Much like filling up your car for the first time, charging your car for the first-time car seem a little bit daunting. This time though, it might be even more embarrassing going to a charging point and your mum or dad showing you how it works!
Finding a charger
There are now several different chargepoint operators who all build and operate charger units. For example, bp pulse, Pod Point and Ecotricity. These suppliers often have their own app which shows a live map of where charging points are located. Drivers that just want to know where the nearest charger is, whatever the supplier, there a couple of options. Zap-Map and PlugShare. Both apps show a real-time snapshot of all the charging points across the UK.
What power do I need?
EV chargers can vary in power, and this can impact the speed at which your car charges. Unlike traditional re-fuelling, charging can take up to 12 hours for a full charge, but as little as 20 minutes. Rapid charging points are the quickest way to charger your car. They use DC (Direct Current) power and are mostly found at service stations, as they are perfect for a quick charge mid-journey. Most new electric cars are capable of charging up to 125kW. However, older EV models may only have maximum capacity of 50kW, which means they will not be able to charge as quickly as newer vehicles. An Ultra-fast, 150kW network of chargers is being installed by bp pulse, however, this speed comes at a cost, and these will be the most expensive charging points to use. Drivers who have more time can use a type-2 AC charger or ‘destination charger’. These are the cheapest and easiest way to charge. Often found at supermarkets and public carparks, they range from 7-22kW, they are perfect for topping up your battery while you shop.
What connector do I need?
All petrol pumps are generally the same. Green nozzle for petrol, black for diesel. Charing points, however, can vary. Most rapid chargers are fitted with two connectors; this is the part that plugs into your car. Most cars will use the CCS connector to charge, however Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV owners will need to use their CHAdeMO connector to charge. If you are worried the charge point will not have the right connector, the live apps above show you the available connections at each charger.
Time to charge
Now for the main event. When you park in the charging bay, simply follow the instructions on screen. These may vary slightly depending on charger supplier, but process will usually involve paying, selecting your connector (like selecting petrol or diesel nozzles) and then plugging the connector into your car. The screen on the charger should show you how much charge your battery has and how quickly it is being charged in kWh’s. To end, simply tap your payment card or device to the charge point or end the charge via the app. If you are using a charging point at your place of work, you may not need to pay at all. You may be supplied with an RFID tag which prevents un-authorised personnel using the charger and could help your company see who is using the chargers. However, this may vary business to business.
When your car is charging the connector will lock to your car, stopping anyone unplugging while you are away. To unlock, simply un-lock your car and disconnect the cable.
How do I pay?
The simplest way to pay for your charge is to pay at the pump. There are more cost-effective options for EV owners. Suppliers like Ecotricity rely solely on an app to process payment, whereas most will allow payment via an app or a debit or credit card.
Simply unplug your car and you are free to carry on with your journey!