How much does it cost to charge an electric car? It’s a question that’s being asked more and more, especially with the fluctuating electricity prices of late.

Whether you’re charging at home, at work or on public chargers, it’s almost always be cheaper to charge an electric car than the equivalent of filling an equivalent car with petrol. And, better yet, unlike with petrol prices, with your home electricity rates, it’s surprisingly easy to reduce those costs yourself.

Here, we’ll look at the costs of charging an electric car both at home and at public charge points out on the road and show you how to save money at both of them.

How much does it cost to charge my electric car at home?

The simple answer to this is that it depends on your home electricity tariff and how much you pay per kWh. 

So, let’s do some simple calculations to show you how much it costs to charge your electric car and how you might be able to save some money when charging your electric car. The average Irish driver covers 10,000 kilometres a year which, in a typical petrol car, would cost more €1170.

By comparison, in a typical electric car, at the Standard Tariff of 48.24c/kWh, those same 10,000 kilometres in an EV would cost €753 for the entire year.

How can I lower the costs of charging my electric car at home?

So, we’ve already seen that there’s a big saving between petrol and charging your car at home. The good news though is that, unlike a petrol car, you can have a big influence on how much you pay through the numerous off-peak electricity tariffs on the market from the likes of SSE Airtricity and Energia.

So if you switched your home charging to an off-peak electricity tariff such as SSE Night Boost (at just 12.42c/kWh), then those same 10,000 kilometres we used as an example before would cost just €194.06.

Where can I charge my electric car on the road?

At the time of writing, there are around 5000 electric car public charging points in Ireland.

Most modern electric cars will have a ‘find a charger’ function within their sat nav systems and some even enable you to plot your route according to your remaining range. However, probably the easiest way of checking is via the Zap Map website and app.

Zap Map is a simple map that enables you zoom in on certain areas and easily see the various types of charger on offer via a colour-coding system. Yellow are 3kW chargers, blue are 7kW fast chargers and purple are rapid charging points that are usually 43kW and above.

What do the different charging speeds mean at a public charging point?

Put simply, the higher the kW charger, then the faster your car will charge – up to a limit. Different EVs have limits to their charging capability, so a Vauxhall Corsa Electric can charge at up to 100kW, while a Porsche Taycan can charge at 225kW. You can still plug in to more powerful chargers, but they just won’t charge any faster.

Also, no matter what the car, that charging speed will slow once the battery is above 80 per cent level of charge, which helps to protect the lifespan of the battery. Rapid chargers of 50kW and above are harder to find than the slower chargers, but the irish network of rapid and ultra-rapid charging points of 100kW and above is growing quickly.

Do I need to use my own charging cable at a public charging point?

It depends on which charging point you’re planning on using. Fast chargers of up to 7kW tend to be ‘untethered’ which means it’s just a socket and you’ll need to use your own cable. For rapid charging points though, they tend to be ‘tethered’ with the lead attached to the machine itself.

The CCS rapid charging points of 50kW and above use the secondary ‘bulge’ on the bottom of your socket which has the shape of a flattened figure of eight. Either way, it’s no bad thing to keep your charging cable in the boot of your car anyway, just in case.

How do I charge my electric car at a public charging point?

First you need to check the charger is working and this is where the Zap Map app is so useful. For each charging location it will show you the details of the site, the pricing structure (more on this later), whether it’s working and, crucially, any notes from past users. Users can also ‘check in’ to certain chargers meaning that you can also see if they’re being used in real time.

It’s worth doing this homework before you get there to save you a wasted journey. Those notes from previous users are also invaluable as the charger might be broken or not delivering the correct level of charge that you need.

Do I need to download the charging company’s app beforehand?

Until recently, the answer would have been a definite yes to download the app, but now it’s not always necessary. Again, check the Zap Map app, but many chargers now offer contactless payment, so that you can simply plug in and tap your card to pay.

Having said that though, opening an account isn’t a bad idea for one main reason – price. Many charging point providers offer different tier levels of pricing per kWh. Turning up and paying by contactless is one price, charging via the firm’s own app is slightly cheaper and having a subscription account can be cheaper again.

It does mean you pre-loading an account with the respective company with money, but the savings can soon add up. The same goes for paying a regular subscription fee which as we said is cheaper still, but can be beneficial if you’re regularly using one particular firm’s chargers.

Do all electric car public charging points cost the same?

