Electric Car Charging Explained

If you own an electric car or you’re thinking of buying one, you might be wondering about the best way to charge it up.  In this post, we’ve covered some of the common questions people have around charging electric vehicles (EVs), and provided example charging times for a range of plug-in cars.

Where can I charge my electric car?

You can either charge it at home, using a public charging point, or at work if your employer has made this facility available.

Charging at home

If you cover a lot of miles and will need to charge your vehicle often, you may want to invest in a home charger – this will let you charge your car faster than simply plugging it straight into a standard socket.

The Electric Vehicle Home Charge Scheme (EVHS) reduces the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging point by £500, covering 75% of the total costs according to Zap-Map. You can check if you’re eligible for the EVHS scheme here.

Charging on the go

Currently, you can find public charging points at many petrol stations, supermarkets and motorway services. Many new electric cars come with a sat nav that will locate the closest charging point, or you can use Zap Map to find charging points near you when you’re on the go.

People with home chargers can also opt in to share their home charger with other EV drivers, under their own conditions. Find out more information here.

Charging at work

A growing number of employers are installing chargers on-site for employees to use. If this is something you think would benefit you and your colleagues, the Workplace Charging Scheme covers a maximum of 20 sockets with up to £500 off each socket,  up to 75% of the total installation cost. The government hopes this will encourage more businesses to install chargers for their staff.



How do I connect my electric car to a power supply?

Most car models are supplied with two cables for slow and fast AC charging. Some have specific branded connectors or offer higher powered options to use for rapid charging.  

Slow chargers are the most common method of charging – they are typically used to charge overnight at home. Due to longer charging times, they aren’t normally used at public charging points. Slow charging is done through a 3-pin charger, Type 1 cable, Type 1, Type 2 or Commando connector.

Fast chargers can be found in places where you are likely to be parked for an hour – for example supermarkets, leisure centres and car parks. Fast charging is done through a Type 1, Type 2, or Commando connector.

Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an EV, and can be found close to main roads and motorway services. Rapid charging requires a CHAedMO, CCA or (typically) a Type 2 connector with some models offering a specific branded connector.

Note: A 3-pin plug can be plugged into a regular wall socket, whereas the other options are only compatible with a specific EV charging points, as they have multiple pins. 

For more information on connector types and speeds visit Zap-Map.

How do I know which charging setup to use with my vehicle?

You can find out on various websites which power output and type of charger is compatible with each vehicle.

Not all electric cars have the rapid charge feature, which is the ability to charge the vehicle in the shortest amount of time; most come with an on-board charger, and can only charge at the on-board charger’s maximum level. Connecting to a more powerful charger will not change the maximum capacity the vehicle can charge at, so this is something to check before buying an at-home charger.

Do I just plug the charger in like with my mobile phone?

Yes – where you’d find the petrol cap on a conventional car, you’ll find the charge port on an electric vehicle.

When charging at home or at work, your vehicle should start charging automatically. When using a public charger, however, there is an activation process before the vehicle begins charging. This may require a smartphone app or Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) card, which are linked to a personal account.

How long will my electric car take to charge?

The time it takes to charge your electric vehicle will depend on the power source, and whether you’re using a rapid, fast or slow connector speed.

Charge times can also be affected by factors such as ambient temperature, and charging can slow down as maximum charge is approached; most ‘rapid’ charges reduce power before reaching 100% to maximise efficiency and protect the battery.

We’ve provided some example charging times for different cars, in different scenarios, below.

See how quickly these 4 cars would charge using different power outputs

Take a look at the electric vehicles below to see how long each would take to charge using different power outputs:

smart forfour hatchback Electric Drive

Charging capabilities

  • 7 kW on-board charger
  • 22kW on-board charger is available as an option
  • No rapid charging capability

Charging times

  • Fast 22kW: 45 minutes (0-100%)
  • Fast 7kW: 2.30 hours (0-100%)
  • Slow: 7.30 hours (0-100%)

Additional info

Eligible for the OLEV Category 1 PiGC, taking £3,500 off the cost of a new model, making it likely to qualify for the EVHS scheme.

View Zap Map’s Smart forfour ED charging guide.

Kia e-Niro

Charging capabilities

  • kW on-board charger for Type 2 AC charging, in addition to rapid 50 kW DC capability

Charging times

  • Rapid 100kW: 30 minutes (0-80%)
  • Rapid 50kW: 1 hour (0-80%)
  • Fast 22kW: 9 hours (0-100%)
  • Fast 7kW: 9 hours
  • Slow 3kW: 26 hours

Additional info

Eligible for the OLEV Category 1 PiGC, taking £3,500 off the cost of a new model, making it likely to qualify for the EVHS scheme 

View Zap Map’s Kia e-Niro charging guide.

Volkswagen e-Golf

Charging capabilities

  • 7.2kW on-board charger in addition to the rapid 50 kW DC option
  • CCS charging standard; a combined AC and DC inlet port

Charging times

  • Rapid 50kW: 35 minutes (0-80%)
  • Fast 22kW: 5 hours (0-100%)
  • Fast 7kW: 5 hours (0-100%)
  • Slow 3kW: 12 hours (0-100%)

Additional info

Eligible for the OLEV Category 1 PiGC, taking £3,500 off the cost of a new model, making it likely to qualify for the EVHS scheme 

View Zap Map’s VW e-Golf charging guide.

Jaguar I-PACE 

Charging capabilities

  • 7kW on-board charger for Type 2 AC charging, in addition to a rapid 100kW DC capability
  • CCS charging standard; a combined AC and DC inlet port

Charging times

  • Rapid 100kW: 45 mins (0-80%)
  • Rapid 50kW: 1.5 hours (0-80%)
  • Fast 22kW: 13 hours (0-100%)
  • Fast 7kW: 13 hours (0-100%)
  • Slow: 30 hours (0-100%)

Additional info

Eligible for the OLEV Category 1 PiGC, taking £3,500 off the cost of a new model, making it likely to qualify for the EVHS scheme 

View Zap Map’s Jaguar I-PACE charging guide.


If you’re thinking about making the change to electric, check out our round-up of the 12 best hybrid and electric cars to buy in 2019.

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