Find out all about the various options for charging your electric car at home with our complete domestic charging guide. We’ll take you through all the relevant information, including costs, charge speeds and good home charging practice.
If you are charging from home, you will ideally be using your own dedicated home charging point. Though a standard 3-pin plug with an EVSE cable is a simple, easily available option, its slow ‘Mode 2’ rate of charge and design limitations makes it a poorer choice for general charging. As such, 3-pin charge cables (also referred to as an ‘in-line’, ‘portable’ or even ‘granny’ chargers) are often seen more as a failsafe or emergency option – great to have on standby. Of course, what 3-pin charging lacks in charge speed, it makes up for in affordability.
A home charging point, on the other hand, while expensive, gives electric vehicle drivers the advantage of a much faster charge rate (‘Mode 3’), with enhanced safety features built in.
Most drivers treat charging their electric vehicle the way they would their mobile phone – providing large charges overnight, and topping up charge as convenient or necessary throughout the day.
Despite its comparatively weaker performance, a 3-pin charging cable is a good backup option and an important piece of equipment. Just bear in mind they are not designed to withstand the required electric vehicle charging loads and are not as practical a long-term option.
How to charge my electric vehicle at home?
In order to charge your electric car at home, you should have a dedicated charging point or household 3-pin plug socket installed where your electric car is kept or most regularly parked.
Though more expensive initially, a dedicated domestic charging station is a great choice in the long run, offering much faster ‘Mode 3’ charging and built-in safety features.
Home charging points are compact, weatherproof units that are mounted to a wall and provide either their own tethered charging cable or a socket for charging with a separate, portable charging cable. Such home charging stations should be installed by qualified specialists.
All electric cars have either a Type 1 or Type 2 connector. Though the vast majority of modern electric vehicles have Type 2 connectors, it is still vital to ensure your choice of home charger is compatible with your vehicle before purchase. (If you are purchasing a charger cable through EV Wired, simply use our EV Cable Finder tool to find the right cable options for your particular vehicle.)
What is the cost of installing a dedicated home charging point?
Though costs vary from model to model, a typical home charge point costs in the region of £800. Though this may seem a lot, bear in mind that the UK government Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) currently offers grants to cover up to 75% of the costs of a new charge point (with a maximum contribution limit of £350).
As such, installing a home charge point can end up costing a lot less than you might think, with the average final cost being around £450, though potentially even lower. Factor in the long-term savings of switching from petrol to electric and this amount looks even more appealing.
After the initial cost of installation, owners will only have to pay for the electricity used charging their vehicle.
In order to decrease the price of home charging further, you could also consider switching to an ‘Economy 7’ energy plan. Where the general electricity rate in the UK is around 14p per kWh, Economy 7 plans provide electricity at a cheaper rate of around 8p per kWh during nighttime (when most domestic vehicle charging takes place).
Tip: In the long-term, charging an electric vehicle works out cheaper and more efficient than refuelling a petrol or diesel engine vehicle. Where petrol or diesel cars cost around 15p per mile, electric vehicles cost around 2-5p per mile, saving EV drivers up to £1000 a year!
How fast can I charge my electric car at home?
The speed at which your electric vehicle charges at home depends on several variables, such as your vehicle’s onboard charger and method of charging.
The charge rate for electric vehicles is measured in kilowatts (kW) (sometimes represented by kWh – i.e. a kW of power sustained for an hour).
The rate that a dedicated home charging point will charge your vehicle will be 3.7kW or 7kW, which works out at about 15-30 miles of range per hour spent charging. Charging via a universal 3-pin domestic plug will charge at 2.3kW, providing up to only 8 miles of range per hour).
Your vehicle’s onboard charger will limit the maximum charging speed to avoid damaging your vehicle/battery when using a charging point that provides a higher charge rate than your vehicle specifies. (When connecting a vehicle that allows up to 3.6kW to a 7kW charge point, for instance.)
Tip: Most homes use single phase power, which limits the rate of charging to 7kW. Though faster charging stations are available (offering charge rates as high as 22kW) the vast majority are in commercial properties with access to a three phase power supply – service stations, for instance. Find out more about single and three phase power using our EV Dictionary, here.
How do I install an electric charging point at home?
Having a dedicated electric charging point in your home is a terrific option, but one that requires professional installation. Thankfully, the purchase of a home charger will include free professional installation – if bought from a certified charging provider.
