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Electric Vehicle Terminology – Explained

Electric vehicle terminology – explained

Confused about electric vehicle lingo? Don’t worry – you’re not alone!

The world of electric vehicles is a confusing place filled with a variety of buzzwords, jargon and acronyms, and it’s growing by the day. However, with the government ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars just around the corner, knowing these terms will help make your transition to electric seamless.

With this in mind, we decided to write this blog to help you understand the common terms that are thrown around in regard to electric vehicles and EV charging.

So, let’s begin with the decoding!

The cars:

ICE (Internal Combustion Engine): When talking about ICE, it’s important to note that it refers to the engine itself. Cars with ICEs, such as petrol and diesel cars, are the standard at the minute and make up the majority of the cars on the road. A car with just an internal combustion engine is not an electric vehicle.

EV: EV stands for electric vehicle. EVs are either partially or fully powered by electricity, as opposed to fully operated by petrol or diesel. There are three types of electric vehicles out there:

Battery electric vehicle (BEV): A BEV, or battery electric vehicle, is a type of vehicle that runs solely on battery power. They use electric motors and motor controllers instead of combustion engines for power generation, the batteries are rechargeable. When talking about electric vehicles, it’s usually referring to BEVs. Battery electric vehicles are zero-emission, as there are no emissions from the tailpipe.

Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV): A hybrid vehicle, or HEV, is a low-emission vehicle that uses two different forms of power, typically in the form of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. Hybrids can not be charged with any type of EV charger and are powered by gas.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): A PHEV, or Plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle, is a type of hybrid motor that combines a conventional engine with an electric motor. It is similar to a Hybrid. However, inside a PHEV, there is a large battery that can be recharged with an EV charger.

The charging:

Electric Vehicle Charger: An electric vehicle charger is a unit that connects to an electric vehicle (EV) in order to recharge the car’s battery. There are a variety of EV chargers, including home (or “fast”), 3-pin plug chargers and rapid chargers (usually found at motorways).

Home, or ‘domestic’, EV charging: Home EV charging is when you charge your electric vehicle at your place of residence, using either an installed fast charger on your property or using a 3-pin plug with the relevant charging cable.

3 Pin-Plug Charging (Slow Charging): 3-pin plug charging is where you use a standard 3-pin domestic socket to charge your EV. You will need a 3-pin plug car charger, either in the form of a Type 2 to 3-pin charging cable or a Type 1 to 3-pin charging cable. This is the slowest way to charge your EV, as they charge at a typical rate of 2.3kW. As they are not designed for continuous high-power usage, most manufacturers recommend slow charging only in emergency situations. To read more about 3-pin plug charging, click here.

Fast Charging: Fast chargers are typically rated at either 7kw or 22kw. These charge points will usually charge your vehicle in between 3-7 hours. Most home chargers can only charge to around 7kW as the majority of properties only have a ‘Single Phase’ power supply. However, larger homes may have a ‘Three Phase’ power supply and can then charge their EV at a much faster rate (up to 22kw). However, 7kw is much more common than 22kw. Not only can you get fast chargers installed on your property, but fast chargers can also be found at supermarkets and car parks.

Rapid Charging: A rapid charger charges an EV at typical rates of at least 43kw AC or 50kw DC, and they are the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle. They are often found at motorway services, and they can charge up to 80% of the vehicle’s battery within one hour.

Tethered Charger: A tethered EV charger is a unit that has a charging cable permanently attached to it. You will not be able to remove the cable from the unit. You could compare it to a petrol station pump, where the hose is permanently attached.

Socketed (untethered) Charger: A socketed, or sometimes called “non-tethered’ or “untethered” EV charger, is when the cable is not permanently attached, meaning it is separate from the EV charging unit. Every time you want to use your EV charger, you will have to plug one side into the unit and the other into your EV. Think of it like a phone charger, where you have to plug both the cable into the socket and into your phone and then store it somewhere else.

To find out more about the difference between tethered and socketed, please feel free to read our blog here.

The electricity supply:

Single-Phase Power: Single-phase is the most common power supply and is usually found in standard UK residential properties. It’s generally lower power and can be identified by having only a single 100amp fuse where the power enters your house/meter. With a single-phase power supply you’ll only be able to install an electric vehicle charging point of up to 7kW.

Three-Phrase Power: Three phase is a much higher power rating than single phase and is usually found in businesses and larger properties. They can often be identified as having three 100amp fuses where the supply enters the building or the meter. If you are wanting a 22kW home EV charger installed on your property, you will need a three-phase power supply. You can upgrade from a single-phase electricity supply to a three-phase electricity supply by contacting the DNO; however, this is can be costly.

Fuse Upgrade: The main fuse controls the amount of power coming into your home. You might need a main fuse upgrade if you’re wanting a 22kW EV charger installed, as this requires a three-phase power supply. If you are wanting a fuse upgrade, you will need to contact your distribution network operator (DNO).

DNO (distribution network operator): Distribution network operators (DNOs) manage the distribution of electricity around the country. They own and operate the wires that carry electricity from the grid into your home. DNOs are often associated with required upgrades to the electrical infrastructure to support larger electric car charging projects, such as if you are wanting a fuse upgrade or if you have a looped supply.

Looped Supply – When two households share a single electricity service cable, it is called a looped supply, or sometimes  “shared supply”. They are typically found in semi-detached or terraced properties. If you have a looped supply and are wanting to have an EV charger installed, you will need the DNO to unloop the supply for you. The DNO usually undertake this free of charge. However, it can sometimes take quite a bit of time to organise.

