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Can You Plug an Electric Car into a Regular Outlet?

With around 300,000 electric vehicles and 600,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in the UK, the adoption of EVs in the country is skyrocketing. However, most people who buy an EV have questions about charging.

Some common questions include:

  • Can you charge an electric car at home using a regular outlet?
  • Do you need to install special chargers for charging an electric vehicle?
  • What is the cost of charging an EV at home?
  • Is it beneficial to install dedicated EV chargers at home?

In this guide, we’ll answer all these questions, plus many more. Let’s dive in.

Can You Charge an Electric Car at Home?

If you’re looking for a quick answer, it’s yes.

Many people who buy an electric vehicle assume that it’s not possible to charge it at home. After all, a car is a gigantic machine that requires a lot of power. Yet, you can charge it from a regular outlet. Most EV manufacturers supply the vehicle with a three-pin domestic plug socket that you can plug into a normal socket.

Even though it’s entirely possible to charge an electric car from a regular socket, it isn’t essentially the best option. Charging EVs at home is a new concept, and most domestic sockets aren’t designed to charge an EV.

Therefore, it’s ideal for installing a dedicated wallbox in your home. This way, you can take benefit of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme and enjoy cheaper tariffs and faster charging. A wallbox also comes with smart charging capabilities, allowing you to monitor your charging and electricity consumption remotely.

Do You Need a Special Charger for Charging Your EV at Home?

EV charging cables is a broad topic. Let’s briefly discuss vehicle-side and charge point-side connector types.

Vehicle-Side Connectors

Vehicle-side connectors come in two types: slow and fast charges (AC chargers) and rapid chargers (DC chargers). AC chargers are of two types:

  • Type 1: Power rating of 3.7-7 kW; 12-25 miles per hour
  • Type 2: Powe rating up to 22 kW; up to 75 miles per hour

DC rapid chargers come in three connector types:

  • CHAdeMo: Power rating of 50-100 kW’ 75-150 miles per hour
  • CCS: Power rating of 50-350 kW; 75-525 miles per hour
  • Type 2: Power rating of 150-250 kW; 225-375 miles per hour

Charge Point-Side Connectors

AC chargers have two types of charge point connectors:

  • Type 2: Power rating of 7 kW
  • 3-pin plug: Power rating of 2.3 kW

DC units have a tethered charger that matches car-side sockets and lack charge point-side DC sockets.

A home charger has a type 1 vehicle-side connector and a 3-pin plug at the charge point. It’s a single-phase connection with a total power rating of 3-6 kW. A very few cars come with a 3-pin plug charger, and most of them have a type 2 universal connector that fits all standard chargepoint sockets.

What’s the Cost of Charging an EV at Home?

The cost of charging an EV at home depends on the electricity rate in the area. The average domestic electricity rate in the UK is 17p per kWh. Hence, fully charging an EV with a 60 kWh battery will cost:

£0.17 x 60 = £10 (approx)

Some electricity providers have tariffs designed specifically for EV drivers. For example, GoElectric 35 allows you to charge your EV for 4.5p per kWh during off-peak hours.

Some EV owners may wonder if the charger they use affects the charging costs. The answer is no; it doesn’t. Your charging expenses will depend on two factors only:

  • Electricity tariff
  • Battery capacity

Both the electricity tariff and your battery capacity are directly proportional to charging costs. It doesn’t matter whether you charge your EV using smart chargers, a three-pin plug, or a slow charging station. The charger you use will affect the speed of charging, but not the cost.

Can You Charge Electric Cars at a Public Power Outlet?

It’s possible to charge your electric car at a regular public power outlet, but doing so is not advisable. If you want to charge your EV outside, look for a public charging point. Many public charging stations in the UK allow you to charge your EV for free. However, you’ll need a dedicated electric car charger for using your nearest charging point.

If you are in a hurry, look for rapid charging stations. These stations have a dedicated changing point with a three-phase electricity supply. You can fully charge your EV in less than an hour at these stations. However, please note that the electricity tariff at these stations is slightly higher. If you are not in a hurry and can wait for a few hours, you can look for normal charging points.

The benefit of charging your EV outside is that you can choose from slow and fast charging stations as per your requirements.

Electric Car Charging from a 110V vs 240V Outlet

Most parts of the EU have a 220V power supply, unlike the US with a 110V supply. The power supply output plays a vital role in the charging speed of an EV.

Charging using a 110V solution is called Level 1 charging. It adds around 3.5-6.5 miles per hour to your EV, and you’ll need to leave your charging cable plugged in overnight. If your EV charging outlet is a part of the same circuit connecting other parts of your house, excessive amperage drawn can trip the breaker switch. Hence, have a separate EV charging circuit if you plan to charge your car using a 110V domestic electricity supply.

Charging your EV using a 240V electricity supply is known as Level 2 charging. Since the power supply is twice as much as Level 1 charging, the charging speed is also double. Since the UK has a 220V power supply, you can experience Level 2 charging using a regular outlet.

However, it’s better to install a charging station if you intend to use Level 2 charging. Using Level 2 charging makes the entire charging system safer and helps you avoid the breaker switch from tripping.

