Making sure you can successfully charge when you go to another chargepoint is not difficult if you understand charging basics.
The public charging network
‘Fast charging’ gets much of the media attention these days and these are typically the types of chargepoint you’ll find at a motorway service station or at an EV-enabled garage forecourt and including the Tesla-specific ‘supercharger’ network.
Public fast charging will typically be in the range of 50kw to 150kw and your EV may or may not be able to take advantage of these high charge rates, depending on its age and specification. A rapid charging connector will be of the ChAdeMO or CCS type and all such chargepoints will invariably come with a tethered lead, so you just need to know which one to selected when you pull up to the charging station.
We won’t here go into the frustrations of dealing with multiple proprietary chargepoint networks and associated membership/use schemes. Suffice to say that the random way the network has developed here in the UK is not ideal in terms of geography and user convenience. However, things are starting to improve, albeit slowly, both in terms of numbers of chargepoints but also in the opening up of charging access to more users across networks and providers.
Second-tier public charging
There is also a second tier of lower-power public chargepoints in the 7-22KW power range aimed at the market for longer-dwell time charging or routine partial top-up. You’ll typically find these at some shopping centres or car parks, or through council provision by the roadside or from lamp-post based installations. Generally, such chargepoints will come without a tethered lead, so you’ll need to use your own.
We are starting to include some of these chargepoints within the Bookmycharge network to add predictability to, and payment at, selected installations. The pilots that we will be running in spring 2020 will lead to a roll out at multiple locations as the year unfolds.
Quite how the public chargepoint network will fare if predictions of the registration of an extra 100,000 EVs in the UK are realised during 2020 isn’t known but there is always likely to be a gap between demand and availability. We believe this will make Bookmycharge even more relevant by providing another vital tier of journey flexibility and charging options to EV owners coupled with predictability of charging availability. We also believe that we’ll be a key factor in encouraging EV ownership among drivers who don’t have access to off-road parking and therefore will never be able to charge their EV at home as most EV owners currently do.
Home and destination charging
Away from the public charging network, any EV in the UK will be able to use a normal domestic or destination chargepoint regardless of their ability to access the public fast-charging network. These domestic and destination chargepoints are mostly rated at 7kw but some lucky home owners with three-phase electricity might reach as much as 22kw. Some will have stuck with a basic 3kw line, which will charge an EV given sufficient time, e.g. overnight.
Home and destination chargepoints, typically of 7kw, form the bulk of Bookmycharge’s network. You can expect up to 30 miles of charging per hour from a 7kw charger and maybe 15 miles from a 3kw unit. This means that your ‘pit stop’ dwell time at either type of chargepoint will be a lot longer than might be the case at a public fast-charger. Typically, users will park up and go off to a meeting or event or head off to some other activity or attraction nearby. Some users opt to leave the car parked and charging overnight if this possibility is offered by the chargepoint owner.
To use one of these chargepoints is simple and you need only to consider a couple of factors before selecting and booking. If the chargepoint has a tethered lead you need to know whether it has a Type 1 or Type 2 end connector. Traditionally this would have reflected an Asian/European manufacturer split but it’s now not always the case but as an EV owner you’ll already know this or can readily check in the vehicle handbook.
If the selected chargepoint is untethered, you’ll be using your own lead and this makes things simpler as nearly all chargepoint wallboxes have a type 2 socket regardless of what’s needed at the other end.
The cost of charging?
When Bookmycharge was set up, we opted to make the system as simple as we could rather than ‘over-engineer’ the booking or charging process from the start. Thus we currently have a simple, broad-brush system with the booking charge at a flat rate within a window of availability set by the chargepoint owner. If you have listed a chargepoint and are wondering what session fee to use, it may be helpful to know that the average session fee being set by chargepoint owners to date on the Bookmycharge platform is £4.55.
Clearly this does not make allowance for the dwell time at the chargepoint, or indeed the electrical capacity of the car or the per-KW cost of the power flowing through the system. As Bookmycharge starts to integrate with much smarter chargepoints we’ll be able to monitor and control cost and supply on a per-use basis but dealing with many first-generation ‘dumb’ chargepoints is more problematical since all they can do is dispense electricity; there is no associated data.
However, this has not prevented early EV adopters from engaging with and using the Bookmycharge platform. Our first phase of market testing has also enabled us to build up some user metrics and as a result we are currently evolving a more flexible booking and charging system with more options, which we will be rolling out in early 2021.