In a nutshell
Electric and plug-in hybrid car and van drivers can charge their vehicles:
- at home, using a standard domestic 240V 3-pin mains socket, or more quickly with a special wall charger
- publicly, either for free or for a fee
Charging using a normal mains socket
This is the slowest recharging method, typically adding around 4 miles to the electric range for every hour plugged in. Manufacturers usually provide a standard charging cable with the car. If you don’t have a garage but happen to have a cat-flap, it can come in very handy for running the cable from the car into your home.
How long do certain EVs and PHEVs take to recharge?
- Nissan LEAF (EV): 12-15 hours
- Kia Soul (EV): 11-14 hours
- Volvo V60 (PHEV): 3.5-7.5 hours
- Mitsubishi Outlander (PHEV): 5 hours
The variations in charging time for each model depend on the amperage (amps) of your home’s electricity, 16A charging faster than 6A.
Standard domestic charging technology is improving rapidly, though, examples including:
- BMW 330e: fully charged in 2.5 hours
- Mercedes C350e: 2 hours
Wall boxes mean faster charging
Some electric cars and PHEVs can be connected to special wall-mounted boxes installed in homes and other premises. Officially dubbed Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) they are commonly referred to as ‘home charging stations’ or ‘wall chargers’ and top up the battery more quickly, boosting the electric range of a BMW i3, for example, by around 25 miles per hour of charging.
Manufacturers’ wall boxes/rapid home charge points
Faster electric and plug-in car domestic chargers can be purchased from the respective manufacturers, such as:
- BMW: i Wallbox Pure (from £560)/ i Wallbox Pro (from £1,300)
- Renault: Home Wall Box (varies – currently free to retail customers)
- NISSAN (via POD Point): around £400
Third party wall boxes/rapid chargers
British Gas formerly ran some fantastic promotions on discounted electric vehicle charging points for residential properties but they have now ceased. Plenty of other companies regularly spring up providing wall boxes, though, such as POD Point and Charge Master, who charge around £395 for a complete installation package thanks to the £500 OLEV grant available from the government.
Four primary types of electric vehicle charging points currently exist, colour-coded into:
- slow (yellow): upto 3kW / 6-8 hours charging
- fast (blue): 7-22kW / 3-4 hours charging
- rapid AC (green): 43-50kW / 80% battery top-up in around half an hour
- rapid DC (purple): same as AC
An annual POD Point subscription costs £12.50 whilst Polar’s Charge Master Network charge £20.
Identifying the correct charging cable
To help electric and PHEV drivers in this regard, the website evconnectors.com provides a model search facility and loads of other information on electric car motoring. They’ve teamed up with Zap Map, whose website lets you search the UK for charging points, and between them offer great resources for EV owners. carwow has also recently launched an interactive electric car charging point finder tool to help EV and hybrid car owners find the nearest electric vehicle charging stations.
Motorway service station chargers are commonly provided by ecotricity’s Electric Highway. You need to register with them to receive a swipe card and charging is currently free, although it seems they may soon begin to charge a fee. They’ve published an excellent section on electric vehicle driver etiquette.
Charging at IKEA, NCP & Sainsbury’s
Working with partners such as Nissan and the aforementioned ecotricity, businesses such as IKEA, NCP car parks, Sainsbury’s supermarkets and others are increasingly providing electric vehicle charging points, which are often free to use by registered motorists.
The Tesla Model S electric car has the longest battery range of any electric car currently on the market, able to travel well over 250 miles from a full battery charge depending on the driving style and certain other factors like climate control and other electrical system usage. What’s more, the Tesla Model S’s battery can be recharged from empty to almost full again in under 90 minutes, if one of Tesla’s dedicated superchargers is used. You can locate the nearest Tesla supercharger using their handy map. Our nearest supercharger is in Stretton just outside Warrington alongside the M56 motorway.
How much does charging cost?
It varies depending on where you charge and on your home electricity supply’s configuration, but some examples (quoted from manufacturersand not necessarily representing real-life costs) are:
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: £0.98p for a full charge
- Renault ZOE: around £3 on an overnight electricity tariff
- BMW i3: also estimated to cost around £3 if plugged in overnight