Electric Car Charging Guide

Electric Car Charging Guide

vw e-up! charge socket

The two biggest issues discussed by electric car owners and enthusiasts are the range and charging. Our guide to electric car charging will help explain the different charging speeds and chargers and the different types of connectors being used.

Electric car and vehicle chargers are defined by the power they produce in kW. There are 3 types of charger;

Type                        KW                             Speed

Rapid                      43, 50 or 120             80% charge in 30 minutes

Fast                         7 to 22                        100% in 3 to 4 hours

Slow                        up to 3                        100% in 6 to 8 hours

Rapid Chargers

rapid charging station

The rapid chargers are the quickest method of charging your vehicle. They are normally found at motorway services or specified locations near to main roads. The chargers supply high power and will normally give an 80% charge in 20 to 40 minutes. Power output is generally either 43 or 50kW, except for the Tesla network which has 120kW.

The chargers have tethered cables with one of 3 different types of cables (explained below) which are plugged into the vehicles charging socket.

Rapid charging can only be used on vehicles with rapid charging capability, which is becoming standard on most new electric cars.

All rapid charging stations are denoted by the orange symbol on our charge map.

Rapid DC

Rapid DC chargers use either the CHAdeMO or CCS charging standards and cables and provide power at up to 50kW (125A).

CHAdeMO socket and plug

CCS socket and plug

Both types of connectors are able to charge an electric car to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes. Once the battery is charged to this level the chargers output will drop to a slower rate to maximise charging levels and preserve the battery.

The chargers normally feature both connector types which cover the vehicles that are capable of being rapidly charged.

Rapid AC

Rapid AC chargers use a Type 2 charging standard and provide power at up to 43kW.

Type 2 socket and plug

Again rapid AC units are able to charge an electric car to 80% in 20-40 minutes. Once the battery is charged to this level the chargers output will drop to a slower rate to maximise charging levels and preserve the battery.

The AC rapid chargers have tethered cables that plug into the electric car.

Tesla Charging

Tesla Charger

tesla superchargerTesla has it’s own Supercharger network which are exclusive to Tesla cars. These Supercharger stations provide much higher powered chargers of 120kW for fast charging.

The cables are tethered like other rapid chargers and are a Tesla version of the Type 2.

Tesla owners can also buy CHAdeMO adapters so that they can use the 50kW DC Rapid chargers which are more common than the Tesla Superchargers in the UK.

The Tesla fast chargers provide 7, 11 or 22kW but can only be used by Tesla cars, normally with the Tesla type 2 lead sockets. Again the Tesla drivers will need to supply the cable.

Fast Chargers

Fast chargers are rated 7 or 22kW and are AC. A 7kW charger will normally charge your electric vehicle in 3 to 5 hours, a 22kW will take between 1 and 2 hours.

Fast chargers tend to be in public places, supermarkets, shopping centres, railway stations and on the  road parking bays.

type 1 connector

Type 1

The most common fast charger is a 7kW Type 2 (shown above), in addition, but less frequent there are Type 1 or Commando chargers.

commando connector

Commando

Nearly all fast chargers are untethered which means users will have to have suitable cables with them to charge their electric car. Most fast chargers have up to two sockets to enable them to charge two vehicles at the same time.

The charging speed is governed by the cars ability to handle the charge. Some cars are able to take a higher charge than others. The car will automatically work out the correct charge and draw down at that level.

All electric and hybrid vehicles in the UK will be covered by the fast charging points and cable standards.

Slow Chargers

Slow chargers are rated up to 3.6kW. Typically a full charge on a slow charger will take 6 to 8 hours.

Due to the lengthy charging times these tend to be home chargers, although they can be found at work places where an electric car is parked for most of the day. Overnight electric car charging at home can also be very cost effective, taking advantage of off-peak electricity parking. Newer electric cars can now be programmed to charge during these off peak hours.

Slow charging point standards vary but are typically Type 1 or Type 2 (shown above). Installation is normally organised when purchasing a car with the retailer who will ensure the right standard is used for your vehicle. Maximum power is dictated by the maximum amps available. A 16A circuit will allow the maximum 3.6kW, a 13A circuit less.

3 pin plug

Good old 3 pin plug 240w!

It is also possible to charge your electric car using a domestic standard 3 pin socket. However, due to the long charging times (much longer) and high levels of Ampere required it is not recommended. That said, it is a valid back-up and is still supplied as standard with most EVs.

Charging Networks

There are a few charging networks that electric car users can sign up to. These offer different payment schemes and charging points. The two largest networks are;

Conclusion

The charging network with UK and Europe continues to grow rapidly. Most new electric cars and vehicles now come with satellite navigation as standard which  show the charging points on it. Also make sure you check out our charge map when planning journeys.

Obviously it would be much easier if there was just one standard and one charging network, hopefully competition to be the biggest will drive expansion more quickly.

There are therefore a few different types of plugs/sockets available and your retailer will help you understand which is applicable to your electric car or hybrid vehicle.

The bottom line is, it is not too complicated and the charging network is growing quickly, just plan your journeys properly as running out of power could result in a flatbed lift to the nearest charge station!

We would love to include your expert feedback and opinion:

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