Electric Vehicle FAQ's | Smart Home Charge | Smart Home Charge

Frequently asked questions

Browse through the most recently asked questions.

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. If you are getting a Category 2 or 3 car you may still receive up to £500 (including VAT) off the cost of installing an EV charger at home through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. This is called an OLEV grant (“OLEV” stands for the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles). For more details click here

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.

The £500 OLEV Grant time limit

The Government OLEV Grant is designed to encourage the transition to electric vehicles. If eligible, you can qualify for a £500 Grant towards your EV home-charging device, but the Grant is available for a limited time and could finish at any point. Currently, the Government has reserved the right to discontinue the Grant with four weeks' notice. They have however committed to honour any Grants claimed within the four weeks' notice period. By applying today, you will be ensuring a saving of up to £500 off your electric car charge point installation. 

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.

Our standard Install 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 and a Type A RCD (if required).
  • 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 standard 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).
  • 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.

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