How do I charge my electric car?

How does charging work?  

Charging your electric car works a bit differently. When we fill up with petrol or diesel, we either have our regular refill day, wait until the tank is dry, or top up when we’re about to go on a long journey.  
Electric is great because you just think about where you park up most of the time and pop it on charge when it suits you. For most people that’s at home or work. A bit like sipping water throughout the day instead of glugging down a litre when you’re desperately thirsty.  
Once you know how your car charges it’s easy.

  • You’ll need to plug into a charge point, you can do this at home, at work, at service stations and at over 37,000 public charging points across the UK (February 2023).  
  • You need to have your own charging cable – there are two types.  
  • Most people charge at home overnight but out and about you can park up and charge or use a rapid charger.  
  • Depending on where you charge you can just plug in, or you might need to use an app a plastic RFID tag, or a contactless card.  

Everyone’s a bit confused about charging at first. But don’t worry, once you know how your car charges it’s easy.  

How do I charge at home?

You probably park at home or work most of the time. And the easiest option if you have a driveway or garage is to have a wall mounted charge point (wall box) fitted. Quite a lot of wall boxes have a cable attached so you can drive up, plug it in and you’re done. Most are about shoebox size but can be as tiny as a small saucepan and you’ll need a qualified person to install it. 

If you're looking for an energy-efficient home charge point for your electric car, why not check out Indra's smart home charger?
Don't worry if you don’t have your own driveway, you can ask the council to install an on-street charge point (they can get a government grant for this). There are also more community charge points popping up, and you might even have one at work. Also think about where you park up during the week as you could get a decent charge while you do a bit of shopping.  
When you buy a new electric car, they usually come with the cable you need (public charging cable). But it’s worth checking as some manufacturers are more generous than others.  

How do I charge out and about or at work?  

You’ll find two different types of charge points out and about and at work: Standard Charge Points and Rapid Chargers.

Standard charge points

You’ll mostly find standard charge points, there are over 37,000 across the UK (February 2023). These are great if you want to charge while you pop into town or go to work as you’ll need to give your car a few hours to charge from empty. You might see them called destination charge points.

Rapid Chargers

If your car can handle rapid charging, using this speedy method takes minutes rather than hours. 
Don’t leave your car plugged in a rapid charger for too long (above 80%), it doesn’t do your battery any favours and annoys other drivers who want to use the charger.

How do I pay to charge my electric car? 

If you plug in at home, you pay through your electricity bill. Out and about? Sometimes you pay using your bank card or you need to download an app. And once in a while you’ll need a special card, called an RFID card. You can usually find a charge point that suits you the way you want to pay within a few miles of where you are. 

I keep reading about Type 1 and Type 2 – what does it mean?  

Because electric car technology is quite new there has been a bit of a battle over cables, sockets and charge points. It can be a head-scratcher if you just want to know how to plug in your car.  
When electric cars first came out a lot of them had Type 1 sockets (the bit on your car that you plug the cable into so you can attach it to a charge point). Then Type 2 turned up to the party and most new cars use this type of socket.  
You can see the difference in the picture below. All it means is you need the right cable (which usually comes with the car) to plug in at home or on the move.  
Most UK public charge points have Type 2 sockets (with 7 pins), so you can use you bring-your-own cable. Even if your car has a Type 1 socket (with 5 pins), you’ll still be able to plug in.   
Occasionally you’ll find a charge point which already has a Type 2 plug, so you don’t use your own cable.  

What about the weird and wonderful sounding CHAdeMO and CCS plugs?

Rapid chargers use different plugs and all you need to know to start is which type your car uses, just like knowing if your car needs filling up with petrol or diesel.

Check when you get the car if it has a CHAdeMO (with 9 pins) or a CCS (with 4 pins) plug.

You can see the difference between these two plug types for rapid chargers in the picture below.

How far can electric cars go?

Worried an electric car will run out of battery and you’ll be stranded? Don't be, the truth is they can go much further than you think.
Find out more