1. How, why, and when… Charging an EV at home?
As the UK increases electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure, more people than ever before are getting rid of their old petrol and diesel guzzler and switching it out for an EV. With the sale of new ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles being banned by 2030, it’s becoming easier than ever before to make the switch. Though you may find it daunting at first, and wonder how EV charging works. Fortunately, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions, such as: What equipment do I need? Can I charge my electric vehicle at home when it’s raining? What are the charging levels?
Finding out the answers to these questions is becoming more crucial every day. In this guide we will equip you with all of the basics you need to know, helping you transition from petrol or diesel to electric with confidence and clarity.
2. What are the advantages of electric car charging at home?
3. What equipment do I need when charging an EV at home?
While you can use a regular 3 pin connector from your home plug socket to your EV, this almost always results in a low power rating of around 2-3 kW. At this rating, you are really going to struggle to charge most EVs within a 24-hour period. At 2 kW it would take over 40 hours to fully charge an 80-kWh car battery!
A much more enhanced alternative would be to install a wall box. They come in many varieties depending on: your budget, how fast you want to charge your EV, and the maximum power rating of your car. Some electric vehicles – especially older models, contain maximum charge rates lower than most modern fast-charging solutions. The Mk1 Nissan Leaf for example, has a maximum charge rate of 6.6 kW. This means that even if you plug in a three phase 22 kW charger, the maximum received will be 22kW.
4. What are charging levels, and how do they differ?
There are currently 3 commonly classified levels of electric vehicle charging for home use.
Mode 2, which is generally rated at 120-Volts is available to all EVs as standard. This is by far the slowest method of charging at around 3 kW, equating to around 3-5 charged miles per hour using a standard 3-pin home connector. This charger is generally unsuitable for anything other than the smallest capacity EVs, as charging a midrange sized battery could take over 24 hours, making it impractical for daily use.
Mode 3 is by far the most commonly used for EV charging on a home charging point, rated at 208-240 Volts and delivering between 7kW and 22kW of power. This results in 12-80 charged miles per hour, resulting in most EVs being fully charged overnight from an entirely flat battery.
Mode 4 is generally reserved for specialist public locations, as it’s incredibly expensive to operate and install, in some cases costing tens of thousands of pounds. They are rated at 400-900 Volts and deliver anywhere from 22 kW to as much as 350 kW. These chargers are known as “superchargers” for good reason, some even charge at an impressive rate of 20 miles per minute!
5. What is the difference between untethered vs tethered charging?
Depending on the wall box you install, you may have a choice between a “tethered” point and an “untethered” point. It is important for you to have an understanding of both, when deciding which you’d prefer, as both have their pros and cons.
A tethered charger has a charging cable and plug that are permanently connected to your wallbox. The cable will have a specific length and socket type.
Alternatively, an untethered charger will require a separate EV charging cable with connectors at each end, one for your vehicle, and the other for your charging box. One advantage over a tethered connection, is that when you buy a new EV and require a longer cable – or different charging interface, you can easily upgrade, rather than dealing with the inconvenience of replacing an entire wall box.
6. How do I install EV charging equipment?
Installing a charging point at home is a highly technical electrical procedure, which should only be carried out by a licensed technician. Trying to install a wall box charger yourself isn’t just dangerous, but it can also lead to warranty being voided not only on your charger, but on your EV, and even possibly on your home – should the installation cause damage. There are plenty of great-value chargers and technicians ready to connect you, as well as help available from the government.
7. What property do I need?
To effectively charge an EV at home you will need access to off-street parking, such as: a driveway, garage, or a parking space provided with a charging point – if you live in an apartment. Unfortunately, without access to off-road parking, you would need to find external sources for charging your car. If you are fortunate, some workplaces are currently starting to offer free park while you work charging spaces. The government have also introduced a Workplace Charging Scheme to help businesses with setup costs, you can find more information about this here.
Where possible, it’s better to plan ahead when charging your EV, if home charging is not an option.
8. What grants and help is available to save money?
Alongside the Government’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions and encourage drivers to switch to EVs, they are also offering financial incentives through the OZEV (Office of Zero Emissions Vehicles) department. Buying a new EV will qualify you for a grant that covers 75% of the cost and installation of a wallbox, up to £350. This is limited to 2 EVs per property however, but it is still a great incentive to help you save money.
9. When should I charge my car and why does it matter?
Around 80% of all EV charging takes place at home. It’s not only convenient but it can save you a lot of money if you do it right. When you have finished driving for the day, plug in your EV so it’s ready to charge overnight, and you’ll wake up to a fully charged battery. If you have a smart charger installed, you can set your car to only charge between certain hours of the day – using reduced energy tariffs that some providers offer. This can save you upwards of 50% on your recharging costs and drastically lower your cost per mile.
10. Are there any times I should not charge my car?
You should try to avoid charging during peak hours, especially if you are on a variable rate tariff, as peak hours can potentially double your charged cost per mile. Amazingly, studies published by the Energy Policy journal have uncovered that a cold ambient temperature can also reduce charging efficiencies by almost half, resulting in a much longer charge time, and thus, a more expensive cost per mile. If you are on a variable tariff, it’s much better to ensure you are charging your car in a warm garage at night, and not outside during peak times in the middle of a blizzard, as you could potentially end up paying four times your average charging rate.
While modern electric car charging at home has become extremely safe – allowing you to charge in rain, wind, snow and dust-storm, there are however some risks, mainly relating to the charging equipment itself. It is important to always check that the charging equipment you buy is safety certified. A general rule of thumb is to check if the charger you are looking to buy is covered by the OZEV grant. All OZEV covered chargers are required to pass the full safety standards. You can check this on the government website here.
Charging your EV at home is easy and convenient, saving you time, money, and peace of mind. As long as you buy the right charging equipment for your needs, and understand what help is available to you, you should have no problem in maintaining a smooth and efficient charging solution – with whatever electric vehicle you drive. As technology develops, and new enhanced solutions become available, charging from home will become even faster, easier, and cheaper. When you can wake up to a full battery every day, all at the cost of 1 penny per mile, why wouldn’t you?
Are you ready to join the EV revolution?