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How do I charge an electric car?

Electric car charging explained | OVO Energy

At home? Or at one of the rapidly growing numbers of public charging points? However you choose to charge your electric car, government grants coupled with improved charging infrastructure is set to make things a whole lot easier.

How to charge my electric car at home

Electricity is everywhere, which means charging is a cinch if you have off-street parking. In theory, you can just park your car in the drive and plug it in as you would any domestic appliance. However, it’s advisable to get an electrician to:

  • Check your wiring first.
    They’ll ensure it can take the extra load. 
  • Install a proper home-charging point.
    This will charge your car faster than a standard 3-pin plug. It’s also deemed much safer, and it’ll negate the need to run the cable through a front door or open window. You can find out about the costs, here. Or you can try a recommended chargepoint installer, like

Yes, it all sounds a little pricey, but there are government grants that can help you cover the cost1.

How to charge my electric car at a public power point

If you plan to drive further than the battery can manage in a single charge, you’ll need to charge up at a public charging point on the way. There are already more than 12,7902 across the UK, and that number’s increasing practically every day as the infrastructure for supporting electric cars is improving. What’s more, lots of these charge points have parking spots specifically reserved for electric cars. 

Naturally you’ll have a more stress-free time of it if you have off-street parking that allows you to charge up at home. But it’s also worth investigating whether you have a charge point near (or at) your workplace.

How do I find my nearest public charger?

Sites like Zap Map can show you how to find a charging station in your area. But it’s worth noting that charging stations are looked after by different network operators, or energy companies. Some may ask you to register with them, and pay a sign-up fee before you use their charging points. Others operate under simple, pay as you go style setups.  

How long does an electric car take to charge?

This all depends on the model of your car and where you’re charging it. Take one of the smaller pure electric cars, a Nissan Leaf hatchback, as an example (in each case from a totally empty battery):

  • Charging from an ordinary plug socket in your home = 12-15 hours
  • Using a dedicated home ‘wall box’ = 4-8 hours
  • At a public Rapid AC or DC charging station (80% charged only) = 30 minutes3.

As you can see, rapid AC or DC charging stations (known as ‘fast chargers’) make life with an electric car considerably easier. 

How long does a battery last once it’s fully charged?

Most new electric cars can reach about 100 miles on a fully charged battery – that’s plenty if you’re just driving around town, but longer journeys need planning in advance, so you need to know where to find public charging points on your route. If you've pushed the boat out and invested in a top electric car model, you might be able to travel as far as 300 miles4.

You also need to factor in the time it will take to recharge your electric car’s battery before you can continue your journey. This could be as little as half an hour if you don’t need to top up to 100% capacity (and you’re using a fast charger), but it might well take longer3.

Does fast-charging an electric car battery damage it?

In general, the answer is that fast-charging degrades the battery more quickly than standard charging. The exact level of degradation varies according to a wide range of factors, and even the car manufacturers themselves have disagreed a little. The question isn't, ‘can you fast charge?’ it’s more ‘how often?’ Unfortunately the answer isn’t definitive, but it’s thought that regular fast-charging speeds up battery degradation5, with the extent varying from battery to battery and vehicle to vehicle. 

Do electric car batteries decay? 

Most electric car batteries are lithium-based and will decay, but only over many years of use, and for the following reasons:

  • High temperatures usually caused by overcharging or an incorrect voltage.
  • Charging a battery to 100% or letting it drop to 0% too often.
  • A build-up of material that blocks the flow of ions within the battery.

Luckily most electric cars come with a battery warranty lasting between 8 to 10 years, and many manufacturers have included built-in precautions. These prevent the batteries from overheating and you from overcharging them, or letting them run too low.

What’s the impact of battery decay on car performance?

If you own an iPhone, you’ll be familiar with the battery life degrading over time, which means it doesn’t hold its charge for as long as it used to. Well, electric car batteries are made of the same material (lithium) and the same thing happens. The impact on performance is a reduced ‘range', eg. you can’t drive so far on a full battery.

Thinking of buying an EV? Check our EV Energy Plan designed for electric car owners

We can help you charge your electric car everywhere, for less. Our EV Everywhere tariff is designed specially for owners of electric (and plugin hybrid) cars, and comes with fixed energy prices for two years, 100% renewable energy and free membership of Polar Plus, the UK's biggest EV charging network.

By the way, if you'd like to learn about whether EVs really are better for the environment than petrol or hybrid cars, check out our handy guide.


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