7kw EV charger

The smart charging features:

Smart Charger: According to the government, a smart EV charger is categorized as an electric vehicle charger that has “connectivity”. The EV charger must be able to send and receive messages and be able to manually adjust the rate of charging to fit the electricity flow.  Smart chargers usually allow the user to manage energy consumption and control their charger through an app.

Charge Scheduling: All smart regulation-compliant EV chargers should allow you to schedule your charging, and you use your specific manufacturer app to manage the feature. This is where you set your EV to charge at specific times through a smartphone app. For example, you can schedule your unit to charge your EV during off-peak hours in order to benefit from lower energy prices.

RFID:  RFID means Radio-Frequency Identification, and simply put, smart EV chargers that have this feature come with special cards (or sometimes called tags) that you can use to start and stop your charging sessions. The charger will have a built-in card reader, so you scan your RFID card over the identification area on your charger to start charging. You can then end the charging session by scanning the RFID over the identification area again. You can learn more about RFID cards and EV charging here.

To find more explanations of smart charger features, please click here.

The grants:

WCS (Workplace Charging Scheme): The Workplace Charging Scheme reduces the purchase and installation cost of electric vehicle charging points for the workplace by 75%, up to £350 (including VAT) per socket. Companies can claim up to a maximum of 40 sockets meaning that you could potentially save £14,000. It is a voucher-based scheme that helps businesses transition to electric vehicles. However, charities, public sector organisations, and small accommodation businesses can also take advantage of the scheme.

OZEV: OZEV stands for the Office For Zero Emission Vehicles. OZEV is a team working across the government to support the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Energy Saving Trust Grant: The Energy Saving Trust grantfunded by Transport Scotland, is a £250 grant that goes towards the cost of a dedicated home EV charging point and encourages the transition to electric. If you are located in a rural area of Scotland, this grant can be supplemented by a further £100, meaning £350 would be available for those residents. To learn more about the energy saving Trust grant, please read our blog post here.

ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone): In an effort to clean up London’s air pollution, the ULEZ is an area in London where when entered, you will have to pay a £12.50 fee unless you meet the ULEZ emissions standards. Full electric vehicles do not have to pay, but non-electric cars, motorcycles, vans and specialist vehicles do (up to and including 3.5 tonnes). The zone operates 24 hours a day, every day, except Christmas Day.  If you want to view where the ULEZ operates, please click here.

Additional terms:

KW (kilowatts): A KW is a unit of electric power. KW is the measurement of energy used for electric car chargers, i.e. 3kW, 22kW and 50kw, etc. and is the rate at which power is transferred from a charging station to your electric car. One kilowatt is 1,000 watts.

kWh (kilowatt-hours): kWh indicates the electric vehicle’s battery capacity. Typically, the larger the battery, the further you can go on a single charge. For example, a Tesla Model S has a total capacity of 100kWh, whereas a Nissan Leaf has 40kWh; you will therefore be able to travel longer with the Tesla.

Lithium-ion batteries: A lithium-ion battery, sometimes called “Li-ion”, is the preferred energy storage device in most electric vehicles and is completely rechargeable. Whilst they are used in EVs, lithium-ion batteries are also found in portable electronics.

Earth Rod: An Earthing Rod is a vertical copper rod inserted into the ground with a black connection box and conduit at the top, which then connects to your home charger. If your chosen EV charger has a built-in earthing arrangement, it just means there is no costly groundwork, holes in driveways or additional mess from having to insert a rod/rods. An Earth Rod is not required when the charger has built-in PEN protection (detection + isolation). Having no earth rod is just more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Range Anxiety: Range is how far you are able to travel with the maximum charge of your EV. Range anxiety is, therefore, when someone is worried that they will run out of power with the charge amount their EV has and that they will not be able to find a charge point in time to top-up. Range anxiety is often exacerbated by rumours, such as the electricity grid not being able to handle the switch to electric, which is false. Do you have range anxiety? Let us put your mind at ease – read our blog post here.

Zap-Map: Zap-Map is a free tool that enables EV drivers to locate the nearest EV charger available to them in the UK & Ireland. It is available online, and there is a Zap-Map app.

Connector types:

Type 1 Connector – EV connectors are essentially plugs, in the sense that you plug the connector from your EV charger into the matching connector on your electric vehicle. Type 1 connectors have a 5-pin design and only work with single-phase electricity supplies. Type 1 is not as common as Type 2 in the UK and is usually found in the Asian, American and Japanese markets. There are still some electric vehicles that have Type 1 as standard, such as Citroen C-Zero, Ford Focus Electric and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Type 1’s do not have any locking mechanisms.

Type 2 Connector – A Type 2 connector is the most common connector type in Europe and has become the standard for many new and high-capacity EVs; and comes with a 7-pin design. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 connectors can work with both a single and a three-phase electricity supply. Type 2 connectors have an inbuilt locking mechanism.

It is important to note that some electric vehicle chargers do not support Type 1 connectors in the UK.

Still have a question about electric vehicles or EV charging? Feel free to contact us, our expert advisers are standing by to take your calls on 03333 44 96 99. Alternatively, you can access our webchat service or fill in the contact form below. 

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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.

Tenants and homeowners are eligible for finance.

You decide the amount of months.

Minimum of £1000.

We will contact you to process the credit application. Approval is subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history. 13.9% 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.

A Surge Protection Device is not included in our standard installation. 

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.