Charging points are an efficient way of charging your electric car at home
If you have a 100% electric car (BEV) or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), dedicated charging points allow you to charge your car’s battery.
There are various places you can do this, including:
- Home (assuming you have off street parking)
- Work (if they have installed chargers)
- Motorway service stations (most)
- Petrol stations (not all)
- Certain streets and car parks
- Many ‘Destinations’ including hotels, sports centres, shopping centres, supermarkets, etc.
Charging points are also known as charging stations, car chargers, chargepoints, EV chargers, wall boxes, superchargers – the list goes on and on!
If you get a new electric car, the dealer may well throw in a home charging point for free. In this case, an installation company will come round and install it in your home at no cost.
If a charging point is not bundled with your new EV, then you can choose your own model and installer. We help you through this process below.
Should I get a charging point? Follow our 6-step guide:
If you want the full story about how to choose the right wall box charger, take a look at the following 6-step guide:
- Rule existing infrastructure in or out: Can you survive on a 3-pin socket?
- Understand the technology: Find out how electric car charging points work
- See if it makes sense for you: Read our 10 reasons to get a charging point at home
- Work out the type of charging point you need: We help you cut through the jargon
- Compare different models: Explore manufacturer websites
- Find a local installer: Get in touch with a reputable chargepoint installer
1. The Limitations of a 3-pin Socket
If you don’t have a dedicated charging point, you can simply plug your EV into a normal 3-pin 13A home socket. This is often referred to as ‘trickle charging’.
The standard 3-pin socket can only supply a small amount (a trickle) of electricity to your car. This means your EV’s battery charges quite slowly.
For example, using a 3-pin socket it can take anywhere from 7 hours to more than a day to fully charge an electric car, depending on how big your battery is.
The other drawback to a 3-pin socket is that there is no safety mechanism to keep the plug in the socket securely. If you trip on the cable, you could easily pull the plug out. That’s not safe.
Note: although a 3-pin socket is rated at 13A, it will probably only deliver about 10 amps when charging your EV. This makes it a 2.3 kW charge point (10 amps x 230 volts = 2.3 kW).
A better solution: 7.4 kW Chargepoints
Given the limitations of a 3-pin socket, a dedicated 7.4 kW home charging point for your electric car really makes sense.
A proper EV chargert will charge your battery more quickly and more safely than a 3-pin plug.
There is also a £350 grant towards the cost of the installation in certain circumstances, assuming you meet the OZEV criteria (OZEV used to be OLEV – don’t ask). See our OZEV Grant page for further details.
Sitting between a normal household socket and a dedicated 32A EV charger is the ‘commando socket’.
Commando plugs and sockets were originally designed for industrial settings. It’s a no-nonsense, colour-coded, weather-proof system.
Why would you use a commando socket? They are cheaper than a dedicated EV chargepoint and any electrician can install one. They also offer better safety than a 3-pin plug.
However, commando sockets are not ‘smart’ and generally don’t allow you to make use of cheap off-peak tariffs.
2. How EV Charging Points Work
We are all used to charging our mobile phones at the end of the day. You lay it on the desk, plug it into the charger, and leave it over night. In the morning the battery’s at 100%. Bingo.
Your electric car is no different. You park your car, plug it into its charging point, and leave it over night. The next morning the car battery is at 100%. The equivalent of a full tank. No need to nip off to the petrol station.
The Charging Point
An EV charging point is at one level just a glorified electric socket.
One of the differences, though, is that a car charging point can draw more electricity to charge the car more quickly. They are also safer charging on a 3-pin socket, and come with a securing mechanism to stop the plug from coming loose accidentally.
Charging points are installed on a suitable wall. For example, in your garage or on an external wall near your driveway.
EV On-board Charging Interface
It’s possible that your car might stop you from charging at the fastest rate the charging point can offer.
This is because each EV has electronics inside that take the AC power from the charging point and convert it into DC.
Imagine your electric car has a 6.6 kW on-board charger/interface. If you plug it into a home charging point rated at 7.4 kW, the car will only be able to receive electricity at 6.6 kW.
If you already have an EV, check the maximum power rating it can take for a 7.4 kW charging point.
Most modern EVs now have high on-board charger ratings at can charge at the full 7.4 kW, though there are some exceptions.
All EV chargepoints for sale in the UK now have to be ‘smart’, that is they need to conform to the government’s Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations. What do these regulations mean in practice? Here are some of the conditions:
- New chargepoints must now come with a pre-configured default charging schedule – this is to help you charge at off-peak times, putting less stress on the grid.
- Chargepoints also need to randomise the start or end of a charging session by up to 10 minutes – you don’t want everyone to start charging their EVs at exactly the same time; the grid won’t be happy!
- They also need the ability to send and receive information across a secure network.
- Demand side response services – chargers must be able to delay charging or vary their charging rate in response to external signals.
Vehicle to Grid
Vehicle to Grid (V2G) charging points are in their infancy, but will be big news going forward.
These devices not only allow electricity to flow from your house into your car, but also the other way: out of your car into your house and even further out into the National Grid.
Why would you want that? Because you can use that enormous battery sitting on your drive to power your home – that’s why. You can also sell electricity stored in your car’s battery. Companies will pay good money to access your battery and take electricity out of it when electricity demand around the country is high.
At the moment, the only 100% EV in the UK to offer this bi-directional electricity flow is the Nissan Leaf. You also need a special charging point such as one developed by OVO Energy. Watch this space for lots of development in this area in the coming months and years.
3. Ten Reasons to Get a Charging Point
This is going to be a tough section to write…
If you have off-street parking, a dedicated home charging point is a no-brainer. You can charge your car’s battery, whether in a BEV or a PHEV, much more quickly and safely than with a standard 3-pin socket.
