How to Charge an Electric Car
We all feel comfortable filling up a petrol/diesel car at the pump. It’s been a part of our lives for so long. So for many of us, the idea of charging an electric car is strange and unsettling.
But it really shouldn’t be! Charging is actually very simple. Not to mention cheaper and more convenient than getting fuel.
This is our quick guide to charging your electric car, both at home and on the road.
Image: More info on the Renault ZOE here
EV Charging Cables & Connectors
Before we talk about charging, a word on the equipment. It’s useful to keep in mind that no matter how big, snazzy and important the equipment looks, you are still just connecting an appliance to a plug with a wire.
Something you do all the time with your phone, your kettle, etc…
Confusingly, there are several different types of connectors (sockets) and so several different types of cables to match. You can read all about the different cable and connector types here.
But this only matters so you know which public charge points you can access with your particular car.
For home charging and untethered public charging (where no cable is provided at the station - see below), your elmo car will come with the correct cables – including a 3-pin so you can just plug into a regular domestic socket if you need!
If you want to understand charging for your specific electric car, you can find the correct guide on Zap Map here.
Image Credits: Enel X
Electric Car Charging At Home
Charging your electric car at home is just like charging your mobile phone. Generally speaking, you’ll plug it in to charge while you sleep, and top it up as required during the day.
Charging at home is the cheapest and most convenient way to charge. Your energy usage for charging will simply be added on to your home energy bill. (Unless, of course, you are a subscriber on elmo and chose to integrate home charging into your subscription payment!).
Your electric car charges in the same way as any other battery powered domestic appliance. You just plug it into the mains and wait until the battery is charged! You can even use a regular 3-pin plug to do this…
But we don’t recommend using a 3-pin plug for a number of reasons. Firstly, the charging time can be very long. A domestic plug will only supply around 2.3kW of energy (on average) – so it will take around 15 hours to charge a 30kWh Nissan Leaf.
There are also some questions around the safety of using a standard plug to charge your car.
So, most electric car drivers (provided that they have access to private parking with a power supply) choose to install a ‘wallbox charger’.
Despite the name, appearance and some clever technology, it’s still just a plug. To use it, just connect the cable from your car to the charging unit.
The elmo home charger Option
We provide Ohme home chargers to those who choose to include the home charge point as part of their subscription.
The Ohme unit is capable of supplying either 7.4kW of energy - that's the equivalent of 25 miles of charge per hour.
This means that a 30kWh Nissan Leaf will charge, safely, in either around 4 hours 15 minutes.
The Ohme unit is also ‘smart’. This means you can tell it (remotely using a phone or computer) when to charge.
How to Use your Ohme Charger
It’s very simple…
- Connect the charging cable to the charging robot and your electric car. Charging will start automatically.
- The charger will automatically adapt to the electric car, the power grid and your fuse rating.
(If the car does not start charging, check that charging is activated in your car and that the connectors are properly plugged in.)
When to Charge at Home
You can charge whenever you need to!
Many people charge overnight, so they have a full ‘tank’ in the morning. And if their energy is supplied on a ‘time-of-use’ tariff, they will also benefit from cheaper rates at night.
The Ohme charger you can include on your elmo subscription is also what’s known as a smart charger. This means that you can control when your car charges using the Ohme app.
Cost of Charging your Electric Car at Home
Charging at home is the most convenient charging option, however, you may be wondering how much it costs and how it compares to getting petrol at a station. Simply put, the cost is dependent on the rate at which your electricity provider charges and the battery capacity of the vehicle. Pod Point has created the following formula to help you work out the cost:
Tariff * Battery Size / 100 = Cost to fully charge
Tariffs fluctuate throughout the day based on availability, so it is recommended to charge your car at night during off-peak hours, as this will drive down the cost even further. The most common cost per kWh during off-peak hours is 14p.
Let's take our ZOE, which has a battery size of 52kW, and apply the formula from Pod Point.
