EV Charging 'Need to Knows'
Most common questions answered.
How does it work? How long does it take? What is a kilowatt-hour, anyway?
For new owners, or anyone debating whether EV is the right direction or change for them, the thought of charging can be intimidating. There's so many questions that you may have circulating which you just want answering..
Fueling an electric vehicle involves a lot of 'current' talks and cords, it will never be as simple as heading to the fuel station and filling a load of petrol or diesel into your tank. But it’s also not rocket science! On the spectrum of life tasks, the brainpower required to charge a car is closer to what you’ll need to use your microwave than, say working out your taxes or bills. (And a kilowatt-hour is just the amount of electric juice needed to move an electric vehicle for about 3 miles, depending on the car’s weight and speed, driving conditions, weather, and a bunch of other little variables.)
If you’re new to EV's, here’s some basic information to get you up to speed.
Where can I charge an electric car?
This may be one of the main and most important questions you may have, with this there are several options.
Option 1 is a private charger (i.e. having one installed at your home or office/place of work), this means you can charge overnight or through the day at the place where you reside, without any waiting around. Many people will prefer this as charging overnight will usually provide you with the daily driving rang the average driver will need for the day, possibly even more!
Option 2 is a public fast-charger or a standard public charger, these can be located in places such as service stations, supermarket/shopping centre car parks, gym car parks, public car parks and you may even find them on road sides, usually where there's on street parking. The first option is typically the best and doesn’t involve waiting about to use the charger if another car is already plugged in.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
The time it takes to charge an electric car will depend on what type of charger you're using, the size of the battery your car has and the range of your car. Home chargers usually tend to be 7kw, with this you would find it would take approximately 8 hours to fully charge an EV car at home - which is why it's usually recommended you charge overnight. Rapid chargers would usually charge your car fully within 1 hour 30 minutes, for 80% charge you'd be looking at around an hour - so if you're low on charge while you're out and about, it may be worth stopping by a service station for a coffee or some food while you wait! Unless you're out doing your weekly shop, you can charge while you shop! It is important to take into consideration that all cars have different size batteries so the charge time will vary slightly for all.
Here's two examples of cars and their battery size along with the time it would take to charge:
Kia E-Niro; 64kw battery. Fully charges in 9hrs at a standard home chargers (7kw/ph)
Tesla Model Y; 75kw battery, Gives 80% worth of charge in around 50 mins.
Tesla has its own network of chargers that are the fastest, they can be used on other models of cars now e.g. Mercedes etc. they can deliver approximately 200 miles in 15 mins which is around 70-75% of a charge!
How to calculate the cost of charging an electric vehicle?
In simple terms, the math's is:
Size of battery (kWh) x Electricity cost of your supplier (pence per kilowatt hour) = Cost to charge an electric car from absolutely empty to full.
How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?
Charging your electric car at home is the main charging option for most EV owners. It's important to be on the best home energy tariff to keep this cost as low as possible because the cost of charging will be included in your normal electricity bill. How much charging costs will depend on the amount of charging you do, the type of charger you have and also how much you use public charging. Before you get an electric vehicle, you may want to think about how it will impact the cost of your home electricity bill. For instance, if you travel 8000 miles per year in your car, this might equate to around 2800 kWh of additional electricity on your yearly bill if 1 kWh equals 3.5 miles. Therefore it pays to look for the right energy tariff. For example, you might want to look at off-peak prices, as many energy companies offer lower electricity prices at night when the demand on the grid is reduced and energy prices are cheaper. Another thing to consider is the number of off-peak hours available to charge your electric car. If for instance, you own a Tesla Model S with a 100 kWh battery, the charging time will be greater than a Renault Zoe with a 30 kWh battery. Therefore, you might want to look for a tariff which offers longer off-peak charging periods.
Charging your electric car while out and about is a great way to top up your battery and many locations offer free charging to their customers or visitors. On most modern networks you can use a free-to-download mobile app to find charge points and start your charge. Some older public charge points require a card (similar to a contactless debit card) to start charging which can be ordered online. For app-enabled charge points, if the host has set a tariff, you will be able to pay for your charge in app.
Rapid chargers are typically found in motorway service stations and range from being free to one of the more expensive ways to charge. Pod Point’s rapid chargers cost 40p/kWh at Lidl which is about £9.30-£10.70 for 30 minutes of charging (about 90 miles of range). The Tesla Supercharger Network has points across the UK which are often free to use for owners of Tesla electric vehicles. Other sites can be found around the UK and typically have an associated tariff that is chosen by the operator.
Charging your vehicle at work can also depend on your work place. Some employers offer free charging as a staff incentive. Others opt for a time-based tariff to encourage sharing of charging stations. Another model is to offer free employee charging for a set period of time and a fee after this time to encourage employees to vacate charging spaces.
One thing is certain - charging your EV is over 200% cheaper than filling up with fuel.
How do you charge an EV on a long trip?
So for this one, you will probably need to know the range of your car as many vary from between 100 miles to over 300+ miles. The best way to ensure your car is fully charged for a long trip would be charging overnight with your home charger, this would mean your vehicle would be fully charged to its maximum range before you set off for your journey. If you're already out and about and you notice your change range decreasing, there is rapid chargers located around the country at many service stations.
You can find most of these via an app such as Zap-Map and see which ones would be close by or on your route.
Do I need a driveway for a home charger?
You don’t need a private driveway to install a home charger, but you do need private off-street parking adjacent to your property. Shared parking areas (such as those within blocks of flats) can be difficult for charger installation. If you do live in a shared residence, it’s worth discussing your options with your managing agent and the other residents. A communal home charger could be a useful addition to your building, but you’ll need to collectively agree on the installation process and running costs.
Universal Skills and Electric Vehicle Charge Point Installation Courses
At Universal Skills, we offer Electric Vehicle Charge Point Installation courses.
These run monthly at our centre in Wakefield and our new location in London. If you'd be interested in booking yourself or someone you know onto one of these courses please head over to our EV page on our website.