Also, Level 2 charging requires special electric car chargers with 20-100 amp electric circuits. Level 2 charging takes 4-6 hours to fully charge your EV.

bidirectional charging

Should You Install a Dedicated Electric Car Charging Point at Home?

If you plan to charge your EV at home regularly, installing a dedicated charging point will be the best pick. Let’s look at some essential benefits of installing an EV charging point at your home.

Save Money

The Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) offers a 75% grant of up to £500 on the charging station installation costs. Hence, you’ll save a substantial amount of money on the installation expenses.

Also, the tariffs are cheaper. When you charge at home, you need to pay the standard electricity tariffs only, which will be around 2p per one mile of charge. This is unlike public charging stations that charge £1-1.50 for regular charging and up to £7.50 for fast charging.

Enjoy Fast Charging

Installing a dedicated charger gives you Level 2 charging capabilities, which could charge your car from zero to full in 4-6 hours, depending on your battery capacity. Charging from mains will take 8-12 hours, and you’ll have to leave your EV plugged in overnight.

Enjoy Better Convenience

Increased convenience is one of the best benefits of charging an EV at home. You don’t have to drive to nearby charge points every time your EV runs out of charge. You can charge your EV at your home whenever you want and enjoy the same charging speed as public charging stations with a three-phase power supply.

Preserve Your EV’s Battery Life

The battery of electric cars works similarly to other electric batteries. Charging it too often or too near full can reduce its efficiency and degrade battery life and performance. When you charge your EV at home, you plug it in only when you want to charge it. You have better control over how much and how often your charge your EV, which helps in preserving the battery life.

Enhance Property Value

Finally, installing a dedicated EV charger at home increases the resale value of your property. With electric cars becoming increasingly popular in the UK, many homeowners are willing to pay a premium for houses with a wallbox charger. Having it installed in your house can dramatically increase its resale value.

Solar Solution and Cost-Saving Incentives

A million people in the UK have solar panels installed, and most of them own an electric vehicle. Solar panels complement electric cars, and many even call it a match made in heaven. Electric vehicles charged with solar panels become zero-emissions vehicles. You can reduce the environmental impact of your electric vehicles by charging them with solar power.

Besides, the cost of solar power is plummeting, and people can claim several rebates and incentives on it. For example, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive offers the following solar panel grants and incentives:

  • Smart export guarantee
  • 5% VAT reduction (T&C applied)
  • Feed0in tariff
  • Renewable heat incentive

Follow this article to learn more about solar grants and incentives.

Installing solar panels also enable you to become energy self-sufficient. By installing an ample number of panels, you can rely entirely on solar-generated energy for your EV charging requirements. This will not only help you drive zero-emission vehicles but also reduce your energy bills.

Electric Vehicle Charge Point at Home vs Charging Station

As discussed, there are numerous benefits of charging your EV at home. However, using public charging points has its own advantages, so you shouldn’t completely overlook them.

One of the biggest benefits of public charging points is faster charging. Many EV charging solution providers have installed rapid charging stations with a three-phase connection. A three-phase supply with rapid charging can charge an EV in less than 2 hours. If you are in a hurry and want to add miles quickly to your EV, rapid charging stations can be a lifesaver.

Rapid chargers have higher tariffs than regular chargers, so it’s better to keep them for occasional use only. Charging your EV outside also gives an excellent opportunity to socialise with people and make new friends. Charging points have become a popular hangout spot among EV owners.

Conclusion

You can charge your EV at home using a regular power outlet, though it’s not the best option. Standard three-pin sockets have slow charging speeds and can increase the load on your circuit. If you want to charge your EV at home, installing a dedicated wallbox charger will be the best pick. A wallbox charger will charge your EV quickly, and you also get various benefits and incentives.

EV Cable

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a special electrical outlet for an electric car?

No, you don’t. You can charge your EV using a standard three-pin plug. However, charging an electric car from a regular outlet will take a lot of time and can put an excess load on your home’s circuit. Therefore, it’s advisable to install a wallbox charger if you regularly plan to charge your EV at home.

Do you need a 220 outlet to charge an electric car?

No, you don’t essentially need a 220V outlet to charge your electric car. Countries like the US have 110V outlets. However, the higher the power rating, the faster the charging. A 220V power outlet will double the charging speed. Most areas of the EU have 220V outlets.

Can I charge an EV from a 13A socket?

Yes, you can charge an electric vehicle from a 13A socket. Most car manufacturers supply EVs with a 13A plug, also known as a granny charger. These chargers are ideal for situations when you don’t have access to a charging point. However, ensure that you fit your 13A charger in an appropriate plug.

Is it expensive to charge an electric car at home?

No, charging an electric car at home is not expensive. You can fully charge your EV for around £10. Some electricity providers offer special plans for EV owners that allow you to charge your EV for as low as 4.5 p per kW. EV owners can also install solar panels to become self-sustainable.

How can I charge my electric car at home without a garage?

You don’t need a garage to charge your EV at home. You can plug your charger into a regular power outlet to charge it. Even if you decide to install a wallbox charger for your EV, you won’t need a garage for that.

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