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How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car?

The UK government is set to begin the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030, and with this in mind, an increasing number of us are making, or at least thinking about making, the switch to an EV for the first time. 

Add to this the current sky-high petrol and diesel prices and it’s easy to see why many are considering an electrical vehicle sooner rather than later.

But making this move undoubtedly comes with a whole host of questions, with one of the most common being “how much does it cost to charge an electric car?”

In this guide, you’ll learn all about the cost of charging an EV, how this compares to filling up with petrol or diesel and how the cost differs between costing at home and charging in public.

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car At Home?

Whilst you can, in theory, use a 3-pin socket to charge your car, this is only recommended in emergencies or when you have no other available option. 

Most EV owners will have a fast charger installed at home, both to charge their vehicle faster but also to charge as efficiently (and cost-effectively) as possible. 

On average, electricity costs 28p per kWh in the UK right now. Therefore, a standard Nissan Leaf, which has a 40 kWh battery, will cost approximately £11.20 to fully charge when charged at peak time.

That said, many energy companies are now offering special tariffs for EV owners, significantly reducing the cost of charging. As an example, EDF’s GoElectric 35 tariff gives EV owners 5 hours of overnight charging at just 4.5p per kWh, meaning it would cost noticeably under £5 to charge most vehicles using a 7kW charger.

Be sure to shop around for a suitable energy tariff as this can significantly reduce the cost of charging your EV.

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car At A Public Charging Point?

The cost to charge an electric car at public charging points can be a bit less predictable, however it is estimated that the average price paid per kWh at a public charger is 30p.

The management of the public charging station is free to establish their own rates meaning this can differ from place to place, and whilst most public charging points charge a fee, some are free. 

Even the cheapest public chargers cost approximately twice as much as a home charger, and the most costly might cost more than refuelling a diesel or petrol car.

Additionally, users of public charging points have to pay 20% VAT on the electricity they buy, compared to those who use residential energy, which has a 5% VAT rate.

This helps explain why most EV drivers prefer to charge their electric cars at home, with just a small percentage of drivers depending entirely on public charging stations, often when travelling on a long journey and being faced with no other option. 

The rising adoption of EVs has resulted in a quickly developing EV charging network, which means you have an increasing number of options available. 

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car At Work?

Whether you're contemplating electrifying your fleet or have multiple workers who use electric cars, workplace charging has significant benefits. 

Fleet owners should anticipate comparable savings to homeowners when it comes to refuelling.

The costs of charging electric cars at work can vary between companies, with some offering free charging and others demanding a fee.

Certain firms provide free charging as a perk for their employees.

Others opt for time-based pricing to promote charging station sharing and another option is to provide free employee charging for a certain length of time

Alternatively, some employers might charge less than you would pay on the high street to recuperate part of the running expenses from employees charging their own electric vehicles.

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car At Motorway Service Stations?

You’ll find electric charging points at just about every motorway service station across the country, and these are usually rapid chargers, too, but this is likely the most expensive way of recharging your vehicle. 

The Gridserve Electric Highway charging network offers more than 300 charging stations, both at motorway services and other public locations, offering a mix of 22kWh, 60kWh rapid and (up to) 350kWh ultra-rapid chargers.

Here’s how much you’ll pay (and the cost to charge a 40kWh Nissan Leaf):

22kWh

60kWh

(up to) 350kWh

Cost per kWh

39p

48p

50p

Cost to charge 40kWh Nissan Leaf

£15.60

£19.20

£20

Cost Of Charging An Electric Car Vs. Refuelling A Petrol Or Diesel Car

While petrol and diesel cars may be cheaper to purchase or lease, their lower running costs make EVs a more economical and cost-effective investment in the long term. 

Electricity is far cheaper than petrol or diesel, and comparing the 5 most popular electric vehicles and petrol cars in the UK right now, we can see how their costs compare, assuming an at-home cost of electricity of 28p per kWh and a per-litre petrol cost of 175.99p (the average in the UK on May 1st 2022):

Petrol / Diesel Vehicle

Cost to Fuel

Electric Vehicle

Cost to Charge

Vauxhall Corsa

£70.40

Tesla Model 3

£16.10

Kia Sportage

£102.07

Kia e-Niro

£17.92

Ford Puma

£73.92

Volkswagen ID.3

£16.24

Hyundai Tucson

£109.11

Nissan Leaf

£11.20

Mini

£70.40

Audi E-tron

£23.80

Of course, these aren’t directly comparable when looking at the miles you’ll get from a tank of petrol or diesel and the miles you’ll get from a single charge, however give a good indication into the significant cost differences. 

