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EV charging explained

Date: 08 August 2014

Charge point install

The consensus among experts is that EV drivers will do 90% of their charging either at home or at work, rather than while out and about. So if you're going to run an electric car (or van) you will need to have a charge point installed. This could be at an office or at the driver's home.

You can just connect most cars to a three-point wall socket (providing the car in question comes with such a connection cable - some don't). However, if you don't want to be threading a cable through an open window or cat flap every time you charge then a dedicated external charging point is a must. These can give you mildly faster charging than a regular house socket.

But the first complication comes at this point. Different cars use different connectors. For home charging, the choice is essentially a type 1 or type 2 connection (or just a simple external 3-pin socket).

Home charge point installation is free under Government funding and all the EV driver needs to do is fill in an online form with a company such as British Gas or Chargemaster. However, while you don't need to know what connection your car will have - there's a national database the charge point installers use - you do need to know how you'll be using your charge point.

If you're going to stick with one car for a long time and you don't want to keep using the cable that stays in the car, then a charge point where the cable is attached to the building is best; but if not, then having the socket on the building could be a better bet.

According to British Gas's Andreas Atkins, head of electric vehicle services, a travel socket-style adaptor is technically possible and could eliminate the issue of having the correct connector, but it "hasn't
been invented yet".

Chargemaster reports that an increasing number of people are now opting for a socket rather than a charge point with a cable that can only be used with cars with that type of connector.

David Martell, managing director of Chargemaster, says: "We give as much advice as possible when someone wants a charging point installed. We send a technician to do a survey and they advise of the best location. It has to work with the house consumer unit and the best location for the charging unit and car.

"For the best flexibility we recommend a unit with a socket, and we're selling about [a ratio of] 50:50 with a socket or with a lead."

It's also worth considering exactly where the charge box should be positioned. Both the cars and the charge points come with a fixed cable length, so measure the distance from the car's charging connector location when parked to the point on the external wall where the charger will be located. Remember that some cars have their filling cap at the side, like a conventional fuel filler cap (don't forget to check which side), and others have the fill point at the front. This might alter how you would usually park too.