How to charge an electric car
Possibly the greatest barrier to someone considering an electric car or plug-in hybrid is charging. How easy is it? Where can you do it? How can you do it? And, how long does it take? These are just the kind of questions we’ll answer in our video below.
First published: 3rd June 2016
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For anyone considering an electric or part-electric car, the good news is that, at the most fundamental level, it’s no more tricky to charge up a car than it is to charge a mobile phone – and that’s something millions of us manage to do on a daily basis.
In the future, experts predict that we’ll be able to charge our cars wirelessly, but for now you still need to plug them in, and what governs how long it takes is how many amps you can get into it.
Take the country’s top-selling plug-in hybrid, the Mitsubishi Outlander, for example. Like several similar cars, the Outlander has two charging sockets, and which one you use will depend on which sort of charger you are using.
With a regular domestic supply, it’ll take about 5 hours for a full charge; use a fast charger and that time drops to three and a half hours; and, with a rapid charger, you can get 80% charge into the car in just half an hour.
For many people, charging their car at home is probably the easiest option, although it will be a huge help if you have a driveway or garage, or can park very near the house. Essentially, there are two way to charge the car: either plug in to a conventional three-pin socket or use a purpose-built fast charger.
It’s when you need to use a public charger that you could come up against some ‘challenges’ that make running an electric car very different to running a petrol or diesel car. For a start, you need to subscribe to the network that operates a charging post before you can use it. And, to confuse matters further, not every car is compatible with every charger.
If you want to head far from home, planning ahead is key. Not only do the big networks like Chargemaster have easily accessible online maps and apps to help you find chargers, if you sign up to a network like Plug Share, you can even use privately owned chargers.
Before you choose a provider, look into how costs vary across the networks. And, remember that, depending on where the charge point is, you may also have to pay parking charges while your car is charging.
Running an electric or plug-in hybrid car clearly demands a different mindset from running a petrol or diesel car; and, it’s not without its challenges. However, for many people – and, in fact, for many people who don’t even realise it – running an electric car is already a genuinely practical proposition.
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