How Long Does It Take To Charge Electric Cars?

How long it takes to charge an electric car can vary. Depending on the speed of the charging station and the size of the battery, it could take anywhere from 30 minutes up to 12 hours.

A car's 60kWh battery can take approximately 8 hours to charge from empty to full using a standard 7kW home charging outlet. 

A 50kW rapid charger can charge up to 100 miles in less than 35 minutes for most electric car brands. The size of your car's battery and the speed of the charging station will determine how long it takes for your car's battery to charge fully from empty.

Know your EV chargers

With a number of different options available, it is important to understand which electric car charger type is ideal for your EV.

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla's Supercharger network also allows drivers to get speedy DC charging; however, the connections can only be either Tesla Type 2 or Tesla CCS, depending on the model. These EV chargers have a charging capacity of up to 150 kW.

While all Tesla models are created to be connected with Supercharger stations, many Tesla owners use adaptors to access public fast-charging stations. EV drivers now have admission to a more significant portion of the UK's rapid charging infrastructure.

Rapid chargers

Rapid DC chargers have a power output of 50 kW and can handle either the CHAdeMO or CCS. This is the traditional type of rapid EV charging station presently available. Depending on the battery size and starting state of charge, both connectors can charge an electric car to 80 per cent capacity within an hour.

Ultra-rapid chargers

Power from ultra-rapid direct current chargers may reach 100 kW. These are considered the next-gen rapid charging ports, capable of shortening charging periods as battery capacity in modern EVs grows.

Charging times for EVs with small or large battery capacities that can absorb 100 kW are under 30 minutes for a standard charge. Even though an EV can only take 50 kW, it can use ultra-rapid charging stations. 

Rapid AC

Rapid AC chargers have a power output of 43 kW and can only be used on Type 2 charging units. Rapid AC units can often charge an electric car to 80 per cent in under an hour, but this largely depends on the battery capacity.

Money-saving tips to save on your electricity bill

Along with checking prices to obtain the cheapest EV tariff, here are a few cost-cutting charging tips:

Utilise a companion application

Monitor the life and health of your battery with a smart EV charging app that tracks your use. Because the best EV energy tariffs also need a smart meter installed in the home, you can download the accompanying app to better understand your household's energy use.

Avoid depleting your battery

Recharging the battery after depleting it to its lowest capacity requires additional energy. A decent rule of thumb is to keep it above 20%.

Prevent your battery from overheating

Lithium-ion batteries may be destroyed if they get too hot, so it's critical to shelter your car from direct sunlight to save money on repair and maintenance. Locate charging stations in the shade and, if feasible, park your EV in a garage.

By researching your EV's power price and charging choices, you may save a significant amount of money.

When Is The Best Time To Charge An Electric Vehicle?

Most EV owners connect their EV battery at night to allow it to charge as they sleep. This is a perfect time to charge, but you must be careful not to leave it on the charger for an extended time. Set the timer on your charger to turn off at least an hour or two before you expect to leave your residence in the morning.

Charging your electric car at night is also beneficial if your electricity provider charges a reduced rate for off-peak hours. 

FAQs

Is it free to charge an electric car in the UK?

There are free charging stations and pod points across the UK located at businesses, on residential streets, in town centres, in public car parks, and at destinations like shopping malls or motorway service stations. However, not all charging stations are free so it’s best to check ahead if you can. 

Can you charge an electric car from a normal plug socket in the UK?

Electric vehicles are always equipped with a cable intended for use with a three-pin home plug socket. So, the quick answer to your query is yes, an EV can be charged using a standard household plug outlet. However, charging with a three-pin connector should be saved for emergencies. It's okay for overnight stays with friends or relatives, but not for regular usage.

How do you pay for electric car charging in the UK?

Public charging stations accept various payment methods, most often using a specialised card or payment app on your phone. Nonetheless, many chargers now include contactless technology, allowing you to pay with a standard debit or credit card.

Should I charge my electric car every night?

The simple answer is no. By and large, you should avoid charging your electric car every night. It is not essential in the majority of situations. Charging an electric vehicle every night might reduce the battery’s life. It's important to remember that you should always adhere to the battery charging instructions included in the owner's handbook for your vehicle.

Final Thoughts

Whether you charge at home, in public, or at work, you may save a lot of money compared to diesel and petrol cars. 

Plug-in hybrids can shave down the costs, so consider the other advantages of owning an EV. You receive free driving in Ultra-Cheap Emission Zones, a low business car tax on electric vehicles, considerable government incentives, plus the advantages of driving an electric vehicle. 

There's no reason why your next car shouldn't be electric.

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