Electric cars are becoming ever more popular. As that happens, we all must learn a little bit more about these vehicles, as – for the sake of the environment – there will undoubtedly come a time in which we’re all expected to drive one.
You might already be wondering how they charge. That’s what most people worry about. What if you’re out and about and can’t find somewhere to top up your power? Will you be abandoned by the side of the road?
At the moment, electric cars are relatively rare. The average person does not have one. Most of us struggle to buy them. But as more and more companies come on board – first with hybrids and eventually with full electric versions of their most popular cars – the price will come down, and we will undoubtedly all find ourselves behind the wheel of one someday.
In this guide, we’ll specifically look at the electric car battery and how it works.
What are electric car batteries, and how do they work?
Most electric vehicles use hundreds of individual battery cells packaged in pockets. When they’re working together, they make the electric car battery. They’re massive, stretching across a few metres, and they’re located beneath the car.
You might think these are dozens of individual batteries, but they aren’t. They’re individual cells. When they’re adequately assembled to form a complete unit, that’s the battery. Specialist technology keeps the battery at the right temperature no matter the outside weather.
Electric vehicle batteries aren’t that different from the batteries we use in technology every day. They’re lithium-ion batteries for quick charge, and electric car batteries are the same; they’re bigger, but they work in the same way.
The battery was what held us back from building electric cars much earlier than we have managed to. They need to store lots of energy and recharge and maintain their ability to charge over time and withstand weather and potholes. We’re finally there.
Because the batteries are so large, they can propel a heavy vehicle forward for several hours before they need to be recharged. But where do we go when it’s time to do that?
Where can I go to charge my electric car?
You can plug it into an ordinary plug. Not a lot of people know that about electric cars. You can use your mains electricity and a standard three-point plug and leave it charging overnight.
Most people who have an electric car get an official electric vehicle charging port installed in their home.
You can find these points elsewhere, too. Lots of workplaces have them now, as well as public locations and some service stations. Some locations allow you to use an app, contactless or RFID card to pay, which is convenient.
You should take your charging cable with you if the location you are using doesn’t have one, and it is a good idea to get into the habit of charging your electric car battery whenever you stop.
There are higher powered chargers available at some locations. Still, you should be aware that it is going to take you longer to charge your car than it would to put petrol into it, so you’ll need to work out how many miles you get on a full charge and plan your journey according to how many stops you’ll need to make along the way.
If you’re thinking of buying an electric car, it’s a good idea to think about where you park most often and work out where the best place to charge your electric vehicle is in that vicinity.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
That depends on how you are charging it. It can take anywhere from thirty minutes to twelve hours, depending on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point.
The bigger the car, the slower the charging point, the longer it will take you to charge your car from empty to full.
A typical electric car takes between seven and eight hours to charge from empty to full with a 7kW charging point, so you would need to plug it in on an evening and let it charge overnight.
Most drivers choose to top up their vehicle whenever they stop, rather than letting the battery run flat and trying to charge it from empty.
Many electric cars allow you to rapidly charge with a 50kW rapid charger, which should give you an extra 100 miles or so in little time.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
If you’re worried about it being more expensive than petrol, don’t be. Statistics indicated it’s around a fifth of the cost of filling up a standard car. You also get cheaper road tax, so the overall cost of running an electric vehicle is likely lighter on your wallet than standard vehicles are, which is excellent. Unfortunately, buying an electric car is still reasonably expensive, but leasing is much cheaper.
You would usually calculate your petrol costs as pence per litre, but we calculate the charging cost of an electric car as pence per kilowatt-hour.
A kWh is a standard measurement of energy, and you’ll find this format on your general electricity bill. If you plug your electric car in at home, the cost of charging your vehicle adds to your bill—a kWh costs between 10p and 14p. By comparison, petrol is around 128p per litre.
So we don’t know how much kWh of energy your individual electric car can store, but if it were 100, for example, a full car charge would be between £10.00 and £14.00, considerably less than a full tank of petrol. However, it’s unlikely it will get you as far. You might need several charges to take you the same distance.
What are the different types of electric car chargers?
It might feel overwhelming at first because there are at least five different types. You’ll soon get the hang of it, though.
There’s the plug, which is a standard five-pin connector used widely in America. In the UK and Europe, we’re much more fond of the Type 2 variety. You might still find it on older electric car models. You might run into difficulty if your car uses this form of charging because most public UK charging points don’t have an adapter to fit these, but you should get an adapter with the car.
The Type 2 plug is sometimes referred to as the Mennekes. Most electric vehicle car manufacturers in Europe and the UK attach this seven-pin plug as standard, and it’s the most common type of charger port you’ll find here.
It offers a much faster and more powerful charge, so you’ll need to check your car can accept its 22kW rate of charge.
Unlike the Type 1 connector, you can lock the Type 2 into the car, which means nobody can disconnect it while you’re away from it.
The combination system is the most common connector for direct current rapid charging, and most electric vehicles have this type of socket. It means you can charge at rapid charging points and from your home AC unit.
The CHADeMO stands for ‘Charge de Move’, and it was one of the first DC rapid charging systems. Developed in 2010, it is used for rapid charging and can carry up to 400kW to your car.
It needs the vehicle to have two separate plugs, one for slow charging and one for fast. This means a larger access flap can take away from the car’s aesthetics, but we’re sure they’ll sort that out soon enough.
Finally, there’s the domestic socket charge. Almost all electric vehicles can use this charger and requires you to use a standard 3-pin plug. You can put this in your home socket and connect it to a small transformer box with a Type 1 or Type 2 plug attached, which you connect to your car.
We only recommended it in an emergency because using it all the time can damage the wiring in your home, but if you’re about to conk out and you need a top-up, it’s a lifeline.
If you’re searching for further information about electric car leasing and the range of models available, you might like to take a read through our latest blogs below. You can also browse our electric car leasing deals online now at the click of a button.
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