Blog - Slow, Fast and Rapid EV Charging Explained - We Power Your Car
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Blog – Slow, Fast and Rapid EV Charging Explained

Did you know that there are three different ways to charge your electric vehicle? – slow charging, fast charging and rapid charging.

In this blog, we are going to explain the different types of charging speeds, where you would usually find them, how long it would typically take to charge an EV with each method, as well as giving you our recommendation on which is best.

So, let’s dive in!

EV Charging Point

Slow Charging

A slow charger typically operates between 2.3kW and 2.5kW and uses AC (alternating current from the national grid) to provide power to your EV. The slow chargers use household sockets to charge and more often than not, come in the form of 3-pin plug EV chargers.

This is the slowest way to charge your EV as it can take up to, or sometimes, over, 18 hours for a full charge using a 3-pin plug charger (depending the type of battery you have). Let’s use the Renault Zoe as our example, with a 3-pin plug charger, powering at just under 3kW, you are looking at roughly 17 hours to fully charge your EV.

You are most likely to find slow chargers in homes, or in some rare cases, in the workplace, where companies have not yet invested in a dedicated EV charging point.

Whilst it is a cheap way to charge, since you do not need to invest in a dedicated home EV charging unit, or pay to use a rapid charger, we feel the disadvantages seem to outweigh the advantages. One of the biggest negatives being that 3-pin plug chargers can actually be a fire hazard as running a domestic socket close to its maximum 3kW capacity puts a strain on your circuit, the cables, and the socket, with the potential to cause serious problems, such as overheating and in worst case scenarios, fires.

To read more about why 3-pin plug charging isn’t always the best, feel free to read our blog here.

However, if you are staying with a family member, and they don’t own a dedicated EV charger, and there are limited public chargers around, then a slow charging will do the job just fine. We therefore recommend keeping a 3-pin plug charger a backup, in case of these emergencies.

Fast Charging

Typically rated 7kW, or if you want to be more precise, 7.3kW, fast chargers are the most common type of EV charger in the UK. These EV chargers usually come in the form of dedicated home charging points, or, public charging points, in places like supermarkets or car parks. All electric vehicle’s need to be charged by DC current (direct current), and like slow chargers, fast chargers use AC (alternating current from the national grid) to power your EV (EV’s have built in converters inside, turning it in to DC within the vehicle).

There are also cases of 22kW fast chargers at certain public points, and you can have them installed at home. However, to install a 22kW EV charger in a residence you have to have a three-phase electrical supply, which can be costly and time consuming to get upgraded. 22kW is the fastest charge, but single-phase electric is the norm in most UK households.

Fast chargers are three times quicker to charge your electric vehicle than slow chargers, and if you fortunate enough to come across a 22kW, they are 10 times faster. Using the same example of the Renault Zoe, it should take around 7 hours to charge with a 7kW fast charger and 2.3 hours using a 22kW charger. However, on average it should take between 4-6 hours to charge your EV with a 7kW fast charger.

Investing in a fast charger, specifically in the form of a dedicated home charging point, brings you an array of benefits. Some of these include, convenience, and safer and cheaper charging. To read more about the benefits of dedicated home chargers, feel free to take a look at our blog here. You can actually take advantage of the current Government grant and get £350 off a home fast EV charging point, read here to find out more about how to claim this discount.

One the biggest advantages to public fast chargers is that a large handful are free to use, especially in supermarkets and retail parks. However, you will have to drive specifically to one you know, or drive around to find one, which won’t be too fun after a long day at work. There could also be restrictions on how long charging is free for, and you might not be able to fully charge your EV within the given timeframe.

Rapid Charging

According to Zap Map, there are currently 4923 rapid and ultra-rapid EV chargers in the UK. These speedy charging units are usually found near motorway services and are the quickest way to charge your EV!

A rapid charger usually powers at around 43-50kW and can charge our example EV, the Renault Zoe, from 0-80% in 45 minutes. After it reaches 80%, the charge will start to slow down though, this is to protect the battery from damage. More often than not, in order to fully charge your EV with a rapid charger, it will probably take around or over an hour (depending on your make and model).

An ultra-rapid EV charger uses significantly more power, typically between 50kW to a whopping 350kW! Your electric vehicle charging time will therefore drastically change depending on the make, model and the amount of power the rapid charger has to offer.

