For many, an electric car will be a very different type of vehicle from one you are used to. Refuelling is significantly changed, and there are a number of things you can set up to make your life easier - easier even than running a petrol or diesel model.
Preparation is key
What you don’t want to happen is a need to charge the EV and you have no idea how to go about it. Make sure you have the correct cables required, ideally a home charge point, and know both where the charging inlets are on the car, and if you need to open the charging flap in any specific way other than pushing it.
You’ll also want to try public charging without any “need” to, so that the whole experience isn’t confusing when you’re in the middle of a trip, and finding out ways to make life easier and cheaper are handy to do from the comfort of your sofa, rather than a cold, dark car park.
The big difference between your new electric car and your old petrol or diesel one is that you can refuel the EV from home - we’re presuming you don’t have your own working petrol pump in the garden.
Any plug-socket in your house technically becomes a fuel pump, but having a dedicated charging unit is both safer, and will also save significant amounts of time when it comes to charging. Most home charge points are 3.6 kWh or 7.2 kW, and for the sake of future-proofing your purchase, if you can afford the faster box, go for it.
By comparison, a three-pin plug has its power limited to make sure everything is safe, and will charge at around 2.3 kW. This means that, as long as the car can also charge at 7+ kW, a faster, dedicated home charge point, will take around a third of the time of a three-pin plug.
There is a UK Government grant available where certain conditions are met, that knocks up to £350 off the cost of a fully-installed home charge point - the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. Whether you’re in a situation where you get a grant or not, it is certainly recommended to have a charger installed at home where possible. Some manufacturers offer a free charger with a new car.
One of the first things to ensure is that you have two charging cables with your vehicle. The first has a three-pin plug on one end, and a connector that will attach to the car in the other (likely to be a Type 2 plug). The second cable has the same plug for the car at one end, plus a slightly different-looking Type 2 connector at the other.
By having these cables, you will be able to charge your EV at the majority of public and home charge points across the country, plus have access to three-pin sockets by was of back-up.
Your electricity bill is certain to rise, and sharply, if you’re charging your electric car at home. It’s only to be expected, running what is essentially a huge appliance. Even with most EVs capable of covering a week’s worth of trips with one charge, it’s still a large battery that you’re needing to charge.
Of course, electricity is far cheaper than fuel, so these increased costs are more than off-set by the savings by not visiting the pumps. Still, it’s best to try and get on the cheapest tariff for an EV driver where possible.
This could be a simple Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff, if you’re able to regularly charge your EV overnight. Equally, there are similar tariffs designed specifically for EV-owning households, and these may offer a better rate depending on your needs.
Many major and smaller energy firms offer a tariff that has certain reduced fees if you charge during a set time, or other perks that help keep charging costs down.
Practice public charging
An EV doesn’t need to be kept for local routes, and it’s quite easy to cover long distances in an electric car. But to do this, it’s likely that you’ll need to deal with public charging.
There are a number of different networks and access requirements for you to come across, but the simplest thing is to try and test a couple of networks you’re likely to use.
Look for national and local networks, and try using one. Each will have a walkthrough of how to use the charger on it, but most will be available to use with a smartphone app. Larger, rapid charge points are likely to be accessible with a debit or credit card, and if you find a network that covers areas you are likely to travel to often, then it may be worth registering for reduced rates, or an RFID card to tap on the charger to start/stop a charge.
What’s key is to familiarise yourself with requirements and charging methods before you really need a charge.
This will also likely mean you get to try a DC rapid charge point if your car can take such a charge, using a different inlet, or at least the fully expanded inlet. These cables will be attached to the charger and are heavier, so it’s recommended to test these out too. You may need to park at a specific angle to help make the cables reach, depending on the EV and charger.
Enjoy it - an electric car may be different to run, but it’s also likely to be good fun, and charging it is simple when you get into the swing of things. Remember to check the YourParkingSpace app to find convenient parking sport where you can charge your EV.