‘Fast charger’ refers to chargers that can deliver between 7 and 22kW of charge per hour. 7kW fast charging can take place at home on an electric vehicle charge point and on some public charging units too.
Installing a fast electric car charger point at home that offers 7kW of power will cut your charging time by half or more compared to using the 3-pin plug charging cable for a ‘slow charge’. A home charger will restore your Nissan LEAF’s battery from empty to full in around 5 hours. This type of charging is ideal for plugging in overnight and is suitable for homes with off-street parking, 50% of the UK are fortunate enough to have off-street parking.
Meanwhile, higher-powered 22kW chargers can be found out and about in supermarkets and shopping centre car parks and can typically provide a full charge in 2 hours for a Nissan LEAF, although this can be longer depending on battery capacity.
If home charging isn’t an option or you’re travelling a bit further afield and need a boost ‘rapid chargers’ are what you need. Unlike other public charging points you won’t need your own cable to connect to a rapid charger, they are hardwired in, and due to the amount of power the charging units require you won’t find a rapid charger in a domestic setting.
At a rapid charger you can top up your car up from empty to 80% full in just 30 minutes. In the UK most rapid chargers operate at 50kW, (although there are plans to install faster ones soon, and a handful are in operation already) this type of charging is available at motorway service stations, hotels and some public car parks.
As with any rule there are always exceptions, so if you are a Tesla driver you’ll have access to Tesla’s faster ‘supercharging’ network. Superchargers can charge a car at up to 120kW, delivering 200 miles of charge in just half an hour. Oh, and Tesla just added Netflix to their cars’ infotainment screens – so you can watch your favourite shows while you charge.
If you’re driving for business and attending a meeting or delivering a sales presentation, rapid or super chargers should give you more than enough juice to continue your journey back home or onto your next pitch, without impacting your day or eating into your schedule.
It’s worth noting that rapid charging is more expensive than charging at home. You pay for the convenience of the service, like buying your lunch rather than making it at home. This said, even when rapid charging you are still making significant fuel savings compared to filling up in a petrol or diesel car.