In short, no. Like petrol stations on motorway service stations, the more convenient the charging point is, then often the more expensive it will be. The same goes for the speed of the charger too. Usually the faster the charger is, then the more expensive it will be.

So a 50kW or 100kW charger will often be more expensive than a 7kW one, put simply you’re paying for the speed. It pays for you to know what the fastest speed is that your car can charge at, as there’s no point in paying for a higher speed that you can’t fully use.

How can I save money by having an account with a public charger provider?

As mentioned earlier, if you have an account with a public charger provider, then it can sometimes mean that you can pay a lower price per kW for your charging. It might not look like you save much money, but it can soon mount up – just a few pence might pay for that coffee that you buy while you’re charging.

Also, if you don’t have an account then those differences can be a lot more than just a few pence. With some providers, having a subscription account where you pay a set monthly fee, can see the price rate drop by more than half. So if you regularly use a particular brand of charger, then it’s definitely worth looking into.

Compared to shopping around for petrol prices, when you’re charging an EV at a public charger, a little bit of forward planning can soon pay off.

What are off-peak smart electricity home tariffs and how do they work?

For current electric car drivers, 80 per cent of their charging happens at work or at home. The main advantage to charging at home is that your home will almost always be the cheapest place to charge.

Numerous electricity providers such as SSE Airtricity and Energia now offer off-peak EV tariffs for overnight charging. These can see your electricity tariff dramatically drop overnight, significantly reducing your charging cost.

At present, the standard tariff with SSE is 48.24c per kWh, so a Volkswagen ID5 with a 77kW battery would cost 77 x 48.24c for a full charge – ie €37.15.

However, if you have one of those off-peak EV tariffs, then the price can be as low as 12.42c/kWh overnight with SSE’s Night Boost. At that lower rate, if you did all of your charging at that lower rate over several evenings then charging that same Volkswagen ID5 from zero to 100 per cent would cost just €9.56 – a huge saving on the standard tariff.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?

How much does it cost to charge an electric car? It’s a question that’s being asked more and more, especially with recent fluctuating electricity prices.

The simple answer is that it depends on your home electricity tariff and how much you pay per kWh. The good news though is that, unlike a petrol car, you can have a huge influence on how much you pay through the numerous off-peak electricity tariffs on the market from the likes of SSE Airtricity and Energia.

So, let’s do some basic maths to show you the effect you might be able to have on the running costs of your EV. The average Irish driver covers 10,000 kilometres a year which, in a typical petrol car, would cost around €1170.

By comparison, in a typical EV, at SSE’s Standard Tariff of 48.24c/kWh from 1st July, those same 10,000 kilometres would cost €753 for the entire year. However, if you switched your home charging to an off-peak tariff such as SSE’s Night Boost (at just 12.42c/kWh) and managed to only charge during those hours (which many Ohme customers do) then those same 10,000 kilometres would cost just €194.06.

What is regenerative braking on an electric car?

You might hear a lot of talk about regenerative braking when it comes to electric cars, but what is it and how does it work?

As its name suggests, regenerative braking uses the forward momentum of the car when you lift off the accelerator to recharge the on-board batteries. It turns that momentum back into electrical energy that is fed back into the car’s batteries for later use. And, like an old bicycle with wheel-driven dynamo lights, when you stop moving, so the regenerative braking ends.

In most electric cars, you can also tailor the strength of that regenerative braking to suit your own preference or the roads you’re driving on. Sometimes this can be a very light setting, occasionally referred to as a ‘sailing’ or ‘coasting’ mode which minimises any rolling friction and maximises your free-wheeling ability. This is sometimes preferable on faster roads.

On the highest levels though, this can bring the car to a halt with a strength equivalent to pressing the brake pedal quite hard. The advantage of this is that you can often learn to drive an EV almost entirely in this mode by adapting the pressure on the throttle pedal with your right foot, often referred to as ‘one-pedal driving’ and barely using the brake pedal.

The force of the regenerative braking in these higher levels can be so forceful and so sudden that most cars will also activate the rear brake lights to warn drivers behind you that the car is braking.

Where some electric cars vary is that these regenerative braking levels can be adapted either as a simple on/off switch to multiple different levels. Some of the latest EVs take it one step further by adding a further ‘automatic’ mode to the regenerative braking. So, the driver can choose a strength level or the car can do it for you using forward-facing cruise control radar and information from the sat nav to decide on how strong your regenerative braking should be.

