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There are more than 42,000 charging points across the UK. Free charging points can often be found at supermarkets, shopping centres, public car parks, hotels and sometimes service stations.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Like a mobile phone, charging an electric car will most likely be done when the vehicle is not in use either overnight at home, or during the day while working (depending on your job). For those who drive combustion cars, you’ll most likely drive the car until the fuel gauge is low before having to drive to the petrol station to fully re-fuel your car. With an electric car you have the convenience of charging at home where you will most likely only need to “top-up” the battery overnight instead of letting it run empty. The time it takes to charge your car will also depend on temperature. For example lithium-ion batteries perform better in warm weather meaning the range of the vehicle may ever so slightly decrease in the colder seasons.

AC vs. DC

Each charger type has an associated set of connectors which are designed for low or high power use, and for either AC or DC charging. With EVs the converter is built inside the car but is labelled as the “onboard charger”. It converts power from AC to DC and then feeds it into the car’s battery. Power from the grid is always AC. The difference between AC and DC charging is the location where the AC power gets converted; inside or outside the car. A DC charger has the converter inside the charger itself meaning it can feed power directly to the car’s battery and doesn’t need the “onboard charger” to convert it. DC chargers are bigger and faster.

Most charging stations are AC charging. DC charging stations are more common near motorways or public charging stations where you may not have much time to recharge.

Connect & Charge

AC Connectors

  • UK 3-pin (BS 1363)

  • Industrial Commando i.e. 16 amp (IEC 60309)

  • Type 1 (SAE J1772)

  • Type 2 (Mennekes, IEC 62196)

 

DC Connectors

  • CHAdeMO (Japanese JEVS)

  • CCS (Combined Charging System or ‘Combo’)

  • Tesla’s proprietary supercharger connectors

 

Slow Chargers: have a maximum of 3.6 kW available and typically take between 6-12 hours to recharge a full electric car. Ideal for overnight charging. 

  • 3 kW – 6kW slow charging on one of four connector types

  • Charging units are either untethered or have tethered cables

  • Includes mains charging and from specialist chargers

  • Often covers home charging

 
  1. 3-Pin: 3 kW AC

  2. Type 1: 3-6 kW AC

  3. Type 2: 3-6 kW AC

  4. Commando: 3-6 kW AC

 

Fast Chargers: are rated at 7-22 kW and usually take between 3-7 hours to recharge depending on the size of the battery.

  • 7 kW fast charging point one of three connector types

  • 22 kW fast charging on one of three connector types

  • 11 kW fast charging on Tesla Destination network

  • Units are either untethered or have tethered cables 

 
  1. Type 2: 7-22 kW AC

  2. Type 1: 7 kW AC

  3. Commando: 7-22 kW AC

 

Rapid chargers: are the quickest (43 kW+), generally capable of charging cars to 80% in 20 – 40 minutes, again depending on how big the battery is and how much charge it had to begin with.

  • 50 kW DC charging on one of two connector types

  • 43 kW AC charging on one connector type

  • 100+ kW  DC ultra-rapid charging on one of two connector types

  • All rapid units have tethered cables

 
  1. CHAdeMO: 50 kW DC

  2. CCS: 50-350 kW DC

  3. Type 2: 43 kW AC

  4. Tesla Type 2: 150 kW DC

Charging at Home

There are around 40 manufacturers that will provide your home with charging units. For home charging these units will most likely be Type 1 or Type 2 and are usually wall mounted.  These chargers are the most popular and are widely recommended for the UK market. Always check with the installers that your fuse board has enough spare capacity to support the additional load of a home charging station, otherwise you may have to upgrade your distribution board.

But how much do these charging units cost? Well, the government-funded Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides grants for home charging points. These grants will not cover anything over 75% of the cost for the charging unit itself and its installation. Also, these grants are only available to anyone who has their unit installed by an OLEV-accredited installer. The price of a unit will depend on which manufacturer you choose to buy from and how fast you want your unit to charge your vehicle. Overall you’re going to be looking to spend anywhere between £250 to £800. You can view the grant schemes for electric vehicles here.

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