Rapid charging’s biggest advantage is obviously that it’s quick. With it being the fastest way to charge your EV out there, it can save you bags of time when your EV needs some juice. That also means that it’s convenient, especially when on long journeys, as you don’t have to wait around for too long, compared to slow and fast chargers.

Both rapid and ultra rapid EV charge points use DC to charge your vehicle, and whilst you might think the fastest option will be better, that is not the case with EV charging. In actual fact, rapid/ultra-rapid charging could potentially harm your EV battery when used frequently. It’s advised that you don’t make rapid chargers your go-to charger.

It is not possible to get a rapid charger installed at home.

With the slow speed of 3-pin plug chargers and the potential battery damage caused by rapid charging, we recommend that you use fast charging. 

Interested in a dedicated home charge point that offers fast charging? Our expert advisers are standing by to take your calls on 03333 44 96 99. Alternatively, you can access our webchat service on our contact page or email us at [email protected]. 

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Tethered charger

This type of electric charger has it's own cable to charge your car.

Socketed charger

This type of electric charger requires a seperate cable to charge your car.

Spread over a 60 month period.

Also available over 24, 36 and 48 month periods.

We will contact you to process the credit application. Approval is subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history. 12.9% APR representative. T&Cs apply.

Your order is not confirmed until your application has been approved.

Underground cable

We lay SWA cable laid at 600mm deep, with a protective cable warning tape laid 150mm above the cable. These are laid on a sand or sifted sand soil bed then backfilled.

Overhead cable

We position overhead cables at a minimum height of 3.5m and are run along a catenary wire. The cable run should not be accessible to vehicles.

Standard Installation
Our instant price is fixed if it falls within our standard installation package plus any additions that you have selected (extra cabling for example). This package covers the majority of homes in the UK. Before we undertake your installation we will carry out a digital survey to check that nothing has been missed. After reviewing the survey results some additional work may be required in order to complete your installation safely and to the required standards. If this is the case, we will contact you well before the installation date and advise the cost of any required work. You can then continue with your installation, or alternatively we will refund you in full if you do not want to proceed.

Included in our standard installation is :
• Fitting of a single phase charge point to a brick or plaster wall or other suitable permanent structure
• Up to 10 metres of cable, run and neatly clipped to the wall between the electricity supply meter / distribution board and the charge point.
• Routing of the cable through a drilled hole in a wall up to 500mm (20 inches) thick if this is needed.
• The fitting and testing of electrical connections and protections required for the charge point.
• An additional three way consumer unit, if required
• Installation of a Type A RCBO in an RCBO enclosure
• Up to 3 metres of plastic trunking to conceal interior wiring.
• An O-pen earth protection device if the charge point requires it. (This is NOT an earth rod)
• Up to 4 hours of labour from your installer to complete the work.
• Electrical testing of the whole installation.
• Handover and setup of the charge point and any app that may be needed.

Not included in our standard installation (additional work) :
• Where the installation requires additional cabling over and above the amount you have told us about.
• Upgrade/replacement of the main incoming supply fuse where the local DNO (eg Northern Powergrid) would need to attend site.
• If the charge point is to be mounted on a post/pedestal rather than an existing wall and where you have not selected a post as an extra cost option in your order.
• Installation of a charge point to a three phase supply.
• Where gas and water mains bonding (earthing) is not in place at your property. If this is not in place, additional work would be required before installation of the charge point.
• Any groundwork that has not been selected during the order process.

What else you need to know :
• On the day of installation, please ensure that the area around your consumer unit (fuse box), incoming electricity supply meter and proposed charge point location (including where the cable is expected to be run) is clear and free of obstructions.
• We will need your WiFi password as part of the installation process in order to connect your charge point to the internet. Please have this available for the installer. Details will not be kept.
• The charge point must be on your own designated off road parking.
• The charger will be fixed in line with current guidelines at a height where it cannot be hit by a vehicle.
• Our installers are not able to enter loft spaces; lift floorboards or flooring; take apart any furniture of work above a height of 2m. If you anticipate that any of this may be required, then please contact us and we can discuss in more detail and provide you with a quotation.
• Should there be extreme weather conditions our installers may not be able to continue with you installation if it is not safe to do so (for example flooding). They will always do their best to complete the work where they can.

If you have any questions then please contact our customer service team who will be happy to help. Please also read our terms and conditions.