A guide to electric car home charging and charger installation

26 November 2020 | Aimee Tweedale

Electric vehicles, just like their owners, get their energy at nighttime. This is because many EV owners use home charging points to power up their cars while they sleep.

Although you could use your normal 3-pin plug to charge your car, most EV owners go for a home charging unit instead, because it’s much faster. Think of it like a power nap!

An electric car charging

A 3-pin plug will charge your car at around 2.3 kW. This means it would take about 17 hours to fully charge a car with a 40kWh battery. EV home chargers are more powerful.

If you plugged the same car into a 7kW charging point, it would cut down on your charging time by over 11 hours hours. That’s enough time to watch the entire Lord of the Rings film trilogy – which for some of us, felt like an eternity!

Having your own charger means you don’t have to rely so much on public charging points – and it’s a smart choice money-wise, too. So: what’s the best EV charger to get, how much do they cost, and how do you install them?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about electric car charging at home. 

How to choose the right EV charger for you

There are a few different things to think about when picking your home electric car charging point.

  • Power: You can get 3kW and 7kW chargers, and even 22kW, but 7kW is the most common.
  • Cost: According to the RAC, the average is around £8001 – but you may be able to get a grant to help you pay. More on that below!
  • Cable: You’ll need to decide if you want a tethered charger (with a cable) or an untethered one (without a cable). Tethered is less fuss, but untethered has the bonus of being able to connect to pretty much any electric car.
  • Design: You’ll have to see the charger on your wall every day, after all – so get something you like the look of!
  • Other features: There are a ton of cool EV charger features out there – you might want to get a charger that’s compatible with your solar panels, for example.
Tethered vs untethered electric car chargers: pros and cons

What is an EV smart charger?

The smartest choice is to get a smart charger.

These are chargers that are internet-connected, so they can communicate with your car and with the grid. This means they can work out the cheapest, most energy-efficient times to charge your car. So they not only save you money, but help save the planet, too. 

Find out more in our guide to EV smart chargers 

What do 3kW, 7kW and 22kW mean when talking about car chargers?

A kilowatt (or kW) is 1,000 watts. It’s basically a measure of power. So a 7kW charger has 7 kilowatts of charging power.

We measure the energy of electric car batteries in kilowatt hours (or kWh). One kWh is the same as the amount of energy used if you kept a 1,000 watt appliance running for an hour.

Read more in our guide to kW and kWh

To roughly work out how many hours a charger would take to fully top up your car, just divide the energy of the battery in kWh by the speed of the charger in kW.

So, a 60kWh car battery needs 60 kilowatts (or 60,000 watts) of power to fully charge. Which means a 7kW charger could do the job in a little over 8 hours.

If you're still not sure about the 3 main different charging options for your EV (slow, fast and rapid), check out our blog on the subject.

Can I get a home car charging point installed?

You can get a charger installed in your home in the UK if you:

  • Own the property, or you have permission from your landlord
  • Have your own off-street parking
  • Have a WiFi connection at home 

That’s it!

How much does an EV charger cost?

The average cost for getting a home charging unit installed is around £800. But there are cheaper options. 

If you go for a charger with less power, you’ll find a 3kW unit will probably cost you between £250 and £500. The more powerful 7kW chargers tend to be between £450 and £8002 – and if you’re ready to splash out, super speedy chargers can go up to £1,500 and more. 

That might sound like a lot, but don’t worry: There are government grants to help you cover the cost. More on that below. 

Driving an electric car

Start smart charging with OVO – and save £70!

Arranging installation of a home charger is easy, and you can do it through us. Make the most out of your electric vehicle with a next generation smart charger – now available at an electrifying price, exclusively for OVO members. Find out more about EV Smart chargers here.

Are there any government grants for EV home chargers?

Yes! The government has an Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which exists to help out EV drivers with 75% (up to £350) of the costs of installing a home charger.

