Common questions about electric car charger installation

If you’ve thought about investing in an electric vehicle (EV), but wonder about the logistics of ownership, you’re not alone. The increase in public electric car charger installation points only goes so far, and how and when people charge is still a big concern. It’s especially tough for people living in flats, who either have to find a charger while out and about, or top up their batteries at work. That’s not something everyone can do.

Having a charger at home is almost a necessity for EV drivers, and if you’re thinking of getting one installed, it’s only fair to have questions about it. Read on for common questions about electric car charge points, answered by OZEV-registered EV charger installers.

Electric car charger installation

Is it really that hard to find a public charger?

Despite a 37% rise in public charging points in 2021, there’s still a lack of infrastructure. In fact, many long-term electric car drivers say that finding an open charger is harder than ever. Local authorities are doing their best to keep up, but supply doesn’t quite meet demand.

Even if you find an electric car charger on your journey, there’s no guarantee it’ll work. This can lead to what’s known as range anxiety, which is the fear of not knowing when you’ll next be able to top up.

Do I need a qualified electrician to install a car charger?

You should only choose a qualified electrician for any new electrical installation. This also applies to home EV chargers, as well as those at the workplace. In fact, your home charger’s warranty might only be valid with an Electric Installation Certificate (EIC) from a competent electrician. Given this news, and the need for electrical safety, it’s worth ensuring your charge point installer carries the right accreditations:

  • Registered contractor (e.g. with NICEIC or NAPIT)
  • Registered with Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV)

Can I get a grant for an EV charger install?

Formerly known as the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has ceased its funding for owners of detached, semi-detached and terraced homes. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) applies to owners of flats and commercial properties. You’ll need to choose from a list of registered installers to qualify too. The idea of this scheme is to make charging at home easier in more urban areas, where people live in flats instead of houses.

Tip: Have you thought about adding chargers at work? As of May 2022, the Workplace Charging Scheme has been extended to small and medium-sized businesses. It also applies to commercially let buildings, charities, and bed and breakfasts.

How much does electric car charger installation cost?

There are many factors that can affect the price of an electric car charger installation. First, your installer will probably want to perform a survey that checks feasibility and looks for any potential challenges. The price of the work will depend on:

  • The type of electric car charger you buy
  • Whether you have a buried or surface-mounted cable
  • The distance between the charger and the consumer unit (fuse board/box)
  • Whether your consumer unit has the capacity
  • The need for a surge protection device (SPD)

The armoured cable isn’t cheap, and the cost of labour depends on whether you need to run this cable underground, fix it to a wall, or upgrade your consumer unit. This means the installation process could take anywhere from six hours to two full days.

Because pricing can vary, we’ll schedule an electrician to carry out a site survey. Following this, you’ll get a breakdown of the scope of the work, the costs involved, and receive a fixed-price quote.

Will I need a new consumer unit?

Electric car chargers need a dedicated circuit on your consumer unit. As such, your consumer unit will need upgrading if there’s no capacity. Units sometimes need additional earthing, and everything should comply with the latest regulations. This means having an SPD (surge protection device) that guards against an overvoltage.

Without an SPD fitted, your charger could suffer from severe damage if there’s a power surge. Your vehicle could also have problems if it’s connected at the time. When you consider the price of the car and the charging point, it’s worth including an SPD for peace of mind.

Understandably, it’s hard to get excited about a new consumer unit, but the expense will pay off when you can charge when you want, knowing that your investment is protected.

Can I install an electric car charger at a block of flats?

Electric car charger installation may be possible, but leaseholders must first get permission from their property managers. The lease might mention a ‘licence to alter,’ or there could already be a policy in place. You’ll also need to think about:

  • The need for a dedicated power supply
  • The distance from the charger to the consumer unit
  • Security measures to prevent energy theft
  • Installation costs will likely be higher

Remember that if cabling affects someone else’s land or property, all parties must first agree – and this extends to usage rights. Persuading a freeholder to go green with multiple chargers may be the best route here, and if they’re quick about it, they could save up to £350 on the cost of each new charger.

Tip: Freeholders should take charger requests seriously. Otherwise, flat owners may take matters into their own hands – with cables running out of windows and a high risk of a power surge.

Do I need permission to install a charger at my house?

If you own the land, then you’re entitled to install a home charging point without seeking permission beforehand. It’s worth noting that installing an electric car charger as a new circuit would be classified as “notifiable”. This means your local authority must have a record of it. This would be done automatically when the installer registers an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC).

What charge point do I need?

There are many chargers to choose from, and wall boxes come tethered or untethered. Tethered proves more popular due to convenience (allowing you to unwind the cable), while untethered boxes tend to look neater. Untethered chargers allow you to replace your standard cable with a longer one in the future.

Your ideal charger will also depend on how much you want to pay for it. On average, you should expect to pay at least £600 for a high-quality charger, plus the cost of electric car charger installation.

Businesses can choose to install a charger with pay-as-you-go features, allowing people to fill a battery when they need to. If you’re a company owner, you might want to start thinking about writing a workplace charging policy. That way, there’ll be no confusion over access, or how much charging costs.

Can someone else steal my energy?

It’s unlikely that someone will park in your driveway just to power up their vehicle without your permission. That said, if you live in a block of flats and are concerned about energy theft, there is something you can do. A rotary isolator switch lets you turn off power to the electric car charger, and it can even be locked so that only you have access. Just remember that only a qualified electrician can install one safely.

Tip: Modern chargers fitted as part of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme can connect to a smartphone app, letting you turn the power off while you’re away. You can also charge when energy is at its cheapest.

How long will it take to charge my electric vehicle?

Charging your vehicle can take anywhere from half an hour to 12 hours or more, depending on the charge point’s power rating. Rapid charging points with three-phase power, for example, can top a battery up within 30 minutes, but these are extremely rare. Most domestic chargers take around eight hours to fill an empty battery.

The longest possible charging time comes from using the three-pin plug you receive when you buy your electric car. Recommended only for occasional use, plugging your charging cable to your electric supply in this way puts strain on your system and proves less convenient than a dedicated charging point.

I don’t have off-street parking. Can I get a car charger installed?

Electric vehicle owners without off-street parking can ask their London borough council for a nearby charger, though this doesn’t apply to the City of London. You can do this by following the instructions on your borough’s relevant website; they’ll usually ask you to complete an application form or contact them directly.

If you’d like to arrange for electric car charger installation, or learn about the benefits and the options available, Aspect will be happy to help. Just pick up the phone and give us a call.

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  • Provide information on companies that will install, maintain and manage electric charging points on behalf of customers.

  • We recommend using an OZEV-registered installer. They'll ensure high-quality workmanship, and they can apply for a grant if you qualify. If you need someone for installation and maintenance, Aspect is on the OZEV register.

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