Cazoo electric car charging

How to charge an electric car

First time charging an electric car’s battery and not sure where to start? Here’s our ultimate guide, looking at everything from different types of chargers to how long a charge will take.

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By Cazoo editorial team

The UK is now Europe’s second-largest electric car market and a recent YouGov poll found that 61% of UK motorists would consider purchasing an electric car in 2022. But owning an electric car means getting used to a few new things, and learning how to charge it.

There are three main ways to charge your electric car: at home, at work and at public charging points, which can be rapid, fast or slow. As most electric car charging is done at home, let’s start there.

Charging your electric car at home

If you have off-street parking the easiest and most inexpensive way is to charge your electric car at home, on your own driveway. You may be able to install your own wallbox charger – these usually have a smartphone app that you can download to oversee your charging and to schedule sessions at low-peak times to save money.

If you don’t have your own parking space you might be able to fit a wallbox charger to the outside of your building and extend the cable to your car parked on the street. Think about it like charging your smartphone – plug in overnight, wake up to 100% battery and recharge again when you get home in the evening.

If you do trail a cable across a pavement, you should think about the potential trip hazard and consider covering the trailing cable with a protector. If in doubt, consult your local authority.

Some charging boxes allow more than one electric car to be plugged in at one time and most chargers come with a cable, but you can also use the manufacturer’s cable that comes with your car.

You could also use a standard three-pin plug socket to top up your electric car’s battery, but this takes much longer than it would with a dedicated wallbox charger. It also isn’t as safe because the high electricity demand over long periods of time can cause overheating, especially in old wiring, so it’s only advisable on rare occasions.

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Charging your electric car at work

Workplace charging could be another useful option for you. As more companies offer free charging to employees as a perk, plugging in while on the job gives you lots of time to fully charge your car’s battery for free. Most workplace chargers are likely to work gradually over a sustained period, similar to a home wallbox, but some companies might offer fast chargers that only take a couple of hours. Typically workers are given an access card, or an app to download, to start these charging sessions, though sometimes the devices are simply kept unlocked.

Charging your electric car at public charging points

There's an ever-expanding number of options if you want to charge your electric car at a public charge point or charging station. You might have spotted public chargers at a supermarket or on a nearby street, which could be a way to top up your battery while you run errands. Some supermarkets and gyms offer free charging to customers, but on-street chargers tend to work on a ‘plug and pay’ basis. You can normally pay with a contactless card, by using an app or by scanning a QR code on your phone and paying online. You might need to use your own charging cable, so make sure you keep one in your car.

Charging your electric car on long-distance journeys

If you’re driving a longer distance, you may need to recharge your electric car’s battery along the way. This usually means you’ll need to plan stops at ‘rapid’ chargers, which are high-powered devices that can replenish your battery very quickly. They tend to be more expensive but straightforward to use – plug in and you can boost your battery up to 80% capacity in as little as 20 minutes. It’s the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs, get some fresh air or grab a coffee while you wait.


When it comes to charging an electric car, apps are your best friends. Apps like Zap-Map and ChargePoint show you nearby chargers and whether anyone is currently using them and even explain possible payment methods. This is very useful when planning your route around charging stops.

If you often use public chargers then you might want to download and subscribe to services like Shell’s Ubitricity, Source London or BP Pulse. For a monthly fee, you get unlimited access to a network of charging points, which can be a great way to lower your per-charge cost.

Home-charging apps are useful for making the most of wallbox smart-charging, low energy rates and energy management. You can track your spending, schedule your charging to take advantage of off-peak rates and pause or resume your charging remotely. Some electric cars come with apps that also let you schedule your charging times.

Types of cables

You know how different mobile phone brands use different charging cables? Well, electric cars are similar. Conveniently though, most new electric cars come with the same Type 2 cable, which can be used for home charging as well as slow charging at public chargers. Type 2 is the most common type of charging cable.

Rapid chargers, such as those found at motorway service stations, use a DC cable, which can handle higher currents. This type of cable will have one of two different connectors, which are called CCS and CHAdeMO. Both fit into rapid chargers, but CCS connectors are more common on new electric cars.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The time needed to charge an electric car depends on the size of the battery, the speed of the charging point and the design of the car in question. Generally, the faster the charging point speed and the smaller the car battery, the quicker the charge. More modern cars are often compatible with faster rapid-charging speeds.

Keep in mind that most batteries charge much more quickly up to 80% than from 80% to 100%, so if your battery is low, a quick top-up to get you home might only take 15 to 30 minutes.

As a rough guide, a smaller, older electric car, like the 24kWh Nissan Leaf, will take around five hours to charge up to 100% from a home charging point, or half an hour from a rapid public charger.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

This all depends on your home electricity tariff, and you can work it out pretty easily. Simply find out the size of the battery in the car you’re thinking of buying, which will be measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), then multiply that by the cost of your electricity per kWh. For example, if you’ve got a Nissan Leaf with a 24kWh battery, and each kWh costs you 19p, a full charge will cost you £4.56.

Public charging usually costs more than home charging, but it varies depending on the provider, the size of your battery and whether you have a subscription. For example, at the time of writing in early 2022, charging a 24kWh Nissan Leaf from 20% to 80% would cost you £5.40 at a Pod Point rapid charger. Most charging providers give examples online and you can also use online charging calculators for a personalised estimate.

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