EV charging: all of your big questions answered

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Here are some simple answers to some of the big questions and myths around everyday EV charging.

Here’s how Hive EV Home Charging and British Gas are making it simple and more cost-effective to keep your electric car fully charged at home

Of the big reasons to upgrade to an electric car, the significant cost savings of EV charging certainly come near the top of the list. But while every wave of new all-electric models boasts ever-improved range, and while the wealth of public charging options grows every day, there are still concerns about range and charging anxiety. 

At Autocar, we want to give more people the confidence to go electric. That’s why we’ve partnered with Hive and British Gas as our Official Home Charging Partner – because there’s no substitute for home charging as the easiest and most cost-effective answer to many of the worries about range and recharging.

So, to get you started, here are some simple answers to some of the big questions and myths around everyday EV charging.

Learn more about how Hive EV Home Charging can make charging easy and help you reduce your electric car running costs

Where’s the best place to charge? On-the-go or at home?

Think of a public charger as a solid solution for a fast, convenient, on-the-go top-up while you give your range a big boost over coffee or lunch on a long road trip, or add a few miles to your range while you’re doing an afternoon’s shopping or a trip to the gym. With over 30,000 charging devices across the UK, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to add a little extra range on your way from A to B.

But why not re-think charging? With more electric cars on the road than ever before, the public charging network can get congested, it’s not always reliable, and long wait times for a charger to become free are quite common. Plus, while public charging costs are, on average, cheaper than petrol or diesel, they’re still relatively expensive. And the wealth of different charging operators can make paying for charging hard.That’s where the sort of smart home charging solutions provided by the likes of Hive EV Home Charging reign supreme. As you simply plug in your car at home, when it’s not being used anyway, it’s instantly more convenient. It’s also more cost-effective, too. According to the Energy Saving Trust, over 10,000 miles you can expect to pay around 40% less by opting for home charging over public charging.By charging at the most cost-effective home energy rates overnight, or using an electric car-friendly tariff, you can cut your driving costs significantly. And, as your car is likely to be fully charged for your next trip, you can wake up knowing that you’ve got the potential to start every trip with the maximum range, ready to take you wherever you need to go. Petrol can’t come close to beating that.

What type of cables do I need?

Think charging cables can be confusing? Let’s make it simple. Cross-compatible Type 2 and CCS (Combined Charging System) cables are used by most major car brands. The Type 2 has a 7.4kW capacity – perfect for home chargers, such as the Alfen smart charger used by Hive and British Gas. The CCS is essentially an amped-up version for rapid on-the-go recharging.

Some Japanese and Korean cars come with CHAdeMO charging cables, but many public chargers and home charging solutions – including Hive EV Charging – offer a choice of both types of connection. When on-the-go it’s always worth checking in advance using your car’s sat-nav or a reputable third-party crowd-sourced smartphone app for moment-to-moment live updates.

How long does an electric car take to charge?

Just like a fuel tank, the size of an electric car’s battery determines not only how much energy it can hold, but also how long it will take to see the famed ‘full charge’ icon. SUVs and performance cars with large-capacity long-distance batteries will naturally take longer than city-friendly electric cars with more compact batteries.

Equally, the speed at which you put electricity into the battery determines charging time. Motorway-style public rapid and ultra-rapid chargers deliver big boosts of range that get you moving again in as little as 10 minutes to 40 minutes, while fast destination chargers in supermarkets, urban car parks and out-of-town leisure centres provide a long-fill top-up while you’re doing longer activities like shopping, having a meal, catching a movie or having a session at the gym.On-the-go public charging can often be expensive, though. That’s why waiting to get home and plug in for some simple cost-effective home charging is often the best solution. Using Hive EV Charging’s powerful 7.4kW Alfen charger, it will take roughly 10 hours to fully charge an electric car with a large-capacity 80 kWh battery, and just under eight hours to do the same with a small to mid-size electric car (47kW–62kW).

That means that, when plugged in at home overnight, most models will be fully charged by the time you leave for work in the morning. And, as you’ll be charging on the most cost-effective overnight home energy rates, it’ll be significantly cheaper in the long run, too.

How much does home charging cost?

With petrol and diesel prices currently at an all-time high, swapping to an electric car and opting for home charging over the more expensive public charging is likely to save you exponentially more per year than you might imagine – especially with an intelligent charging solution from Hive and British Gas that has more than a few clever tricks up its sleeve.

Hive EV Charging offers a simple and convenient way to make the most of cheaper, greener energy rates overnight when the grid is at its quietest. Hive’s ultra-intuitive smartphone app will also display your total spend allowing you to see whether you’re charging at peak rates, helping you decide when to top-up to avoid extra costs.

Charging a small to mid-sized electric car, such as the Vauxhall Mokka-e could cost as little as £14* – that’s taking into account an average electricity rate of 28 pence per kilowatt hour. Even a larger electric SUV with a longer-distance battery could cost you £24** to charge up from 10-80% – that’s 250+ miles of range for less than the price of a starter, main and drink at one of your favourite high street spots.Will home charging raise my electricity bill?

