EV Basics - charging your electric car at home
28th Aug 2019 Danny Morgan
Driving and charging an electric car is easy - trust us. But, anything new can seem daunting especially when you're used to filling up at a petrol station. This guide explains all you need to know about charging your EV at home.
Where do you plug in an electric car?
Most drivers will charge their electric car at home using a home charging point. In fact, you will probably do about 80% of your charging at home overnight unless you are on the road a lot for business. So while we think charging at home overnight is much easier than driving to a petrol station, it's important you feel comfortable with it.
Watch this simple tutorial video where our editor explains how to plug in your electric vehicle:
Subscribe to Smart Home Charge on YouTube for more tips, advice and reviews.
How to charge your electric car at home
There are two main ways to charge your electric vehicle at home:
- A conventional three-pin plug
- A dedicated home charging point
Your car should come with a cable and adapter so you can plug into a conventional three-pin socket at home. This is perfectly feasible, but is very slow compared to having a dedicated charging point installed at your home.
The most convenient method is to use a dedicated charging unit, such as the electric car charge points we sell and install. These are sometimes referred to as wall chargers or wall boxes or charge points. You can find them here. These home charge points will charge your EV at up to 10 times faster than a three-pin plug (dependent on your vehicle's capabilities and your home electricity supply).
The most common home chargers run at 7.4kW, compared to less than 3kW for a three-pin plug, and will charge a typical EV from 0-80% in under 10 hours. Although it's important to note that, just like your phone, it's very unlikely you will arrive home with zero per cent battery and need to charge it fully. Most of the time you will just need to top it up for a few hours two or three times a week to give you enough range to cover your commute or weekend driving.
The benefits of using a dedicated home charger:
- Fast, reliable charging of your electric car
- Charge schedules – you decide when the car chargers (perhaps when your electricity rate is cheapest)
- Safety measures – home chargers are built for the express purpose of charging your EV, so they have built-in safety features
- Correct installation – dedicated home chargers are installed by qualified and Government approved installers such as Smart Home Charge
- Weather-proof – chargers must withstand the British weather, so they are robust units
- No more trips to the petrol station – save time by “fuelling” your car overnight with a home charger
Can I schedule my car to charge at specific times?
Yes, you're able to plan when your car starts and stops charging to suit your schedule and lifestyle. For example, you may wish to take advantage of cheaper overnight electricity rates and set a charging schedule of 1am to 5am.
There are two main ways you can set a charging schedule at home:
- Use the car's smart scheduling features (if it has them)
- Use your smart charger app
Scheduling using the car
Some cars already include scheduling features so you can set a start and end time for charging. The features available vary from vehicle to vehicle (and some cars do not have this feature at all), and the smart scheduling abilities are limited in comparison to using a smart charger.
For example, the car may allow you to set a "charge start" time and a "depart at" time. This gives the car a window in which it is "allowed" to charge. Using something like the "depart at" feature, such as that found in the Tesla Model 3, will mean the car starts preconditioning and optimising the battery conditions ready for driving.
Scheduling using your smart charger app
All our electric car charge points are OLEV-approved and are "smart" enabled. This means they are capable of more than just on/off charging.
Smart chargers have a companion app. The range of app features vary, but all of them are capable of smart scheduling. This allows you to set specific times for when you want your car to charge - when it's ready the app and charger will wake the car up for charging.
You can also use the apps to monitor charging status, when your last charge was and how much energy was used. You can also use it to start or stop a schedule remotely - handy for when your plans or routines change.
What are the costs of charging an electric car at home?
We look at the cost of charging a car and using different electricity tariffs in more depth here, but broadly speaking it depends on the cost of your electricity.
You can calculate the cost using a simple sum. You will need to know the battery size of your electric vehicle or the one you are considering buying/leasing, plus the price per kilowatt hour for your electricity – this should be on your energy bill. For example, 14p per kWh.
Size of battery (kWh) x Cost of your electricity (pence per kWh) = the cost of charging your car from zero to full
For example, if you own a Renault Zoe R90, which has a 41kWh battery, and your electricity costs 14p per kWh, the calculation would look like this:
41 x £0.14p = £5.74
If you switch to a cheaper energy supplier, or one with a cheaper overnight rate for example, then the cost to charge your car becomes even cheaper.
You can find out more information in our guide to EV energy tariffs.