charging times will vary based on the unit speed and the vehicle type. Fast chargers are generally found at destinations including supermarkets and leisure centres where users are likely to be parked for an hour or more.
The majority of Fast Chargers are untethered, requiring vehicle owners to provide their own charging cable. Not all vehicles will be able to accept 7kw or more and will only draw the maximum power support by their vehicles’ battery (not on-board charger).
Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an Electric Vehicle and are often found at motorway services or on primary routes. Rapid chargers supply high power direct (50 kw and above) or alternating current (43 kw) to recharge the vehicle as quickly as possible. Subject to the model capacity, certain vehicles may be recharged to 80% in as little as 20 minutes, however for a charge above 80% the charging speed will drop significantly.
Rapid charging devices have charging cables tethered to the unit and can only be used on vehicles with rapid-charging capabilities.
What cables and connectors do I need?
Most Electric Vehicles are supplied with two cables for slow and fast AC charging – one with a three- pin plug and one with a Type 2 connector, compatible with the car’s inlet port. These cables ensure that the EV can be connected to most untethered charge points (i.e charge points without a cable).
Connector choice will depend on the charger (socket) type and the vehicle’s inlet port. Rapid chargers tend to use CHAdeMO, CCS (Combined Charging Standard) or Type2 Connectors. Fast and slow chargers will use Type 2, Type 1, Commando or three -pin plug outlets. European manufactured vehicles (AUDI, BMW, Citroen, VW) tend to have Type 2 inlets and the corresponding CCS rapid standard while Asian manufacturers (Nissan and Hyundai) prefer a Type 1 and CHAdeMO combination.
EV Charging Solutions
Now you know the basics of charging, where can you actually charge?
It is estimated that up to 80% of all Electric Vehicle charging will be done at home. Most vehicles are parked overnight and owners prefer to rely on home charging to ensure their EVs are ready for use each morning. In addition to being the most convenient charging location, home charging also offers significant cost benefits as the overnight electricity rates make it the cheapest time to recharge.
In the UK the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) offers a grant for home charging point installations. The grant is a 75% contribution towards the cost of one charge point up to a maximum of £350 (incl VAT) per household/eligible vehicle.
In the Republic of Ireland a government funded support scheme, delivered by Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) provides grants of up to €600 towards the purchase and installation of a home charging unit. In both countries the works must be carried out by a professional charge point fitter and terms apply.
Charging at Work
As many businesses are increasing efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, the popularity of work place charging points has increased. Charging at work can be a convenient way to recharge an EV which is stationary for most of the day.
The UK Government provides businesses, organisations and local authorities with grants to have charge points installed at their premises under the Work Place Charging Scheme and this grant provides up to £350 per socket at 75% of the total cost on installation up to a maximum of 20 sockets.
Even though the majority of Electric Vehicle charging is done at home, public charging networks provide invaluable additional infrastructure for those without home chargers or for those seeking to extend their range while on a journey. Most public charging networks will provide a mix of slow, fast and rapid chargers.
In Scotland there are currently over 1,800 public charging points across a series of networks, 337 in Northern Ireland with the majority owned and operated by Electricity Supply Board and over 1,000 in the Republic of Ireland again with the majority operated by ESB ECars.
The FASTER Project will install 73 rapid charging points across the programme area. Public charging stations are often found in car parks, at on-street locations and at destinations including hotels, supermarkets, shopping centres and parks.
How much does it cost to charge my vehicle?
The costs for charging will vary depending on the type of vehicle, the battery size of the vehicle, the type of charger & charging network used and your electricity tariff if charging at home.
Scotland and Northern Ireland
Home Charging – if charging at home in Scotland or Northern Ireland expect to pay approx. £6 per full charge for an EV with a 40kWh battery. This is based on average domestic electricity rate of 17p perkWh.
Public Charging – many of the existing charging stations in Scotland and Northern Ireland are free to use, with the local authorities hosting the charging stations picking up the cost of the electricity used. However there are a growing number of commercial charge point operators with payment required for using these facilities. A number of payment options exist ranging from pay as you go to subscription based models which offer discounted rates for members and regular users.
Republic of Ireland
Home Charging – if charging at home in the Republic of Ireland expect to pay approx. €11 per charge for an EV with a 40kWh battery based on an average domestic electricity rate of 28c per kWh.
Public Charging – while the majority of charging stations in Ireland are owned and operated by ESB Ecars, owners can expect to pay an average of approx. 35c per kWh at public charging stations. Additional usage fees may be applied by some operators.
Click here to find out how much you could save by switching to an Electric Vehicle.
How do I pay to charge my Electric Vehicle?
Payment options for charging your electric vehicle will vary depending on the type of charger and network used. Charging your EV at home will incur an additional charge on your household domestic electricity bill. Many public charging points provided across Northern Ireland and Scotland are currently free to use, however the number of paid for chargers are on the increase.
The UK government is making efforts to standardise all commercially operated charge points to ensure that they facilitate contactless payments. Some networks may require a membership and the use of an RFID card to access the charger and networks may offer discounted rates for subscribed members.
What is good charge point etiquette?
While it is important to know your rapid chargers from your slow and the difference between CHAdeMO and CCS, understanding the expected behaviour and etiquette at public charging stations is vital to help build trust in the infrastructure and to encourage increased use of low and zero emission vehicles. We have put together a few tips on how to practice good charge point etiquette:
Don’t overstay your welcome
Depending on your journey requirements please be considerate of other users. If you only require a top-up to help you get home, or reach the next destination on your journey keep a close eye on the charging status. Once your battery has received sufficient charge or has been charged to 80% capacity if you don’t have access to a home charger, unplug your car and move it from the charging bay so others can use it.
Pure Electric Priority
Plug-in hybrid vehicles should give priority to vehicles which don’t have a petrol or diesel engine to fall back on.
Charge Point Damage
If you notice any damage at a charging station or the charge point has malfunctioned during your visit, please report this to the network operator whose contact information will generally be supplied on the charging unit.
Don’t unplug another vehicle unnecessarily
This goes without saying but only in extreme circumstances should you take the step of removing the charging cable from another motorist’s vehicle if the vehicle has completed its charge. If the owner of the vehicle being charged is not present, scan the area, or if you are on a business premises ask if an announcement can be made. If you have no other option but to remove, leave a note explaining your reasons for this.
Offer to help
If you see someone struggling at a charging station, offer your assistance. Charging stations are a great place to strike up conversations with other EV users.
Remain with your vehicle
Particularly if you are using a rapid charger which may only require up to 30 minutes to provide a full charge, our advice is to remain with your vehicle until it is charged to 80% before moving on. If you are unable to stay with the vehicle perhaps display information on how you can be reached.
If you are using public charging infrastructure it is best to plan ahead and select the most relevant charger type to meet your requirements. Use charging stations during off-peak hours when they are less likely to be busy.
EV Parking Spaces for Charging Only
If you have a petrol or diesel vehicle please do not park in spaces that are allocated for electric vehicle charging.