Guide to EV Charging
Today, electric vehicles are gradually becoming a common vehicle in the UK.
The automotive market is now flooded with several compelling models, attracting more buyers.
Electric cars are more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and since they don’t produce tailpipe emissions, they’re a great tool to help foster the UK’s Net-Zero target.
One common reason people love electric cars is not having to power their vehicles with gas.
They can easily plug their vehicles into an outlet at home, work, or a charging station.
However, EV charging entails more than connecting the car to a power outlet.
There’re more to EV charging, and that is the purpose of this guide.
Selecting the best EV for you requires more extensive research and careful comparison than buying a regular gas-powered car.
One factor to consider when choosing an electric vehicle is the speed of charging.
Depending on the fitted onboard charger, electric vehicles can charge at a slow, rapid, or fast rate.
Battery capacity is another determinant of an electric vehicle’s charging speed, with bigger models known for rapid charging.
EV Charging: Connector Types
Three charging speed options are available for EV charging: slow, fast, and rapid.
The charging speed is often a reflection of the power outputs available to charge an electric vehicle.
These outputs are usually measured in (kW).
Rapid charging is the fastest of the three EV charging options.
This option is often available at locations close to the main routes and motorway services, where car owners don’t necessarily have to wait for long charging their vehicles.
Rapid devices charge electric vehicles with high direct or alternating current, charging the car faster than other charging options. Rapid chargers are usually rated at 50kW.
Charging an electric car to 80% can take less than 30 minutes with a rapid charger.
However, some EVs take longer than this, with new EVs taking about an hour to charge to 80% charge. The rating on the charger represents the maximum charging speed of the charger.
It’s worth noting that EV charging is faster when the battery is low than when it is closer to full charge.
However, it should also be noted that before a vehicle can use a rapid charge point, the vehicle must be rapid-charge compatible.
The vehicle manual usually contains the car’s charging capacity.
Followed by rapid chargers are fast chargers, rated at 7kW for single phase and 22 KW for three-phase 32A.
The charger can provide either AC or DC charging, with AC charging more common.
The time it takes a fast charger for a EV charging depends on the unit speed and the vehicle capacity. Typically, it takes between 4 to 6 hours to charge an EV with a 40 kWh battery with a 7KW charger.
Since fast charger takes longer to charger than rapid chargers, they’re usually available in places where drivers can park for hours, such as leisure centers, supermarkets, and car parks.
Though some home and workplace chargers have cables attached to them, a vast majority of fast chargers are tethered and 7kW rated.
Slow chargers are rated at different rates, ranging from 2.3kW and 6KW.
How much time it takes to charge an EV with a slow charger also depends on the EV’s battery capacity and the charging unit.
Typically, charging an EV to full charge on a 3 kW unit takes between 6-12 hours. Most slow chargers are untethered, meaning that they’re cable-fitted.
Since slow charging takes much time to charge an EV, it’s more suitable for charging at home, where owners can charge overnight.
This charging method is also ideal for workplace charging, where owners have enough time to charge their vehicles.
However, slow charging is no more common in the UK, as it’s only found in old EV models.
EV Charging: Public Charging Networks
When it comes to where to charge your electric vehicle, different options are available.
However, while you can charge your EV at home or work, public charging networks offer additional charging support.
Public charging networks help extend journey distance in an electric vehicle should the car range go low during a journey.
Depending on the public charging network’s capacity, a charging network can offer rapid, fast, and slow charging options.
EV Charging: On-street Residential Charging
Most EV drivers prefer charging their vehicles when sleeping at night.
The car is connected to a power outlet, and before the owner sets out of bed the following morning, the car is charged and ready for use.
However, on-street residential charging is not recommended for those without off-street parking.
The UK government support EV charging by providing grants to electric vehicle owners.
The grant is to help Local Authorities install on-street residential charge points.
With this installation, councils can provide charging solutions to residents.
As such, electric car owners can take their cars to the council near them to safely charge them.
What Are The Available Charge Point Models For ORC?
The council involved decides which charge point models to install for the neighborhood.
However, the choice of what type of charge point models to install is generally influenced by the area.
What charge point is best for one area might not be suitable for another.
How Much Will It Cost?
How much it costs to charge at a residential charge point depends on the billing method put in place.
Many on-street residential charge points require EV owners to sign up for a tariff or subscription.
This follows the same billing method for charging at home.
Methods of metering the energy used also differ from charge point provider to provider.
However, most providers use a ‘smart cable’ to meter the energy used.
The cable contains a meter that replaces the need for an app.
The meter activates and de-activates the charging and calculates the amount of energy discharged, on which the driver is billed.
Some system work using an app or an RFID, which activate and deactivate the charge.
Since most charge points rely on power supplies, councils will charge drivers certain fees to control how much drivers charge their vehicles and put energy costs in control.
On-street Residential EV Charge Points: Any Funding?
