Electric vehicles FAQ
There are three main types of EV charging – rapid, fast, and slow. These represent the power outputs, and therefore charging speeds, available to charge an EV. Note that power is measured in kilowatts (kW).
Rapid chargers are one of two types – AC or DC [Alternating or Direct Current]. Current Rapid AC chargers are rated at 43 kW, while most Rapid DC units are at least 50 kW. Both will charge the majority of EVs to 80% in around 30-60 minutes (depending a battery capacity). Tesla Superchargers are also Rapid DC and charge at around 120 kW. Rapid AC devices use a tethered Type 2 connector, and Rapid DC chargers are fitted with a CCS, CHAdeMO or Tesla Type 2.
Fast chargers include those which provide power from 7 kW to 22 kW, which typically fully charge an EV in 3-4 hours. Common fast connectors are a tethered Type 1 or a Type 2 socket (via a connector cable supplied with the vehicle).
Slow units (up to 3 kW) are best used for overnight charging and usually take between 6 and 12 hours for a pure-EV, or 2-4 hours for a PHEV. EVs charge on slow devices using a cable which connects the vehicle to a 3-pin or Type 2 socket.
You can charge a car at home using a dedicated home charging point (a standard 3 pin plug with an EVSE cable should only be used as a last resort).
An electric car will have either a Type 1 or a Type 2 connector and you’ll need to choose a home charger that’s compatible with it. Make sure you get the right chargepoint for your vehicle when you purchase!
There is also a large network of public charge points, either on street (currently, Swindon doesn’t have any on street, but we are installing the first in 2021 – read more here) or more commonly in car parks at public places, such as retail parks, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants. You can view the network on Zap Map
Payment and access methods across networks vary widely, with some networks providing an RFID card and others a smartphone app to use their services. While some require an account to be set up before use, the government is trying to regulate against this and so you’ll find some units with contactless PAYG card readers are starting to be installed.
Although some public EV charge points are free to use, the majority of fast and rapid chargers require payment. Charging tariffs tend to comprise a flat connection fee, a cost per charging time (pence per hour) and/or a cost per energy consumed (pence per kWh).
It’s useful to have a 3 pin charging cable as a backup charging option, but they are not designed to withstand these loads and should not be used long term.
The cost of driving an electric car is about 2-5p per mile, which means EV drivers can save up to up £1,000 a year when compared to driving a petrol or diesel car.
Charging an electric car at home costs about £8.40 for a full charge and is the most convenient and cost-effective way to keep your car fully charged. Most drivers will charge their electric car overnight, waking up to a full battery in the morning.
Many energy suppliers offer discounted tariffs for overnight charging, so it’s worth finding out what yours offers, and consider switching. This website compares some of the EV tariffs that are available.
A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point. Most drivers will “top up” charge little and often rather than waiting for their battery to recharge from empty-to-full.
The short answer is that you can’t overcharge an electric car’s battery. Electric vehicles (like Teslas, Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs) all have a built-in battery management and monitoring system which makes sure that the main battery pack doesn’t overcharge.
Swindon Borough Council has received a Government grant to start rolling out on-street charging points in places where there are few opportunities to park off street. It’s a small project to start with, but we will monitor the take up, and will continue to consider future demand. Read more here.
Alongside this, we have drafted a strategy to consider how we will meet demand over the next ten years. This includes on-street as well as off-street infrastructure provision, promotional activity, using planning and licencing policies to encourage EV and a rolling action plan. Read more here.
It is a requirement of Government funding that we install the points where there is proven demand, and we undertook a survey in March 2020 which highlighted the biggest need is in Eastcott and Central wards where the terraced streets mean drivers haven’t got garages or driveways to charge electric cars from. 55% of respondents indicated that the would purchase an electric car if the infrastructure was installed.
We appreciate that it may take a while for residents to convert to electric vehicles, so the bays may be under-utilised to begin with, but without them, how can residents ever have the confidence to make that switch?
The bays will be subject to a traffic regulation order, that will restrict the parking to electric vehicles only, and during the Resident Parking Zone operation times (8am – 10pm) also restrict the use to permit holders for the zone, and a 3-hour limit. Three hours is considered sufficient to top up, whilst the unrestricted overnight period from 10pm to 8am can provide a fuller charge.
We do not know yet, as we are undertaking a tender process for an operator. It is important to Swindon Borough Council that the charge points are affordable, so we will score bidders more favourably in the tender if they promise to keep their rates low for customers.
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