Electric Cars

Guide to Charging an Electric Car | A Wagonex Guide

The ultimate guide on everything you need to know about charging an electric car. 

This guide will cover some of the most common questions about electric car charging, from how long it takes to how much it costs. 


Understanding Electric Car Chargers and Kilowatts

There are three main types of electric car chargers; slow, fast and rapid. 

Kilowatts (kW) serve as the measurement unit for electric car chargers. They represent the rate at which power flows from a charging station into an electric vehicle. The higher the kilowatts, the faster the charger operates. In essence, kilowatts indicate the charging speed.


How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car?

The charge time for an electric car is dependent on the car battery size and the type of charger being used. 

Slow Chargers: Slow chargers are generally rated below 7kW. These chargers typically take between 8 and 12 hours to fully charge a car from a low battery level. 

Fast Chargers: Fast chargers are generally considered to be those rated between 7kW and 22kW. As an approximate estimation, they take between 1 and 4 hours to fully charge a car from low battery. 

Rapid Chargers: Rapid chargers, typically rated between 43kW and 50kW,  can charge most electric vehicles from a low battery to about 80% capacity in 30 minutes to 1 hour. However, after reaching 80%, the charging slows down. Getting from 80% to a full 100% can take a further 30 minutes because the rapid charger goes slower to protect the battery.

The above times are approximate estimates. If you’re looking to calculate the charging time for a specific EV, you can use this simple formula: 

battery size (kWh) / charger power (kW) = charging time (hours)

This will give you an approximate charging time. You can find your car’s battery size by looking in the car manual or on the manufacturer’s website. 


Charging Connector Types and Cables

It’s worth noting that when you charge an electric car, it’s not as straightforward as filling up a petrol or diesel vehicle. Your charging options depend on your car's connector and socket type.

Electric car chargers come with different connectors. They have two ends: one that plugs into the vehicle and one that plugs into the charging point. The type of connector each car needs depends on the car model and the speed of the chargepoint (slow, fast, rapid). 

Most electric cars, whether bought, leased, or subscribed to, typically include a charging cable and information specifying compatible socket types. If you need to double-check this information, check your car's manual or the manufacturer's website. They'll tell you exactly what you need for hassle-free charging at public stations.

If required, you can purchase additional charging cables that are compatible with your car and various socket types. This versatility allows your car to adapt to different charging stations or power outlets, allowing you to charge your car in diverse locations. Additional cables can be purchased here

This guide from the RAC contains in-depth information about different connector types and how they work with different charge points. 


Where To Charge An Electric Car

At Home: If you have off-street parking or a driveway, you can charge your electric car at home. Installing a dedicated home charger is usually the most convenient way to do this as it allows for faster charging and makes it easy to keep your car charged and ready to go whenever you need it.

It is possible to plug electric cars into a regular 3-pin plug at home but they take a long time to charge. These household plugs also don't have the safety features of dedicated chargers and are therefore not recommended for charging your electric car. 

You can get a grant from the government to install a dedicated Electric Vehicle Chargepoint at your home. However, this EV Chargepoint grant is only available for renters and flat owners. If you qualify, you could receive financial support covering up to 75% of the installation cost for an EV chargepoint at your home. Alternatively, you might qualify for a discount of £350 off the price of an EV charger, whichever is the lesser amount. This grant closes on 31/03/25 and you can find out more information here

Several reputable companies specialise in installing electric car charging points at home. Pod Point, a widely recognized provider, offers a range of home charging solutions with several power ratings to choose from. Ohme is another well-known provider that offers tailored home charging solutions tailored to suit various electric vehicle models.

Public Chargers: There are several apps and websites that will help you find public charging points. These resources can generally be filtered by power-type (kW rating), connector type, location type (car park, on street, supermarket etc.) and payment type. They will also tell you the price per kilowatt for that particular charging station. This will help you find a public charger that suits your needs. Additionally, the UK is currently working towards a target of achieving 300,000 public charging points by 2030. This expansion aims to make charging more accessible and convenient for electric car users across the country, ensuring easier access to charging facilities when needed.

Here are some useful resources for locating public chargers:

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car? 