To install, the electric chargepoint will be mounted to a specified wall near to where you park (eg in the garage or by a driveway), and will be safely connected to the mains electricity supply of your home
Installation should generally only take around three hours from beginning to completion, though this depends on the unique requirements of the driver and the complexity of the individual installation.
You can book installations directly online, over the phone or in person at car dealerships – most providers will happily advise you through the process and your options for free.
Tip: Ensure that your installation takes place while you’re at home. This will guarantee that your chargepoint is installed in a location most convenient for you. On top of which, the professionals installing will most certainly be happy to show you how to use it and answer any other questions.
How often should I charge my electric vehicle at home?
Charging your vehicle at home can be done as often as necessary. EV drivers generally treat charging their vehicle the same as charging a mobile phone: charging fully overnight and topping up throughout the day as and when necessary/convenient. This is by no means essential, of course, but it is seen as typical, good practice for EV drivers to charge habitually. By plugging in to charge as often as possible, drivers give themselves more flexibility and allowance for long or unexpected journeys.
Not only is charging overnight good practical advice for EV drivers, but it also might be economically beneficial, too: if you decide to take advantage of cheap nighttime electricity tariffs (‘Economy 7’) your vehicle may cost as little 2-5p per mile to run.
By charging overnight, you’re also ensuring your vehicle’s battery is full every morning, ready for whatever the day throws your way. And, with a dedicated home chargepoint, you needn’t worry about unnecessary charging as once your car battery is full, charging will stop automatically.
Though most drivers habitually charge overnight at home, you should certainly look to supplement your vehicle’s charge with whatever charging facilities are available at your workplace or other public destinations you visit.
Tip: Most electric vehicles allow you to set a top charging limit. When charging, it is important to follow your specific car manufacturer’s advice on what that limit should be. For instance, some manufacturer’s advise charging only to 90% capacity to allow the battery management system to evenly rotate the charging of cells.
How do I optimise charging at home?
With more people charging their electric vehicles at home, smart home chargers are a great way of overcoming certain difficulties that come with the territory, such as measuring costs, choosing the right energy provider for you and managing the extra load on your domestic electricity supply.
It’s widely accepted that drivers powering electric vehicles saves money compared to those using fossil fuels to power petrol and diesel cars. It is worth remembering, however, that EV drivers’ home energy bills will rise in price as a result of home charging. Unlike fossil fuels, however, there are a number of ways to reduce electricity bills and save even more.
Smart home chargers are one such option: they are used to monitor energy use in the home and from your electric vehicle so that you can better understand the cost per kWh of charging your particular vehicle. This is a great way of determining whether you might benefit from switching to a different, cheaper energy plan, such as an Economy 7 plan (which reduces rates at night).
A huge incentive for driving an electric car is the benefit these vehicles have on the environment compared to combustion engine vehicles. If you’re looking for ways to go even greener, there are also an increasing amount of renewable energy options for charging your eco-friendly vehicle.
More and more of the UK grid’s energy is generated by various forms of renewable energy, such as wind power, and recent years has seen the emergence of a number of more environmentally sound energy providers. If you’re looking to do your best for the environment, consider switching to a renewable energy provider and making your electric vehicle that much greener.
How do I manage the load on my household energy supply?
You should remind yourself that charging your electric vehicle at home will place an additional load on your domestic electrical supply. Bear in mind that, depending on your vehicle and charegpoint’s maximum rate of charge, without proper consideration and preventative measures put in place, this additional strain can damage your main fuse.
Thankfully, smart home chargers provide a simple method for preventing overloading your main fuse. Smart home chargers automatically balance the power that your chargepoint draws with the rest of your household usage: this eliminates the risk of total demand exceeding your home’s maximum supply.
If you really wanted to make the most of home charging, this smart home charger feature would even allow you safely to have more than one chargepoint installed, in case your household has two electric vehicles that require simultaneous charging.
Managing load on the grid
With electric vehicles becoming more popular and demand forecast to increase, so too will demand for power on the national grid. As lots of drivers tend to put their vehicle to charge after arriving home from work, demand peaks around 20.00. If such peaks go unmanaged, demand spikes may put too much strain on local networks.
Though it might seem there’s little you can do to help, a smart home charger is able to anticipate and react to peaks and lulls in activity and manage your charge rate (and thousands of others’) accordingly to balance out energy usage evenly. And the good news is this balancing act is barely noticeable for individual drivers (whose vehicles are estimated as only actually using their chargers 25% of the time they’re plugged in overnight). And the end result is that every vehicle receives a full charge (over a slightly longer time) while the grid remains protected.