Frequently asked questions

Browse through the most recently asked questions.

OUR WEBSITE PRICES ARE A GUIDE

The prices on our website are a rough guide to help you choose a product that best suits your budget. This is the minimum cost for any installation, but your final quote will depend on a number of factors including:

  1. Cable length - how much extra cable is required to connect your charger to the mains.
  2. Extra equipment - some installations require extra protective equipment such as a Type A RCBO and/or earth rod.
  3. Complexity - depending on the cable route and other factors, our in-house technicians will assess how much time and labour is required to complete the installation.

Every installation and quote is different, which is why we ask you to complete an Online Site Survey so we can give you an accurate and honest quote for your own home installation. 

As mentioned above, the prices on the website are a rough guide only and you will need to complete an Online Site Survey to get an accurate quote for your home installation. The prices on the website include:

  1.  The charger (not including delivery)
  2.  Our Basic Installation Package - this is the minimum cost for any installation, but yours could be more
  1. To get started, click "Request A Quote" on your preferred charger
  2. Fill in the short form. 
  3. We will email and text you a link to your guided Online Site Survey
  4. Follow the instructions and take the photos requested
  5. Once we have all the details required, we will email you an honest and accurate quote.

Most daily commutes are under 30 miles, which is comfortably within the range of most electric cars. In addition, most EV drivers charge their car overnight so they wake up to full range every morning.

Despite the low number of miles most people drive each day, many newer electric vehicles can offer driving ranges of more than 200 miles. For example, the Kia e-Niro offers more than 300 miles.

Electric vehicles do carry a higher price tag compared to their petrol or diesel equivalents, although experts believe EVs will reach price parity in the early to mid 2020s. 

Prices for a new electric car typically start at £20,000 although there are plenty of attractive PCP and lease offers. Many owners find the much lower running costs help offset the initial outlay. However, if you are not in the market for a brand new car, then there are still many used electric vehicles available. Try a specialist retailer such as Drive Green or search Auto Trader.

The Government also offers a £3,500 contribution towards the cost of an eligible electric vehicle through the Plug-In Car Grant.

Maintenance and running costs for electric vehicles are much lower than a petrol or disel equivalent. The cost to charge an EV is cheaper than filling a car with fuel, but they also have fewer moving parts which means lower servicing costs and not as many things to wear or fail. 

For instance, electric cars do not need oil or filter changes and the regenerative braking system on EVs mean that the brakes wear much more slowly too. 

Insurance costs tend to be slightly higher for electric cars, although there are EV-specific plans available.

The Government offers The Plug-in Car Grant amounting to 35% of the purchase price (up to a maximum of £3,500) on brand-new low emission, plug-in vehicles. There is no need to do anything to claim this (the dealer just deducts it from the price). Vehicles which qualify will have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can drive at least 70 miles (112km) without any emissions at all.

Electric and hybrid vehicles which are not eligible are listed as Category 2 and Category 3 cars. Category 2 electric cars have a range of at least 10 miles (16 km) and Category 3 cars have CO2 emissions of more than 50g/km.

The number of electric car charge points in the UK is rapidly increasing. In fact, the number of EV charging locations outnumbers the number of fuel stations with more than 9,300 electric vehicle charging locations and more than 21,000 charge points. However, charging your EV at home is by far the most convenient method of keeping your range topped up, with 70% of UK car drivers able to charge at home with off street parking.

Charging at Home:

Charging at Home is the most convenient and cost-effective way of charging your electric car. Click here to see our selection of EV home chargers.

Charging at work: 

Many employers are taking advantage of the OLEV Work Place Charging Scheme and installing EV charging points as a staff benefit and to aid the uptake of EV's / plug-in hybrids.

Charging at public locations: 

Public charge points at supermarkets such as Tesco and Lidl are often free to use for customers for the duration of your stay. Some EV / plug-in hybrid models have built in maps, which allow you to find the nearest compatible public charging point. There are also companies such as Zap-Map, which will guide you to the right location in order to charge your EV / plug-in hybrid.

Rapid charging your EV / plug-in hybrid: 

Rapid charging points, which can be found at locations such as service stations, are rapidly increasing throughout the UK. Rapid charging is generally more expensive and is used by drivers on longer journeys.

