Everything you need to know about charging an electric vehicle
From the different charging facilities available to the price of getting a charging unit installed at your home, this guide will cover everything you need to know about charging an EV.
Unlike traditional fuel-powered cars, electric vehicles (EVs) garner their power from electricity and their electric-powered batteries.
Therefore, you must take certain things into consideration which you wouldn’t have had to do with a petrol or diesel-powered car.
In this guide, the different charging methods and costs that are associated with powering an electric vehicle are highlighted to ensure that you are up to date with the requirements needed to charge one.
Where can I charge my EV?
There are four ways you can charge your electric vehicle:
1. Using a three-pin plug socket at home
Known as a ‘trickle charger’, this is the slowest method of charging your EV. However, if you’re under no time pressure, then this is likely one of the easier options.
You can get a cable that plugs directly from a standard three-pin plug, directly to your EV. If you opt for this method then you’ll need an outdoor plug, or run a cable out through an open window.
It should be noted that this method isn’t suitable for your primary charging method, because standard sockets are not ideal for supplying high levels of power over a long duration of time.
2. Using a wall box on your home
By choosing to charge your car at home, you’re opting for the cheapest option, albeit a slower method.
There are a variety of grants available for those looking to get a wall box installed at home.
3. Using a public charger
In Ireland, on-street and public EV chargers have become commonplace. There are several providers of public infrastructure where you can pull up, plug in and charge your car.
In Ireland, there are currently around 1,900 public chargers at 800 sites. The ESB operates 1,350 of these charging stations, while the rest are run by private companies.
ESB operates two charging structures; one for pay-as-you-go customers, and one for members who pay a monthly fee to gain access to cheaper charging rates.
Many of these public charging stations can charge EVs faster, delivering 50kW DC or 43kW AC charging. These are usually found in garage forecourts.
Rates for charging at public stations vary, with rapid chargers costing more.
Electric Vehicles Charging Infrastructure Strategy
In January 2023, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, launched the new Electric Vehicles Charging Infrastructure Strategy 2022 – 2025, which will see €100 million spent on public charging infrastructure over the next three years.
The strategy will include high-powered chargers being placed:
- Every 60 km along motorways
- At taxi ranks
- At tourist sites and hotels
- At hospitals
- At sports clubs
There are also plans for charging systems to serve apartment blocks and neighbourhoods.
The strategy states that the number of charging points could increase to between 2,540 and 4,850 within three years.
4. Using charging facilities at work, if available
Often employers will encourage the use of EVs by installing charging stations at their place of work. We’d recommend checking to see if these facilities are available to you.
Is it cheaper to charge my EV at home or at a public station?
In short, it’s likely cheaper to charge your EV at home.
For example, if you’re signed up to a night rate electricity plan at home, you can take advantage of this and choose to charge your car overnight for a lower electricity rate, further reducing your costs.
However, according to a recent survey by the AA, EV owners may be paying as much as 3.5 times more to charge their vehicles if they fail to shop around for the right tariff. If you have a smart meter, it's important to find the best tariff to suit your needs, so that you can then charge your EV at night, during off-peak hours.
Charging an EV at home may prove difficult for those who live in a high-rise building or block of flats.
How much will I spend on charging my car?
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how much it would be to charge your EV at any one time. What it costs to charge your EV will depend on:
- The battery size (e.g. a Nissan Leaf has a battery of 40kWh)
- The range of the EV
- The unit rate of electricity
The cost of charging an EV at home will usually be significantly less than using public charging points.
If you have a NightSaver meter, charging a car overnight will prove more affordable. It will cost around 15.4c per kWh. On a normal meter, however, unit rates are about 31c per kWh.
The cost to charge your EV to 100% can even cost as little as a tenth of the price that a tank of fuel costs. For example, an overnight charge at home will typically cost in the region of €9 from completely empty to completely full. Of course, this will depend on the unit rate you’re on.
Charging at a public station will cost more. You can use the ESB’s electric car charger cost calculator to see how much charging your EV will set you back using a public charging station.
How long does it take to charge my electric vehicle?
This will ultimately depend on the type of battery your car has and where you’re charging your car.
If using a public fast-charger, your battery could be powered up to 80% in around 30 minutes. Motorists often reserve using these fast chargers for topping up their car batteries when travelling a long distance.
For a 40kW battery, a standard 7kW home charging station will power an electric car from 0-100% over the course of around 3-5 hours.
However, for cars with a battery capacity of over 60kW, it will take longer for your car to charge. This will be in the region of 6-8 hours.
If you decide to use a ‘trickle charger’, which is plugged into a standard socket, charging an EV will take at least 18 hours usually.
Do all electric cars use the same charger?
No, there’s a variety of chargers and stations used to power the battery in an EV.
Like a phone charger, EV chargers tend to have two connectors; one that plugs into the vehicle socket and the other into the charging point itself.
The speed (power rating) of the charging point determines which connectors can be used, and not all cars have the same type of charging connectors.
Chargers themselves can also vary in speed and can be slow, fast, or rapid. The time taken to get a full charge on your EV will depend on the speed.
There are two main types of connectors for attaching the charger to your vehicle, known as Type 1 and Type 2.
Most EV drivers buy a portable charging cable that matches their vehicle’s Type 1 or Type 2 socket. This way, they can charge on public networks.
How much does it cost to install an electric car charger at home?
The price to install an EV charging unit at your home is dependent on the type of charging unit your purchase and whether or not you can avail of the €600 Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Home Charging Grant.
Typically the starting price for a home charging unit and its installation begins at €950 for most retailers.
For example, Electric Ireland starts the prices for its home charging units with installation included at €1099.
This means if you order Electric Ireland’s EO Mini Pro 2 7kW charger, the smallest one available on the market, and have it installed at your home, the total cost will come to €499, after the SEAI grant has been applied.
To learn more about the SEAI grant take a look at our guide on electric vehicle grants and incentives.
New regulations require EV charging infrastructure at new homes
In November 2022 it was announced that new building regulations will require Electric Vehicle (EV) recharging infrastructure to be installed in new homes. The regulations are hoped to help accelerate the uptake of EVs.
The regulations will apply to:
- New houses with a driveway or parking space within the dwelling boundary
- New multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartment blocks
- Multi-unit residential buildings undergoing major renovation where the car park is located inside or adjacent to the building, and where renovations include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the building or car park
Check out our other car-related articles
If you found this guide informative, why not look at some of our other articles on the topic?
- Our Quickstart Guide series will show you how to get cheaper car insurance on bonkers.ie.
- Learn about all the EV grants and financial incentives available here.
- Discover the most common questions asked about EVs in our electric car FAQ guide.
- Considering buying an EV? Check out the 10 most important things to keep in mind when purchasing one.
- Owning a car can undoubtedly be expensive. Read our top tips on how to lower your driving costs.
Find affordable car insurance
Did you know that as an electric vehicle driver you can get cheaper car insurance?
At bonkers.ie, our free and easy-to-use car insurance service will help you find the best value car insurance available that meets your needs.
All you need to do is tell us about your driving history, car and a bit about yourself, and you will receive a direct quote from the insurer in minutes!
So start your savings journey today with bonkers.ie!
If you want to hear an in-depth discussion of EVs, be sure to tune in to our February bonkers.ie podcast! Our hosts Caoimhe and Fionn, along with some special guests, talk through everything to do with electric vehicles. Have a listen here.
Let’s hear from you
Do you have any more questions about how to charge your electric car? If so, reach out to our team today, we are always happy to help.