The Mechanics of Charging

Connector Confusion? Not any more!

Looking at EVs, many people are puzzled by "all the different connectors". It was complicated in the beginning, but thanks to some unelected EU bureaucrats the whole situation is simple now.  Plus, what most people don't know is that modern EVs can charge from empty to full in 30-45 minutes (or less) at a dedicated fast charger. Overnight charging is for home. 

The short version

It's all pretty straightforward.

Basically, every car for sale in the UK today has a fast connector and a slow connector. ALL the cars use the same slow connector. That's the "Type 2", sometimes called the "Type 2 Mennekes".  That's good for charging points with power up to about 42kW (seven kettle's worth), though some cars will only take about 7kW through that type of connector.

 

There are LOTS of charging points with this power, but they're not great for recharging en-route or in a hurry. They're better for overnight or recharging during the day, or for top ups while you have a meal or breakfast. 

Then, for fast chargers, CCS is where it's at in Europe. Essentially, all the cars for sale today have CCS chargers. There are just a few exceptions. Teslas mostly come with Tesla's own "Supercharger" connecter and with a CCS connector. About 4 Japanese branded cars come with the CHAdeMO charger. That's a couple of the Nissans, and the Lexus. Other than that handful of cars, all the other cars have CCS

CCS can charge your car very fast.Ionity have chargers at 350kW, and Porsche have one in Berlin with 400kW. 😍 That's 130 kettles all at the same time!  Again, most cars have a lower limit than the maximum. Some lower spec cars have a limit as low as 50kW, but most are up at 80-120kW.  Either way, you can charge your car from empty to full in an hour or less with CCS, and probably more like 30-45 mins. 

We'll describe the chargers below, but overall? Don't worry about it!  You find a charger, plug your car in, and wait a while. It really is as simple as that. Not quite as simple as filling your tank with petrol, but it's getting there. 

 

Now, the long version....

First, we have to explain kWs and kWhs (that's "kilowatts" and "kilowatt hours").  So, what are they? Well, an electric kettle uses about 3kW of power while you're boiling water for your tea. So a kilowatt hour is the amount of energy an electric kettle would use in 20 minutes. It's also about enough for a normal electric car to travel roughly 10-15 miles. And 3 or 3.5kW is about as much as you can get out of a standard domestic circuit without making fuses pop. A mid-range car might have a battery with 40-60 kWh capacity. Let's say 50kWh on average. 

 

If you're looking for comparisons, a litre of petrol has just under 9kWh of energy, but it's less efficient than the energy in the battery..

Connector Types

The main connector issues you might want to think about are these:

  1. Your charging point at your own house (or apartment!)

  2. How you can charge at someone else's house.

  3. How to charge at a dedicated charging location (like petrol stations for electric cars).

  4. How you can charge at an on-street charger or at a hotel or restaurant.

First, let's talk about home. 

Charging at Home

This is probably the way that most people will charge their car most of the time. At least if you have your own house. If you're in an apartment or have no off-street parking it's a little more complicated, but we'll get to that. 

 

If you're charging at home, you can get a charging point installed at home. Usually they go on an outside wall or in the garage, if the garage isn't full of junk. There are grants for home chargers and you can get one through Go Eve (we'd recommend that) or from a number of other suppliers.

 

Typically you can charge up to about 7.2kw on a home charger (that's a double circuit, two kettle's worth), which means it'll take about 7 hours to charge our average car from empty to full. You may be able to get a higher power charger, depending on your connection to the electricity grid, but it's unusual for normal houses. You can use overnight electricity rates to keep the cost down, and even get the possibility of selling your battery capacity back to the grid if prices are high during the day.  Charging your car at home typically costs a few pounds. 

Your home charger will, naturally, be compatible with your car so no worries there. 

If you park in an apartment building, you MAY be able to install a charging unit at your parking space, or we may be able to install a scheme for the whole building. Otherwise, look at the section about on-street charging and at the section about charging at dedicated charging stations. It's really not a problem in the grand scheme of things, and you can easily run an electric car even if you can't charge at home. After all, you don't have a petrol station at home either.

 

Similarly, if you have a house but no-off street parking, it's likely that you can can use on-street chargers and dedicated charging stations. 

Charging at someone else's house

If you visit granny, how will you charge? Well, there's a wonderful thing called a 3-pin plug! 

 

While the charging will be slow and any meaningful charge will take several hours, it'll work fine for top-ups and it'll get most cars fairly well charged overnight. Again, that's running at about 3kW, or one kettle's worth. So, again, our 50kWh car would charge pretty completely overnight.

And yes, the cable will probably be hanging out a window to get from the plug to the car. Well, unless you can get at one of the plugs in the garage behind the collection of magazines from 1975 (or is that just my house?)

Again, a charge will cost your host just a few pounds, particularly if they have night-time rate electricity. 

Charging at a dedicated charging location

Most petrol stations are nowadays looking for places to install charging points, and BP, Shell, Total and all the other oil giants are rolling out charging points as fast as they can. So are smaller companies like Ionity, Engie, PodPoint, etc. There are lots of them. Once we go live, Eve customers will be able to charge on most of them using the app or our charging card, and most of the rest will let you do "Pay-as-you-go" charging anyway. 

 

Most dedicated locations will have several chargers, so you'll usually have a choice - like at a petrol station.

 

If you look at the map of chargers, we haven't (yet) bothered to list them by connector type. All the dedicated stations will have Type 2 for the old cars, and basically all will have CCS for the newer cars. Many (though not all) will have CHAdeMO. And all the Tesla locations will work for Tesla's specific chargers. The power is the most important thing. There's only an issue if you have CHAdeMO, in which case you'll have to use your route planner a bit more carefully and - let's be clear - there are still loads of charging points for you. 

So, go to a charging station and charge. Most new cars can charge from pretty empty to pretty full in between half-an-hour and an hour on a fast charger, and for most people that will be enough for a couple of weeks of driving.  And if you're on a longer trip, take a break, have a coffee, relax and you'll drive safer. 

Charging at an on-street charger or at a hotel or restaurant

Most on street chargers run at 3kW or at 7kW, and the same is true of MOST hotels or restaurant chargers, though this is all changing fast.

 

London, for instance, has lots of Ubitricity and Source London chargers. They're at 3kW and 7kW respectively.  But there are also on-street chargers from companies like BP running at 22kW and more. The Shetland Islands have loads of chargers at 22kW and at 43kW.....though we don't know where they're going to drive to. 

In any case, the lower power charging points will all have Type 2 connections, and the higher power stations will all have CCS connections. If you can only get to a low power station then you need to think about charging overnight or getting a topup. After that, the higher power the better. 

Questions?

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