Everything you need to know about electric vehicle charging

One of the biggest worries about getting an electric vehicle is not being able to charge it. Here’s everything you need to know to change your mind.

Disclaimer: The information on this page was last updated on 23/12/2022, 13:11:37

In an environmentally-conscious world, more and more people are turning to electric vehicles to decrease their carbon footprint. However, the main problem people have with electric cars is how, where, and when to charge them. We’ve got the answers and busted all the myths for you now. As always, we’ve got you covered.

Where can I charge my electric vehicle?

There are now over 35,000 electric vehicle charging points across the UK, so you’re absolutely spoilt for choice! With charging points in over 13,000 locations, there are now more public places to charge your car than there are petrol stations.

The most common places to find public electric car charging points are supermarkets, service stations, public car parks, and hotels. Unfortunately, public charging points often have time limits or charges, so one of the best places to charge is at home!

Find your closest charging point

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The time it takes to charge an electric car depends on a number of factors.

There are 5 main factors that will affect the speed at which your vehicle charges:

  • Its battery size
  • The current amount of charge
  • The maximum charging rate of the vehicle
  • The maximum charging rate of the charger
  • Environmental factors eg. the weather, temperature etc

Just like with phone chargers, there are different types of electric vehicle chargers and not every electric car is compatible with all of the different chargers, however, most vehicles can charge at their maximum charging rate when plugged into a charger with a higher charging rate. For example, if your vehicle has a maximum charge rate of 7kW, this will charge at 7kW whether it’s plugged into a 7kW or 22kW charger.

There are 3 main types that your car could be compatible with: slow charge, fast charge, and rapid charge.

Charge speed Time to fully charge Found at...
Slow charge (3.7kW) 12 hours Home charging points
Fast charge (7kW) 6 hours Most charging points
Fast charge (22kW) 4 hours Public charging points
Rapid charge (43-50kW) 1 hour Service stations and some designated charging hubs
Rapid charge (150kW) 30 minutes Service stations and a few designated charging hubs

(These are average times based on a number of different fully electric vehicles in ideal charging conditions)

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

How much electric vehicle charging costs also depends on a number of factors including where you charge, how much you need to charge, and the size of your car’s battery.

You can easily work out how much it’s costing you to charge your electric car at home, as long as you know your electricity tariff prices (you can find this on your energy bill) and car battery size.

All you have to do is use this simple formula:

(Tariff price per kWh) x (battery size in kWh)

For example, if your electricity costs 15p per kWh and your car battery is 100kW, we can work this out as 0.15 x 100 = £15. This means that your car would cost £15 to charge from empty to full.

If you’re charging at a public charging point, while some may be free, some may also be more expensive. Many charging stations charge per kWh and others charge per minute so make sure you check before you plug in.

Charging points at supermarkets tend to cost around 25p per kWh, while service stations can be more expensive.

A lot of workplaces offer free charging as an incentive to switch to an electric car but some will charge after a certain amount of time to encourage sharing the charging points.

Can someone unplug my car while it’s charging?

Most of the time, no.

When an electric vehicle starts charging, the cable connected to your vehicle is locked in place which prevents random people from unplugging your car. The end of the cable connected to the charging point also locks and can only be unlocked by the person who started the charge or the charge point owner. Sometimes these cables unlock once the car is finished charging but most unlock only when the car is unlocked.

However, some cars don’t have this automatic locking system. You can still set it as an option on most electric cars or have an alarm to go off if someone unplugs it when they shouldn’t.

Most people won’t unplug someone else’s car unless they’re absolutely sure the other car is fully charged or it’s an emergency, however, if you’re happy for someone to or don’t have enough battery to let them, you can get signs to put on your car to let people know.

How far can I go on a single charge?

How far you can go depends entirely on the type of car you have. Generally, the more you spend on your electric car, the further you can go while the faster you drive, the fewer miles you can travel.

Here are some approximate ranges for some of the most popular electric cars:

  • Nissan Leaf e+ – 239 miles
  • Kia e Niro – 281 miles
  • Honda e – 125 miles
  • BMW i3 120Ah – 182 miles
  • Tesla Model 3 LR – 348 miles
  • Vauxhall Corsa e – 209 miles

What happens if the battery dies and you can’t get to a charging point?

Just like with petrol and diesel cars, your vehicle will show you how many miles you have left before you run out of fuel. If you keep an eye on this, you shouldn’t run out mid-drive, but if you do, how do you get back on the road?

If you have help available, you can still jump-start an electric car. Electric vehicles have two batteries in them: one lithium-ion battery and one 12v lead-acid battery. You can jump-start the car using the 12v battery as this is the battery used to charge the lithium-ion battery. You can normally find it in the boot or the passenger side and can jump-start just as you would a petrol or diesel car.

If you have an electric vehicle, you should carry a spare battery pack with you in case of emergencies like this. These are essentially portable charging points and some can power your car for up to 350 miles. They charge extremely quickly but should only be used in these situations.

If you don’t have access to either of these, you should call roadside assistance who can get you to the closest charging point.

It’s important to note that electric vehicles should not be towed with a rope or a lift as this can damage the traction motors that generate electricity through breaking. If you need towing, you should ask for a truck with a flatbed.

How to install an electric vehicle charging point at home

Most people tend to charge their electric vehicles overnight as it’s more convenient and keeps your vehicle topped up whenever possible. But to do this effectively, you’ll want a home EV charger.

In order to install a home EV charger, you’ll have to make an application with your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). They’re the company that can get you connected to the grid. You can normally submit your application by setting up an online account but you can also contact your DNO directly by email or telephone for help and advice.

The cost of installing your charger varies depending on the size and location of your charger, however, you can expect to pay around £1,000 for the installation and connection to the grid.

Find out who you need to contact and how using the link below.

Who's your DNO?

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