• January 29, 2021

  • Abby Nuttall

One of the main concerns we hear from drivers who are considering an electric vehicle is about how they will charge it, whether they’re looking at a fully electric vehicle (EV) or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Which is why we’ve put together this useful article to cover everything you need to know about charging an electric vehicle.

Types of Charger

Unlike with petrol or diesel where you simply select the right fuel at a pump filling up an EV is a little more complex. But complex doesn’t necessarily mean complicated.

Although there are a number of different chargers available once you understand how they work and the differences finding the right kind of charger and charging an EV is pretty straightforward.

Chargers can be tethered, where the cable is attached to the charging unit and you simply plug into the vehicle, or untethered where you use the cable supplied with your vehicle to plug into the charging unit.

We recommend keeping the charging cables in the car whenever travelling in case you have to charge unexpectedly.

Take a look at the below to see the six types of chargers your electric vehicle might have.

Depending on the charging speed of the unit, type of current supplied by the charger, and the particular model the type of charger you are able to use will change. Your vehicle should be supplied with the cables necessary to connect to an untethered charging unit.

There are two types of electricity currents which are Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). With a direct current the electricity can only flow in one direction whereas with an alternating current it can change direction.

Power from the electricity grid is supplied in AC but rechargeable batteries, including those in an electric vehicle, are only able to receive energy in a DC current so there will be something in the device which converts this current. This is the same in an electric vehicle so the type of current supplied does not matter, the only difference will be whether it is converted to DC by the charging unit or the car.

AC connectors include a UK three-pin plug, Commando, Type 1 and Type 2 charger and DC include CHAdeMO, CCS and Tesla’s supercharger connectors.

Electric Charging Speeds

In the UK EV chargers are categorised as one of three speeds; rapid, fast and slow. Depending on what kind of charger, where it is located and your vehicle’s receiving capacity these can charge your vehicle up to 80% in under an hour.  

Rapid and Ultra Rapid Chargers

The quickest type of charger in the UK is a rapid charger, which provide up to 43 kW via AC charging, 50 kW via DC charging or over 100 kW via DC ultra-rapid charging. This power output is the maximum power available and as your vehicle gets closer to fully charged this will be reduced to protect your vehicle’s battery.

 All rapid charger units are tethered and so you will simply need to connect the charger to your vehicle.

Rapid chargers are most commonly found at motorway and other man road service stations, where you want to get back on the road as quickly as possible.

A 50 kW DC unit is the most common type of rapid charger you will encounter and these will either use a CHAdeMO or CCS connector. These can charge a rapid compatibly unit to 80% in an hour or so depending on your particular model and the starting level of charge.

Ultra-rapid DC chargers are less common but as they’re the next generation of rapid charger we are likely to see their numbers grow. They offer 100 kW or more of power for an even quicker charging times and are usually in locations like service stations where you want to be on the move again as quickly as possible. If your vehicle is able to accept ultra-rapid charging then it will usually reach 80% within 20 to 40 minutes. You can use rapid chargers on vehicles that are only capable of accepting 50 kW of power as the unit will automatically reduce the flow of electricity.

Tesla have their own ultra-rapid chargers named Superchargers. These provide you with rapid DC charging via either a Type 2 or CCS connector depending on which Tesla model you have.

Not all EVs are compatible with rapid charging. You can check whether a vehicle you own is on the manufacturer’s website. If you are looking for a new car we can advise on whether the model you are interested in is compatible with rapid charging.

Fast Chargers

The next speed of charging available is via a fast charger. This is the middle level of speed and fast chargers usually offer either seven, 11 or 22 kW of power.

Most fast chargers use an AC current and are untethered so you connect your own charging cables to them. They will usually be compatible with a Type 2 connector, although there are a few new 25 kW DC chargers being installed on the public charging network which use a CCS or CHAdeMO connection.

For home and workplace fast chargers you or your business can opt for tethered units, which many people choose to do for convenience.

Tesla’s destination chargers are classed as fast chargers and offer either 11 or 22 kW of power. Like their superchargers they are also only designed for use with a Tesla.

The speed at which a car can be charged using a fast charger depends on its receiving capacity as well as the output of the charger. Not all vehicles are able to accept seven kW or more of power but these can still be plugged into a fast charger and the energy flow will be restricted to a level it can accept.

Slow Chargers

The third speed of chargers in the UK is slow chargers, which offer three to six kW of energy.

The majority of slow charging units are home charging units or lamp-post chargers in residential areas, where existing infrastructure restricts the power flow through these.

Slow chargers can be either tethered or untethered and compatible with a number of different connectors, including a three-pin plug like your household electronics.

Where Can You Charge an EV?

There are a number of different locations that you will find charging units for electric vehicles, but they all fall within three categories:

Home charging 

Charging at work

Using the public charging network 

Home Charging

One of the most convenient places to charge an EV or PHEV is at home, which is why a lot of our customers decide to have a home charging unit installed.

Wessex Fleet is an official partner of Pod Point and s we can help you with the installation process and answer any questions you might have about Pod Point. For more information on our partnership with Pod Point take a look at this article or if you’d like to discuss a home charger then give us a call on 01722 322 888.

The majority of home charging units are wall-mounted, and in order to have one installed you will need to have off-road parking available and if you are not the home-owner then their permission to have the unit installed as well.