The cost of charging an electric car can vary based on several factors, including the car's battery size, your location, the charging method, and the electricity rates. You can find your car’s battery size in the car handbook or on the manufacturer’s website.

On average, charging an electric car at home can cost around £0.32 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). If you have a car with a 60kWh battery and the electricity rate is around £0.32 per kWh, a full charge may cost approximately £19.20. 

It’s a good idea to shop around for the best energy deals when charging an electric car at home. Different energy providers offer varying tariffs and rates, so finding the right deal could potentially save you money on your overall electricity costs. Sites like MoneySupermarket and Uswitch can help you compare energy prices. 

Public charging stations may have different pricing structures. Fast chargers at public stations might cost more than home charging, averaging around £0.50 per kWh. If you’re charging a 60kWh battery at a public station a full charge may be approximately £30.

The actual cost varies significantly depending on your specific circumstances, so it's a good idea to check your electricity provider's rates and the pricing at different charging stations to get a more accurate estimate of the charging costs for your electric car. The apps and websites linked above will give you an idea of the pricing structure at charging stations near you. 

You can calculate the cost to fully charge a specific electric car by using this formula: 

Tariff (e.g. £0.50/kWh would be 0.50) * Battery size (e.g. 60kWh would be 60) = Cost to fully charge (e.g. £30.00)

Some public charging stations are free. Certain establishments use free electric car charging as an incentive to encourage visitors or promote eco-friendly practices. You can filter for free charging stations using several of the station location resources linked above. 

Additionally, certain workplaces may offer free electric car charging as an employee incentive at their office. Speak to your employer to find out if your workplace offers free or reduced-price electric car charging.


Public Charging Payment 

Most public charging points operate via apps or RFID cards provided by various charging networks. Users typically sign up for an account with the charging network and link their preferred payment method, such as a credit card or a preloaded wallet within the app. Some chargers also offer contactless payment options for a more straightforward process. 

Payment structures can vary, ranging from pay-as-you-go models where you're billed per charging session to subscription-based services offering discounted rates for frequent users. You can check payment information for charging stations on the charging station location resources linked above. 


What Happens if You’re Running Out of Charge

If you find yourself running low on battery while driving your electric car, there are a few steps you can take. First, locate your nearest charging station and try to make your way there. If there's no station nearby, consider adjusting your driving habits to conserve energy, like reducing speed or turning off non-essential systems like air conditioning. 

If you need to pull over, you may want to contact roadside assistance. If you’ve got breakdown cover for your electric car and you break down within ten miles of your destination or a charging station, you generally don’t have to worry about any callout fees. However, if you happen to be in a remote spot where the recovery needs more than ten miles of travel, you may need to pay an extra charge, depending on the breakdown provider you’re with. Check your policy to see how your roadside assistance provider handles flat batteries. 

Getting ready for long journeys with an electric car requires thoughtful planning. Start by checking the distance of your trip and calculate if your car's battery level is adequate. Take into account factors such as weather, terrain, and available charging stations along your route. Keep in mind that batteries respond differently in various conditions, so anticipate range variations due to factors like extreme temperatures or hills. Factor these considerations into your plan, and be open to making extra charging stops or adjusting your driving approach to ensure a seamless and stress-free journey.


Electric Cars on Subscription 

Charging an electric car can be more complicated than refuelling a petrol or diesel car. Finding a charging spot and managing the charging schedule can take more effort. However, despite these challenges, charging an electric car usually costs less than fueling a traditional vehicle, offering long-term savings and potential cost benefits for drivers.

As the UK moves toward its aim of achieving 100% zero-emission new cars by 2035, electric vehicles are likely to become more and more common. This growth will likely lead to advancements in charging methods, making them increasingly accessible. 

If you’re interested in an electric car but unsure if it will suit your lifestyle, utilising a subscription model can be a flexible way to explore the world of electric cars. At Wagonex, our contract lengths range from 1 to 36 months, allowing you to trial an electric car for an amount of time that suits you. Our contracts include roadside assistance, road tax, maintenance, and servicing as standard, further simplifying the process of driving an electric car. 

If you want to learn more about how car subscriptions work, check out our blog: Car Subscription Explained.

If you’re interested in an electric car subscription, you can explore our marketplace here.

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