Electric car charging guide

Everything you wanted to know about electric car charging, but were afraid to ask...

Nissan Leaf charging

You can charge an electric car or plug-in hybrid through a mains three-pin socket, a specially fitted home wallbox, or at a public charging station on the road or at your destination.

Wallbox or home charger

If you own or lease an electric car, you can get a home wallbox charger installed. These come in either slow 3kW or faster 7kW and 22kW forms. For example, for the regular Nissan Leaf, the 3kW wallbox will give a full charge in six to eight hours, while the 7kW unit reduces the time to three to four hours.

Public chargers

There are currently about 37,000 public charging points in the UK, and this number is growing all the time. It is now a legal requirement for all large petrol stations and motorway services to provide charging points. They are usually fast or rapid chargers.

BMW i8 charging

A slow charger usually means a domestic three-pin plug, and would take more than 12 hours to fully charge an electric car. A fast charger, typically found at a workplace or public location, will take the ‘Type 2’ seven-pin plug attached to the charging cable in your car and will have an output of 3.6kW, 7kW, 11kW or 22kW. Depending on the charger’s power and what your car can accept, a charge will generally take between one and six hours.

Rapid chargers, also called quick chargers, will have a plug of their own that attaches to your car, and can charge in an hour or less. While lesser chargers all output AC electricity, most rapid chargers give DC.

AC rapid chargers have an output of 43kW, while the fastest DC chargers in the UK can dispense 350kW. Most, current electric cars are incapable of charging at that rate, though, so it's hardly surprising that 50kW-175kW chargers are far more common.

Tesla charging station with Model 3 21-plate

Tesla has a network of its own ‘Superchargers’. These are capable of dispensing up to 25okW, which is enough to get a Tesla Model 3 from 10-80% in around 25 minutes. Some Superchargers are now open to drivers of electric cars from other brands, although they pay more.

80% charge

You might wonder why manufacturers and the press often quote a charging time to 80%, rather than 100%. This is firstly because not fully charging each time extends the life of the battery, and secondly because the last 20% takes longer to complete relative to the first 80%.

Getting a charger installed

The average cost of installing a home wallbox charger is £1000. And the Government's electric vehicle homecharge scheme, which covered 75% of the purchase and installation cost of a home charging point up to a maximum of £350 has now been discontinued.

Nissan Leaf home charging

It was replaced by the EV chargepoint grant on 1 April 2022. This also provides funding of up to 75% (to a maximum of £350), but it focuses on tenants, flat-owner occupiers and landlords, rather than homeowners.

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