The Lowdown on EV Charging in the UK
Fully-electric vehicles have enjoyed a surge in interest in recent years, as major global manufacturers have turned their attention to the creation of EVs over petrol, diesel and hybrid; global sales have surged by 43% despite the coronavirus pandemic, and are only set to increase further. The UK’s infrastructure is racing to catch up, with EV chargepoints being installed at breakneck pace. Here is the lowdown on EV charging in the UK.
EV Charging Explained
Fully-electric vehicles do not use petrol at all, deriving all of their energy from electricity stored in on-board battery packs. These battery packs can be charged in two principal ways – using an outlet or charging point at home, or making use of an external chargepoint at any number of locations in the UK, including parking garages, petrol stations and service stations. It is possible to charge your car using a standard 3-prong home electricity outlet, though the speed at which your car will charge can be slow – meaning you should only rely on them for overnight charges. You can have Type 2 chargepoints installed at your home, enabling you to take advantage of greater charging capacity in the larger 9-prong plug standard.
EV chargepoints have three types: slow, fast and rapid. The difference lies in the speed and volume at which each are able to deliver charge, with slow chargepoints cheaper than the other two but taking significantly longer to reach full battery. Rapid chargepoints were pioneered by Tesla, and can operate at up to 120kW – 40 times greater than slow chargepoints – promising to charge Teslas and other EVs that can handle rapid charging up to 80% capacity within half an hour.
EV Charging Tips
While rapid charging points at petrol or service stations may be relatively fast and convenient, they can still leave you stranded for longer than if you were simply topping up on petrol. It can also be more expensive than charging at home, as premium prices are placed on the electricity you’re tapping. For the most efficient and economical way to charge up your EV, organise the installation of a home chargepoint – allowing you to make use of the Type 2’s faster charging, and to charge your vehicle without draping a 3-prong plug through a window into your home. While you’re at it, look at renegotiating your home energy tariff; getting an Economy 7 meter installed, in tandem with a new dual tariff, can get you charging your EV overnight for a greatly discounted energy cost in comparison to commercial charging solutions.
Planning a Journey with an EV
Of course, for long journeys or extended trips, you may not be able to avoid the use of an external chargepoint – which is why it pays to plan ahead. Firstly, if you’re about to embark on a long journey and your EV is over 3 years from new, consider booking in for an MOT online; EVs still need to be MOT’d despite their lack of combustion engine, and an MOT will highlight any potential issues ahead of setting off.
In terms of the journey itself, it pays to be aware of chargepoints on or around your initial route; apps such as ZapMap make it incredibly easy to track the UK’s 10,000 plus chargepoints installed by BP and InstaVolt, and plan your journey with prospective charges in mind. Meanwhile, Tesla has developed proprietary software which allows Tesla drivers to create route-maps, taking into consideration the rapid-charging Supercharger points available to Teslas.