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A Complete Guide to Electric Vehicle Charging

The Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution has arrived, accompanied by a rapidly expanding infrastructure to meet its demands.

As petrol prices soar, the demand for EVs has surged as well. If you possess the financial means to acquire one of these electric cars, charging considerations may come to the forefront of your concerns.

Don’t worry, as we’ve compiled an extensive guide on EV charging. Our coverage includes details on connectors, sockets, charging speeds, home and business installations, available grants, the current state of the charging network, and answers to common FAQs.

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EV Charging

What is Electric Vehicle Charging?

Electric vehicles (EVs) are equipped with electric motors driven by rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries.

Operating an EV consumes electricity stored in the battery, requiring recharging by connecting the vehicle to a power source.

The process of replenishing your depleted EV battery with electricity is referred to as “EV charging,” akin to refuelling a traditional internal combustion vehicle with a petrol or diesel car.

What are the different types of Electric Vehicle Charging?

In essence, charging your EV requires plugging it in, whether it’s at home, in public parking areas at businesses, or at electric car charging points at your workplace.

An emerging concept is the trial of commercial ‘plugless’ EV charging stations, which we explore in our Inductive Charging section.

When it comes to plug-in charging, it’s crucial to take into account both charging speeds and the compatibility of charging connectors to ensure you have access to sufficient charging capabilities.

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There are three charging speed methods when your EV is plugged into a home charger or a power source:

Slow charging (3-6kW) – AC

Referred to as “trickle charging,” this method involves plugging into an electric car and charging the AC mains using a setup similar to charging your phone or laptop. This involves connecting to your EV using the standard 3-pin plug, also known as an untethered connection.

Slow charging is commonly used for overnight EV charging at home, where speed is not a critical factor. Depending on your EV model and battery size, it may take 6-12 hours to fully charge your battery.

You can also opt for slow-charging EV-specific terminals that come with their cable (Tethered) for installation, and you may qualify for an EVCG government grant to facilitate the installation.

These slow-charging installations are cost-effective, utilizing the car’s current inverter to convert the AC from the mains into the DC required by your battery.

Fast charging (7-22kW) – AC

More efficient utilization of AC power, fast charging typically requires 1-6 hours to charge an EV completely and stands as the most prevalent form of public charge point, striking a balance between installation cost and performance.

Fast charge points usually include their cable (tethered) and feature a Type-1 or Type-2 socket for connecting to your car or EV terminal.

Rapid charging (43-100+kW) – DC

Rapid charge points are commonly found near motorways and main roads, primarily designed to facilitate long-distance journeys and alleviate the well-known ‘range anxiety.’

Equipped with their own built-in AC-DC inverter, these points can rapidly charge the battery directly, surpassing the limitations of an EV’s smaller inverter.

EVs can typically reach an 80% charge in 30-45 minutes, prompting drivers to take a brief break to fuel up before resuming their journey. Charging times for reaching 80% are usually specified for these installations, as charging speeds significantly decrease during the final 20%.

These specialized home charging stations always come with a tethered CCS or ChaDeMO socket, allowing for DC charging.

What connectors are available?

Similar to the challenges faced with laptop and mobile connectors, electric vehicles (EVs) also grapple with diverse connector choices among manufacturers, aligning with three primary categories: the Asian, European, and Tesla connector standards.

Asian-made vehicles often support Type-1 (AC) and CHAdeMO (DC) sockets, whereas European vehicles commonly utilize Type-2 (AC) and CCS (DC) connectors. In the UK, a significant portion of the public charging infrastructure is tailored for CCS.

When factoring in direct connections to standard wall plugs, there are a total of seven possible connectors in the UK.

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What sockets are used for slow and rapid charging of EVs?

3-Pin Socket (3kW)

Commonly referred to as the ‘granny cable,’ all EVs are equipped with a charger that can be connected to any UK wall plug, with adaptors available for common international outlets. However, this universality comes at the expense of the slowest charging speeds possible, taking up to 12 hours for a full charge.

Commando Socket (3-22kW)

Designed for light machinery, such as a lawn mower, this socket is suitable for outdoor use due to its dust and water-resistant features. For outdoor slow charging, connecting to a commando socket using an adaptor for your ‘granny’ charger may be a viable option. However, it is crucial to ensure safety. Note that placing extension cords in public spaces for on-street charging is prohibited.

Type-1 Socket (3-7kW)

Also known as ‘Yazaki’ units, these sockets are often part of tethered charging units with an existing cable, plugging directly into your own EV charger. Common in Japanese EVs, a Type-1 adaptor may be necessary for European EVs opting for this choice. These sockets are prevalent in cost-effective purpose-built EV charging points suitable for installation at home or business premises.

Type-2 Sockets (7-42kW)

Most European EVs and PHEVs are directly compatible with Type-2 sockets, commonly found in both cars and public and workplace electric car charging points. Type-2 sockets represent some of the fastest chargers, delivering AC power at up to 42kW if the vehicle’s inverter allows for such speeds.

What sockets are used for the rapid charging of EVs?