It's possible to charge your electric car with the 3-pin plug charger cable supplied with the vehicle, but it's slow and offers fewer options than a dedicated home charge point. Some of the most common reasons our customers choose to have a fit-for-purpose charge point installed included:

Safety

Charging an electric car requires a high and consistent electric current over a long period of time. It is generally considered that a standard electrical socket is not suitable for such a prolonged period of use and overheating of the socket may occur.

Speed of charge

A 2.3kW 3-pin plug typically takes more than 20 hours to fully charge an EV, while a typical 7.4kW wallbox home charging device will comfortably charge the average electric vehicle overnight (usually within eight hours). You can see typical rates of charge here or check the charging time for each vehicle.

Convenience

One of the criticisms levelled at electric cars is the amount of time they can take to charge. However, most EV owners charge overnight with a dedicated wall-mounted device, which means they wake up to a fully charged vehicle every morning. Think about it more like your smartphone - rather than waiting for the battery to run empty before you charge, it is charged regularly and usually when you're not using it. Electric vehicles are used in a similar way.

In fact, you will save time because you will no longer need to drive to a petrol station, (potentially) queue for a pump, fill it up and pay - an EV is ready for you every morning.

Plug-in EVs are the future

There is no doubt that plug-in electric vehicles are the future of motoring in the UK. By starting the process of installing an EV charge point today, you will be able to enjoy faster, safer charging now and for your inevitable future electric car.

Generally speaking, the higher the power output of the charger, the faster the car will charge – for example, a typical wall-mounted charger for the home is about three times faster than a three-pin plug and will charge the car from 0-80% in anything from five to 10 hours depending on the vehicle.

But charging times vary depending on conditions, the current battery level of the car and the vehicle itself. Check out our vehicle pages to see estimated charging times for a range of EVs.

Yes, but not by much and you will still save money compared to the cost of fuel. In addition, there are a number of specialist electric car energy tariffs which can save you even more money. 

You can see more information about charging costs and example energy tarrifs in this cost guide.

Fast charging refers to any vehicles or chargers that are capable of charging from 7kW to 22kW. They can charge the typical Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) in around eight hours, depending on the size of the battery. While the 22kW fast chargers are quicker, they are require a 3-phase connection which are not usually found in the average domestic property.

Our domestic fast chargers include those which provide power from 7kW to 22kW, which can fully charge an EV in as little as four hours but this does depends on the battery size of the vehicle. To check how fast your EV will charge, visit our vehicles page and select a model.

Rapid charging refers to vehicles or chargers that are capable of charging from 43kW to 150kW. They are not available in domestic properties and are usually located at service stations, cities, and supermarkets, although rapid chargers at fuel stations are expected to become commonplace.

There are two types – AC or DC [Alternating or Direct Current]. Current Rapid AC chargers are rated at 43 kW, while most Rapid DC units are at least 50kW. Both will charge the majority of EVs to 80% in around 30-60 minutes (depending on battery capacity). However, 120kW and 150kW rapid charging units are becoming more common too.

Tesla Superchargers are also Rapid DC and charge at around 120kW but these are only available for Tesla vehicles and owners. Rapid AC devices use a tethered Type 2 connector, and Rapid DC chargers are fitted with a CCS, CHAdeMO or Tesla Type 2 connections.

For charging at home, Type 1 and Type 2 are the most commonly used connections between the charger and the vehicle. The charging type you will need will be determined by your EV. Type 1 connectors are currently favoured by the Asian car manufacturers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi, while most American and European manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Renault, Mercedes, VW and Volvo, use Type 2 connectors. Type 2 is rapidly becoming the most popular charging connection, though.

Type 1 connectors have a five-pin plug and Type 2 connectors have a seven-pin plug.

 

A socket-only charger means there is no charging lead included/attached. This means you can use both Type 1 and Type 2 connection leads, but you will need to purchase these leads separately if they did not come with the vehicle. These types of chargers are described as untethered and sometimes as a 'Universal' charger. Some people prefer the flexibility an untethered charger offers, while other like the convenience of the cable already being attached when they get home.