A home charging unit can be tethered with either a Type 1 or Type 2 cable or untethered with a Type 2 compatible socket.

Home charging units can be either slow or fast depending on the model you opt for and existing infrastructure. Faster units will be more expensive as they can charge the vehicle in roughly half the time of a slow unit.

The cost of a home charging unit varies between £250 and £800 depending on whether it is a fast or slow unit, and whether it is a smart charger.

Smart chargers connect to your home WiFi and connect to your home, vehicle and usually an app to share data, update software and much more.

Whatever unit you choose to install you will be eligible for a grant of up to £350 through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, provided you meet the requirements of the OLEV which include having off-road parking and the unit being installed by an approved company. You will also need to be able to show you have purchased an EV or PHEV or have one on order.

Please note you can only apply for the grant for a maximum of two units at one address.

For more information on the grant please visit the OLEV website.

The majority of EVs are supplied with a three-pin plug charger, which is suitable for a wall socket. However, it is not recommended you rely on as a long-term charging solution as due to the power restrictions it is the slowest way of charging your vehicle. Instead, manufacturers advise installing a home charging unit.

Residential Public Chargers

For some drivers installing a home charging unit is not an option. This could be because they don’t have off-road parking, are renting and unable to get the landlord’s permission, or live in a flat or apartment.

This is not as big of a barrier to having an electric vehicle as it once was though with the evolution of on-street residential charging units, which are becoming increasingly popular in areas where there is little to no off-street parking.

It is the local authority’s responsibility to install and maintain on-street units and so you will need to speak to them if you would like to see if this is possible in your area.

There different units available for residential public units but these typically fall into one of two categories; freestanding units and lamp-post units.

Freestanding chargers, also known as pillar units look similar to public charging units you see elsewhere in the network and they are placed close to the kerb to reduce the risk of trailing wires.

Lamp-post chargers are slightly more common as they can be installed easily into the existing infrastructure as the charger is simply wired in or onto a lamp-post.

Both types of units are usually untethered with a Type 2 connection. The power that they can supply varies depending on the existing infrastructure but it is usually between three and seven kW.

You will need to pay to use an on-street charger, and this is usually done via a subscription or the driver signing up to a tariff. Most usually work similar to the rest of the public charging network with an RFID card or an app to stop and start the account.

Charging at Work

As we see more and more drivers opting for electric and hybrid vehicles and businesses electrifying their fleet we’re also seeing more workplaces installing charging units for their employees to use.

The government have a Workplace Charging Scheme in order to help with the cost of installation which offers up to £350 per socket up to 75% of the total installation costs for a maximum of 20 sockets.

There are some conditions that will need to be met in order to qualify for the grant, including having dedicated off-road parking and the units being installed by an OLEV approved installer.

As mentioned above we work with Pod Point and they are able to install chargers at business premises as well. For more information on this please give us a call on 01722 322 888.

Public Charging Network

The third place you’re likely to charge an EV is on the public charging network. As electric becomes more popular you’ll see more places with an electric charger, including public car parks, motorway and main road service stations, supermarket and shopping centre parking.

The charging speed available across the network can be rapid, fast or slow but the charger should inform you of its speed. Most new units being installed are either rapid or fast to help get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

Across the UK there are a number of different public charger companies, though many of these are interconnected. You will usually need to use an RFID card or an app in order to stop and start charging at a public charger. These will usually require you to have an account set up, which includes your contact and billing details.

Some charging units are also able to take contactless or card payments as well.

carwow have an interactive charger map so you can see all available public chargers across the UK to help plan your journey or find a charger close to you. Just click here to view it.

There are also a number of apps available to show you where your nearest chargers are, help plot routes with convenient charging stops when on the go.

The Cost of Charging an EV

The cost of charging an electric vehicle will be different for each driver, as it varies depending on what type of charger you use, how frequently you charge and where you are charging.

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy the average cost of electricity in 20019 was 16.3 pence per kWh. kWh is the measurement of how much energy you are using, not the number of kilowatts you are using it is simply a unit that is equal to the amount of energy you would use if you kept one 1,000 kW appliance running for an hour.

Based on this if you were to charge a 60 kWh electric vehicle it would cost around £9.80 to charge it using a home charging unit depending on your tariff.

A lot of public charging units at supermarkets and car parks are also free of charge to use for the duration of your stay. Though some might also require you to pay for the energy used.

Motorway service stations usually have rapid charging units in order to get you back on the road as quickly as possible. They roughly cost around £6 for 30 minutes of charge.

Depending on your employer and whether they are able to offer a workplace charging scheme and how they decide to charge for this, if they do, the cost of charging at work will usually be somewhere between these figures or lower.

Is Electric the Right Choice for You?

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding if electric is the right choice for you as a driver or for your business’ fleet and it can be a big change depending on your existing vehicle needs.

You’ll not only need to consider charging but mileage range, model availability, purchase or lease price, maintenance costs and how much of an adjustment it will be to switch to an electric model. 

We hope that this article has helped to alleviate any concerns that you have about charging but please give us a call on 01722 322 888 and we’ll be happy to answer any remaining questions you have.

In the next few weeks, you’ll see more articles on our blog as well as guide pages for electric vehicles coming up so keep an eye open for these or bookmark the blog homepage

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