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The cost of charging an electric car

If you’re considering buying an electric car, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost to charge it. Here’s a look at the cost of charging an electric car at home, at work and when you’re out and about.

If you’re considering buying an electric car, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost to charge it. Here’s a look at the cost of charging an electric car at home, at work and when you’re out and about.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Utilities comparison expert
6 min read
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What is an electric car? 

An electric car is a vehicle that doesn’t rely on conventional fuel, like petrol or diesel, to power its engine. Instead, electric cars are fitted with special batteries that can be charged with electricity.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home? 

The cost of charging your car depends on: 

  • Your vehicle and its battery size – typically, the larger and heavier the car, the more power and the bigger battery you’ll need.
  • The type of charger you have.
  • The amount of charging you do. Do you top up often or prefer to charge from low to full less frequently?
  • The tariff you’re paying for your electricity. 

Obviously the lower your tariff, the lower the cost of the charge. Some energy providers will offer off-peak or smart off-peak tariffs, which cost less and can be helpful if you charge your car overnight. Typical costs for a charge could be £5-£10. 

The amount you’ll pay every year for charging your electric vehicle (EV) can range from an average of around £500 for a smaller city car or hatchback to approaching £900 for a larger, heavier SUV – but it will depend on your mileage. 

If you’re worried about how much charging at home is going to add to your energy bill, then make sure you compare suppliers to find the right deal for you.

What’s the cost of installing a charge point at home? 

You can charge a car at home using a standard 3-pin plug with an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) cable or wall-mounted home-charging point. For safety, most car manufacturers limit the amount of power you can draw down from a normal socket to 10 Amps or less – which is roughly 2.3kW. This means it could take longer than a day to fully charge your vehicle. 

If you want fast charging from home, you'll need more specialist wiring and equipment, with a dedicated charger. Installation can be around £500-£1,000 – a significant outlay. There are now slow (up to 3kW), fast (7-22 kW) and rapid (typically 50 kW DC or 43 kW AC) options available. But not all electric cars can actually receive a 22kW or higher charge from an AC source like a domestic wall charger. You’re more likely to find this type of charger at a charging point. Check to see what the maximum AC charging rate of your vehicle is, before you choose. 

You'll have to pay for your home-charging point. Costs of the point will vary depending on the power it provides and whether you opt for a tethered (fixed cable) or untethered (removable cable) unit. But you can apply for a grant for up to 75% (up to £350) of the cost of installation from the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).

Can I charge my electric vehicle away from home? If so, how much does it cost? 

Yes, you can. While it’s estimated that around 80% of charging happens at home, there are now more than 24,374 charging points in the UK of which 4,551 are rapid chargers, according to government stats as of 1 July 2021. Since 2015, the number of public devices has grown by an average of 44% per year. 

But the approximate 17,000 locations for these charging points aren’t evenly spread around the UK. For example, Northern Ireland has 17 charging points per 100,000 of the population, whereas London, the best served area, has 83,000 per 100,000. By comparison, Scotland has 47 per 100,000, the North East 33, the North West 22 and the West Midlands 27. In 2020, for major roads the Government said it’s “providing £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles, ensuring that drivers will never be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station”. 

Free electric car-charging points 

Places like supermarkets, public car parks, shopping centres, large hotels and leisure centres usually let you charge your electric car for free while it’s parked there. You may need to be a customer or guest to use their charging facilities, though. 

Some of the networks may offer free charging facilities in particular places, and early adopters of Tesla get free charges or an allowance that they don’t have to pay for. 

Charging at work 

Again, most businesses that have workplace charging points will let employees use them for free while they’re at work. 

Public charging stations 

There are around 30 charging networks around the UK.  The networks include fuel providers like Shell and bp pulse, independent specialists like Pod Point, InstaVolt and Genie Point, while Tesla owners have their own charging network.

Prices can vary widely, from free to relatively expensive for fast chargers. Some providers might charge you a monthly fee on top of the cost of powering-up your car, but may allow unregistered users to charge up, but at a higher rate. For example, bp pulse charges from 20p to 42p per kWh if you’re not registered.

And it can be complicated to use them. Typically, you have to become a member of the charging network, download an app and pay via the app or a card issued by the network. But some charge points are now beginning to accept contactless debit and credit card payments. Some charging stations also have off-peak rates. The apps have maps to show you where your nearest charging station is.

Subscribing to a network could be a good idea if you use your electric car or plug-in hybrid for regular long journeys. 

Rapid charging on the motorway 

Rapid charges may add a premium for speed, so you might expect to pay around £6.50-£7 for a 30-minute rapid charge, which would give you an extra range of 90-110 miles.

How long does it take to charge an electric car? 

Once you’ve connected your car to your home outlet or non-rapid public charging station using a standard EV plug, it should take six to eight hours to charge fully.

What if I need to charge my electric car quickly? 

Some motorway services have rapid-charging stations for when you get caught short, but it comes at a price. Most service stations will bill you approximately £6-£7 for a 30-minute charge.

How often do you need to charge your electric car? 

This depends on the type and brand of electric car you own, and how often you drive it. Having said that, most models claim to provide between 125 and 348 miles on a single charge.

What are the benefits of owning an electric car? 

  • Eco-friendly – zero carbon emissions.
  • Extremely cheap to run compared to petrol and diesel cars.
  • EVs are less complicated under the bonnet, so there’s less that can go wrong – meaning you could save on hefty repair bills.
  • Electric cars are very quiet, cutting down on noise pollution.
  • All-electric cars are exempt from paying road tax and the London Congestion Charge.
  • Government grants of up to £350 towards the cost of installing a home charging point.
  • Get up to £2,500 off the price of a new electric car through the government’s Plug-in Car Grant.
  • Some town and city centres offer free or priority parking for electric cars.
  • Convenient charging points at home, work and while shopping.

What about car insurance? 

Getting car insurance for an electric vehicle is the same as getting insurance for a regular car. The key to getting a great deal is to compare quotes from different insurance providers – we can help with that. 

So whether you’re looking for a quote on your car insurance or seeking a better energy deal, compare now and see if you could save.

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