Electric car charging at home
Power up with your own chargepoint
If you drive an electric vehicle (EV), being able to charge your car at home is a game changer.
No more regular stops at the petrol station – instead, you can top up your car’s battery when it’s parked outside for a few hours (and you’re busy inside getting on with other important day-to-day jobs).
How to do it? Via a home chargepoint, a reliable and convenient way to charge your car.
With expert help from Energy Saving Trust, here’s a Q&A to explain how they work and why they could be worth it for you.
What is a home chargepoint?
Typically it’s a box installed on an outside wall of your home. Using a cable and plug, you can then connect it – and therefore your home electricity supply – directly to your car.
In most cases, the box is small (similar in size to a bread bin or large kitchen toaster).
How does it work?
It’s as straightforward as picking up the cable and plugging it straight into your car’s power socket. Once the connection is made, the battery will begin to charge.
All new chargepoints sold in Great Britain for private use must now be ‘smart’ - able to be controlled by screen from a smartphone or tablet, or directly on the chargepoint. Smart features typically include the ability to:
- set reminders to charge;
- schedule your home chargepoint to switch on at certain times, for example, when electricity is cheaper;
- keep an eye on how much electricity you’re using if you’ve got a smart meter too.
And you can often control all this from your EV too.
You may also find a special electricity tariff that lets you pay less for energy used overnight, which could help you save money. Some home chargepoints will have a lock on them to prevent anyone else plugging in to your supply. Discover more about smart charging and its benefits.
Are there different types of home chargepoint?
Yes. Most home chargepoints have a power rating of 3.7kW (a slow chargepoint) or 7.4kW (a fast chargepoint). Although faster models are available, these are often not compatible with domestic electricity supplies and more expensive - so are more common in commercial settings.
For many EV owners, a so-called slow chargepoint may suit their charging needs, allowing them to recharge overnight and top up during the day. Fast chargepoints charge your vehicle quicker but will cost you more.
You should also consider whether you want tethered or non-tethered cables.
A tethered chargepoint has a built-in charging cable and space to store it. By comparison, a non-tethered chargepoint is just a socket so you’ll have to store your charging cable in the car boot or somewhere convenient at home. You should talk to your chargepoint installer to discuss your preferences.
How long does it take to charge my battery?
This depends on the size of your EV battery, charging capability of your car and the speed of your home chargepoint.
If you have a specific EV in mind, Zap map has a tool which estimates the time to charge a variety of EVs on the market, as well as the total cost and cost per mile for home charging.
Most people tend to charge their cars overnight a few times a week to simply keep the battery topped up and won’t need anywhere near as long, especially as it is recommended to keep your battery charged between 20-80%, Energy Saving Trust says.
But it depends, of course, on your driving style, speed and the distances you travel behind the wheel.
What could it cost to charge my car using a home chargepoint?
According to Energy Saving Trust, the average pure EV (not hybrid) can drive 225 miles on a full home charge and could cost you around £9 in electricity to drive 100 miles. If you were to drive the same distance in a petrol or diesel car, it could cost around £15 to pay for the fuel.
As a general rule, you’re likely to be able to make the greatest cost savings on electricity if you’re able to use a special off-peak overnight electricity tariff.
If I buy a chargepoint for installation outside my home, how much might it cost?
The cost of the charger and its installation will vary according to suppliers, chargepoint features, where you live and where you’d like it on your property. However, you could expect to pay around £1,000 on average according to trade website Checkatrade.com.
Unless you’re a qualified electrician, you can’t install the home chargepoint yourself.
Depending on how your home is built, there may be extra charges too. For example, if your chargepoint location is a long way from your home’s main fuse box or requires an underground cable, the extra work and wiring will add to the installation bill.
As a rule, the chargepoint should usually be no more than five metres away from your car so the cable will reach.
An accredited installer approved by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) should survey your property first to give you a quote before work starts.
Can I get any help with installation costs?
There may be help, depending on your circumstances.
If you own a house in the UK and live there as your main home, there’s no Government help available.
If you’re a flat owner in the UK you may be eligible to get either £350 or 75% off the cost of buying and installing a home chargepoint – whichever is lower – through a Government grant. If you're renting a flat or a house, you may also be eligible for the same discount. Talk to your landlord and see what can be agreed, including for installation costs.
And if you’re a landlord with property let out, you may be eligible for help too.
If you’re not eligible for any Government help, try shopping around to see what different providers offer. It’s also worth a look at energy companies, as many are starting to offer more competitive installation deals.
Some car makers may also contribute to the cost of installing a home chargepoint when you’re buying an EV. If it’s not immediately obvious, always ask the sales staff as it may sometimes be part of a deal.
Do I need to have a driveway or live in a house?
Installing a chargepoint is easiest if you live in a house you own, with a driveway or off-street parking spot. If that’s the case, there’s likely nothing stopping you – and unless you live in a listed building, you won’t usually need planning permission either.
Ideally, the chargepoint will be in range of your home Wi-Fi connection to be able to use its smart functions – but it’s possible to get ones that will work with 3, 4 or 5G for mobiles instead.
You might still be able to have a chargepoint if you live in a leasehold flat as long as you’ve got a dedicated parking bay. Contact your freeholder or building manager to get things moving. If a friendly neighbour has already installed a chargepoint in their parking space, why not ask them to find out what steps they took?
What if my home doesn’t have access to a driveway?
No off-street parking? If home charging isn't an option, public chargepoints may be able to suit your charging needs or you could encourage your employer to install a chargepoint.
If there aren't many public chargepoints available in your area or on your regular routes, you could speak to your local council - it can apply for some government funding to help with part of the cost of installing on-street chargepoints. Contact yours and see what they may be able to do.
I’m not convinced I need a chargepoint. Can I use an extension lead from a home socket instead?
You may have plenty of spare sockets at home but it’s not a good idea to charge an electric car this way. For safety reasons, Energy Saving Trust recommend extension leads from a home electricity socket should not be used.
Is there anything else I should consider?
If, after consideration and discussion with anyone who might need to consent such as a freeholder or landlord, you think a home charger could be right for your circumstances, make sure you further discuss any potential benefits, savings or improvements with the relevant provider.
All information and estimates provided by Energy Saving Trust are correct as at 16 March 2023. Movements in the price of gas and electricity since the date of their estimates may have an impact on the estimated savings. The estimated costs and savings are included as a good start for you to understand more about the potential costs and savings. However, the estimates given could depend on a number of factors, including type of car and how old it is, its battery size and your energy tariff.
This article does not constitute advice and is for general guidance only. Always undertake your own research before taking any action.
If you decide to access any of the third-party websites, you do so entirely at your own risk.
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