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) supports EV charging with three different grants: Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS), Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), and On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS).
The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) is to support on-street residential charge point installations.
However, the grant is not disbursed directly to homes in the neighborhood. Rather, it’s disbursed to local authorities to install charge points for the neighborhood.
While OLEV allocated £1.5 million for 2017/18, it disbursed £4.5 million for 2018/19 & 2019/20 for on-street residential projects.
The grant is distributed to the first councils to come, having met the requirements.
EV Charging at Home
Most electric car owners prefer charging their vehicles at home.
This is more suitable for electric cars with slow-charging compatibility.
Owners have enough time to charge their vehicles overnight.
Here’re what to know about EV charging at home:
Does A Standard Wall Outlet EV charging?
Yes, you can plug your electric car into your standard wall outlet, just like you’d plug your regular electronic items.
It’s possible to charge electric vehicles with the provision of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), a 120-volt charging cable.
To charge your EV, you plug one end of the cable to your standard wall outlet and the other to your car’s charging port.
These cables are available as an aftermarket accessory if your car doesn’t come with one or you want a longer cable.
These cables are not cheap with the cost depending on their length. The average cost of the cable is $200.
However, it’s worth noting that special extension cords are purposely designed for charging EVs.
As such, you can’t plug your EV charging cable into your regular extension like you’d plug your TV.
Also worth noting is that this method of charging is very slow and takes much time.
As such, be ready to dedicate a lot of time to charge your EV with a regular 120-volt outlet.
Since you’re home, you can plan to charge your car overnight while sleeping.
Can I Install A Fast Charging Outlet In My Home?
Using a level 1 (120-volt) charging outlet for your EV takes time, and hence, it’s smart to consider a Level 2 charger.
While some homes have Level 2 charger readily installed in their homes, others can only consider an upgrade.
Though this might be simple in homes with an electrical box that can accept a 240-volt outlet, switching to a fast-charging outlet in other homes require a more substantial upgrade.
Installing a Level 2 charger ensures that your car charges faster.
For example, charging the Chevrolet Volt with a Level 2 charger can take below 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach an 80% charge level.
You also add 44 miles journey distance to a Tesla Model 3 when charged with a Level 2 charger for one hour.
How Can I Install A Level 2 Charger?
You can call your regular electrical installer to install a 240-volt charger for you.
However, a cheaper option is to install a 240-volt outlet.
With this, you can buy a 240-volt charger and plug it in to charge your car.
If mounting is required for the charging unit you buy, it’s also what you can do yourself.
How much it costs to install a 240-volt outlet varies with some factors, such as how far your garage is from your main electrical service and if the installation requires extra works.
You can do your research and estimations to know how much the upgrade will cost, but budget between $300 to $1,000.
Where Should I Install My Level 2 Charger?
One decision to make before installing your 240-outlet or EVSE for EV charging is to determine where to install the charger.
Ensure you choose the best position for the installation, as this will determine the ease of charging.
Answer these questions, and your answers will determine the best position to install your charger: do you always park your car in your garage, and how do you park your car for the night?
If you plan to plug an EVSE into an outlet to charge your car, ensure you go for one with a long cord that will reach your car.
It may also be helpful to consider what happens if you later buy a second EV.
Will the cord reach the second EV? Even when you don’t plan to buy a second EV car now, you can still take this into account.
If you don’t have a garage where you park your car in the evening, find a suitable place to install the charger.
It’s important to install your EV charger where it’s protected against the weather.
Go through the user manual to know more about what to put into account when deciding a safe location to install your EV charger.
What Is The Suitable Time For EV Charging?
Though it might be difficult to schedule when to charge your EV, specifying a time for it helps ensure that your car is charged and ready to run when needed.
The best time to charge your EV depends on how much you use it.
If you usually deplete your car’s charge, you can decide to charge it every night.
However, if you only deplete a little portion of the range per day, you can decide on charging it a few days of the week, based on what suits you the best.
Also, electricity rates vary from region to region, and generally, the prices vary with times of the day.
Peak times are when electricity costs are higher.
Peak times in the UK are usually the weekdays in the evening, while the off-peak times are on weekends and nights.
Ensure you do your research on the peak and off-peak of electricity tariffs in your area.
Charging your EV during an off-peak time helps cut back your electricity bills.
Most new EV models come with ‘smart technology’ that lets you program your EV for when to activate and de-activate charging.
Also, some utility companies support EVs and offer special rate plans for the vehicles, using special meters.
As such, calling your electricity provider gives you more insight into the best time to charge your electric vehicle.
Should I Consider Solar For Charging My EV?
Ordinarily, solar panels are a great investment for generating electricity in the UK.
Though investing in solar is not cheap, it’ll recoup in the long run if considered for charging your EV.
Solar panels are more suitable for owners with more than one EV and those in areas with a lot of sunlight throughout the year.