If you are a driver switching to electric vehicles for the first time, you’ve usually got a lot of questions about how charging works. Quite simply though, domestic charging is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to power your EV, although there are some different things to consider if you’re a car or van driver. Here’s our handy guide to plugging in at home for both.
If you have a charger installed, charging at home is really simple. You can either use a tethered cable (attached permanently to the chargepoint) or the one supplied with your vehicle.
You can choose when to charge too, even though the EV is plugged in, by scheduling the charge to stop and start either in the car or van’s energy management system, or on some chargepoint makers’ apps. That means you can take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity, which is usually during the night.
Generally, a home chargepoint will charge at a speed of around 7kW (compared to a standard three pin plug running at about 1.5kW). That means an EV with a 70kW battery would take around 10 hours to fully charge, although speed and overall charging time depends on the battery and its management system - the last 20% up to full often takes longer to protect the battery cells.
If you can charge at home, you might be surprised at how little you use the public charging network, unless you’re a very high mileage driver.
A car with a 70kW battery, driven fairly efficiently, would have a range of between 200-250 miles. Ask yourself: how often do you cover 200 miles a day? If you’re doing that daily, your annual mileage would be somewhere around 50,000 miles – not many drivers manage that.
So you can reasonably expect that if you’re coming home every night, you can do most of your charging there, only needing to use public chargers to top up when you do the odd long journey.
But the number of public chargers is rapidly expanding anyway: on the Allstar network there are more than 13,000, with 85% of motorway charging sites covered. It shouldn’t take long to top up either, as 92% of chargers on the network are fast, rapid or ultra-rapid chargers.
Home charging can be excellent value for money, and usually is cheaper than charging in public. Some off-peak home electricity tariffs (running at night mainly, and for limited hours) can be as low as 7.5-9p per kWh, which means it could cost as little as £5 to £6 to fully charge a 70kWh battery, if you only charge in those windows.
By comparison, some of the faster public chargers are now more than 70p per kWh, although they often charge ten or 20 times faster than a home one. So it really depends on your need which you choose.
Compared to petrol and diesel, home charging can work out much cheaper. If it costs you £7 to charge your 70kW batteries fully at home, and you do 210 miles per charge, then your EV runs at 3.5p per mile.
Fill your 50 litre tank up with £75 of petrol or diesel, and do 500 miles between fill-ups (equal to around 45mpg), it would cost you 15p per mile. Quite a difference.
Most charger manufacturers now allow you to order on their websites, through a simple step-by-step process which asks all the questions they need to ascertain fitting requirements. Make sure you choose an Allstar Homecharge compatible charger and reputable installers.
One thing to think about is where to position your charger. Easy access is important, but also that it’s not in a place which means you block other vehicles on your driveway while plugged in. If you are charging a van, consider the space needed and length of the vehicle too.
But make sure the owner of the vehicle and employer are involved in this process if the business is supplying the vehicle – there may be deals through the leasing company or suppliers they use. Some employers will pay for the charger and installation too, and these costs are not subject to benefit-in-kind tax charges.
You can still charge at home, even if you rent as well: your landlord can get a grant to help with installation costs.
When you charge at home, you are likely to see your domestic energy usage increase, and that does mean bigger bills. But with Allstar Homecharge, payments for EV charging are made directly to your energy supplier, and your employer is billed directly, so you don’t have to pay a thing for your business mileage, making it super simple to take on a company EV.
A great advantage of home charging is that most EVs can be ‘preconditioned’ before you get into them if they’re plugged in. That means you can warm up the cabin and even defrost the vehicle if it is cold, or cool them down if it is hot. Often you don’t even have to go outside: an app on your phone can switch the climate control on.
This also helps with range, by warming (or cooling) the batteries so they are at optimum operating temperature when you drive away, and ensuring the climate control doesn’t use energy from the batteries that could be used for range to get the cabin to the right temperature.
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