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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The short answer is about a quarter of what you would pay at the pump for a petrol or diesel car, but good luck working out the exact cost per charge!

That’s because you will now need to consider where you charge, what time of day you charge, whether you have a subscription to use the charge point, how much the subscription is for that charge point, what your own home tariff is, whether you have solar panels installed, how much battery power you have left and how fast the charge connection is!

Commercial Charging

Unlike simply checking the petrol station prices and filling up at one that has a favourable price displayed, electric charging point fees will vary considerably and the fees won’t simply be displayed on a large billboard.

Thankfully though, one benefit of buying an EV during this early adoption phase is that there are currently only a handful of known charging point companies, so it won’t take long to familiarise yourself with their pricing and subscription fees, with the price of electricity not as volatile as the crude oil fuel types.

To see a full list of charging point companies that you’ll likely find on your travels and what fees and pricing to expect, check out our UK EV Charging Point Guide.

To give you an idea of the costs and complexities, here are the different service levels and rates currently charged by BP Chargemaster’s Polar Network:

Polarhttps://polar-network.com/

The Polar Network is operated by BP Chargemaster and is one of the largest charging networks in the UK, as you’ll find them at most existing BP petrol stations and at a wide range of retail parks. They provide three different service levels (Polar Plus, Polar Instant and Polar Contactless) and utilise three different charging speeds (Fast, Rapid and Ultra Rapid).

Polar Plus is a subscription service that currently costs £7.87 a month, (although the first three months are free). Once subscribed, you can enjoy their cheapest charging rates:

Fast: 12p

Rapid: 15p

Ultra Rapid: 20p

Polar Instant doesn’t require a subscription, but you are required to install an app, create an account and pre-pay it with at least £20. This then allows you to use a PAYG model (Pay as you go), but you will have to pay a £1.20 fee per charge. You then get access to these middle-priced rates:

Fast: 18p

Rapid: 25p

Ultra Rapid: 35p

Polar Contactless is a PAYG model similar to Polar Instant, only you don’t have to install an app, create an account or pre-pay anything. The fees are only slightly more expensive than the pre-paid model, with a £1.50 fee per charge:

Fast: N/A

Rapid: 30p

Ultra Rapid: 40p

Its also worth mentioning that during these early adoption days, some of Polar’s charging points offer free charging, although the per-charge fees still apply.

Domestic Charging

When charging your EV at home or any other domestic premises, you will be limited to AC (Alternating Current), meaning a much slower charging speed than can be got from commercial premises, which is allowed a DC (Direct Current) power output.

Although it is possible to charge an EV by plugging it into a mains socket inside your house, this isn’t very practical and is only meant to be a ‘last resort’ charging method, as it will be painfully slow and can take almost a day in some cases to fully charge an EV from near empty.

If we said that the average domestic electricity rate was 14p per kWh, it would cost around £6 to charge the car during the day time for 12 hours, and then around £4 to charge for 12 hours during the night. It would therefore cost around £10 to keep a car on charge for 24hours. Only cars with mega big batteries would require such a long charge, like Tesla, whose cars often sport 100kWh batteries. Most other mid-range cars that have 40-50kWh batteries could be charged in half a day using this method.

Thankfully, home charging does not have to be this painfully slow, thanks to many car manufacturers, energy providers and 3rd parties developing home charging stations. Getting one installed is a must, and will boost your charge output from a measly 3kW to a whopping 22kW, with no increase in energy cost.

However, please bear in mind that not all EV’s can utilise the full 22kW, and each EV has its own charge speed limit. You can currently get a government grant of up to £350 to get a home charging station installed, so its well worth looking into.

For a full list of home charging stations, their power output and the cost of installation, please check out our EV Home Charging Station Power Box Guide. (Coming May 2021)