The other issue to bear in mind is when the battery is fully-charged on some plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars. Then the regenerative braking often won’t offer the same stopping power as the battery is already full, meaning you have to rely on the traditional brakes.

Some trip computers can even show you how much energy or ‘free’ kilometres you’ve gained through regenerative braking over a period of time. And while the battery charge and the electrical energy gained from regenerative braking is fairly minimal, it’s still nice to know that you’re effectively getting some ‘free’ motoring kilometres as a result. Regenerative braking shows that there is such a thing as a free lunch after all.

How far do electric cars go between charges? 

Unfortunately, asking how far an EV can travel between charging, is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question. An EV’s range depends on a number of things, but the two main ones are the size of the battery and the car’s efficiency, usually measured in kilometres per kWh.

While the officially claimed WLTP range is a good guide, the reality is that it can be hard to match that during real-world driving.

Instead, reckon on an average efficiency of 4.8-6.4 kms per kWh with some smaller EVs managing more than that and sportier or larger models covering less. If you then multiply that by the car’s battery size, then you’ll get the real-world range.

There’s a caveat to that though, which is that some of the car’s onboard equipment and the outside temperature will also have an effect on your range. Batteries don’t like cold temperatures and your fully-charged range will drop during the winter months. Heat pumps, an option on some electric cars, can help to prevent this by keeping the battery within its working temperature range.

Of course, it also doesn’t help that during that colder weather, you’re more likely to use the car’s heater too. If you have them, heated seats and a heated steering wheel are often a more efficient way of heating those inside than the main heater.

It may sound a lot to take in, but the reality is that it doesn’t take long living with an electric car for you to find your way and find out what works and what doesn’t.

What is kilometres/kWh on an EV?

Over the years of driving petrol and diesel cars, we’ve all got used to miles per gallon or litres per 100km as an easy reference to a car’s efficiency.

As we move towards electric cars, obviously that’s no longer possible. While petrol and diesel are sold and referred to in a liquid volume (litres), electricity is measured in kWh, so the efficiency of electric vehicles tends to be measured in kilometres per kWh usually shortened to kms/kWh.

As with petrol or diesel cars, how you drive your electric car can have a dramatic effect on its efficiency and while there are several factors under your control to limit the amount of power you use, others such as the outside temperature or the roads you’re travelling on are often out of your control.

As it suggests, the kilometres per kWh is a measure of the distance your car is averaging for each kWh of energy from the battery. A very general average is around 4.8-5.6, while some more efficient EVs might manage 6.4-8.0 kms/kWh or higher and some performance models or larger SUVs can be lower.

Generally speaking the larger the battery in your car, the longer the range of the car is likely to be. So the 35.5kWh battery in the Honda e is capable of 220 kilometres, while the Volkswagen ID.3 has a 77kWh battery with a 558 kilometre range. But it’s not just a case of putting a larger battery in to extend the range of an electric car. While batteries are getting more efficient, they also add weight and size, so manufacturers have to balance a useable range against the car’s weight. The heavier a car is, the more energy it takes to move that weight.

A larger battery isn’t necessarily more efficient either, which is why that kms/kWh average is a better indicator. So a car with a larger battery that’s less efficient could have the same range as one with a smaller battery that’s more efficient.

As electric cars gain more popularity, there’s no question that we will be become more familiar with kilometres per kWh and it will soon become as second nature as mpg or l/100km for petrol and diesel cars.

What is a tethered charger?

As its name suggests, a tethered charger like our award-winning Ohme Home Pro comes with the charging cable already linked to the charger. It can connect to all Type 2 plug-in electric vehicles and you can choose between a five or eight metre cable.

One advantage of a tethered charger such as the Ohme Home Pro is convenience. The cable is already there so it’s simply a matter of unhooking it to plug in to your car. You don’t need to constantly retrieve a separate cable from your car or home when, say, returning home late at night or in bad weather.

What is an untethered charger?

Our Ohme ePod (pictured above) is sometimes referred to as an ‘untethered’ or ‘universal’ charger. Put simply, this means it doesn’t have the charging cable attached to the charger as with the Home Pro. As well as being slightly more affordable, some prefer an untethered charger for its simpler looks if the charger is in a prominent position on the front of your home.