CHAdeMO Sockets (25-100 kW)

These connectors are characteristic of Japanese EVs and are commonly encountered at UK motorway DC rapid-charging stations. Serving as DC adaptations of the Type-1 sockets found in brands like Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, they facilitate efficient rapid charging.

CCS Sockets (50-350 kW)

The Combined Charging System (CCS) represents the DC version of the European Type-2 sockets, ensuring mutual compatibility. While CCS has the technical capability to reach charging speeds of 350 kW, most current EVs cannot fully utilize this power output. However, it holds promise for the future, suggesting the potential to charge an electric car or even large batteries in less than half an hour.

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What sockets are used for rapid charging of Teslas?

Tesla utilizes their Type-2 and CCS connectors and has established a network of charging stations known as Tesla Superchargers, many of which are accessible in the UK.

As the electric vehicle markets have expanded, and charging stations from competitors have become more widespread, numerous Tesla owners and certain models now come equipped with adaptors for increased charging compatibility.

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How long does it take to charge an EV?

The duration for charging an EV varies from 40 minutes to 12 hours, contingent on factors such as the battery size, its age and condition, and the charging speed attainable at your charging point.

Typically, at home, EVs undergo slow overnight recharging, whereas most public parking charging facilities support fast charging. Rapid charging is commonly accessible in the car parks in the vicinity of motorways and main roads.

How many EV charging stations are there in the UK?

As of March 2023, Zap-maps reported over 65,000 charging stations distributed across almost 24,000 locations throughout the UK.

Approximately one-third of these charging points are situated in the Greater London area. Ubicitry, with service stations and its network of lamppost charging points, boasts the highest market share among public charging stations.

How much does it cost to charge an EV?

The cost of charging your EV varies significantly based on the charging location. According to pod-point, the expenses can range from being completely free at certain workplaces or supermarket charging points to approximately £15 for a full battery charge at home. Recent price increases in business electricity prices have impacted the overall cost of fully charging an electric vehicle.

Charging stations affiliated with certain supermarkets and restaurants often offer free charging as a strategy to attract an expanding customer base of EV owners. However, these stations may impose time limits to prevent misuse.

For a rapid 80% charge at a motorway service area, the cost is around £11, providing your vehicle with over 200 miles (depending on the model) in approximately half an hour of rapid charging.

Home charging, given the current rates of electricity, is projected to cost approximately £15 for a full charge.

Is it possible for me to set up my own EV charging station at home?

Yes, it is advisable to install a dedicated EV charging station at home in the long run due to its superior charging speed and durability, although you can also charge your electric vehicle using a wall socket or commando outlet.

There are numerous businesses in the UK that specialize in installing charging stations, and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different models to choose from. It’s important to verify if the company you’ve chosen to install your charging station is OZEV certified.

These tethered stations can be mounted directly onto a wall or may necessitate a specific concrete post to route the cables to a location where you can directly connect to your car’s Type-1 or Type-2 port.

This is similar to setting up a cable in your bedroom that allows you to directly connect your laptop, tablet, or mobile, eliminating the need for a charger.

Is it possible for the government to assist me in setting up an EV charging station?

Certainly, the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) is a dedicated government unit responsible for administering EV grants.

The EV Charging Grant (EVCG), specifically tailored for household charge points customers, can cover up to 75% of installation costs, with a maximum cap of £350 per vehicle, including VAT. It’s noteworthy that on occasion, manufacturers may provide complimentary installations with the purchase of an EV.

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How can I charge my EV overnight on-street parking?

This indeed poses a significant challenge to the widespread adoption of EVs in the UK, as approximately 30% of households lack an off-street parking space.

To address this issue, residents can petition their local authority to install on-street residential chargepoints in their neighbourhood, with available funding through the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.

It’s important to note that using an extension cord to charge your electric vehicle when parked on the road is not allowed because of the possible tripping and fire risks it presents.

Can I set up my own commercial EV charging station?

Just like the domestic grant (EVCG), the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCG) also exists, which subsidizes 75% of the setup costs, up to a limit of £350, inclusive of VAT, per outlet, with a maximum of 40 outlets.

This scheme extends its support to small, medium, and large businesses, providing a cost-effective means to enhance the benefits package for their workforce, especially when offering complimentary electricity to employees.

Installing multiple charging points for a business may necessitate additional electricity capacity, leading to potential considerations:

  1. It might be essential to invest in improving the local electricity distribution network to meet the required capacity. Further details can be found in our article on new business energy connections.
  2. Negotiating an increased maximum demand with your business energy supplier may be a requisite step.
  3. Comparing business energy options is often advantageous to explore high consumption tariffs and secure the most economical deal for the additional power your business will now consume.
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Is there a list of EV charging points in the UK?

Listing tens of thousands of charging points in the UK may not be practical. However, a valuable resource is a live charging station map app, which can be highly beneficial in locating them. It’s recommended to explore this map, and you may consider reaching out to the operators to access their extensive database.

To the best of our knowledge, they maintain the most comprehensive database of EV Charging Stations.

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