When considering which length of lead you choose for your tethered unit, you must consider where you want to park your EV / plug-in hybrid car, when charging. Some considerations may include:

  • The location of the charging port on your car – is it on the front or rear, left or right-hand side of your EV / plug-in hybrid?
  • Do you park on your driveway forwards or reverse on? 
  • Will the length of the lead restrict where you park your EV / plug-in hybrid?
  • Will the charging lead cross a path or create a tripping hazard? 

At Smart Home Charge we offer remote video surveys to help you understand what length of charger best suits your needs.

The UK Government is leading the way to ensure that EV charging points are Smart. As per the government definitions published on 14 December 2018, this means charge points must be able to be remotely accessed, and capable of receiving, interpreting and reacting to a signal.

Smart EV charging can also reduce high peaks of electricity demands, minimising the cost of electric vehicles to the electricity system – and keeping costs down for consumers by encouraging off-peak charging.

All government funded home charge points for EV's must use innovative ‘Smart’ technology from July 2019, fulfilling the commitment in the Road to Zero Strategy published earlier this year.

Here at Smart Home Charge we are committed and specialise in Smart Home Charger installations and believe in providing the best future proofed charging solutions on the market.

We all know how annoying it is being left in the dark as to when an engineer will arrive at your home. 

That is why we have created a clever feature so you can track your engineer’s exact location. 

On the morning of the install you will receive a text link which will enable you to see on your phone, in real time, where your engineer is in relation to your home.

If you need to nip out to the shop, complete a school run, or if our engineer is slightly delayed in traffic, you will know exactly the status of our arrival time.

Up to now, specialist installers in the Electric Car Charging industry have created their own guidelines as to what constitutes a standard installation. We have purposely structured our standard installation package similarly so that you can easily compare our prices. Please note, our website prices are a guide only and you will need to Request A Quote to get an accurate price for your EV charger home installation.

Our Basic Installation includes:

  • The fitting of the selected charge point on a brick or plaster wall (or other suitable permanent structure).
  • Routing of the cable through a drilled hole in a wall up to 500mm (20 inches) thick (where needed).
  • Up to 10m of Hi-Tuff cabling, run and neatly clipped to the wall between the distribution board and the EV charge point up to a height of 1.8m.
  • All electrical connections at the origin of the supply and EV charge point.
  • Installation of a Type C MCB.
  • Up to 3m (10 feet) of plastic conduit or trunking to conceal the interior wiring.
  • Electrical testing and the NICEIC certification.
  • Demonstration of the EV charge point functions and mobile phone App (if applicable).

Not included in a Basic Installation:

  • An earth rod in soft ground (some types of installation require an earth electrode to be fitted to comply with the new wiring regulations BS7671 - introduced in January 2019).
  • Type A RCBO and Enclosure.
  • Lifting and/or replacement of carpets and floor boards.
  • Additional metal clad consumer board 
  • Installing cabling in roof and ceiling voids without a draw cord being installed.
  • Trenching or civil works for the installation of cabling.

Limitations to installation:

  • Entering restricted areas such as ceilings or roof voids, if deemed unsafe to do so.
  • Working in adverse weather conditions such as heavy persistent rain.
  • Installing the cable above 1.8m or suspended between buildings via a catenary system.
  • Installing a charge point where it may become damaged by passing vehicles and general usage of the property.
  • The charge point must be installed in a location that does not allow the lead to be run off the properties boundary or create a tripping hazard.
  • A responsible adult over the age of 18 or home owner will be required to be at the property for the duration of the works and commission of the charge point.

Installation warranty:

  • All installation works and electrical materials supplied are guaranteed for a period of 12 months (T&C’s apply).

The UK has an extensive network of public charging locations, which now outnumber the number of fuel stations with more than 22,000 places to fast or rapid charge. It's fair to say the network still needs to grow and improve, but with large companies like Shell and BP pledging to install chargers at their petrol station forecourts, the infrastructure is constantly being updated.

To find public chargers near you, or on your route, try using Zap Map - this is a useful tool and app to show the location of chargers, their speed, availability and if they are operational or not.

Most manufacturers will guarantee the battery for eight years or 100,000 miles – more than enough for most people – and there are plenty of high mileage examples, such as the Tesla Model S which has been available since 2012.