14p/kWh * 52 kW / 100 = £7.28 to charge from 0%-100%
Charging at home is not only a convenient option, but also very cost-effective.
If you have any questions about charging at home, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Charging an Electric Car on the Road
- There are over 35,000 charge point connectors in over 13,000 locations across the UK (and this number is still growing)
- There are 3 main types of charger: Slow, Fast and Rapid
- Public charge points are owned and operated by different network providers which means there are different access methods
The 35,000+ public charging stations in the UK are broadly categorised as follows:
- Slow – charge at speeds of around 3kW (though lampposts go up to 6kW). Mostly ‘untethered’ so you need to provide your own cable (your elmo car will come with the right cables).
- Fast – charge at speeds of 7kW or 22kW. Mostly untethered.
- Rapid – charge at speeds of 43kW, 50kW, and 100+kW. Always tethered, so no need for your own cable.
The type of cable you’ll need for untethered charge points will depend on the charge point and your vehicle.
If you want to find out about your specific car, check out Zap Maps’ guide here.
Image Credit: InsideEVs
How to use Public Charging
There are 4 main ways to access public charge points:
- Plug & Play
Just drive up and plug in to use these. They're great because you get instant access. The only downside is you don't get any usage and billing data. Usually found in workplaces and some public charging locations.
Anyone with the relevant app can access these. You get detailed insight into your usage and billing and can look up details for charge points in your area. Only issues are that each network requires a different app and if you've got no phone signal it won't work! Usually found in workplaces and public charging locations.
- RFID card
Just tap your card to access the charge point. You don't need a signal and all your billing and usage data will appear in your account associated with the card. Again each network requires its own card and if you lose/forget your card, you might be in difficulty. Usually found in workplaces, public charging locations and rapid charging spots.
- Contactless bank card
Just tap your credit/debit card to start charging. No account required so you get instant access. The energy rate tends to be more expensive and you may be charged a transaction fee though. Found on rapid chargers.
For full details on each of the networks in the UK and how to access them, Zap Map has created a fantastic guide here.
It’s hugely frustrating that there is no single solution to access all charge points. And while network operators try to outmuscle one another and refuse to collaborate for the good of the system and its users, this problem may continue in the short term.
The elmo Option
As part of your subscription on elmo, we give you the option to be included on our Polar Plus account.
The Polar Plus Network is operated by BP Pulse and is the leading provider of public charging in the UK with over 8,000 charge points.
If you choose to include this membership in your subscription for just £10 per month, you’ll get:
- an RFID access card (delivered by post or with your car)
- unlimited free charging on their regular network (around half of their charge points).
- unlimited free charging on their paid network which includes rapid charge points (usually found on motorway routes) which normally cost 15p/kWh with a Polar Plus subscription (so about £4.50 for a full charge on a 30kWh Nissan Leaf)
- additional access to 2000+ points operated by Charge your Car which BP Pulse acquired in 2016.
The Future of Electric Car Charging
We have covered a lot of options available to us today, and there certainly are many convenient ways to charge your car, whether you are on the go or just at home. However, the most common pain point we come across is, that charging an EV isn't as convenient as fueling up a normal car.
While this may be true at the moment, there are plenty of innovations happening in the electric vehicle charging space, which pave the way for a future with comparable charging options.
To tackle the first pain point, an Israeli startup called StoreDot developed a lithium-ion battery, which can charge from 0% to 100% in 5 minutes! This is an astonishing development and it helps electric cars become stronger competitors to their petrol counterparts.
At the moment, EV charging stations usually come in the form of posts on the side of the road or designated parking spots at shopping centers. Well, EV charging stations, much like gas stations, aren't far away. GRIDSERVE has built an electric forecourt in Braintree. It has chargers of all different speeds, and plenty of amenities to keep you busy while you are waiting for your car to charge.
Charging an electric car is becoming more accessible, convenient, and quicker, which means switching to an electric car may not be as scary as you previously thought.