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How much does it cost to charge an electric car in the UK?

Working out the cost of charging is one of the best ways to make sure an EV fits your budget and lifestyle

a man in a green t shirt checking his vehicle's charge progress on his phone app while stood in front of his black mitsubishi hybrid that is charging

If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle (EV), you’re probably wondering how much it will cost to charge.

Using a home charger will give your car a boost overnight, and will be charged to your electricity bill, so you’ll want to know how much you can expect to see your bill increase by.

If you’re choosing to use a different kind of charging set-up, such as at a local charging station or charging point, then you’ll usually be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis – as with fuel – or you can sometimes get a subscription.

Some charging points are free to use, like the ones you’ll often find at supermarkets and shopping centres, so this is a handy way to get a boost while you’re out and about.

Ultimately, the cost of charging your EV will depend on the car you have, how often you’ll be driving it, and where you’re planning to charge it.

How much does it cost to charge your electric vehicle at home?

The average price of electricity per KWh (as of January 2023) is 34p, while the average power of a three-pin plug in the wall is from 2-3.5kW. If you round that average power to 3kW to make our calculations a bit smoother, you can expect it to cost around £12 to charge an 80kW Renault Zoe for 14 hours. Usually, that would give the car its full 196-mile range, equalling a cost per mile of 6.1p.

The most common electric car home charging ports (dedicated electric car plugs added to your property) in the UK are more powerful than three-pin plugs, ranging from 3.6-7kW.

Best of all, even if your charge point were to be 7kW one, it would cost you the same amount to fill up an electric car as it would do were you to use the three-pin plug. In fact, it might be cheaper, because you’re still accessing domestic electricity, but the higher-speed charger would ensure the same top-up takes just six hours.

This can be less than half the time to charge a car using a three-pin wall plug, meaning the charge period is less likely to fall outside of the lowest-cost window.

How much does it cost to charge your EV on the go?

There are many options for charging your electric car while you’re out and about, but some are cheaper than others. Cheaper does usually mean slower, however, so you’ll need to consider what matters more to you. The good news is you’ll rarely be stuck without somewhere to grab a boost, and that’s only set to improve over the next few years.

You can find places to charge at supermarkets and shopping centres (these are often free while you shop but are usually slower), charging stations with rapid chargers that are more expensive (usually between £15-£30 for 30 minutes' charge/up to 100 miles added to your range), and then there are even conveniently-placed chargers on lampposts in some cities (these are slower chargers – best for parking and leaving overnight).

Lamppost chargers are usually similar to home chargers (ranging from 3.7-7kW), and are available to use on a pay-as-you-go basis, or even with a monthly subscription. You might even find a free one while on your travels.

How much does it cost to charge at electric car charging points?

Using a public charging point to give your EV a boost is a great way to recharge if you’re on the go or don’t have access to a home charger. There are apps that will help you locate these charging points, and they’ll usually show up on online maps and navigation systems, but prices will vary depending on where you choose to charge.

Service station chargers are usually the most expensive, but are also some of the fastest. You’ll find that petrol stations also have rapid chargers, but can be close to half the price of a service station depending on the location.

Charging costs for different chargers

Home charging

Charging your EV at home is by far the most cost-effective way to juice-up your electric car, and is the method used by 80% of drivers, but this is often far slower than charging in public.

When it comes to charging at home, there are pretty much two options. You can either use a standard three-pin plug or install a wall box, which is the pricier but quicker option.

This is because it can sometimes take 24 hours to fully charge a modern EV from a three-pin plug because of how large the batteries are.

Wallbox chargers can offer 7kW charging, which can charge a standard EV from 0-80% in around six hours.

In terms of cost, this will typically cost 14p per kW, resulting in a total cost of between £5-£14 to charge an EV.

Public charging

When it comes to public EV chargers, there are typically four different options: standard public chargers; motorway chargers; EV charging hubs; and Tesla Superchargers.

Standard public chargers:

There are typically three different types of public chargers: fast charging (12p per kWh); rapid charging (15p per kWh); and ultra-fast charging (27p per kWh). While this is substantially more expensive than charging at home, it’s much faster.

Motorway chargers

These types of chargers offer more or less the same as the above but are almost always more expensive, in the same way that petrol and diesel prices are higher on motorways.

EV charging hubs

These are less common in the UK, but more are frequently popping up. An EV charging hub is essentially a large forecourt that allows lots of cars to charge at the same time – sometimes as many as 36.

This kind of hub is tipped to replace petrol stations in the future, but only time will tell as to whether this is the case.

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Tesla Superchargers

One of the brands that are really pushing the use of forecourts is Tesla, because of its supercharger network.

While Tesla may charge up to 28p per kWh to use a fast charger, it’s still cheaper to charge a Model 3 than its equivalent traditional car alternative.

Not only is it cheaper to use one of these superchargers, but it’s often the quickest way to charge your Tesla. Even if you don’t own one, it plans on rolling this out to all other EV models in the near future and has already started in some regions.

How to calculate how much it costs to charge your electric vehicle

There are a few things that will impact how much it costs to charge your EV – the model of your car, your choice of charging method, and how many miles you’ll cover.

The simple calculation is to take the size of your EV’s battery and multiply that by the electricity cost of your supplier in pence per kWh. This will give you the total cost of charging your EV in full.

Average mileage

Figuring out how many miles you’ll cover on a regular basis is a good start to help with calculating your costs of charging. If you’re driving more, you’ll be needing to charge up more often, and this will cost more in the long run.

If you work out your average weekly mileage, this will help you decide which car is better for your needs. Something like the Volkswagen e-Up! would be ideal for a really efficient drive if you know you’ll be covering a fair few miles.

Charging Method

The way you charge your car will also impact the cost, but there are ways you can get this as low as possible.

Utilising free charging points when you’re out and about is a good option – you'll often find charging points at supermarkets and shopping centres that you can use free of charge while you’re in store.

If you choose to do most of your charging at home, you can wait until off-peak times (usually overnight – convenient!) to get the best value for money. Shopping around for the cheapest energy tariff can also help you get a better deal.

There is the one-off cost for installing a charging point, but you can use a standard mains charging cable if that isn’t something you want to pay for right away.

The installation and purchasing costs of an EV charging point are around £1,000, but there are grants that will help with the costs.

Rapid chargers are great for a super-quick boost while on the go, but they’re the more expensive choice and are not compatible with all EV models.

Your chosen electric vehicle

Electric vehicles all offer different levels of efficiency, so the model you pick will also impact your costs of charging. Something that’s not super-efficient will need charging more often, so will naturally have higher running costs. This is something you should consider when purchasing your new EV to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

There are online calculators available that will use all of these factors to work out the average running costs for your car. It’s a good idea to use these to compare models before taking the plunge.

Charging a Tesla

Tesla's electric cars are sometimes slightly more expensive to charge, as they have large batteries that will need more power to charge until full. They do also have large mile ranges, however, so you might not need to charge as often depending on how much you drive on average.

This will be the same with any high-range, larger battery EV – just like with fuel, they’ll be slightly more expensive to ‘fill up’ and get on the road.

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