About 80% of electric car charging takes place at home.
Charging an electric vehicle at home is more convenient than using a public charger because you can simply plug the car in overnight and it’ll be charged and ready to go in the morning.
But when it comes to home EV charging, are you better using a standard 3-pin plug or installing a dedicated home EV charger?
In theory both are viable options, but in reality, it’s more convenient (and safer) to use a wall mounted electric vehicle charger at home.
Let’s look at why:
Using a 3-pin plug to charge your electric vehicle
Most, if not all, electric vehicles come with a standard cable that can be used to connect the car to an electrical outlet in the home (you might have heard it referred to as a granny cable).
These cables have been standard since the first electric cars went into commercial production as a means of charging a vehicle.
As you might think, you simply connect one end of the cable to the car, and then plug the other end into an available outlet just like you would if you were charging a laptop or mobile phone.
Installing a home ev charger
Home EV chargers (which are usually wall mounted or anchored into the ground) aren’t a new technology, but they have advanced a lot since the early days of development and many now come with smart technology and even Wi-Fi built in.
They work the same as a standard plug in that you connect one end to the car, and the other to the charging unit.
But the features built into an electric vehicle charging unit make your electric vehicle charging more efficient, cost effective and safer because the unit is essentially able to communicate with the vehicle.
Key differences between a 3-pin plug and home EV charger
When it comes to choosing the best way to charge your electric vehicle there are four key factors you need to consider:
1 – Safety
2 – Speed of charge
3 – Cost
4 – Additional features
Let’s have a look at each one in more detail:
3-pin plugs are designed to handle the electricity output of small appliances like televisions, mobile phones, and computers – they’re not designed to handle the capacity of a car.
Plugging your electric vehicle into a standard wall socket can overstretch the electrical demand being placed on the outlet, potentially resulting in a fire or at the very least tripping your home’s electrical circuit.
Some vehicle owners have been known to use an extension cable to plug in their electric vehicle, but the charging power of the vehicle has the potential to melt the extension cable – again causing a serious fire risk.
Home EV chargers on the other hand are specifically designed to handle the capacity demands of an electric vehicle, and the technology built into them helps to regulate the electricity output based on the needs of the vehicle.
This makes them a much safer option to charge your electric vehicle than a standard 3-pin plug.
Speed of charge
A standard cable and 3-pin plug that comes with electric vehicles only allows for the slowest speed of charging your electric vehicle.
This is because the power required to generate higher speeds can’t be managed safely using a standard plug.
A standard cable and plug provide roughly 3kW of charging power.
But considering a typical electric car has a 60kWh battery installed, it could take as long as 16 hours to fully charge this battery (and even longer if you buy a top of the line electric vehicle like a Tesla, which comes with a battery closer to 100kWh)
EV chargers however usually have a standard 7kW of charging power, so you could easily charge a standard electric car battery from flat to full in around eight hours, which is perfect if you plan to charge it overnight.
Some electric vehicle chargers can provide as much as 22kW of charging power, meaning you could charge a 60kWh battery in around three hours.
However, these aren’t common in a standard domestic home as they require a three-phase electrical system be installed in the property – and most homes only have a single-phase system.
You might think it would be cheaper to simply use a 3-pin plug to charge your electric vehicle because the cable you need usually comes free with the car and you don’t have to pay for the installation of the EV charging unit itself.
But you’d actually be surprised how much of the cost of the initial purchase and installation of your EV charging unit you can offset, and how much you could save in the long run.
It’s possible to install a slow charging unit at home (giving the same 3kW) of charge power as a standard outlet, but realistically you’d be looking for a 7kW charging unit.
Depending on the additional smart features you want to include with your EV charging station you’ll be looking at around £800 (a pod point smart unit will cost you around £799 for example)
However, the Government (through the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles) can provide a grant of up to £350 to help with the cost of installation and make it cheaper.
Then you’ve got the ongoing costs.
With a standard 3-pin plug you just pay the cost of the electricity based on your tariff and the cost of electricity per unit at the time the plug is connected. And you pay for the duration the plug is connected.
Using a home EV charging unit with smart technology you can actually sync your charging schedule to points in the day when electricity prices are at their lowest, ensuring you’re always paying the least possible amount to charge your vehicle.
You can also set a charging limit on your station, so for example if you only want to charge your vehicle’s battery to 80% you can set that limit and once it’s reached the unit will stop drawing power.
Ultimately, while you’ll have to pay some costs towards a home electric vehicle charging unit, much of these initial costs can be offset and the savings you’ll make in the long run compared to using a 3-pin plug are significant.
As you may expect, there are no additional features that come with the standard cable and 3-pin plug.
You simply get the cable to connect to your vehicle, plug-in to an outlet and begin charging your car.
With a charging unit there are a range of additional features that come with it or that can be installed:
Remote charging and monitoring: Most EV charge units have dedicated applications that let you remotely monitor your electric vehicle charging so you can see how efficient and cost effective your charging is. These apps let you remotely control your charging station and help you optimise the efficiency of your electric vehicle charging.
Power balancing: If you only plug one electric vehicle into your home charging unit, all the available power will run through the cable to charge your vehicle as quickly as possible. If you plug two vehicles in though, sending full power down both cables could overload your electrical system and cause a shortage or in extreme circumstances, a fire hazard.
Load management and power balancing in home EV charge stations regulate the amount of power sent through each cable when multiple vehicles are connected to ensure your electrical system can handle it safely.
Tariff syncing: Unit costs for electricity fluctuate during the day and will be cheaper at some times than others. When you’re charging your electric vehicle, wouldn’t you want to know you were doing so when electricity was cheapest? With a home EV charging unit you can sync your charge schedule to those times when electricity is cheapest so you’re always saving money.
Automatic software updates: The software and technology built-in to home EV chargers is being updated all the time to improve efficiency and safety. With a smart home charger, these updates happen automatically over your Wi-Fi connection – or through a 3G or 4G connection if you buy a unit with this built in.
Make the most of your home EV charging with a smart unit from Downtown Electrical
If you want to start seeing the benefits of charging your electric vehicle at home with a dedicated charge point, then contact us at Downtown Electrical.
We’re specialists at installing EV charge units in homes, in commercial spaces and in public.
You’ll find a full range of smart EV chargers on our website that come with all the latest features and EV charging technology to ensure you’re always getting the best deals on your electric vehicle charging.
We’ll help you find and choose the right unit based on what you need and can get it installed quickly.
Plus, we can help you secure the OVEZ grant to ensure you get all the discounts you’re entitled to on the installation of your home electric vehicle charger.