When are you allowed to install an EV charger on public or private property?
Public EV charging stations
Surprisingly, it is estimated that just 60% of electric vehicle owners rely on home charging to ensure their vehicle is kept fully charged. Of the remainder, approximately 30% rely on charging at work, and 10% on public charging points in carparks, motorway services, and garages.
Many businesses today are improving their green credentials not just with improved manufacturing processes, reduced use of plastic packaging materials, and changing to company EVs, but also helping employees lower their carbon footprint, by providing electric vehicle charging points in the company car park. What happens though, when you have more members of staff driving electric cars, than you have charging points, do employees arrive an hour early for work, to make sure they can get on a charger?
On the plus side, with the increasing growth of electric vehicles, many councils are beginning to install roadside EV charging stations in towns and cities that look very similar to parking meters. Other councils are adding them to existing street lamp posts, where off-street parking isn’t available.
Until the government has significantly increased the infrastructure and number of EV charging stations available throughout the UK, using public charging stations will continue to be somewhat hit and miss. Many electric vehicle manufacturers, for reasons best known to themselves, supply their vehicles with different plug configurations. Murphy’s law states that sooner or later, when your car is low on power, you’re going to pick a public charging point which isn’t fitted with the required socket for your vehicle.
The cost of using public EV charging points is something else that requires careful consideration. Just like petrol and diesel filling stations, and those at motorway service areas, the price of fuel fluctuates garage to garage. The same applies with different public EV charging stations you choose to use, giving you a nasty shock when the bill drops through the letterbox. Not only can the cost differ, but also the amount of charge your battery will take per hour.
Roadside chargers and those fitted in lampposts, will probably return the lowest amount of charge per hour, while those in purpose built charging areas, garages, and motorway services, can offer rapid charging, giving you a 60% to 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Allowing you enough time to get a coffee and a sandwich.
Just as in your home town, when you go to fill-up your petrol or diesel car, you have your favourite (cheapest) filling station, and are prepared to pay that little bit extra to top up when on a day out with the family. Likewise, having your own electric vehicle charging point, means that charging your EV at home is the most cost-effective option, while accepting you pay a little more for a top-up when out and about.
In the UK, provided you have off-road parking, you can safely and legally charge your new electric vehicle without having to secure any planning permission, although you do need to adhere to current legislation. Basically, your charging point has to be two-metres from a public road, and the electrical socket casing less than 0.2 cubic metres in size. If fitting the casing on an up-stand, the maximum height allowed is 1.6 metres.
EV chargers are available that can plug directly into a standard single-phase household socket, but they are not to be recommended. Your EV home charging unit should ideally have its own mains circuit, similar to that of an electric cooker.
There are four main packages available for home charging in either single phase or three phase, as well as a choice of a single charging unit or a double unit for charging two vehicles simultaneously. It is highly recommended that you contact a company such as 50five. They can help from the start of the process by checking your home’s electrical supply is up to the job, right through to arranging grants, helping you choose the best system for your needs and your vehicle, and arranging installation.
Grants are available to help with the cost of installing home EV charging points, but with certain stipulations. You have to already own an electric vehicle, two if you ask for a double charger. You must have off-road parking, and the installation is carried out using approved equipment and installers.
With the government’s stated aim to be petrol and diesel vehicle free by 2040, it is well worth considering having a home EV charging point installed, even if you don’t yet own an electric car. Not only is it there when you eventually switch to green power, but with electric vehicle ownership growing exponentially, having an EV charge point installed is becoming an increasingly important selling point, should you decide to move home.
While you can certainly keep your electric vehicle mobile using the country’s continually improving EV charging network, installing your own home charger is the safest, and most cost-effective method of keeping your vehicle ready to roll, with a fully charged battery.