Have you recently purchased your first Tesla Model S or Nissan Leaf? Or considering buying your first electric vehicle? Although you’re already on your way to minimising your carbon tyre print, you are left with certain questions such as: ‘where can I charge my electric car?’, ‘what’s the difference between Fast and Rapid charging?’, and ‘how long does it take to charge an electric car?’
Let’s start with the basics. Electric vehicle (EV) charging points are categorised by how much energy they produce, which is measured in kW. This tells you what speed they can charge your electric car. If you know from your lifestyle that you need to get places quickly, then you may want to consider fast and rapid charging.
Fast car chargers are well suited to homes and businesses that are leaving their cars to charge overnight. AC fast charging points have lower installation and maintenance costs because they can be installed directly into your residential or workplace’s electricity supply.
If you are charging your EV at home, most manufacturers provide wall mounted charging stations with a fixed cable and a type one or two connector that you plug directly into the vehicle. Popular suppliers include the Chargemaster Homecharge and Solo Pod Point. Type one fast charging stations supply around 32 Amps or 7kW and most electric vehicles can accept them with the correct connector. Most fast charging units come with the versatile type two Mennekes or Commando supply side socket, although sometimes they provide a tethered cable with the non-removable type one (J1772) connector. On average, it takes approximately three to four hours to reach full charge although this depends on battery capacity.
Given the government’s workplace charging scheme, powering up your EV at work has never been more convenient. As the quick charge station needs to be compatible with a variety of different electric vehicles, the most common installation for businesses is the wall-mounted type two 7kW charger, which will fully charge a vehicle in three to four hours. Another option would be charging posts which are useful for street parking, but have higher installation costs.
Three phase fast charging often delivers around 22kW and is often only reserved for electric vans and buses that need much more power. Most commercial and public electric car charging stations now also use fast charging instead of slow, with 6209 fast connectors available nationally as of 2017.
Rapid DC chargers work on direct current and are the most common type of rapid charging point, particularly suited to electric car charging ‘on-the go’. You’ll find them in public places such as car parks, motorways, and city centres. As of 2017, there are around 1360 rapid DC connectors available across the UK. They can supply up to 50kW of power, which means that they can charge your EV to 80% in under half an hour. All rapid car charging stations provide a tethered cable with a non-removable JEVS (CHAdeMO 50kW), CCS (Combo 50kW), or Tesla (50-120 kW) vehicle connectors.
As a recent development, rapid AC chargers are relatively rare and are only used in a few locations in the UK. As of early 2017, there were only 642 rapid AC connectors available nationally. They work on a rapid alternating current and can supply up to 43 kW of power. It typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes for an electric vehicle to reach an 80% charge. Due to their high power, all units use a secured cable with a fixed type two Mennekes vehicle connector.
As most slow chargers are shifting to fast and rapid units, you can look forward to an efficient and speedy future with your carbon conscious car.