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How to charge an electric car at an apartment or flat

Figuring out how to charge your EV is one of the main things to consider when making the switch

A man plugging in his Volvo hybrid while his family gather around

When shopping for an electric vehicle (EV), one question that’s at the back of many first-timer's minds is – how do I charge it?

This is pretty self-explanatory if you live somewhere that has its own charger fitted – or you can fit a charger yourself – but if you live in a flat, it can seem more complicated.

It might be tempting to dangle your EV charger out of your top floor window and hope it reaches your car, but there are simpler solutions.

As EVs become more and more popular, charging them is becoming more accessible and less of a faff.

Can I install an EV charging point at my apartment?

If you own your flat and have a dedicated car parking space, you should be able to fit an EV charging point.

You might need to seek permission first, so make sure you check your contract and follow the correct processes for making these changes.

You could run into trouble if fitting an EV charging point would intrude on anyone else’s property or public land. In this case, you’d need to seek permission from these parties too.

Everyone’s situation is different, so fitting a charging point at a flat you own might be a slightly different process depending on the terms of your ownership.

You might find it’s a better option to discuss with the property manager or freeholder whether they’d be happy to fit communal EV charging points for all residents to use.

There are grants that can help with funding, which can help if costs are an issue.

Can I install an EV charging point if I rent my flat?

If you’re currently renting a flat and want to install an EV charging point, you can’t do this without getting your landlord’s permission.

If you discuss this with them and they’re happy to help you get the point fitted, they might qualify for a government grant that will help cover the costs.

The EV charge point grant for landlords from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles will offer a contribution towards landlords that fit the qualifying criteria to cover some of the costs of fitting the charging point.

The landlord will be responsible for covering the remainder of the bill, but the grant will certainly take the edge off.

As of August 2022, this grant covers up to 75% of the costs of buying and installing a charging point, limited to £350 per grant.

Landlords can apply for up to 200 grants per year for residential properties. For the latest info on this grant, take a look at the official government website.

Can I get a grant to pay for my electric car charger?

If you live in a flat and want to install an EV charging point, you can get a grant from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles.

This grant covers up to 75% of the cost to buy and install a charging point, up to the value of £350. You can learn more about this grant on the government website.

How much does an EV charging point cost?

Whether you’re fitting the charging point yourself or a landlord/property manager is helping you out, you’ll probably want to know how much this is likely to cost.

The average cost of an EV charging point for your home will usually be around £800 to £1,500, depending on the charger you pick.

Public electric vehicle charging points

If purchasing and installing an electric charging point at your flat isn’t an option, finding a public charging point in your local area is your next best step.

If you’re just using your EV for your daily commute and know you won’t be burning though your full mile range each day, you can usually get away with giving your EV a full charge once a week.

There are apps that will help you locate your nearest charging point, and you can also use online map websites to search for the closest points to your location.

A good option is always to check your local shopping centres and supermarkets, but lots of areas have charging points attached to lampposts and even at workplaces.

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How much does it cost to charge your electric car?

How much it costs to charge your electric car will depend on a variety of things, such as the type of charger, your mile range, and the car’s battery.

If you plan on charging your car at a charging point installed at your flat, you can expect the average cost to be around £15.10 for a full charge.

This will vary depending on your energy tariff, so you might want to shop around for a good deal.

If you’re unable to get a charging point fitted at your flat and will rely on public charging, some supermarkets and shopping centres will let you charge for free while you shop with them. This is a good way to get a boost on the go.

Rapid charging stations are usually found at service stations, and can cost around £11 for a 30-minute charge.

You’ll ‘fill’ up much quicker with these chargers, so it’s a good idea to do some calculations based on your own car to see what's most cost-effective.

Can I get my local council to install an EV charging point?

If you want to charge your electric vehicle at home, another option is to ask your local council to install a charging point in your area.

There’s up to £13,000 of funding in place that local councils can access for the installation.

The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme is available to increase on-street EV charging where off-street parking is not possible.

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