Charging your electric car at home will naturally raise your electricity bills, but that increase can be minimised by using a more EV friendly electric tariff. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save up to £300 a year by switching to an affordable fixed-rate energy tariff.

When is the best time to charge an electric car at home?

Put simply, home charging tends to work best when you top-up overnight. Why? Well, think of it in terms of peak and off-peak train times. You spend more to travel when more people are using the service, and less when they’re not.

With demand on the grid – and the price of electric rates – highest during the day, a more leisurely charge during night-time hours allows you to effectively buy the electricity when it’s less in demand, and therefore cheaper. There are added environmental benefits, too. Charging your car overnight often allows you to make the most of energy pulled from green sources.

If you do need to top up during the day, the intelligent Hive EV Charging smartphone app syncs with the smart home charger to let you keep track of your charge and your spend, letting you top-up just the right amount to keep moving, without racking up a big bill.

Will I be charged more if my car is always plugged in?

Think of charging an electric car like using a kettle. For convenience, you’ll probably keep your kettle plugged in 24/7, but it only uses electricity when it’s switched on and boiling water. The smart Alfen home charger used by Hive EV Charging will stop feeding the batteries once your car is fully charged, meaning you don’t have to worry about forgetting to unplug, or run the risk of incurring additional charges.

How often should I charge my electric car?

Given the impressive range of modern electric cars and the types – and lengths – of trips that we actually do in them, you might not need to plug in and charge quite as often as you may think.

For example, the average daily commute of a typical UK driver can be as little as 10 miles to 20 miles. Which means that a mid-size to large electric car with a range of 250 miles could be used for a week or more between charges. Equally, 250 miles of range could easily get you from London to Devon, from Birmingham to Newcastle, or from Glasgow to Inverness on one charge.

So, it’s clear that you don’t always need to plug in or do a full charge after every trip. But, by plugging into a smart home charger when you arrive home every night, it’s the easiest way to ensure you start every trip with the maximum range, while also keeping your running costs low.

Will constant charging damage my battery?

With tens of thousands of charging locations around the UK you’ll never struggle for a place to plug in. Plus, with a convenient smart charger at home, it’s all the more tempting to top-up more often.But, while the batteries in electric cars – just like those in a laptop or smartphone – are designed to be recharged multiple times during their life, the type of charging you do can have a big impact on protecting their long-term performance.

The speed at which you charge a battery is one of the biggest factors. While it’s faster to recharge using a motorway-style rapid public charger, it creates a lot of heat which has the potential to shorten the life of your car’s battery over an extended period of time. So, you should only use rapid chargers for a quick top-up when you really need to.A more relaxed, slower, steady charge – the sort done with home charging – means less heat and a healthier, longer-lasting battery. The Alfen smart charger used by Hive EV Charging explicitly opts for a 7.4kW output, as it’s the kindest charging rate for your car’s battery – preventing overheating, strain on your home electrics and any form of unwanted strain on your car’s battery.

As the biggest reason for topping-up an electric car is range anxiety, having the security of a home charger will help ease that fear and help enjoy the impressive range a modern electric car affords for longer.

Can I overcharge an electric car?

Technically, no. As with most gadgets, the battery in your electric car is designed with a battery management system that includes a built-in buffer – preventing you from overcharging and potentially damaging your battery.

Is there ever a danger I’ll run out of charge?

Let’s put it another way. How often do you worry about running out of petrol? With over 30,000 public charging devices across the UK at 19,000 locations, but only 8,378 petrol stations, it’s easy to see how charging anxiety should be a thing of the past.Plus, given that most daily journeys are around 10 miles to 20 miles in length and are done from home – where a smart home charger and cost-effective overnight charging means your car can start every journey, every morning with a full battery and maximum range – you’ll never fear the “needle on empty”.

Is it really possible to cut my home charging and driving costs?

Yes. Hive EV Charing’s smartphone app will tell you how many miles of range have been added to your car’s battery every time you top-up, based on the miles per kilowatt hour it’s achieving in the real world. Understanding the real-world efficiency of your electric car means you can adjust your driving style and potentially go further.

So, as you can see, home charging – especially when you opt for a trusted supplier like What Car?/Autocar Official Home Charging Partner Hive and British Gas – is an incredibly cost-effective and simple solution to electric car ownership, helping you go further for less.

Learn more about how Hive EV Home Charging can make charging easy and help you reduce your electric car running costs

*Based on a Vauxhall Mokka-e SE NAV Premium 50kWh Auto (199-mile range) charging at a rate of 28 pence per kilowatt hour, with electricity costing 9 pence per mile.

**Based on a Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE 90kWh Auto (267-mile range) charging at a rate of 28 pence per kilowatt hour, with electricity costing 9 pence per mile.

Source: Autocar

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