How do I charge an electric car?

Tom Barnard

29 Nov 2023

One of the things we get asked about the most at is charging. How do you do it, where can you do it, what cables do I need? The good news is that the whole business of charging actually sounds more complicated than it is. Yes, there’s some new terminology to get your head around and a few new skills to master, but it’s really no more hassle than plugging your phone in every night.

Charging at home

In simple terms, electric cars can be charged at two speeds - slow and rapid. You’ll do the former at home workplace or anywhere where you see an AC charge point. If you have a charging point at home, or even a three-pin plug socket, then you can slow charge your car. If you do this overnight you can take advantage of cheaper electricity rates and, of course, wake up to a fully charged car the next morning.

An average-sized electric car like a Citroen eC4 will take around seven and a half hours to charge from completely empty to full if you have a home charger unit, but less if you are just topping up or charging to 80% (which is best for long-term battery health).

Charging at home with a wallbox is the cheapest way to fill up

Charging away from home

Home charging is simple and cheap, but what happens if you aren’t able to install a charger at home, or need to fill up mid-journey?

That’s when you’ll need to use a public rapid charger. These come in all shapes and sizes but they all do the same thing - put a lot of electricity into your battery in a short space of time.

Finding a charger is pretty simple. There are loads of free smartphone apps that not only show where charging points are, they also show you if someone is using it. We’d recommend ZapMap, PlugShare and WattsApp as great places to start.

But there’s a catch here. Not a big one, but one every buyer should be aware of. All electric cars have a maximum charging speed. Some cars, like a BMW i3, have a maximum of 50kWh while some newer models like the Citroen eC4 can charge at 100kW.

The rate a car will charge will also depend on other factors, such as the outside temperature and how many other cars are plugged in at the same time. The speed at which your car will charge fluctuates throughout the charging session. The car controls the rate at which the battery is charged and only allows high levels of charge when the pack is at the perfect temperature. It’s usual to see quite low speeds when you first plug in (the battery will be cold) and when you reach capacity (when it will be hot). 

Although rapid chargers come in all shapes and sizes, they all work in the same way. You plug in, choose to pay by contactless or through an app and that’s basically it. When you want to stop, you either end the session on the charger or by tapping your contactless card on the pad.

Rapid chargers are now becoming a common site around the country

Have I got the right cable?

There are three types of cable and connector involved in charging your car. The first is what’s known as a ‘granny charger’. This has a three pin plug at one end and a Type 2 connector (which plugs into your car) at the other. This is the slowest way to charge your car, and should really only be used if there are no other options. 

If you have a wallbox installed at home, this will either have a cable attached to it (known as a tethered connection) with a Type 2 connector at the end. If you have an untethered wallbox, you will need to use a cable with a Type 2 connector at each end. You’ll also use this cable if you want to plug in to an AC charging post. You’ll find these at supermarkets, public car parks, gyms and wherever cars are parked for a longer period. 

If you’re using a rapid charger, then you will use the cables connected to the charger unit. Almost all electric cars use a CCS connector, but some Nissan models use a different connector known as CHAdeMO. 

Share this post

Click here to subscribe
“Added to your showroom”

You currently have no cars in your showroom. Browse our reviews here to start.


Please fill out your contact details below.