Any car incurs some sort of carbon and environmental cost during the manufacturing process. This will vary and depend on the manufacturer, of course, and many are investing in more sustainable methods of production. Many manufacturers, such as Tesla, will also help recycle a car battery at the end of its life or give it a new function as an energy storage device.

Once the car is on the road, though, electric vehicles are far more better for air quality and the environment. Around 40% of the UK’s energy is produced by renewable resources and the country is on target to stop producing power from coal plants by 2025.

While electric cars are already more sustainable and better for air quality compared to petrol or diesel, they will actually become progressively cleaner as the country shifts towards renewable energy sources, whereas a traditional internal combustion engine car cannot do this once it rolls of the production line.

Even if the electricity to power EVs were from “dirty” sources, it is still a far more efficient and environmentally friendly way of moving a vehicle from A to B. Beyond that, the zero emissions from the vehicle itself is a big positive for air quality in our towns and cities.

We could write a hefty article (and now we have! Click here to read our in-depth article on the topic) about the differences between these types of vehicles but here’s an abbreviated answer:

Electric Vehicles

Also known as an EV, electric vehicles use an electric motor powered by a battery (usually located at the bottom of the vehicle’s chassis). Due to having a battery rather than a fuel tank, EVs need recharging either via a home or public charge point. 

Hybrid vehicles

Like the name suggests, hybrid vehicles combine the use of an electric motor with a traditional combustion engine (i.e. petrol or diesel engines). Regular hybrids can run on electric power alone at low speeds before the petrol or diesel engine takes over. In many situations, the engine and motor work in tandem to improve efficiency (and your MPG) and reduce emissions. The batteries in regular hybrids are charged by the combustion engine, so they do not require plugging in like fully electric cars do. Hybrids do, however, need re-fuelling in the same manner as a regular petrol/diesel vehicle.

Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

Plug-In Hybrids (also known as a PHEV) are similar to regular hybrids in the way they combine the use of a petrol engine with an electric motor and battery. The difference, however, is that a PHEV has a larger battery than a typical hybrid and can run on electric power alone for much longer and at higher speeds. As the name suggests, Plug-In Hybrids can be plugged in to charge the battery which can help to increase the amount of time spent driving on electric power alone and therefore reduce your running costs - but they can also operate as a conventional hybrid too without needing to be plugged in. Plug-in Hybrids are an excellent choice for someone who's interested in electric vehicles but not ready to make the full switch. PHEV’s require charging using a home or public charge point in order to drive emissions-free. 

Like petrol or diesel cars, charging costs vary depending on the electric vehicle. The two main points that impact your vehicle's charge costs are its battery size and where you charge it.

The amount you pay per charge is calculated by multiplying the price of the energy in kilowatt-hours (often abbreviated to kWh) by the battery size. For example, if you're charging at home with an energy tariff rate of 15p per kWh and your car’s battery size is 50kWh, then you should mutiply them (0.15 x 50) to reach a cost of £7.50 per full charge.

If you are planning to charge at home and want to know roughly how much you'll be paying per charge, as well as how much your annual charge cost is, then be sure to check out our handy energy cost tool. You can find it by clicking here.

No, you should not install your own electric car charge point. Unless you are a qualified electrician, we strongly advise against this and instead recommend using an OZEV-approved EV charger installation company such as Smart Home Charge.

Not only are our engineers experienced professionals and qualified to carry out the necessary electrical work, they are also very familiar with the EV chargers themselves and are able to set them up correctly and demonstrate how to use them, which some local electricians may not be.

If you'd like to know if there are any works you can do ahead of installation, then download our Go Electric guide to EV charging installation.

Smart Home Charge has experienced in-house engineers (no subcontractors) based all over the UK mainland, so we are able to install EV chargers across most of England, Wales and Scotland. Some more remote locations might have longer lead times, however, depending on availability. 

Smart Home Charge carries out small-scale charge point installation for businesses, but does not complete installations for larger commercial operations. If you're unsure if we would carry out your installation, please email support@smarthomecharge.co.uk. Smart Home Charge is also OZEV-approved which means we can process the Government Workplace Charge Scheme (WCS) vouchers. You can learn more about the WCS right here.

