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Charging Explained

If you are considering your first electric vehicle, then the whole aspect of charging might seem like a minefield, but don't let this put you off as it is far simpler than you might imagine. Here we run through the key elements to get you charging in no time.

Home charging

This is one of the key benefits of owning and running and electric car - you can charge up at home.

If you have a driveway or garage you can also benefit from a grant to install your own charger at home, and by charging during off-peak times you can make the greatest savings on electric costs.

You can even use a regular three pin socket - this is slower than a dedicated charge point but can be useful for home use.

Public charging

If charging at home is not an option or you regularly drive long distances the growing network of public chargers will become extremely important to you.

If you drive an average of 20 miles a day you may still only need to recharge once a week so can easily factor this into your life.

There are a number of different kinds of chargepoints and once you know which is right for your vehicle you can quickly and easily find your closest using websites such as Zap-Map.

At the end of September 2021 there were more than 44,000 connectors at more than 16,000 locations with hundreds of new connectors being added every month.

The UK also boasts a number of suppliers and all have different payment methods from subscription only through to payment by card or an app. The costs also vary from supplier to supplier as does the speed of supply.

Types of public charge points

Slow charge points

These are typically installed at homes and workplaces and are ideal if you are parked up for several hours or overnight and are the cheapest to use.

Fast charge points

If you are parked for a few hours these are ideal to top up your car.

Rapid charge points

These are becoming more widespread and you can typically recharge your car to 80% in around 30 minutes. There are dedicated charging stations or they are often available at shopping centres, gyms and even coffee shops.

Plug guide

This may look like another complicated area for the electric car driver but once you are on the road with an electric car it will become far clearer and you will quickly become familiar with your own car and charging habits.

The three types of EV charging, slow, fast and rapid have an associated set of connectors designed for low or high power use and for either AC or DC charging.

Most EVs are supplied with two cables for slow and fast AC charging and both will be fitted with a compatible connector for the car's inlet port. This means that you can connect to most untethered charge points.

Type 1 connector

This can be used for fast or slow charging at home or work. This will usually be AC, DC is available at higher rates.

Type 2 connector

This is used for a home wall box and expect charging to take between nine and 16 hours depending on output. These are for AC connections and can also be used at fast and rapid chargers.

CCS/CHAdeMO

These are both compatible with the rapid chargers and ultra rapid chargers. As a rule CHAdeMO is mainly used by Japanese-designed cars while the CSS connector is used on the majority of other cars.

Charging

In many ways charging an electric car is similar to filling with petrol or diesel - the car doesn't like to be left almost empty but you also don't need to charge up after every single journey.

Electric cars like to be about 60 per cent full of charge for optimum performance so consider this the ideal level in your car.

The car's sophisticated engine management system will mean that you will not overcharge it.

The reason for not leaving the car empty is because hot or cold weather can affect the cells in the battery. The car can easily manage extremes of weather but it needs some charge in the battery to do its job so good maintenance means keeping a good level of charge at all times.