This is a question that a customer often asks. As you may expect, if you have an Electric Vehicle (this includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, or “PHEV’s”) and your property lends itself to having a charge point installed, you will enjoy the convenience of having a charge point to use.
An alternative is to charge your EV at a local Rapid Charger point. However, with the rapid charge points comes the inconvenience of having to drive to the point and wait for your vehicle to charge for say 20-45 minutes – or longer - to make it worthwhile the trip. The cost you pay for this service is quite high, usually at least 30p per kW used. This is compared to home charging where the cost is usually at least 50% of this or cheaper.
Another alternative, is to use the charger that usually comes with your EV. This is the one that has a three-point plug at one end of the charger. There some issues with these, however:
1. If you do not have an outdoor socket, you will need to run the cable from the inside of your property usually through an open window and usually over night i.e. when most customers want to charge their EV.
2. Even if you do have an outdoor socket, this may cause problems with overload of your existing electrical installation. This can cause nuisance tripping in your fuse box or worse, overheating of cables that can cause fires. Existing socket circuits are usually not designed to have an EV charger in use for long periods of time, but are fine to use every now and then. For instance, if you are visiting Granny and need a top up whilst there. Whilst you can have a dedicated socket installed outdoors for vehicle charging purposes in order to get around these issues, you are still limited to a slow ‘trickle’ charge of your vehicle.
3. Cable length: if the cable and charger provided with your vehicle is not long enough, you will need to ensure you have a correctly rated extension cable fit for carrying a large electric supply over prolonged periods and also ensure the cable is unwound fully.
4. You will only receive a slow rate of charging; roughly 7-8 miles of charge for every hour the vehicle is charging using this method. This could leave you requiring a charging period of at least 24 continuous hours of charging to get your battery to full, depending on your battery size.
Consequently, most customers opt for a dedicated 7.4kW EV Charge Point or ‘fast charger’ as they are commonly known.
These charge points will give you about 28-30 miles of battery charge for every hour the vehicle is plugged in, and comes with the convenience of plugging your vehicle in when you arrive home.
One point to mention here is that, if your charge point requires ‘load limiting’ (something Ecolectrics will discuss with you once your existing electrical installation is better known), the rate at which your vehicle charges may be reduced if you are already using a heavy load in your property. This is to avoid overloading your main fuse.
However, if you are charging primarily overnight, most properties will be able to allow the charge of your vehicle at its maximum charge. This is because most properties is generally ‘sleeping’ so far as electrical usage is concerned and are therefore able to divert full power to your vehicle.
All in all, charging your vehicle overnight will usually result in a full charge available to use by the morning in most instances.
Dedicated EV Charge Points also come with smart software that allows you to charge the vehicle at certain times. This means:
1. You can plug the vehicle in as soon as you arrive home or leave it plugged in whenever it’s not in use in order to avoid charging when your house is heavily using electricity say, between 4pm-7pm. There is no need to remember to plug your charger into your vehicle before you go to bed.
2. You can take advantage of smart tariffs from energy providers such as the Octopus Agile Tariff, where it is cheaper to use electricity overnight.
3. Some chargers are capable of being used seamlessly with solar power – FREE MILES!
4. You can review statistics of how much you have charged the vehicle and the total costs of charging over a period of days, weeks or months.
It is worth reiterating the main benefit of having a dedicated EV Charge Point; much faster charge over the three-pin plug charger (about 3.5x), giving you roughly 28-30 miles per hour of charge. Enough for the vast majority of customers to charge their vehicle fully overnight.