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Low carbon travel

Smart charging for electric vehicles

What is smart charging?

Smart charging is a convenient way of charging your electric vehicle (EV) at times when demand for electricity is lower, for example at night, or when there is lots of renewable energy on the grid.

Charging during these off-peak times not only reduces costs for EV drivers by using cheaper energy rates, but also helps to prevent unwanted intervals of really high demand for electricity from the grid.

Different levels of smart charging

Benefits of smart charging

How it works

There are a wide range of smart chargepoint options available, each with different features and functionalities. Smart charging allows you to set your charging preferences, which may include:

  • Desired charge level: the battery level you want to charge your vehicle to.
  • Charge-by time: the time you want the charge level to be completed by.
  • Minimum charge level: the minimum battery level you don’t want your vehicle to fall below. A vehicle will ensure the minimum battery level set is met before optimising the rest of the charging, so the vehicle will have enough charge in case of an emergency.

The smart chargepoint sends these charging preferences via Wi-Fi, ethernet or 3G/4G/5G to a centralised cloud-based management platform. It will use network signals to monitor and manage charging to optimise energy consumption and ensure all your preferences are met.

It is possible to override smart charging as and when you need to. Simply plug in your EV and opt to immediately charge at that time, instead of waiting for an optimised charging time.

What you’ll need to get the most out of smart charging

While different chargepoints may have different features, this is what you’ll need to get the most out of using a smart chargepoint:

Setting up the basics

  • 01

    Off-street parking

    You’ll need access to off-street parking to have a home smart chargepoint installed.

  • 02

    Smart chargepoint unit

    There are a variety of smart chargepoints on the market, with various features to choose from, depending on your needs.

    A smart chargepoint can be tethered (meaning it has a permanent EV cable attached to it), or untethered (meaning it will have a socket that an EV cable can be connected to), depending on your preference. An EV will come with cables to use with an untethered chargepoint.

  • 03

    Wi-Fi or 3G/4G/5G connectivity

    A smart chargepoint will typically require either 3G/4G/5G or home Wi-Fi connectivity.

Recommended accessories

  • 01

    Smart phone

    A smart chargepoint may require a mobile phone app to set and change charging preferences, depending on the model you choose.

  • 02

    Smart meters

    Smart meters are the next generation of energy meters that are replacing traditional meters across Great Britain. They support EV energy tariffs that save consumers money, by enabling the energy supplier to accurately record when energy was used at the cheaper rates. Get in touch with your energy supplier about arranging an installation at no extra cost.

  • 03

    EV energy tariff

    EV energy tariffs have differing rates during day (peak) and night (off-peak) hours. Lower tariffs are typically applied during the night rate, allowing you to charge your vehicle overnight at a lower cost.

    Many energy suppliers now offer specific tariffs tailored to EV owners, with differing costs, benefits and off-peak hours available. In the costs section of this page, you will find websites with further information on the offers available.

    However, these tariffs apply to all the electricity usage in your home, so consider when and where you use electricity around the house when deciding if an EV energy tariff is right for you.

    *Update January 2022* We do not currently recommend that you switch to an EV tariff. With the ongoing UK energy crisis, many cheaper EV tariffs have either been increased or removed for new customers. We would therefore recommend you stay with your current provider until the situation changes.

How to smart charge

Please note, whenever you are charging your EV, it is recommended that you do not use a standard 3-pin plug socket to charge your vehicle for long periods of time. Please see our FAQs section at the bottom of this page for more information.

Financial support

The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), provides a 75% contribution towards the cost of providing and installing one chargepoint, up to a maximum of £350 (including VAT) per chargepoint.

To be eligible for the grant scheme, the applicant must own, lease, or have ordered a qualifying vehicle and must have dedicated off-street parking at their property. A person may receive funding for two chargepoints at the same property if they have two qualifying vehicles.

An EVHS-approved installer must apply for the grant on your behalf. You can find a list of EVHS-approved installers here.

*Update January 2022* From April 2022, the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme will no longer be open to homeowners (including people with mortgages) who live in single-unit properties such as bungalows and detached, semi-detached or terraced housing.

Installations in single-unit properties need to be completed by 31 March 2022 and a claim submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by 30 April 2022.

The scheme will remain open to:

  • Homeowners who live in flats.
  • People in rental accommodation (flats and single-use properties).

More information can be found on the EVHS homepage.

Costs

The average cost of a smart chargepoint will depend on the type of chargepoint and the features that are important to you. Several comparison sites are available online but do keep in mind that some sites may make a commission from selling you a chargepoint.

Rightcharge is an independent comparison site that allows you to compare smart chargepoints and EV energy tariffs. Once the EVHS grant is reformed from April 2022 onwards, Rightcharge expects the cost of a smart chargepoint and installation combined to start at £900 for homeowners, except for apartment blocks and workplaces.

Industry more widely is responding to the EVHS reform, such as offering subscription services to help offset the upfront cost of smart chargepoints. This page will be updated as these responses take shape. If you are a member of the smart chargepoint industry, please contact us at transportadvice@est.org.uk to help us understand how the market will respond.

Other comparison sites are available below (please note that some sites may have paused their services due to current energy market conditions):

Smart charging FAQs

Last updated: 19 January 2022