In most cases, no. The average daily commute is around 30 miles, which equates to around 1-2 hours to recharging time when using a dedicated home charge point. If you’re using multiple EVs regularly then the easiest charging solution would be to charge one EV one night and the other the next night and keep rotating between the two.

We have a handy guide and a video that goes into more depth on this topic. You can view both by clicking here.

As long as your insurance and lease agreement (if you have one) permit you to drive abroad then you should have no problems taking your EV out of the country. Europe’s charging infrastructure is almost identical to ours, just keep in mind that payment methods might differ.

Apart from full electric and plug-in hybrid cars, other electric vehicles such as vans and motorbikes can charge using our charge points.

The main thing you need to check is the connection type on the vehicle - is it Type 1 or Type 2. The most common connection type nowadays is Type 2. 

The BIK (Benefit-In-Kind) rate is a form of company car tax that is calculated based on the CO2 emissions of a vehicle. Up until April 2021, electric vehicles were exempt from paying BIK tax, but they are now rated at 1% which will increase to 2% in April 2022 and remain at that figure until April 2025. Compare this to the 28% BIK rate of a diesel Audi A3 and you can see the big savings to be had by switching to an EV for your next company vehicle.

If you or your company is not ready to switch to full electric, however, then a plug-in hybrid is another good option as they also generally pay less BIK tax than full petrol or diesel vehicles. Unlike EVs though, the BIK rate of Plug-In Hybrids varies due to the cost being calculated on emissions output and the number of miles the vehicle can do using electric power alone.

To make this calculation simple, we add the current BIK rate to all the vehicle pages listed on our website. We also have a handy guide that you can use to calculate the BIK rate in case the vehicle you’re looking for isn’t on our website.

Now, we can’t stress this enough - unless you intentionally run an EV down to empty (we’re looking at you Mat Watson from CarWow), it’s very unlikely that you'll be calling your breakdown cover provider due to an empty battery. Sometimes however, an unfortunate turn of events can occur and it is still possible you can breakdown or use up all the range in the battery. 

Fortunately, almost all breakdown cover providers have been preparing for the increase of EVs on UK roads, equipping their vans with mobile charging stations in case you do run out of power as well as training their mechanics to work with EVs. Best of all, most breakdown cover providers offer this extra service free of charge.

Short answer – yes! It is perfectly safe to charge an electric car in the rain.

Most of us know that water and electricity don’t mix. Luckily so do car manufacturers and EV charge point makers. Car manufacturers waterproof the charging ports in their vehicles to ensure that users don’t get a shock when plugging in.

EV charge points, unlike conventional electrical sockets, don’t start emitting an electrical current until both the vehicle and the charge point have established a firm connection with each other after which it locks the cable on both ends forming an insulated barrier between you and the current.

Plus all charge points we sell are rated IP54 for water ingress, so they should be able to withstand even the roughest of UK weather.

 

Green number plates (the green strip on the side of a number plate) are part of a Government scheme to encourage the public to buy EVs by making them easier to identify on the roads. Currently, you are under no obligation to change your number plates if your EV was delivered before the scheme began and doesn’t feature a green strip. However, it might be beneficial to change to green number plates as you could benefit from local initiatives such as cheaper parking, access to charge points and cost-free entry to zero-emissions zones.

All new EVs from Autumn 2020 onwards will come with green number plates fitted as standard but owners of EVs before this date can also purchase green plates from a number of retailers. You will need to bring your V5 logbook in order to prove eligibility.

Towing is still a grey area for electric vehicles. Many EVs are not approved for towing and the ones that are have vastly different towing capacities depending on the make and model.

Plug-in hybrids are generally much better at towing as they are often based on a "traditional" vehicle model and do not need to rely on the battery alone like in an all-electric car. 

Short answer – no.

Unlike petrol or diesel vehicles which need a gearbox in order to keep the engine within a very narrow power band, electric vehicles are much more lenient and have much wider power bands. This means that an electric vehicle can move forwards (or backwards) with just one gear.

However, some performance electric vehicles like the Porsche Taycan have a second gear.

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