If you’ve bought an eligible electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle since 1st October 2016, and you meet the list of conditions below, you’re quids in! Conditions include: 

  • You’re installing a smart charger
  • You have off-street parking
  • The date of installation isn’t more than 4 months ahead of the date of delivery, or the date you became the registered driver of the EV
  • You’re using an OLEV-approved charge point installer

Find out more about who’s eligible and how to apply for the scheme in our guide to grants for EV drivers

Who installs the electric car charge point?

You can arrange a home charger installation via your energy supplier.

At OVO, our recommended smart charging provider ChargedEV understands the EV industry inside out. After all, they’ve overseen the installation of over 2,000 EV chargers at our members’ homes so far. 

Where to install the EV home charger

Engineers have to follow a few electric car charging point installation regulations. This might affect where you can put the charger in your house.

Before installing your charger, the engineers will look at some photos of where you want to put it. They might ask you to send the photos, or they may come and take some themselves as part of a site survey. 

They’ll mostly be looking for ‘sim touches’ – metal objects that are connected to your electricity supply. Any potential sim touch has to be at least 2.5 metres away from the charger.

For example, if you have lights in a metal case, they’ll ask you to replace the case with a plastic one. And in some rare cases – like if there’s a street lamp by your driveway – it won’t be possible to install the charger in that site, so you’ll have to pick a new location.

What happens on the day of your electric car charging point installation 

Hooray - you’ve made the decision to switch to a greener way of charging, and your installation day has arrived! What now?

Here’s what to expect.

  1. The engineers will let you know what time you need to be at home to meet them.
  2. Based on the photos they’ve already seen, they’ll know where it needs to go. They’ll set about positioning the charger in that spot
  3. Then they’ll turn off the power supply (for safety) during this next bit.
  4. The next step is to finish installing the charger and connect it to your main electricity supply.
  5. They’ll turn the power back on and test it, to make sure it’s fully safe.
  6. At this point, if you’re getting a smart charger, you should give them the WiFi password so they can connect it to the internet.
  7. Finally, they’ll show you how to use it!

What to prepare for your EV home charger install

To avoid any nasty surprises on the day, it’s good to share as much information as you can with your installers ahead of time.

They may do a site survey, which means they’ll send someone to have a look at your home before your install day to make sure everything’s in order. You (or another adult) will need to be at home for this.

On the day, make sure you’re ready by clearing the area they’ll be working in. In particular, make sure the route between the chargepoint and your electricity supply meter or distribution board is clear. This is where a cable will be fitted to connect the two.

Plus – have your WiFi password to hand!

How long will it take to install the charger?

All in all, it’s usually about 2-3 hours on average. More complicated installations will take a bit longer.

If there are any major hiccups, you’ll be able to reschedule the installation for a day that’s convenient for everyone.

What’s included in an EV charger home installation?

Our standard home-charging installation package includes:

  • Fitting the charge point to a brick or plaster wall (or sometimes another suitable structure!)
  • Up to 15 metres of 6mm power cable, to connect the distribution board or electricity supply meter and the chargepoint
  • Fitting and testing electrical connections and protections for the charge point
  • Up to 5 metres of white plastic conduit, to cover up the wires
  • Installation of one earth electrode near the charge point

Thinking about buying an electric car?

Find out more about how much it is to buy, run, and charge an electric car, and how far an EV can go on a single charge.

And if you're interested in powering your EV, plug in to OVO Drive!

OVO’s Drive tariff offers unbeatable flat rates for charging your electric car at any time. But the good stuff doesn’t stop there. Our members also get:

  • 100% renewable electricity as standard3
  • A tree planted in your name every single year you’re with us4
  • An award-winning smart meter experience (Uswitch 2020)
  • A £50 gift card every time you introduce a friend to us
  • A 5-Star TrustPilot rating by 30,000 members

So why not get a quote, and switch to OVO today? You could be charging your EV and saving money sooner than you think. 

If you'd like to find out more about how to charge your EV not just at home, but at work or on the go, check out our handy guide. 

Sources and references\ 2\ 3  The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.\ 4 Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.

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