One of the most common questions drivers ask when considering an electric vehicle for the first time is, “Can I charge my electric car at home?” The short answer is yes, assuming you have a suitable vehicle charging point installed.
The next question most people ask is, “Can I plug my car into house mains?” and again, the short answer is yes, in most cases, an EV will come with a three-pin charging cable that can connect to a standard domestic electricity circuit.
However, as you might imagine, there are a lot of factors that can determine whether you can charge electric cars at your home and, even if you can, whether it’s a good idea to plug into a standard wall socket.
In this guide, we’ll look at what’s possible and what’s best to get your battery back up to 100% in the shortest possible time, and at the lowest cost.
The key is to keep the car battery topped up regularly rather than drain it and have to recharge it from a low base. Keeping the car topped up means you are always ready to go!
Are All Electric Car Chargers The Same?
No. Domestic electric car chargers differ in several ways, which can affect the cost and convenience of your home EV charge point once it’s installed.
Some of the main differences include:
Tethered Or Untethered
The two main types of wall charge points are tethered and untethered (this is sometimes called socketed or universal).
- Tethered charge points have a built-in Type 1 or Type 2 charging cable.
- Untethered charge points have a socket into which you plug your car’s cable.
As long as your vehicle is compatible , a tethered charge point is slightly more convenient to use. However, untethered charge points are compatible with different kinds of EVs and are likely to work with future models, even if a Type 3 cable is introduced.
Currently the main charge points for top-up charging at home, work and destinations is the Type 2 charger.
Power And Charging Speed
The power rating of the charge point can affect how quickly your vehicle charges — and any dedicated wall charger should be significantly faster than plugging into your domestic electricity sockets.
Domestic EV charge points typically come in one of three energy ratings:
- 6kW (Considered a ‘slow’ charger)
- 2kW (Considered a ‘fast’ charger)
- 22kW (Also ‘fast’ and much faster than 7.2kW)
Typically a 3.6kW charge point will take overnight to get your car close to a full charge, whereas a 7.2kW charger will take around four hours, and a 22kW socket can do the job in as little as one to two hours.
Smart charge points can be controlled remotely via the internet, allowing you to reduce the cost of recharging your car by activating the socket at night when tariffs may be cheaper.
To use this capability, your charge point needs a reliable wireless internet connection, so it will need to be positioned where it has a strong signal from the Wi-Fi inside your home.
What Is A Wallbox Charger?
A wallbox charger is a dedicated charge point installed on the wall of your home (or on other buildings such as a workplace). It can be tethered or untethered, any power rating, and modern wallbox chargers have the kind of ‘smart’ capabilities mentioned above.
Wallbox chargers are game-changers for owning or leasing an EV. Up to now, they are the best answer to that all-important question, “Can you plug electric cars in at home?”
If your initial answer was “no” due to a lack of conveniently placed three-pin sockets, a dedicated wallbox charger can give you a secure, weatherproof place to plug in when you get home from a long drive.
How Much Does It Cost To Install An Electric Car Home Charger?
Wall chargers answer the question “Can you charge electric cars at home?” but they don’t instantly answer the question of how much it costs to charge an EV at home.
That’s because there’s an initial cost to cover: the cost of the charge point hardware itself, and the labour cost of an expert to install it in the right place and connect the power supply correctly.
From April 2022, the UK government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which covers 75% of the cost of installation (up to a maximum grant of £350), is only available to residents of flats and rental accommodation — and no longer to bungalows, terraced, semi-detached or detached houses.
Without the grant, a new home charge point is likely to cost around £1,000, including equipment and installation. Chargers with higher energy ratings cost more upfront, and about 20% of the total cost goes in labour.
However, it’s worth remembering that an electric vehicle can save a lot of money on fuel, especially if you cover a lot of miles each year (e.g., a medium-length daily commute), so that initial cost will soon be repaid by the money you save.
Can I Plug My Electric Car Into A Regular Socket?
If you don’t have a wallbox charger — or anywhere to install one — charging from a regular socket is an option. This is also possible if, for example, you are visiting friends and family and need to charge your car overnight for the return journey.
Charging from an ordinary electricity socket is not ideal. You will need to run the cable out to your car, without leaving your car or home unsecured. Through the letterbox is one option, or a weatherproof outdoor socket if you already have one for running your lawnmower and other garden tools.
A standard socket cannot provide the power needed for rapid charging, so you should expect the process to take much longer, but it is possible when no other options are available.
How Do I Charge My Car With No Driveway?
Electric car charging at home with no driveway is a challenge in itself. If you can park immediately outside your house, you may still be able to run your charging cable to a standard socket in your home — but you must ensure it is not a trip hazard to pedestrians.
Alternatives are starting to hit the market, including portable chargers for smaller top-ups, council-owned chargers built into lampposts, kerbside charging posts and pop-up chargers concealed in the pavement.
However, charging infrastructure continues to expand rapidly. Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, car parks, shopping centres, and workplaces are all adding to their vehicle charging facilities. Ultra-Rapid Charging Points are also being installed in traditional fuel stations for fast on-the-go charging.
If you want to lease an electric car but you don’t know how or where you would charge it, destination charging is an immediate solution and will continue to expand at an ever increasing rate over the next few years. Synergy can help secure the best charging point for your needs. Ask your Synergy Account Manager for further information.