Everything you need to know about charging your electric car

Making the switch from petrol or diesel to an electric car can be a minefield of new information.

Not only can your new car feel completely different to drive to begin with, but when you take out an electric car lease you also have to consider all this new information you didn’t before, like how far you can drive on a single charge and where you might be able to charge your car.

We’ve compiled a list of our best tips and advice on how to charge your electric car, so you know exactly what you’re doing, and what the best method of charging is going to be for you.

And – though it might seem baffling at first glance – it’s a really simple process, we promise.

Mercedes-Benz EQA charger

Charging at home

Charging at home will ultimately be the most cost-effective way to make sure your lease car is charged up and ready to go at the drop of a hat.

For most people, getting an at-home electric car charger is convenient, affordable and hassle-free if you own your home (or have permission from the landlord) and have access to off-street parking. 

You can charge with a regular three-pin socket in a pinch, but it’ll take a lot longer than just an overnight charge to get your car’s battery fully juiced and ready to go. Dedicated chargers are generally capable of delivering 7kW of power, which is three times faster, and will get your battery to full in around seven to nine hours – depending on its size.

As long as you remember to plug your car in overnight, you’ll never be caught short.

Charging at work

With many businesses looking to improve their green credentials and encourage workplace EV uptake, you might find that your employer has electric charge points available for you to use at work.

If this is the case, you might not even need to bother with an at home charger.

Instead, you can charge your car during the workday, and drive home at night with the peace of mind that your battery is fully charged at potentially no additional cost to you.

If your office doesn’t have electric chargers installed, but it’s something they’re willing to investigate to help hit their sustainability goals and potentially encourage more people into an electric car salary sacrifice scheme, then your employer could look at the government’s Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS).

Tesla Model Y

It’s a voucher-based scheme that gives employers money towards the up-front costs of installing electric car chargers, and can reduce the upfront costs by up to 75%. 

It’s a sizeable saving, and an easy step along the road to a greener, more sustainable business.

As a bonus, offering electric car charging is also a good employee perk, and could help with both retention of the current team, and attracting new talent. 

Charging in public

There are a multitude of places where you’ll find public chargers now, both rapid and slow, including service stations, car parks, supermarkets, cinemas, retail parks, and – especially in larger cities – at the side of the road.

Service station chargers tend to be rapid chargers, and take the place of the traditional petrol station. You’ll pay a premium to use their services, but they’re handy if you’re caught short or need to charge up on a long journey.

A rapid charging unit can provide up to 80% in under half an hour, making them perfect in a pinch.

You might have seen different chargers out and about, but the EV charging networks continue to grow, with providers like BP Pulse, Gridserve, Ionity and Tesla’s Superchargers all getting in on the race to grow public access to EV charging.

Each provider has a slightly different approach to how you access them, so if you are heading out on a long motorway journey, it’s worth checking to see which providers you’ll be using when you stop, so you’re fully prepared and ready to charge without wasting time.

Hyundai Kona charger

Can I charge my electric car if I don’t have private parking?

Though you won’t be able to get an at-home electric charger installed, this doesn’t mean that an EV isn’t a viable option for you. 

If you have easy access to a charger on the side of the road or workplace charging, then you should have no issues keeping your EV charged and ready to go. It might just take a little more thinking ahead than it would if you could plug in every evening.

The range is going to be your best friend here.

There are many electric cars now with claimed ranges that top 200 miles. Opt for one of these, and if you’re just using the car for the daily commute or nipping around town, you should only have to charge once or twice a week.

Easy as pie.

Vauxhall Mokka Electric

How much does charging an electric car cost?

There is no set cost when it comes to charging your car.

Charging at home is the most cost-effective method, but the exact price is going to vary based on your electricity tariff, how big your battery is, and whether you’re charging off-peak overnight, or adding additional charge during the day when the prices are higher.

Though the majority of the UK is currently on a variable tariff because of the rise in electricity prices, there are still some dedicated EV tariffs floating around that reduce the cost per kWh for a set number of hours overnight, making it the cheapest way to get your battery back to full.

Charging at a rapid public charger can be significantly more expensive, because you’re also paying for the convenience, but if you have time to spare, you can find cheaper, but slower, public chargers dotted around (usually in places like supermarket car parks and on the side of the road in residential areas).

There are also some places, like West Quay in Southampton, that offer free charging when you’re using the car park, so it’s worth having a look around your local area and seeing what charging points are available.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

How long it takes to charge your electric car is going to depend largely on the size of the battery, as well as the type of charger.

Larger batteries will naturally take longer to charge, while a faster charger (defined by the power in kilowatts, or kW) will cut that charging time down significantly. 

Genesis GV60

For most cars, a standard 7kWh home charger will get you from flat to full overnight, while a rapid 22kWh charger can add a significant amount of charge in under an hour, which is useful if you’re out and about and can leave your car for a while.

If you need charge, and you don’t have so much time to wait, then an ultra-rapid charger, with the ability to charge at 100kWh or even 250kWh, can cut the charge to 80% time down to under half an hour. 

Each charger has its place, and there are options that suit your every scenario and need – it sometimes just requires a little planning or forethought.

Do I have to pay to park when I’m charging my electric car?

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re using a charger in a supermarket car park or at a service station, you won’t have to pay to park, but if you’re parking in a regular multi-story, it’s likely that you will have to pay.

But in this case, the chargers themselves might be free to use, so you’re not out of pocket compared to a petrol or diesel driver.

There are also some parking spots that might let you stay free of charge for as long as you’re using the charger, but bear in mind that these might have time limits so that more people can use the charger each day.

It’s worth just being mindful when you’re out and about, and checking the signage of both the car park and the charging point very carefully, so you can make sure you’re not going to be caught out by a fine you weren’t expecting.

Polestar 2

Can I charge my electric car in bad weather?

Yes, the weather doesn't affect whether you can charge your electric car or not.

EV chargers have been designed to be waterproof and withstand all sorts of varying weather conditions, from thunderstorms to bright sunny days. If you need to charge, you can charge - you don't need to check the weather forecast first.

Though if you do go outside to plug your car in, it might be worth checking to see if it's raining first. But only to avoid getting soggy socks. 

How to find electric car charging points

One of the best resources is an app called Zap-Map. 

It not only shows you the location of different charging points all across the UK, no matter which provider they are, but it also gives you useful information about those chargers.

You can also filter your search by connector type and network, so you can always find a charger that suits both your car, and how you like to use the charger – whether that’s a plug-in and go, or you’re signed up to use a specific service.

Zap-Map will even show you whether or not the charger is in use, so you’re not caught out when you turn up, expecting to be able to charge, only to find all the chargers are already in use.

Many new EVs now also show the location of public chargers on the built-in sat nav and can direct you to those that are in range.

Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is our Content and Paid Media Specialist, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.