So you’re thinking of making the switch to an electric vehicle (EV) but you have questions – lots of them!
- How can I charge my electric car at home?
- Can I charge my electric vehicle at work?
- How do I charge my electric car in public?
- Do all EVs use the same connector?
- What do the different EV charging speeds equate to for charge times?
- What percentage should I charge my EV to?
Whether you’re asking those as someone who manages a fleet, or someone who’s considering their first electric vehicle for business or personal use, you’ll need to know much more before making the switch to an electric future.
Here, we’ll cover the answers to those important questions, and point you to resources where you can learn even more. Think of this post as a beginners’ guide to charging electric cars.
(Almost!) everything to know when charging electric cars
How can I charge my electric car at home?
On the grand list of what you should know about EV charging, this answer sits right at the top.
In order to charge an electric vehicle at home, drivers need to install a charge point.
There are a number of different ones available, with around 40 manufacturers producing ones suitable for use in residential areas.
Home charge points can typically cost between £250-£500 for a 3kW charger and £450-£800 for a more powerful 7kW one.
The great news if you rent any kind of property or live in a flat you own yourself is that the UK government offers a grant for up to 75% off the cost of buying and fitting a residential EV charge point, up to the value of £350. Owners of bungalows and houses (including semi-detached and terraced ones) are however unable to take advantage of this offer.
Can I charge my electric vehicle at work?
Like charging at home, a 75% discounted/£350-capped government grant is available for companies to install charging points in car parks at workplaces.
Unlike home charging, however, this grant, called the Workplace Charging Scheme, is a grant of £350 per socket up to 40 charging sockets. It’s the government’s way of encouraging companies to go green and lower their emissions ahead of the 2025 and 2030 EU-wide fleet emissions targets, and is something that fleet-based businesses in particular would be wise to take advantage of.
Workplace charge points can cost anything from £1,500 with the grant for a Type 2 7KW charger (more on charge point types a little later), to £2,500–£5,000 for a 22kW double-headed post, all the way up to £35,000 for a fully installed rapid charge unit.
Of course, our guide to charging electric vehicles is just a starting point. If you work for a company and want to investigate charge point installation further, the form on the Zap-Map ‘charging at work’ page should be helpful.
How do I charge my electric car in public?
There is an ever-growing number of public charging networks offering slow, fast and rapid options that drivers can use to top up an EV’s battery on longer journeys.
In some instances you’ll need to use your car’s own charger cable (most EVs come with at least different connectors or an adaptor to allow for a wide range of charging options), and in most cases you can pay using a smartphone app.
Zap-Map has a comprehensive list of charge points right across the UK which it breaks down into three categories:
- Rapid chargers for those who need power quickly
- Destination chargers which are often slower but might offer charge for free (often used by locations like retail and leisure parks as an incentive for using their services)
- On-street and community chargers which often require payment using a one-off or payment plan arrangement.
Do all EVs use the same connector?
The simple answer is no. However, amongst everything to know when charging electric cars, this might be one of the most in-depth and potentially confusing aspects. We’ll do our best to simplify the many options available.
For starters, EV chargers come in two current variants, for AC or DC charging. They also come in a number of different charging speeds, and with several different kinds of connector. The table below details the combinations available.
EV connector options
|Type 1 EV charger
Comes as a 7kW AC fast AC charger
As a 3-6kW slow AC charger
|Type 2 EV charger
Comes as a 7-22 kW fast AC charger
As a 43 kW rapid AC charger
Image credit: DCDI
|Commando EV charger
Comes as a 7-22 kW fast AC charger
As a 3-6kW slow AC charger
|CCS EV charger
50-350 kW ultra-rapid DC charger
|CHAdeMO EV charger
25-100kW ultra-rapid DC charger
Image credit: Tesla
|Tesla Type 2 EV charger
120-250 kW DC supercharger only compatible with vehicles on the Tesla charging network
What do the different EV charging speeds equate to for charge times?
While specific charging speeds depend on the vehicle model, battery capacity and the amount of battery power left, a rough rule of thumb is that:
- Ultra-rapid DC chargers are powered 100kW or more and can charge an EV from 0% to 80% in around 15-30 minutes in a compatible vehicle
- Rapid DC chargers of 50kW can charge to 80% in around 15-60 minutes
- Rapid AC chargers of 43kW can charge to 80% in around 30-60 minutes
- Slow chargers running at 7kW will charge an EV with a 40kWh battery in 4-6 hours.
What percentage should I charge my EV to?
You may have noticed that the EV charge guidelines we gave above are based on a charge of up to 80%. That is considered the optimum for public charging because EV chargers slow down past 80% to protect the charging network and ensure enough pumps for drivers to use.
To preserve the battery life of your EV, we’d advise keeping your battery level between 20-80% during the daytime, and giving your vehicle a full regular charge to 100% overnight.
And that ends our beginners’ guide to charging electric cars! For absolutely everything to know when charging electric cars, visit Zap-Map’s comprehensive guide to charging different brands and vehicle types.
Thinking of changing to an EV soon?
Switching to a full electric vehicle just makes sense – particularly as EV fuel costs continue to be incredibly competitive compared to petrol and diesel.