Plug-in vehicle charging is dependent both on the technology built into the vehicle and into the charging infrastructure. When the charging capability of the vehicle is less than that of the charger, then the vehicle will charge only at the maximum speed allowed by the vehicle. When the charging capability of the vehicle is greater than that of the charger, then the vehicle will charge at the maximum rate allowed by the charger.

Chargepoints are primarily defined by the power (in kW) they can produce.

Below are the classifications of the different charging types and the times for a 100% charge of a typical EV:

• Slow: 3kW 6-8 hours
• Fast: 7-22 kW 3-5 hours
• Rapid: 43kW-50kW 30 mins to 80%
• Ultra-Rapid-Charging: 150+kW <20 mins (estimated)

The range of connectors and devices can make charging seem overwhelming but in reality, it is quite simple. To charge an electric car, you need to connect your vehicle to the chargepoint (also known as a socket) with a suitable cable. You will only need two cables: one with a 3-pin plug and one with a Type 2 connector, the European standard for chargepoints. Both cables will have the appropriate connector for your vehicle at the other end. A Type 2 chargepoint enables faster charging than a 3 pin socket.

Rapid charging can only be used on vehicles with rapid-charging capability but is more straightforward. Rapid chargers are equipped with all the appropriate cables already, much like a fuel pump which has multiple hoses attached. You select the cable that fits your vehicle inlet and do not need any other cables.

Home charging is the most common method of charging electric vehicles and is used by owners to charge overnight. While charging can be carried out via a three-pin socket, it is recommended that those charging regularly at home or the workplace get a dedicated chargepoint installed as it is faster and more convenient. Grants are available towards the cost.

Home chargepoints of up to 7kw can easily be supported in most domestic properties. Certified installers will install a separate fused supply so should there be any issues with the car, this would not impact the rest of the house. As a comparison, electric showers are generally in the range of 7kW to 10.5kW. Most vehicles will indicate how long charging is expected to take, which will depend on the car’s charging capability and power of the chargepoint. Some models will have this feature as part of a smartphone app.

Could “grazing” be the answer for you?

Not everyone is able to charge their vehicle overnight at their home. For those who cannot “gorge” their car to fully charged there is another possible answer. This is what’s described as “grazing” charging behaviour, where a driver plugs their vehicle in whenever they see an available chargepoint, no matter how short the period of time may be. No different from charging your phone whenever and wherever you can. If you think through your week there may be many opportunities for an hour or two of charge. If you are unable to charge at home it is important that you check to see what public charging infrastructure is available, who the operators are and the cost to charge in the areas that you usually drive, before buying an electric vehicle. If your car is capable of being rapid charged this can provide a quick top up if needed.