How much does it cost and how long does it take to recharge an electric car? Can I do it in my parking space? Do I need to get a wallbox? Here is the answer to this and other questions.
Electric cars, whether full electric or hybrid plug-in (also known in technical jargon as PHEV - Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), are no longer new.
Although they still constitute a small share of the total number of cars sold, they are increasingly present on our roads.
Still lingering, however, are the apprehensions, especially for private users, regarding the charging methods and times.
Many questions arise.
How can you recharge your electric car at home? How much will it cost me to “fill up”? Is it possible to charge an electric vehicle for free? What do I need to do to adapt my parking space? And if I don't have my own parking space, how am I going to do it?
These are legitimate concerns; let's see if we can offer some clarity and provide some answers.
How much does it cost to recharge an electric car
We are used to thinking in terms of km/litre and to knowing the approximate price of petrol, diesel, LPG and methane. But how much does electricity cost? Does it have a fixed price or are there parameters that vary? And, ultimately, how many kilometres can you do based on the size of the batteries, the equivalent of the “tank” for traditional cars?
The household cost of electricity is roughly between 0.15 and 0.20 €/kWh.
A car with a 50 kWh battery pack, like the Renault Zoe, will cost a maximum of about 8-10 euro for a full charge, and a range of just under 400 km, while for a Nissan Leaf E+ with 60 kWh batteries it will cost about 10-12 euro to travel the same distance. In other words, between 2.5 and 3 euro cent per km.
Compared with a diesel car and assuming an average of 20 km/litre, the cost per km is about triple that of an electric car: to travel the same 400 km it will take approximately 20 litres, which amounts to 10 cent/km.
How long does it take to recharge an electric car?
Let's set aside for the moment those charging points – present in some shopping centres – that offer free electric vehicle charging for marketing and awareness reasons.
Cutting fuel expenses to just one third is a great advantage, especially if you travel important routes every day. But how long does it take to recharge an electric car?
Keeping the aforementioned cars as an example, and therefore battery packs of between 50 and 60 kWh, with a 3 kW domestic meter about 15 hours will be necessary if commencing from a fully discharged battery. This is an extreme situation: one does not often travel 400 km per day, so assuming a remaining charge of 30%, about ten hours will suffice. In other words, one night in your parking space or garage.
The so-called quick charging stations are increasingly present on the roads. Instead of supplying the 3 kW we get at home, they can reach much higher values (even as much as 150 kW) and thus reduce charging times to twenty or thirty minutes: as much time it takes to grab a sandwich on the motorway!
However, the cost of the kW delivered at this speed is higher, up to 50 or 60 cent for each kWh, thus equating to the cost of a tank of diesel for the same distance.
This is an acceptable cost when you just can’t help it (as this is how it goes when you have to refuel on the motorway, where prices are notoriously higher), but this is just another reason to better organise yourself at home.
Recharge at home: wallboxes
If you have your own garage, the most practical solution is to install a wallbox.
But why can't we just connect an extension cord between the car and a power outlet?
Because domestic systems are not designed to deliver such a current for so long (3 kW continuously for 10 hours on a socket can lead to dangerous overheating of internal components). That's why the cars are equipped with cables with a larger section than a normal extension cord and have a larger socket with a particular shape.
A wallbox also does not just supply current, but it “talks” with the car and monitors various parameters (such as temperature) to always work in total safety.
In addition, in fitted systems, it is able to recognise other charges connected to the electrical system (such as a refrigerator or an air conditioner) and adjust itself accordingly so as not to exceed the maximum load allowed. Even better if the house, typically detached or semi-detached, is equipped with solar panels and an energy storage system: the electricity generated during the day and stored in the batteries of the house can be "transferred" to the car at no cost!
In this regard, although it is not necessary to adapt the electrical system, it may be a good idea to raise the maximum permissible load value to 4.5 or 6 kW to avoid being constrained between charging the car or using appliances. Also for this reason choosing the right wallbox is an important step when buying an electric car.
How to recharge your electric car if you don't have a parking space
Car parking is not a feature that is present in all homes, especially in large cities where it is considered a luxury!
More and more apartment buildings, however, are getting set up with apartment building charging stations to allow residents to refuel their cars. Through a simple identification system (typically a magnetic card) you can charge your car and pay only for what you consume.
Since they draw from the apartment building’s electrical system, these solutions are often combined with high-performance charging stations, capable of delivering up to 20 kW, thus reducing charging times.