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Electric vehicle charging

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A guide to charging an electric car including how long it takes and how much it costs

There are two options for electric vehicle charging at home: using a standard plug or installing an electric car charger. While both options offer convenience, control and cost efficiencies the main differences come down to speed, safety and supporting smart technology available. In this guide we will look at some of the important factors to consider when installing an electric vehicle charger at home.

While home charging is the most popular way of powering up, there is a network of public electric vehicle charging stations across Northern Ireland which provide a handy solution if your remaining mileage range is running low while travelling or if you want to take advantage of super speedy rapid charging. There are several ways you can check the availability and search for nearby charge points:


Electric vehicle charging at home

All electric vehicles come with a standard 3 pin plug charger, often known as a 'Granny' charger however a dedicated electric vehicle charge point can be installed at your home. This is typically a compact unit that mounts to a wall either externally in a driveway or internally in garage or a place that is convenient for charging your electric vehicle when it is parked.  Home chargers come with either a fixed connected charging cable or a socket for plugging in a portable electric vehicle charging cable. 

An electric vehicle charging station at home is the preferred option for most electric vehicle owners as it brings a host of benefits in reduced charging times, safety assurances and the addition of accessories and smart products that can help make your home charging experience even easier.

Charging your electric car at home offers great flexibility and with EV energy plans available to support your charging habits, you can take advantage of reduced night-time rates for overnight charging or favourable day rates if you’re mostly home during the day. Choosing the energy plan that will most cost effectively charge your electric vehicle is a good starting point if you already own or are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle. Find out more about EV Tariffs.

Electric vehicle charger for your home – important factors to consider

Electric vehicle charger power ratings
Power ratings for electric vehicle chargers are measured in Kilowatts (kW). When installing an electric vehicle charger at home this is important information to consider. Home car charging points are usually available in 3.6kW or 7kW options. A 3.6kW charge point is ideal for a 6–10-hour overnight charge in comparison a 7kW charger can fully recharge most electric vehicles in 3-4 hours. 

While both options are notably faster than charging your vehicle with a standard 3 pin plug, the 7kW electric vehicle charge point offers the fastest charge and is usually the best choice for a home installation.

Electric vehicle charging times
There are 5 main factors which affect charging times:

1. Battery size - Bigger electric vehicle batteries will take longer to charge however they come with the          benefit of greater mileage range.

2. Battery level - If your battery charge is empty, it will take longer to charge.

3. Max charging rate - You can only charge at the maximum charging rate for the car.

4. Max charging rate of charge point - Even if your car can accept a higher charging rate, the car will only      charge at the rate available from the charge point.

5. Environmental factors - Cold temperatures can slow charging times.

The table below indicates the length of time it would take to charge a Nissan Leaf (2018) using various charging points of different power ratings.  Essentially, electric vehicle charge points with a higher power rating will charge your electric vehicle at a much faster rate - although it’s worth noting that generally the highest rating available for homes and domestic properties is 7kW. 

Approx. rate power of charge pointSlow AC/DC Approx. miles of range added per hour Time to charge 40 kWh
3.7 kW Slow AC Up to 15 miles 11 hrs
7 kW Fast AC Up to 30 miles 6 hrs
22 kW Fast  AC Up to 90 miles 6 hrs
43-50 kW Rapid DC Up to 90 miles in 30 mins 1 hr

Electric vehicle charging costs
The cost of charging your electric vehicle will depend on your electricity provider and there are dedicated EV tariffs available to support electric vehicle home charging. 

Electric vehicle charger installation cost
There are a wide range of electric vehicle chargers available from various manufacturers and suppliers and many come with the cost of installation included but it’s worth researching and comparing prices to find the best option for your car and your charging needs.

Electric vehicle charging safety and reliability 
A home electric vehicle charge point should always be installed by a professional electrician. The electric vehicle charge point will be connected to your electricity supply. In total, the installation process usually takes around three hours and upon completion, your installer will inform NIE Networks of the charge point install at your property. They can do this on the NIE Networks website.

If you are eligible for the EVHS Grant, a government grant for electric vehicles, at the time of install it will be deducted from your total install cost. The grant provides up to £350 towards the cost of purchasing and installing a home charge point.

It is advisable to ensure your electric vehicle charge point is tested and certified by a respected safety testing organisation such as ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation).

You may also want to look at the support available from the supplier of your electric vehicle charger. This would include any guarantees or warranty offered and customer service either over the phone or online, as getting help quickly can be useful when you need to charge up!

Electric car charging smart technology 
The ability to use the home electric vehicle charge point to its full potential can be aided through smart technology. Smart electric vehicle charge points are connected to an app, allowing you to manage charging, schedule reminders to charge as well as helping you to keep an eye on charging costs and miles driven. This can help you to achieve an all-round better electric vehicle experience and maybe even greater savings!

Electric vehicle grants available in Northern Ireland

Unfortunately, from April 2022, the EVHS will no longer be open to homeowners who live in single-unit properties such as bungalows and detached, semi-detached or terraced housing. Anyone who meets the criteria above will need to have their electric vehicle charge point installed by 31st March 2022. The EVHS will remain open to homeowners who live in flat and people who live in rental accommodation.

To find out more about the energy plans and EV products available with us, speak to one of our energy experts today.