rapid vehicle charging
Rapid devices supply high power direct or alternating current – AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) – recharging an electric vehicle to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes. In most cases the charging units power down when the battery is around 80% full to protect the battery and extend its life. All rapid devices have the charging cable tethered to the unit.
Rapid charging can only be used on vehicles with rapid-charging capability. Given the easily recognisable connector profiles, the specification for your model is easy to check from the vehicle manual or inspecting the on-board inlet.
Non-Tesla rapid DC chargers provide power at 50 kW (125A), use either the CHAdeMO or CCS charging standards. Both connectors typically charge an electric vehicle to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes depending on battery capacity and starting state of charge. The next generation of rapid DC units will increase the power first to 150 kW and then to 350 kW which will significantly reduce overall charging time.
Tesla’s Supercharger network also provides rapid DC charging to drivers of its cars, but use a Tesla Type 2 connector and charge at up to 120 kW. While all Tesla models are designed for use with Supercharger units, many Tesla owners use adaptors which enable them to use 50 kW rapid units fitted with a CHAdeMO connector. While these provide less power than a Supercharger, they are more common in the UK and elsewhere.
Rapid AC chargers provide power at 43 kW (three-phase, 63A) and use the Type 2 charging standard. Rapid AC units are typically able to charge an EV to 80% in 20 to 40 minutes depending the model’s battery capacity and starting state of charge.
fast vehicle charging
Fast chargers include those which provide power from 7kW to 22kW which typically charges an electric vehicle in 3 to 4 hours. Common fast connectors are a tethered Type 1 or a Type 2 socket (via a connector cable supplied with the electric vehicle on purchase).
Charging rates when using a fast charger will depend on the vehicles on-board charger, not all models are designed to accept 7 kW or more. These models can still be plugged in to the charge point but will only draw the maximum power accepted by the on-board charger. For example, a Nissan Leaf with standard 3.3 kW on-board charger will only draw a maximum of 3.3 kW even if the fast charger is 7 kW or 22 kW.
Tesla’s ‘destination’ chargers provide 11 or 22 kW of power but like the Supercharger network they are intended only or use by Tesla models. Tesla does provide some standard Type 2 chargers at many of its destination locations and these are compatible with any plug-in model using the correct cable.
slow charging units
Slow units up to 3kW are best used for overnight charging and usually take between 6 and 12 hours for a pure electric vehicle or between 2 and 4 hours for a PHEV. Electric vehicles charge on slow devices using a cable which connects the vehicle to a 3 pin or Type 2 socket.
While slow charging can be carried out via a three-pin socket using a standard 3-pin socket, because of the higher current demands of electric vehicles and the longer amount of time spent charging, it is strongly recommended that those who need to charge regularly at home or the workplace get a dedicated EV charging unit installed by an accredited installer.
charging your electric vehicle on public networks
The United Kingdom has a large number of public EV (electric vehicle) charging networks with some offering national coverage and others only found in a specific region. The major UK-wide networks include BP Chargemaster (Polar), Ecotricity, Pod Point and Charge Your Car.
Regional networks usually cover well defined areas such as the Midlands or the South West. Since a number of these are operated by or have links with national networks, it is often possible to use the points within these regional networks with a national account. However, the level of access depends on the network and specific charge point.
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 most require an account to be set up before use, some rapid units with contactless PAYG card readers are starting to be installed.
Although many 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).
Tip: We recommend taking the time to understand how to use the electric vehicle charging point that you intend to visit before you get there. Charging networks participants (like us) work hard to make the process as effortless as possible although some planning may be beneficial - particularly if you are relying on the charging point. Please contact us if you have any further questions.
charging your electric vehicle on long distance journeys or in an emergency
On long distance journeys you will find that there are times when the remaining range in your battery won’t get you to your destination.
In this scenario you can make use of the network of high power rapid chargers (43-150kW) found in motorway service stations and other locations across the UK. This is known as en-route charging.
Because they are expensive, and dispense a lot of electricity in a short period, rapid chargers are usually offered on a paid for basis.
The cables are always tethered to the 43kW+ units, so you do not need to bring your own cable to them.
There are 3 rapid charge connector types, depending on your car. Modern rapid chargers offer either all 3 or at least both DC standards.
In some situations you may find that you have run low on battery from lots of local driving and need an emergency charge.
Rapid chargers are also great for this purpose and if you’re not near a motorway service station, they can be found in convenient places like supermarket car parks.
Tip: Top up charging is the most commonly opted for charging interval making short charging times imperative, the time it takes to charge does not matter as much provided that you can regularly plug the electric vehicle in for recharge.
maximise your electric vehicle driving range
Take away gently | Fast acceleration is fun but minimising it keeps your energy consumption lower maintaining your charge for a longer period.
Be mindful of your speed | In a conventionally fuelled vehicle around 50mph is the optimal speed for efficiency (running the engine is so inefficient that you need to be up to that speed until you overcome static losses). In an electric vehicle, to an extent, the faster you go, the more energy you consume - optimal speed is likely <10mph for most BEVs (depending on static consumption like air conditioning, heating and electrical systems) - although understandably it would not be recommend to drive that slow.
Maximise regenerative braking energy | If you only decelerate using regenerative braking then you are minimising your energy consumption -ensure you always have regenerative braking on and that you always allow a safe distance for slowing down before you need the brake.
Turn off/down climate control and heating | If it is comfortable to do so turning off, or turning down your climate control will reduce your static energy consumption.
Plan a route that will minimise your power requirement | Taking a route that is similarly direct that requires travelling at a lower speed will allow you to travel further on a charge. If it is possible to avoid climbing hills this will also improve your range although you understandably cannot alter the altitude of your destination.
Check you tyre pressures | Ensuring your tyre pressures are at the optimal level will reduce unnecessary rolling resistance that decreases efficiency and range.
Battery management | You can take steps to prolong the life and slow the degradation of your battery. The better your battery health, the more energy it will hold and the longer range you can get on a single charge.
External temperature | This is not something you can manage however it is worth noting that when the weather is cold your electric vehicle will have decreased range, equally if the temperature is very hot particularly if you run your air conditioning system the range will be effected. Setting off when the temperature is close to 20oC will improve your range.