Mercedes-Benz EQA charging
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.

Read time of 8 minutes.

The definitive guide to charging your electric car at home

So, the keys to your shiny new electric car are in your hand – but how do you charge it?

At its core, an electric car is almost like a huge smartphone. Using a charger, you keep the battery topped up, and it’ll chug along merrily.

The easiest and most convenient way to ensure your EV is ready to go at a moment’s notice is to get an at-home charger installed. Though there are some caveats – you’ll need to make sure you have off-road parking, and that the distance from your electricity meter to where the charger will be isn’t longer than 30m – it’s safe, convenient, and tends to work out cheaper than topping up your car with regular old fuel.

And with fuel prices rising, there’s never been a better time to make the switch from combustion to electric.

We’ve pulled together this definitive guide to charging your EV at home, so you’re armed with all the information you could need about getting yourself set up for electric success. 

Kia EV6

Which charger should I choose?

Picking the right charger for you is a personal choice, and there’s no one size fits all solution. There are a variety of different manufacturers and providers that are now offering EV home chargers.

Some will be available with an outright purchase option, others may have the freedom to pay monthly, or be included within your car lease. It is all about finding the option that works best for you.

But if you're taking your electric lease out through Carparison, we can help you get a brand-new electric charger for less through our partnership with British Gas. 

You'll get £30 off the price of a new Hive EV charger, or you can even spread the cost over 10 interest free monthly instalments.

Find the right EV charger for you

Volkswagen ID.3 charging

Installing an EV charger at home

It’s a pretty straightforward process.

Some installers may need to know some details about your house, including the age of the property, location of the electricity meter and the desired location of the charge point so they can understand the installation requirements. 

Most standard installations will take around two to four hours, though if your house is a little trickier to contend with (for example, if your electricity meter is inside on an internal wall or the cable will need to be longer than 15m), this can take a full day and cost a little more.

If your home electrical system needs upgrading, the installation company will be able to do this too, but again it might incur an extra cost.

But once your box is installed, you’re good to go.

You do have several choices when it comes to picking the right charger for your needs.

You’ll need to pick between tethered and untethered, which is essentially the difference between the charger coming with a cable, or you plugging a cable into the charger. Untethered is an excellent option if you want flexibility – because you can use it with any charger on the market, whether that’s the popular Type 2 or the CHAdeMO used in the older Nissan Leaf, you’ve got complete control.

Got a Tesla lease? Don’t worry, you don’t need to fork out for the Tesla-branded charger. As long as you can plug in the right charging cable to the box, you can use any charger you’d like to get your Tesla back to full.

A tethered charger doesn’t give you so much choice and could leave your friends stuck if their EV isn’t compatible with your charging point.

As of 30 June, 2022, new regulations state that chargers must have functionalities such as scheduling and the ability to send and receive data. Scheduled charging will allow you to specify when you want the car to charge and give you greater insights into the best times to charge.

Once installed, a charger with an output of 7.2kW will charge a standard EV in around six and a half hours, making it the perfect choice to make sure you’re always ready to get going.

Audi Q4 e-tron charging cable

Best practices for charging your EV at home

If you want to install a home charger, you’ll need access to off-street parking, whether that’s a driveway or a garage.

The charging lead can’t be stretched over a public footpath or road, and the charger itself will need to be installed by a professional electrician to make sure it’s safe and not going to overload the electrical circuit.

If you’re renting, you’ll also need to get permission from the landlord before you go drilling holes in the wall – many companies may ask for proof that the landlord or letting agency has agreed to the installation.

It's also worth bearing in mind that it’s going to be cheaper to charge your vehicle overnight.

It does make the most sense: simply plug in when you get home in the evening, and you’ll wake up in the morning to a car that’s fully charged and ready for an adventure. 

Many energy providers offer tariffs with cheaper electricity rates overnight – and you may already be on one of these – so financially, it just makes sense. All home EV chargers sold from 30th June 2022 are also subject to the new EV laws, so they’ll be set up to charge in the off-peak hours by default.

But if you’re ever short of juice, you can always override this and give your car a boost. 

It’s also not advised to charge your EV long-term with a three-pin plug and an EVSE cable (also known as a granny cable). 

There’s nothing to stop you from using a regular ol’ plug, and it can be very useful in a pinch, like if you’ve popped to see some relatives and you have no other choice - but it is a lot slower. A domestic 2.4kW socket can take over 24 hours to charge your battery, depending on the size and model of the car.

