EV Charging 101

Following Jonny’s electric vehicle charging article, here’s everything you need to know about charging an EV in Europe – from someone who’s driven one since 2019!

You’ve Bought Your First EV 🔌🔋⚡🚗

Fiat 500e Convertable
The convertible Fiat 500e

First of all, fantastic work, you’re awesome!

Thanks for making a great decision and welcome to the future!

So charging, that’s something you need to do now… no more dinosaur juice for you, you’re EV all the way!




But how do you charge?

Types of Charging

Charging is really a lot simpler than you’d think, there are just two types:

  1. AC – Slow and Fast charging
  2. DC – Rapid charging

AC Charging

Slow Chargers

A slow charger uses AC power. Alternating current (AC) is what comes out of your plug socket at home.

In fact, plugging your car into a Schuko/3-pin plug, is an example of slow charging.

The charging lead (often called a granny charger, because of how slowly it charges) plugs into your home socket at one end and your car at the other. Some chargers and cars enable you to select how many amps to pull. A Tesla can pull between 5 amps and 10 amps from a domestic socket. You might want to vary the amperage if your house has poor electrics, or if you’re trying to use what your solar is generating.

Hyundai Kona Electric Charging
Hyundai Kona Electric

So how much charge can a home plug socket provide?

10 amps x 230 volts = 2.3 kW (kilowatt)

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a 50 kWh battery pack, so on a 3-pin plug in the UK, you can charge half the battery (or 25 kWh) in 11 hours. That’s over 100 miles topped up on cheap, renewable electricity while you sleep.

Fast Chargers

Fast charging also uses AC power. If you get an EV chargepoint installed at home, it is likely to be a 7.4kW fast charger.

This would enable you to completely “fill” a Model 3 from empty to full in a little under 7 hours.

Fast charging speeds are limited by the cars onboard charger. This converts the AC power into DC power, to feed into the car’s battery.

Charging by AC and DC

Some BEVs (battery electric vehicles) have powerful onboard chargers, like the Renault Zoe, which can charge at up to 22kWh. The Model 3 has a 11kW onboard charger. Some cars are limited to slower speeds, like the VW e-Up! limited to 7.2kW AC charging.

Many supermarkets and retail parks have fast chargers onsite – which are often free! Spending 60 minutes in the supermarket can give you ~40 miles of charge.

DC Charging

Rapid and Ultra-Rapid Chargers

Rapid (and Ultra-Rapid) charging uses DC power. This means the power can be fed straight into the battery.

Rapid chargers can charge from speeds of 43kWh, to speeds upwards of 350kWh!

If you’re on a long road trip, you’d use a rapid charger to top-up the battery at super speed!

The Tesla Supercharger network is an example of an ultra-rapid charging network. Many Supercharger stalls now have 250kW chargers! A Long Range Model 3 can charge at up to 250kWh, which is over 1,000 miles an hour!

Using the Supercharger network, you can top-up 200 miles of range in 15 minutes. That’s 3 hours of motorway driving in the time it takes you to visit the toilet and get a cupa tea.

Rapid chargers tend to be more expensive than Slow and Fast chargers, but they can deliver power at much faster speeds.

Rapid chargers are sometimes supported by battery storage, to ensure consistent supply and the cleanest possible energy. Here’s a video of the GridServe charging hub from the awesome team at Fully Charged.

Charging Plugs

European charging connectors are also really simple now.

European AC connectors for Slow and Fast charging are:

  1. Type 2 (AKA mennekes)
  2. Type 1

European DC connectors for Rapid charging are:

  1. CCS (AKA Combo 2)
  2. CHAdeMO

CCS and Type 2 use the same plug design – CCS is basically a Type 2 plug with an extra two pins.

A CCS plug (left) and a Type 2 plug (right)

Both have been the standard socket in Europe for some time now, with CHAdeMO and Type 1 slowly being phased out.

Some charging posts have more than one type of connector – using the right one for your car will ensure you get the best speed! For example, using a Type 2 charging lead will charge much slower than a CCS lead – if your car has both sockets.

Many charging units can charge more than one car at a time, but not all, so it’s worth checking beforehand.

Generally speaking, Slow and Fast chargers (away from home) don’t come with a charging cable – you plug your own in. Rapid chargers however always come with a cable – be that CCS or CHAdeMO.

Finding a Charger

The UK has more charging stations than petrol stations, so it’s not difficult to find a charger. To help you out (in the UK) Zap-Map have a fantastic live, interactive map! PlugShare is a similar map, which covers most of the world!

How many chargers are there within 10 miles of your home?

I bet it’s more than you thought!

Electric car cost per mile

Last time I looked at the difference in energy usage between petrol and electric cars. Another way of comparing EVs, hybrids and ICE cars is cost per mile. Using the Mini Cooper, we can compare all three. This example is based on UK units, assuming petrol is costs £1.30 per litre and electricity 14p/kWh – i.e charging at home.


The petrol Mini Cooper S has a 44 litre fuel tank, and an average consumption of 44 miles per gallon – UK/Canadian mpg. A full tank of fuel can take the car 425 miles at a cost of £57.20, meaning each mile of driving costs 13.5 pence.


The Mini Countryman Cooper S plug-in hybrid has a 36 litre fuel tank and a 7.6kWh battery. Combined mpg figures range from 50.8mpg to 56.6mpg so we’ll use 53.4mpg for the comparison.

That means with a full tank and a full battery, you can travel around 423 miles – similar to the petrol car. The cost of 36 litres of petrol is £46.80 and 7.6kWh of electricity costs £1.06, making the total cost per mile around 11.3 pence.


The Mini Cooper Electric

The Mini Electric has a 32.6kWh battery and a range of 115 miles. It costs £4.56 to “fill up” the battery meaning each mile costs 4.0 pence.

Hybrid Inefficiencies

Interestingly, the hybrid is less efficient than the electric car when running on battery power and less efficient than the petrol car when running on the petrol engine. This is because it’s not just carrying an engine and a fuel tank, or a motor and a battery pack, it’s carrying all four all the time!

Hybrids were a great tool in the transition from ICE to EV, proving the concept and raising awareness. I believe they are no longer relevant however, as they’re significantly less efficient than their EV counterparts and don’t offer the electric range that people really need. The addition financial and efficiency costs don’t make hybrids worthwhile.

Most Efficient Car Pence Per Mile

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric

We’ve already established electric cars are far more efficient than petrol and hybrid-powered cars, so what’s the best of the best, the most efficient electric car? That title is shared by the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus which use just 240 watt-hours of juice per mile.

The Ioniq can drive an impressive 160 miles on a 38.3 kWh battery pack. It costs £5.36 to charge empty to full, at a cost per mile of 3.4 pence.

Just 3.4 pence for every mile of travel! That’s a quarter of the cost of the petrol Mini Cooper S!

The Model 3 can drive 195 miles (140 in winter, 275 in summer) on its 50 kWh battery pack. 50 kWh costs £7.00 on a £0.14/kWh home supply, which gives it a cost per mile of 3.6 pence. Worst case that’s 5.0 pence per mile in winter, best case it’s as low as 2.5 pence per mile in summer.

EV Tariffs

Some electricity providers now offer electric car tariffs, which make it even cheaper to charge. Some even pay you to take power off the grid when demand is low but supply is high!

£0.05/kWh is not uncommon. Charging a Model 3 at that price could give you 275 miles of range for £2.50.

0.9 pence per mile.

Petrol cars simply can’t compete with electric cars on pence per mile. EVs are too efficient 🙂