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Guide to Electric Car Charging in the UK

Guide to Electric Car Charging in the UK

Record numbers of people have been buying electric cars and plug-in hybrids across the UK - electric car sales increased by 110% in January, with the UK seeing more than double the number of pure-electric cars on the road compared to the same period last year.

According to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 1,334 electric cars were sold in January, which is 635 more than in January 2018.

These figures clearly indicate that more consumers are moving away from petrol and diesel fueled cars to pure-electric cars. In summary, 6.8% of the UK population now owns an electric car.

Perhaps the greatest barrier to even more drivers converting to electric cars are concerns about charging. How do you do it? Where do you do it? And how long does it take? Another study shows the UK needs around 100,000 extra electric charging points in the next 2 years to accommodate the accelerated increase of EVs on the road. There are currently 16,500 charging points in the UK where you can top up your EV.

This guide sets out everything you need to know about public charging networks, charging at home, charging at work, charge point types, and electric car charging.

View our hybrid & electric car leasing prices

How do you charge your electric car?

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Experts predict that in the future we will be able to charge electric cars wirelessly - like wireless charging cases that charge our mobile devices. Charging an electric car is as simple as switching on the lights, all you have to is physically plug them into the socket, usually found at the rear. What determines how long a charge takes, is not just the size of a car’s battery, but how many amps it can absorb. The higher the number of amps, the less time it takes.

There are 3 main types of electric car charging: rapid, fast and slow. Below explains more about these electric car charging types.

✔️Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an electric car. They can provide up to 80% of charge in approximately 20 mins. Rapid chargers come in two forms - AC or DC (Alternating or Direct Current). Rapid DC chargers provide up to 50kW of power, while rapid AC units are rated at 43kW. Tesla Superchargers are also DC and charge and deliver power at a rate of 120kW.

✔️Fast chargers rated between 7kW and 22kW provide enough power to fully charge an electric car in 3-4 hours.

✔️slow chargers (rated at 3kW), as the name suggests, are not ideal if you want to charge your electric car quickly. However, they are useful if you want to charge your vehicle overnight. It takes between 6-12 hours to fully charge.

The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone Explained!

Currently there is no discussion about whether there will be a universal plug type for cars and chargers in the future, however you can check the location of charging points on Zap Map.

Here is a list of different types of connectors for each of the above categories;

✔️Rapid charger connectors

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✔️fast charge connectors

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✔️Slow charge connectors

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Electric car charging networks

There are a number of public electric car charging networks across the UK, each one taking a different approach to charger access. Some operate ‘pay as you go’ systems, some require subscriptions fees, and others offer free power and cheap sign-up fees. The most common national charging networks in the UK include BP Chargemaster (Polar), Elotricity, Pod Point and Charge your car.

The BP chargemaster hub, located in Milton keynes Coachway, features eight-UK made 50kW ultracharge rapid chargers running on Polar, making it the largest public charging network in the UK. Payment and access is made through a smartphone app or RFID (radio-frequency identification) card. While it is compulsory for users to have an account set up, some rapid units with contactless PAYG card readers have been installed.

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Users at Eloctricity go through a near identical payment process by registering via a smartphone app. It is different for Tesla owners however, all they need to do is visit a Supercharger station and wait for their electric car to charge.

There are regional networks too such as GeniePoint and ecarNI Network. GeniePoint covers areas such as the Lake District, Cornwall, and Hampshire. Similarly to Polar, users must have an RFID card or app to access any charging points. ecarNI has over 150 devices available to electric car drivers. They offer rapid and fast charging points to all customers for free, provided they have a RFID card.

We advise electric car owners to select a network that displays tariffs in kWH as opposed to cost per minute, simply because it's easier to calculate the overall cost of a recharge.

TOP TIP: We advise electric car owners to select a network that displays tariffs in kWh as opposed to cost per minute, simply because it's easier to calculate the overall cost of a recharge.

Read more: London T-Charge Explained!

Electric car charging at home

Charging at home is convenient for electric car owners because you don't need to worry about paying countless trips to a charging station and, most importantly, it is cheap. Thankfully, governments also provide £500 grants for the installation of home electric car charging points, and an additional £300 from the Energy Saving Trust (EST).

