Once you’ve started driving an electric car, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to recharge its battery. You could do this at a public charge point, but this is an expensive way of keeping the car topped up, so you’ll want to start charging it at home.
Charging at home has several benefits. The main one is the cost, as you’re able to choose your own home electricity provider to get the best deal on charging your electric car – usually overnight, as discussed below. The second best thing is that it’s massively convenient.
As you’re usually at home overnight and your car is sat on the driveway, it can be charging up during that time and ready to go in the morning. It means some electric vehicle drivers may never have to visit a service station of any kind, as the car is always ready to go each morning. There’s even a government grant to help cover the cost of a dedicated charger at home.
In this advice guide, you’ll find out about all aspects of charging your electric car at home, from how much it might cost to the types of charge.
How to charge an electric car at home
Let’s start with the basics. Charging at home is usually done with a special unit that is installed professionally on your home, near a suitable parking spot (most commonly your driveway, if you have one). This box connects to your home electricity supply and existing infrastructure to safely charge up your car via a special cable that plugs into the charging port on your EV. These cables are usually included with the car when new, but some can carry an extra cost.
It’s possible to plug into a three-pin socket as you would with any other electronic device that needs charging, but this is much slower and isn’t recommended for regular charging. Manufacturers tend to offer three-pin plugs with electric cars sold in the UK, but it may be an optional extra so it’s worth checking with your dealer first.
It’s all totally weatherproof and there is very little risk in using any of the equipment in rainy or snowy conditions unless it is faulty in some way.
How much does it cost to install a home charger?
Some electric car manufacturers offer a home charger, or wallbox, for free as part of buying the electric car from them. It’s always worth asking about this before you buy, as a dealer might even want to throw this in to sweeten the deal. That kind of deal usually also includes the cost of hiring a professional to mount the unit to an appropriate wall at your home.
There are plenty of home charger brands and more will surely appear as this new market grows. You may want to search online to find out the features of each charger before you buy, and then you’ll need either a Type 1 or Type 2 charger depending on your car – but the company you buy from will help with this.
Prices usually include installation as well as the box, and start from around £450, though many wallboxes are more than £500.
There is a government grant available for installing a home charger in the UK, which is £350. This is usually included in the price you pay.
There’s no monthly charge, as once it’s installed the home charger uses your home electricity supply, which you’ll pay for through normal household bills.
How long does it take to charge an electric car at home?
The time it takes to charge an electric car at home depends mostly on the size of the battery in your EV, but there are also different charging rates to contend with. This is both from the supply of electricity and the charging capability of your car.
Clearly, a larger battery will take longer to recharge, but there are many speeds associated with home charging, for example, 2.3 kW, 3.7kW and 7.4kW. Public chargers are able to charge your car much faster, up to 150kW for some units on the UK’s infrastructure.
Let’s use the Volkswagen ID.3 as an example, which has a 45kW usable battery. A three-pin plug charges at a rate of 2.3kW, which means a full charge (0-100%) would take 23 hours and 15 minutes.
If your home charger is only able to charge at 3.7kW (Single-phase, 16A) with your wallbox then the ID.3 takes 14 hours and 30 minutes to charge up fully. Finally, a home able to charge at 7.4kW (Single-phase, 32A) would fill the ID.3 in seven hours and 30 minutes.
Some homes have three-phase charging, which works out at 22kW. It costs a bit more to buy a home charger capable of this, and not all cars accept this rate of charge, but it’s the fastest way to charge some cars. The ID.3 charges at the same rate with this kind of charger, so it takes the same time as a 7.4kW one.
It all depends on the amount of electricity your home charger is able to provide to the car, so check with the wallbox provider. Then check the size of the battery on your electric car to work out how long it will take to charge.
For the vast majority of users, plugging in when you get home from work will see the car completely full by morning, even if you’re running nearly empty when you arrive home.
Are all electric car chargers the same?
Not all home chargers are the same – some are more weatherproof than others, and of course, they all have a different look and user interface. Some chargers are able to provide more power than others, so are faster. There’s also the length of the cable, which could be important depending on the layout of your driveway.
Plus there are also smart chargers, which connect to the internet to provide a more cutting-edge service, so you can connect with a smartphone and see and control all kinds of data including how much power is being delivered and how much it’ll cost.
What is the cost of charging an electric car at home?
The cost of charging a car from empty to full varies, but it’s fairly easy to work out.
The first figure you need is the size of your car’s battery. Let’s use the 45kW battery size of the Volkswagen ID.3 as used as an example above.
Next, you need the amount you’re paying per kWh on your home energy tariff. The average cost in the UK for this is 14p per kWh, though you can get this down much cheaper if you have a policy that brings cheaper prices overnight.
In our example, the electric car would cost 14 times 45, which is 630p or £6.30 for a full charge. Bearing in mind that you’ll probably have some charge in the battery when you arrive home each night, you can expect it to cost a little less per day than that.