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What charging questions should you consider if you're thinking about getting an EV?

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2 February 2022

If you’re considering making the switch to an electric vehicle, you’re probably already thinking about how you’re going to charge it. While the public charging network in the UK is improving all the time, with thousands of charging points located at supermarkets, hotels, car parks and attractions, is it time- and cost-effective to rely on it?
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Man in showroom looking at an electric car

Should you rely on public charging points?

The short answer is no - not only does it cost more to charge an EV at public charging points than at home (especially if you’re using a rapid charger), but you may only be able to find charging points that are being used by other drivers, meaning you’d have to wait for them to become free.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at public charging points?

The cost of charging an EV at public charging points varies depending on the type of charger and which company operates it - it’s not prohibitive, but almost certainly more than it would cost to charge at home. Some electric car charging points cost nothing, while some require standard contactless payments but you may need to have an account or a special electric car charging card to use others. 

Public charging points will charge at a 7 kW rate, providing about 30 miles of range per hour of charge. For this reason, they’re probably best used to top up the car’s battery when you’re parked for an hour or two, rather than trying to get a full charge out of them. 

Additionally, you may have to bring your own cable as many public charging points are “untethered”, which means they don’t have a cable attached.

Which home charger should you get?

You should get the home charger that will perform to the highest standard with the car you’re planning to buy. 

This depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The car’s usable battery size

  • The type of connector it requires

  • The power of the charger - some go up to 22 kW though not many cars currently on the market can take that level of power

  • The car charging rate - the higher this is, the quicker the charge, but the charger’s charging rate has to match.

The table below shows some examples of electric cars and their home charging times.

Updated 2 February 2022
Total battery size/usable battery sizeMaximum car charging rateCharger typeCharging time (empty to full)
Honda e35.5 kWh/28.5 kWh6.6 kWType 25 hours 15 mins
Nissan Leaf40 kWh/37 kWh6.6 kWType 26 hours 45 mins
Renault Zoe ZE50 R13554.7 kWh/52 kWh22 kWType 23 hours
Tesla Model 360 kWh/57 kWh11 kWType 26 hours 15 mins
Porsche Taycan GTS93.4 kWh/83.7 kWh11 kWType 29 hours
Mercedes EQS 450+120 kWh/107.8 kWh11 kWType 211 hours 45 mins

Your dealer or the car’s manufacturer will be able to guide you towards the optimal choice.

Will your current energy tariff do the job?

You may want to switch to an EV-specific tariff rather than keeping your current electricity tariff. This is the most cost-effective way of charging your car at home.

EV tariffs usually offer a lower unit rate at night, similarly to domestic Economy 7 tariffs, with the rationale that car owners can charge overnight when they’re less likely to be away from home, and therefore pay less to do so. 

It’s also worth noting that most, if not all, of these electric car tariffs will require you to have a smart meter so the supplier can track your usage at different times of the day and charge you the right amount (i.e. less for the lower night-time hours). If you don’t (or can’t) have a smart meter, you probably won’t be able to take advantage of these EV charging tariffs.