How does an electric car battery work?

Simply put, the batteries fitted in electric cars work just the same as any other rechargeable battery. They store the electricity needed to power the car and run down as the car is driven. The majority of electric car batteries work most efficiently when they are charged to just below 80% of their full capacity, as charging beyond this point is likely to decrease the overall lifespan of the battery. Similarly, it’s not a good idea to let the battery run completely flat either. In that sense, it’s very much the same as a fuel tank - there is no need to overfill it, but you don’t want to run out of juice either!

Different types of charging are also available, depending on how quickly you want to recharge your battery. Slow charging usually runs at a rate of around 3kW, meaning a full charge would take around 8-14 hours. Fast charging tends to be closer to 7-22kW, which puts a full charge at 3-4 hours. There is also rapid charging which can be used on some compatible vehicles. This runs at a rate of 43-50kW and can boost a battery up to 80% capacity within as little as 30 minutes! Rapid chargers are less common, but they are usually available at service stations and other public charging points.

Where to charge electric cars

When it comes to where you can charge your electric vehicle, there are four main options to choose from:

1. Home charging
2. At work charging
3. En route charging
4. Destination charging

Home charging

Home charging is how you’ll likely do the majority of your battery recharging, so it’s important to make sure you install a high-quality, reliable charging station. There are a couple of options for how you’d prefer to charge your vehicle at home. You could opt to charge via a standard 3 pin plug socket (easy and convenient) or choose to use a specialist home charging station (requires installation but charges much faster).

There is a government grant available for home charging stations, which drivers would be wise to take advantage of. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) will cover 75% (or up to £500) of the costs associated with installing an electric charging station.

At work charging

If your employer has electric car charging spaces in your work car park, this is a great way to keep your battery topped up whilst on the go. If you’d like to encourage your employers to get electric chargers fitted at your place of work, you should point them in the direction of the Workplace Charging Scheme, another government-funded initiative which supports eligible businesses and charities with the cost of buying and installation EV charging points.

En route charging

There’s nothing worse than being on the motorway and realising your fuel light has just come on. The same can be said for electric cars if you notice that you’re running low on charge. This is where charging points at service stations come in. These are a great way to plug in whilst also giving you the opportunity to grab a coffee and stretch your legs. Chargers at service stations are often faster than regular charging points too, so you won’t need to wait for hours to recharge.

Destination charging

Destination charging is exactly what it sounds like - finding a charging station at whichever location you have driven to. Whether you’ve popped down to the shops or out to the gym, or made a longer trip to the beach or countryside, you should be able to find a car park which contains a charging station to let you ‘fill up’ enough to get home easily. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you plan to charge on the go, you may need to take your own charging cable with you.

How to find charging stations on the go

Particularly if you’re driving in an unfamiliar location, it’s wise to keep a handy resource on you that lists the available public charging stations nearby. Tools such as ZapMap, Open Charge Map, and ChargeMap are great for easily being able to search and view charging station near you on a map. They all do essentially the same job, and all have free apps that you can download onto your phone.

Interested in a home charging station?

If you’re in need of a charging station for your home, it’s important to make sure you get one which is high-quality, reliable and has been tried-and-tested. Check out our range of EV chargers and EV tariffs, designed to help you enjoy your electric car to the max and reward you for your green driving.

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