The Basics of EV charging: Everything you need to know.

by | Jul 28, 2023 | Guide

In the UK there has been a rapid uptake of electric vehicles. With very rapid progress on what is available every day. Because of this many people are left behind without understanding the first thing about EV charging. With understanding the basics of EV charging is becoming increasingly important. Whether you’re a current or future EV owner, familiarizing yourself with the charging process, types of chargers, and relevant infrastructure is crucial. In this blog post, we will be looking into into the fundamentals of EV charging in the UK, equipping you with the knowledge you need for a smooth and convenient experience.

 

Understanding Charging Levels

EV chargers can be categorized into three levels based on the power output and charging speed. Each of these levels can help you identify the speed of the charger and allows you to better understand the differences.

Level 1

Level 1 charging is the slowest of the charging levels. Being mostly utilised at home before a charger is installed. In this level you can expect to receive 1-3kW of power. Taking 20 hours + to charge a vehicle to full. For this level of charging, you do not need an actual charger installed but instead, it utilizes a standard household socket (up to 3 kW) to receive the power for the vehicle.

Level 2

Level 2 charging is the first charging level that you need a physical charger to produce the power. With the typical power range being around 3-22kW, taking around 4- 13 hours to charge a vehicle to full based on the specific wattage and the vehicles battery size. These chargers are most commonly found at homes and at workplaces with a long daily dwell time (Usually only being used by employees). Being the most common charging type currently in the UK due to their affordability.

Level 3

Level 3 charging, also known as rapid or fast charging is the fastest available chargers available. With a range of power output from 30kW all the way up to 360kW, with an average charge time of 15min – 2 hours depending on the wattage and site of vehicles battery. All of the chargers in level 3 are known as DC (Direct current) chargers meaning they power they receive comes directly from the power supply. This also makes these chargers the most expensive due to them usually needing some extra power infrastructure installed. These chargers are most commonly found at places like motorway service station and other short stay areas.

 

Types of Charging Connectors

In the UK, there are two main charging connecters that are utilised and seen as the “Standard”. These chargers are the Type 2 and the CHAdeMO connectors. Type 2 connectors are the most common charging connecter in the UK due to it being widely for home charging and slow/fast public charging. While the CHAdeMO connectors are primarily found at rapid charging stations due to these connectors allowing you to charge your vehicles quicker. Additionally, Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors are gaining popularity as they allow for both AC and DC charging and are compatible with most EV models. Being a substitute for both commonly found connectors.

 

Charging Infrastructure in the UK

With the uptake of EV growing in the UK it should be no surprise that the charging infrastructure is doing the same. With many public charging stations becoming available in various locations, including motorway service areas, supermarkets, car parks, and city centres. With installers all across the UK helping people bring their EV charging dreams into reality. With one in particular; Greendawn, helping local installers across the UK benefit from this uptake with their installer network.

 

Public Charging Networks

Utilizing public charging networks is essential for longer journeys and when you don’t have access to home charging. Many public charging points require membership or a payment system. With many systems put in place to help making the charging process easier. If you’d like to learn more about public charging networks in the UK read our blog “A guide to charging your EV in public” here.

 

Charging Time Consideration

While there are average charging times for different speed chargers. The charging time for an EV depends on several other factors too, including the battery capacity, the charging level used and even environmental factors like weather. Level 1 charging may take 20+ hours to fully charge a vehicle, while Level 3 rapid charging can provide an 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes. Understanding the charging times associated with different levels is crucial for planning your charging needs.

 

Managing Charging Costs

Charging costs vary depending on the charging station, time of use, and the electricity tariff. Some public charging stations offer free or discounted charging, while others have pricing based on kilowatt-hours (kWh). Time-of-use tariffs, can offer lower electricity rates during off-peak hours, enabling EV owners to optimize charging costs. Additionally, government grants and incentives are available to support the adoption of EVs and charging infrastructure. If you’d like to learn more about how you can save money with your EV chargepoint installation check out our blog “saving money with your EV ChargePoint installation” here.

 

Safety Considerations

Safety is extremely important when it comes to EV charging. You should always make sure you follow manufacturer guidelines and ensure your charging equipment is certified for safety standards. Never use damaged cables or connectors and avoid charging in extreme weather conditions. It’s also recommended to have a qualified electrician to install the charger and is a necessity if you’re applying for a grant or is in a public space.

 

Conclusion

Understanding the basics of EV charging is essential for a seamless transition to electric mobility in the UK. Familiarizing yourself with charging levels, connector types, charging infrastructure, home charging solutions, public charging networks, charging times, managing costs, and safety considerations empowers you to make informed decisions and ensures a hassle-free charging experience. By embracing the growing EV charging infrastructure and utilizing the available resources, you can embark on a sustainable and convenient journey towards electric transportation.

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