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These come in either 3kW or 7kW and 22kW forms. For the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, for example, the 3kW unit can provide a full charge in 5 hours, while the 7kW unit reduces it to 3-5 hours.

Use Zap Map's Home Charging Calculator to estimate charging times for your electric car.

Electric car charging at work

Many companies across the UK have become fully aware of the benefits of electric car workplace charging units, therefore more and more companies are beginning to introduce them to the work place. Benefits include;

✔️You can save more than £1,000 a year in commercial fleet and employee fuel costs per 10,000 miles.
✔️You can offer electric cars charging to your employees.
✔️You can reduce employee “benefit in kind” tax for company cars.
✔️A green fleet can help reduce CO2 emissions and reach sustainability goals

As a way of encouraging businesses to install charging points, the government also offers the same £500 grant (also known as the Workplace Charging Scheme grant).

You can learn more about the Workplace Charging Scheme by visiting gov.uk.

If you want to find an electric car to suit your budget, click here.

How much does an EV cost to charge?

A full charge overnight in a pure electric vehicle will cost around £2.00-£4.00 and give you a typical range of 100-150 miles. Home charging at night is perhaps the cheapest and most convenient way to keep your EV fully charged.

A study conducted by AA, a British Motoring Association, shows that people who own EVs and charge at home during off-peak electricity hours can reduce the running costs of their car to about 2.5p per mile. By contrast, a conventional petrol or diesel engine car will cost around 16p per mile.

As of recently, the UK government has announced plans to fit all new homes with charging points for EVs, so charging from home will eventually become more accessible for EV owners.

Here’s a fuel cost comparison example between electric Vs Diesel cars;

Fuel cost comparisonNissan Leaf N-Connecta 40kWh Electric AutoVW Golf 1.6 TDI Match DSG Auto
Fuel type Electric Diesel
Fuel Cost 40 miles p/day £1.65   £4.60 
  Cost per mile  4.1p  11.4p 
  Total Annual Fuel  £602  £1,679

What are the practical considerations before installing a home charge point?

Not everyone has the advantage of being able to install a home charge point. You must either have off-street parking, access to a garage or the permission of a landlord to install a wallbox or post-type charging point in a private car park.

Any well-known supplier or installer of wallboxes will be able to advise whether they believe an installation will be feasible. The unit is waterproof and can be fitted outdoors or indoors.

They will ask you to send photographs of your property’s fuse board and main electricity supply, as well as approximate distance from fuseboard to the area where you would like your chargepoint installed.

For further information go to: www.chargemasterplc.com

Does Chargemaster have liability insurance?

Full liability insurance is included. What this ultimately means is that all Chargemaster engineers on site should any damage happen at the property at the time of when your homecharger is being fitted, whereby the charger is identified as the main cause.

After the homecharger is fitted, certification will be provided. Chargemaster is regulated by NICEIC and if anything occurs to your electricity supply within the 6 months from when it was fitted, then Chargemaster will be legally responsible and visit your home to investigate.

How many miles do you get from a single charge?

For many people, the biggest concern regarding EVs is ‘range anxiety’ - meaning they fear how far a pure electric vehicle can travel on a single charge before reaching a destination/ a charging station. Due to the UK still trying to improve the current EV charging infrastructure to support EV owners, this only makes people more hesitant towards ditching their regular petrol/diesel engines for EVs.

However, the truth of the matter is that range for an EV varies significantly - for example, although expensive, premium long-ranging EVs like the Tesla Model S and Model 3 have a claimed electric range of over 300 miles, while mainstream EVs such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe Z.E 40 have a more realistic claimed electric range of 150 miles. Another example of an affordable EV with a higher electric range than 150 miles, is the Hyundai Kona SUV which has a range of 258 miles. Thankfully, there will be more EV models with better range released in future as EV battery technology develops and becomes cheaper. The UK’s electric charging infrastructure is also slowly progressing with the UK Government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy.

Read more: Road to Zero Strategy

If you would like to discuss EV/hybrid car leasing options with an Account Manager - give us a call on 01273 433480 or request a callback today.

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