As we have “10 reasons to get…” for electric cars, solar panels, and battery storage, we have no choice but to give this a go:
- You can charge your electric car more quickly at home.
- A professionally installed charging point improves electrical safety.
- There is a grant from OZEV which will cover a lot of the cost of the installation (assuming you meet the grant criteria).
- Some chargepoints, like Myenergi’s Zappi, are clever and can, for example, divert solar electricity to charge your car.
- They can also be set to charge automatically when electricity is cheapest, or when it’s greenest (e.g. grid electricity from wind turbines).
- The car dealer may give you a charging point for free any way.
- It will look nice on your wall.
- Your neighbours will be impressed.
- If you’re a man, it’s yet another gizmo.
- If you’re a woman, it’s a gizmo that is actually useful.
Hopefully you are now convinced. Time to look at the different types.
4. What Type of Charger do I Need?
You know that feeling when you stare at 50 washing machines in the store and have no idea which one to choose? It’s the same with EV charging points.
There are lots of manufacturers and even more models. They all look different, but many carry out the same functions. They will all charge your car at about 7.4 kW, as long as your car can handle electricity ate that rate (nearly all of them can). The main decisions to make when choosing an EV charger are around the following factors:
Tethered or Untethered?
A tethered charging point comes with a cable and plug permanently attached. Why is this useful? Because you will never lose or misplace your cable. It’s always there where it should be.
Plus, when it’s raining, you don’t have to be scrambling around in your boot to get the cable out, then to plug one end into the charging point on the wall and the other end into your car’s socket.
All things being equal, we recommend you get a tethered charger. It’s less hassle.
An untethered charging point doesn’t have a cable and plug permanently attached. It does look tidier on your wall, as there is no cable wrapped around it.
Having said that, a lot of people who get untethered chargers leave their car’s charging cable plugged into the charging point, as they can’t be bothered to keep unplugging and plugging it in each day. So the nice aesthetic look of an untethered charger is often lost in practice.
Type 1 or Type 2?
You used to have think carefully about whether your charger was Type 1 or Type 2 before ordering. That’s largely gone away now. You’ll struggle to find any new EVs that still have a Type 1 socket.
So let your charger installation company know what model electric car you are getting and invariably they will say “Oh, that’s a Type 2.”
Most tethered chargers come with a cable about 5m long. Sometimes the distance between the charger on the wall and your car’s charging socket is greater than 5m. If so, you’ll need to order a charger with a longer cable.
Do you have solar panels?
If you have or are getting solar panels, some EV chargers have a ‘solar mode’. When enabled, this mode guarantees your car will only be charged with electricity from your solar panels. This gives you 100% green, renewable driving.
However, having this mode on can sometimes cause a problem. If say you only have 1 kW free from your solar array to power your charger, then your car will charge at 1 kW only – not the normal 7.4 kW that your charging point is capable of. If you need to charge quickly, better to turn the solar mode off and get that 1 kW from your solar panels plus a further 6.4 kW from the grid.
Compatibility with Smart Electricity Tariffs
This is a really important area. Apart from saving the planet, one of the main reasons of getting an EV is to save a lot of money on fuel. On a standard home electricity tariff, the cost of charging an electric car is about half the cost of fuelling the average petrol/diesel car. You get roughly 10p per mile in an EV v. 20p per mile in a petrol/diesel car.
However, if you switch to an EV-friendly home electricity tariff, you can make even greater savings. You can drive your costs down to about 3p per mile. Yippee!
What you need to know, however, is that to be able to sign up to the best EV-friendly tariffs, you need either:
- A compatible car, or
- A compatible EV charger.
Not all cars are compatible with all of the tariffs on offer. So if your car isn’t compatible, you can still get 3p per mile driving if you get the right charger.
At the moment, there are only two really good EV tariffs in town:
These are the chargers currently guaranteed to be compatible with OVO Charge Anytime:
- Ohme Home
- Ohme Home Pro
- Ohme ePod
- Indra Smart Pro
- Indra Smart Charger V3
Top tip: if you go for OVO’s Charge Anytime and have solar panels, get the Indra Smart Pro. The Ohme chargers are not yet compatible with solar.
And these are compatible with Octopus Intelligent:
- Ohme Home Pro
- Ohme ePod
5. Compare Charging Point Models
The following manufacturers sell EV charging points in the UK:
- Myenergi / Zappi
- EO Charging
- Project EV
- Sync EV
- Viridian EV
- Pod Point
- Shell / NewMotion
- Schneider Electric
- Rolec EV
This is not an exhaustive list and new manufacturers are appearing all the time.
The models on offer range from simple to highly intelligent. The more advanced models offer more functionality and are more future-proof than others.
Please note: from July 2019 onwards, all home charge points where the customer obtains the OZEV grant (old name: OLEV grant) must use ‘smart technology’. Smart chargepoints can be accessed remotely and various functions turned on or off via a signal. Make sure the manufacturer can prove the model you want is smart.
Click through to our Charging Point Manufacturers page for easy access to the full line-up of charging point models from the manufacturers above.
6. Find a Charging Point Installer
Now that you have looked at all the various models of EV charge points, it’s time to get in touch with local installers for quotations.
Installing a home charging point is relatively simple. Any qualified electrician can do it.
However, to get the £350 OZEV grant (assuming you are eligible), the electrician’s company must be approved by OZEV.
In addition, the electrician’s company must be accredited by the manufacturer for the particular charging point model you are interested in.
To find your ideal chargepoint click on one of the county pages below:
Click on your county name to find local installers (Scottish and Welsh counties coming soon!)