It’s alright if you just need to top up a little, but for the most effective home charging, getting a dedicated EV charger installed is quicker and safer.

Polestar 2

EV home tariffs

Thanks to the ongoing energy crisis, and most energy companies taking their fixed tariffs offline, there aren’t many dedicated EV tariffs available. It’s worth asking your current energy provider, but it’s likely that this is one to look out for when prices settle again.

Charging your car at home is almost always the most affordable way to get from flat to full, and even though it’ll mean your annual electricity bill is increased, you’ll be saving money on petrol and diesel costs. A dedicated EV tariff, aimed at electric car owners, can make these costs even more affordable by offering discounted rates – typically overnight.

Overnight charging not only saves your hard-earned cash, but also helps to balance the grid by reducing the daytime demand, and potentially reducing the need for investment in additional power generation capacity.

Many EV tariffs also offer 100% renewable energy, or energy companies will pledge to offset car emissions through tree planting, making the switch kinder on your wallet and the environment.

There are five different types of EV tariffs available:

  1. Single-rate tariff: you pay a single rate through the day and night, but it’s discounted if you own an electric car
  2. Static time-of-use tariff: offering cheaper electricity overnight, this is the most common tariff you’ll see, and generally has the best charging rates
  3. Dynamic time-of-use tariff: offers a different price per unit of energy depending on the time of the day, and both the times and rates can vary, with electricity becoming cheaper when there’s a dip in demand
  4. Type-of-use tariffs: these separate your EV charging costs from the rest of your energy use, using a smart meter and a smart charger. Electricity used to charge your car is charged at a reduced rate, and the difference in cost is credited back to you at the end of the month
  5. Vehicle to Grid (V2G) tariffs: currently being trialled by Octopus Energy and Ovo Energy, the V2G technology allows EVs to store energy and sell it back to the grid when it’s most needed, and could potentially offer consumers huge savings in the future

Though there aren’t any EV tariffs currently on the market, in the past EDF, Ovo, and Octopus (among other providers) have all offered competitive EV tariffs to help cut the costs of keeping your car fully charged.

Watch this space: we’ll update this article when rates come back on the market so you’ve always got access to the most up-to-date information.

Tesla Superchargers

Charging at home vs in public

There’s no denying that public chargers are useful.

With over 30,000 public charging points found across the UK now, it’s unlikely you’ll be caught short without one nearby for a quick top-up charge. And a quick top-up is what they do best.

They do tend to work out more expensive than your at-home charger, and you may need to download an app to get it to work – but if you need a quick burst of energy to get you where you’re going, they’re excellent.

And to easily find your nearest public charging point, there are a whole host of useful apps for electric car drivers. Even if you’re 200 miles from home you’ll know exactly where to go.

The other public option is the rapid chargers, more often found at motorway services. These are ideal if you’re on a proper adventure, and need to get your battery back to full. They can boost your range by 100 miles in as little as 30 minutes, making them the ideal choice for a quick pitstop.

Your car will be ready to go before you’ve even finished your coffee and cake.

And with Tesla now opening the Supercharger network to other EVs, you’ve got even more choice when it comes to quickly getting some juice back in your car. Widely regarded as one of the best rapid charging networks out there, the Supercharger’s 250kW potential could have something like the Polestar 2 with a 78kWh battery back to 80% in just 20 minutes.

Tesla Model Y

What if I don’t have a driveway?

Unfortunately, if you don’t have access to off-road parking, or your off-road parking is in a communal area, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to install a home charger.

You won’t be able to get a charger installed if the cable will trail over any property not owned by you, or your car will be more than 30m away from your electricity meter, which means that – as it stands – not every home is going to be suitable.

But, particularly if you live in a big city, this doesn’t have to stop you making the electric switch.

You can use the UK’s network of public chargers, with many popping up at supermarkets and shopping centres, so that you can run errands while your car is charging, or, if you need to top up quickly, you can opt for using a rapid charger.

These options tend to run a little more expensive, but they are useful if you’re on the go.

There are other options though: many workplaces are now installing electric chargers as an incentive for employees to make the switch. If you plug your EV in at the start of the working day, an average electric car will be fully charged by the time you go home.

And with backing from OZEV and the government, the Energy Saving Trust introduced the on-street residential parking scheme, where local authorities can apply for funding to increase residential charge points in their area. This should make it easier for people in areas without much off-street parking to be able to charge their EV with absolute ease.