A Complete Guide to Charging Electric Cars

Anxiety range used to be a real thing and one of the reasons so many people were hesitant to buy an electric car. What would happen if you ran out of juice halfway down the M1 or found yourself stuck in traffic on the M25? Fortunately, those days are long gone, with modern electric cars doing some serious range from a single charge. If you want to know everything about charging an electric vehicle, you've come to the right place. Here, we bring you this complete guide that'll make you a charing pro in no time.

Is Charging an Electric Car Free?

One of the best selling points regarding electric vehicles (EVs) is how much you'll save by not having to load your car up with petrol or diesel. But is charging your EV free? It's a good question many people ask before going down the electric route. Charging an EV from your home isn't free, but it costs less than half of what you can expect to pay for filling up a fuel-powered car at the petrol station. You'll also need to pay to charge your vehicle at a charging station, although there are some free options, such as those offered by places of employment, hotels and supermarkets.

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How Much Does it Cost for a Full Charge on an Electric Car?

Charging your electric car at home costs an average of £15 for a full charge, and it's best to do it overnight so you wake up with a full battery. There is another advantage to an evening charge: it's probably the cheapest way of charging your EV, thanks to some electricity tariffs being more affordable at night. You might only have to pay around 5p per kW instead of 28p during peak hours. For anyone using charging stations around the UK, costs vary. You may pay nothing to fill it up at a hotel or supermarket. If, however, it's a charging station on the street, you can expect to pay around £1.50p per hour.

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Is it Cheaper to Charge an Electric Car at Home?

Charging your electric car at home is typically cheaper than using an on-street charger. It costs, on average, 28p per kW (52p from October 2022) during the day to charge. Whereas you can expect to pay around £1.50p per hour using an on-street charger. (Again this may change from October 2022 as rates rise). There are some caveats, however. Many charging points in public spaces like supermarkets, hotels and even car parks are free. Of course, you usually need to pay for other elements, such as the cost of staying in the hotel, groceries or parking. Other factors to consider include battery size and whether the car is hybrid or fully electric.

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How Do I Pay for Charging My Electric Car

If you own an electric car, there are two primary ways you'll pay for the electricity that powers it. The first is your electricity bill, which happens when you charge the EV at your home. It's important to be on the best home tariff to keep costs minimal. Charging your EV at night will also be cheaper than doing so during the day. The other way to pay for charging your electric car is through charging stations. These are typically located on the street, and it can cost around £1.50p per hour to charge your vehicle at one of these on-street charging stations.

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How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car?

Charging an electric car is a bit like charging anything else: how long it takes depends on several factors, including the battery size. Using the battery size in kWh / charger power in kW = charging time in hours formula can help you calculate how long it takes. And if you're looking for an approximate answer, it takes a Tesla Model 3 – one of the most popular electric cars on the market – around five to eight hours from empty to full using a 22kW charger. If you're looking to charge your car overnight using less power, a 3.6kW charger will give you a full battery between 15 and 22 hours.

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Can You Plug an Electric Car Into a Regular Outlet?

You can absolutely plug an electric car into a regular domestic socket to charge the vehicle. While specific devices can make charging faster, there's no requirement to use one. Still, you'll need to perform some checks before plugging into a regular outlet, including the compatibility of your energy network. Failure to do so could see you using an outlet that isn't suitable for electric cars, which might cause overheating. It's good to ask an electrician to see if your setup can handle electric vehicle charging from a regular outlet.

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How Long Do Electric Cars Last?

Much like a fuel-powered car, the lifespan of an electric car depends on several factors. These include the model of the vehicle, its frequency of use, the type of roads it travels on, etcetera. Therefore, it's tricky ascribing a precise figure, especially because most EV technology is still new. There are no studies to show the average lifespan of an electric vehicle. Yet, as with all new cars, you can expect them to last longer than the ones that came before, and it's no different for electric vehicles. 

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Do Electric Cars Stop Charging When Full?

What happens when an electric car reaches a full charge? Fortunately, you don't need to worry about overcharging the battery and reducing its lifespan; it has a system built to prevent overcharging. However, if you leave the battery at full capacity for an extended period, it might start having negative effects on the battery's lifespan. For this to happen, however, you would need to continuously leave the car plugged in for more than eight hours at a time after the charge has reached one hundred per cent.

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How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car at a Charging Station?

Regardless of where you charge your car, it can take as little as 30 minutes or as much as half a day (and sometimes longer). If you're using a charging station, you may leave it charged overnight to ensure a full charge. Or you could use it for a couple of hours or two to give it some juice. Ultimately, how long it takes to charge your car depends on the battery size and charging power capabilities. The typical EV can charge up to 80% (the recommended charge level) with a fast charger in as little as 30 minutes, depending on the charging source and battery capacity. 

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How Often Do You Need to Charge an Electric Car?

Range anxiety often leads to people wondering how far they can get in their car off a full charge and when they'll need to hook it up for some more juice. Fortunately, modern-day EVs can go pretty far off a single charge, with lengths of up to 350 miles. How often you charge your electric car depends on the make, model and battery size, but the average length is about 195 miles. On a motorway at 70mph, it takes around two-and-half hours to go this distance. Of course, other factors go into how often you'll need to charge, such as: where you drive, battery size and the driving climate.

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