With the government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, it makes sense that more people are turning to electric varieties instead. Electric vehicle technology is improving and now these cars can go further on one charge and reach speeds that match those of fossil fuel cars.
But just like any vehicle, they need energy to run and this costs money. Every electric vehicle will be different and could cost more or less to run depending on the size of the battery, just like a one-litre engine in a car would take less fuel than a two-litre engine, for example, and therefore costs less to fill up.
So if you’re wondering how much it costs to charge an electric car and how much electricity they consume, you’re in the right place.
How much electricity does it take to charge an electric car?
Electric car batteries are sized in kilowatt hours (kWh). This number demonstrates how much electricity would be needed if you wanted to charge the battery from completely empty to 100 per cent charge. The smallest battery you can get in an electric vehicle is 30kWh and the largest, 100kWh. Therefore, this is how much electricity it would take to charge the car.
To put this in perspective, a typical household cooker will use around 317kWh of electricity per year and the average UK home uses around 350kWh per month. To narrow this down further, this would mean that each household in the UK uses around 11 to 12kWh per day. As you can see, having an electric car could increase your electricity usage, however it’s worth considering that you could pay the same amount in electricity or even less that you would do in petrol or diesel to fill up a combustion engine.
How much does an electric car cost to charge?
It’s quite easy to work out how much it could cost to charge your electric car. The calculation is simply:
Battery size (kWh) x cost of electricity (pence per kWh)
As an example, we’ll say that your electric vehicle has a battery size of 60kWh. The average cost of electricity per kWh is currently 14p and so you do the following calculation:
60kWh x 0.14 = £8.40
For vehicles with larger batteries of 100kWh, the cost would therefore increase to £14. This might seem reasonable compared to the cost of refilling a petrol or diesel vehicle, however, it’s important to remember that electric cars cannot typically go as far on one charge, and therefore it may need to be charged multiple times. The average electric car has a range of around 200 miles, compared to the 500 miles of a combustion engine vehicle.
It’s also worth considering where the car will be charged. When a charging point is installed in your home, you’ll be using domestic electricity provided by your energy supplier. This means that what you pay will be a standard rate. However, if you choose to use a public charge point, you will likely pay more to charge your vehicle, and it will depend on who the provider is and the power rating of the charge point. On average, these points usually charge around 24p per kWh, nearly double what you would pay at home and so this can really increase how much it costs to charge your vehicle. Therefore, it’s much cheaper to charge it at home where you can, particularly as overnight electricity can sometimes be cheaper than during the day.
How long does an electric car take to charge?
How long it takes to charge an electric car depends on the power of the charger. Generally, there are three power types: slow, fast and rapid. The slow types are generally the ones you’ll have installed in your home, and can take anywhere from six to 12 hours to charge your car. This isn’t an issue if you want to plug it in overnight for use the next day, for example, but isn’t ideal if you want to recharge mid-way through a journey.
This is why fast chargers are available in car parks of public places, like supermarkets, leisure centres, shopping centres, etc. These allow you to plug your car in and charge it for an hour or two, ensuring that you’ve got enough charge for you to continue on with your journey home. A fast charger could provide you with a full charge in around four to six hours.
Rapid chargers are available in the places where you really need it, such as motorway stations. Generally, you could be back on the road within 20 to 40 minutes, enough time to grab some food or do some shopping while you wait.
How do you pay to charge an electric car?
When you charge your electric car at home, the energy you’ve used simply gets added to your monthly usage and gets paid when you pay your bill. But what about when you’re not at home?
In general, chargers that are available at supermarkets or shopping centres are free, provided that you do actually go in and use the facilities or meet the minimum spend allowance. If your workplace offers electric vehicle charging, payment could depend on the business. Some employers will provide free charging, others may state that you can use the charger but only up to a certain number of hours and could set a tariff by the hour.
Where you are required to pay to charge your car in a public place, there will likely be additional information on the charging point itself as to how you can do this. Usually, you’re required to download an app. These can be useful as they allow you to find charging stations as well as pay with a debit or credit card. Some charge points may require an RFID card. This is similar to a debit card and is topped up with money so that you can pay at a charging station. These are generally only required for older charge points and may not be that common anymore.
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