An untethered charger is compatible with all plug-in electric vehicles (hence the ‘universal’ tag), so while the majority of new electric vehicles have used a Type 2 plug for some time, if you need to charge an older EV, such as a first generation Nissan Leaf or a Mitsubishi Outlander, then an untethered charger might be for you.

The same goes for that length of cable. With an untethered charger, if you need a longer cable to reach your vehicle, then you can buy whatever length you need.

From hybrids to range-extenders and EVs to plug-in hybrids, there’s a host of different electric vehicles on the road today with a sometimes confusing variety of technology. Here’s our explainer guide to each version of EV.

What is an electric car or EV?

In simple terms, an electric vehicle is one that is purely powered by an electric motor using battery power and nothing else such as the Polestar 2.

However, you might also see or hear car manufacturers talk about ‘electrified’ vehicles which is a rather different term. The phrase ‘electrified’ is often used as an umbrella term to encompass all forms of electric power in cars.

Of course, all cars use electricity, so ‘electrified’ tends to mean not just fully-electric cars, but also hybrids in all their forms, range-extenders and also hydrogen fuel-cell cars. Often the word ‘electrified’ is used as a generic phrase for all cars that don’t just rely on a traditional internal combustion engine for their power, but also use some form of battery power too.

So if you’re after a fully electric car, look out for cars which have a battery as their only form of power and not an engine of any description.

What is a hybrid electric car?

Hybrid cars come in many forms from superminis to SUVs.

As the word suggests, a hybrid car such as the original Toyota Prius is one that gets its energy from two places – usually a petrol engine as well as a battery pack. Hybrids tend to only have a small battery which is recharged using regenerative braking and also which can run the car for short distances.

In a mild-hybrid, this electrical power is used as an additional aid for the engine, but isn’t powerful enough to run the car on electric power alone.

A normal hybrid only ever recharges the battery using the energy from when braking and not by plugging it in (we’ll get to plug-in hybrids below). It can use that battery power to run ancillary items such as the air conditioning and also help the engine to provide more acceleration when required.

Alternatively, it can also divert any excess unrequired energy from the engine to recharge the battery alongside the regenerative braking. However, given the limited size of the battery, a hybrid can usually only travel on electric power alone for three or four kilometres at most at any one time.

What is a plug-in hybrid EV?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, sometimes shortened to PHEVs, use a similar concept as a standard hybrid but move it one step further on.

PHEVs have much larger batteries than basic hybrids and therefore can travel further on electric power alone. That distance depends on the size of the battery pack, but usually this is around 40-65 kilometres, although some can go further.

If you’re not ready for a full EV, then plug-in hybrids such as the Peugeot 408 can be a great stepping stone, while adapting to driving under electric power and charging at home with the safety net of a petrol engine as a back up.

However, if you need to depend on a PHEV for longer journeys, they do have two shortfalls. The main advantage of plug-in hybrids is when doing lots of shorter journeys – preferably those within that all-electric kilometre limit. This is when a plug-in hybrid is at its most efficient, although you still shouldn’t expect to get close to the extremely high official average fuel economy figures.

However, longer journeys can prove an issue for plug-in hybrids – especially for larger vehicles. The reason is when that all-electric power has been used, you can find yourself driving a large car with a small engine meaning your economy can suffer, especially with large SUVs. While some hatchback PHEVs still remain pretty economical even when travelling on petrol alone, long journeys are definitely not where PHEVs perform at their best.

The other downside of plug-in hybrids can be down to packaging as they are usually cars that have been adapted from a conventional petrol model. As they have to accommodate both an engine, fuel tank and a larger battery pack, it can sometimes mean boot space is compromised due to the battery storage.

What is a range-extender EV?

What is an EV with a range-extender and how does it differ from a hybrid or plug-in hybrid?

At first glance, a range-extender vehicle like the original Opel Ampera or versions of the BMW i3 don’t look all that different to a plug-in hybrid. Just like a plug-in hybrid, a range-extender has both an electric motor, battery and an internal combustion engine.

The big difference though is that the internal combustion engine never actually drives the wheels at any time. Instead, the only function of the engine is to act as an energy source for the battery, so cutting in either when the battery is low or when requested by the driver.

Usually the engines on range-extender vehicles tend to be smaller like the engine in the BMW i3, which was borrowed from BMW’s motorbike range.

While many car manufacturers have tended to move away from range extenders, Mazda now has a range-extender version of its MX-30 with a rotary petrol engine to boost its existing EV battery.