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  • Feb 10, 2022

  • 9 min read

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How to charge an electric car if you don’t have a driveway

How to make the switch to electric with no off-street parking

One of the essential parts of driving an electric car is charging up the battery. Having access to a driveway or off-street parking makes it super easy for drivers to make the switch because they can get a charger installed to charge at home. There’s not much else to think about.

But did you know that it’s just as easy to have an electric car without having a driveway? With a few minor lifestyle and mindset changes, you can easily make the switch.

This guide will help you understand how you can switch to an electric car without having a home charger. It’s absolutely possible, and we’ll show you how.

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • Why an electric car is cheaper to run than a petrol or diesel equivalent, even if you’re charging on the public network
  • How much it costs to charge an electric car at home or on the road
  • Where to charge if you don’t have access to a home charger
  • How charging at home compares to charging on the public network

Charging an EV is cheaper than petrol or diesel

Because electricity is more efficient than traditional fuel types, running your electric car will almost always work out cheaper than a petrol or diesel car.

Petrol engines lose around 80% of the energy that they emit because they are hot and noisy. This makes them very inefficient. Only 15 - 20% of the energy that a petrol or diesel engine generates actually moves your car forward.

Electric motors are far more efficient at using energy to move your car forward. They use around 85% of their energy to push the car forward, so you need to use much less energy to go the same distance in an electric car vs a petrol or diesel car.

Fuelling your car - whether it be through petrol, diesel or electrons - and making sure that you have enough miles to get around on your daily commute, is pretty high up on most drivers’ list. It’s historically been so easy to top up your car with fuel. You’re on a journey, need some extra miles so you pop into a petrol station. Car is filled up, more miles in the tank, and off you go.

Making the switch to electric requires a little bit of a mindset shift. Instead of being reliant on petrol stations, you’ll need to do a bit more planning (but it’s so worth it). We like to think of it like charging your mobile phone. When you have a day planned away from home you either:

  1. Charge up the phone the night before so you have full charge when you wake up.
  2. Bring a charger with you so you can plug in and charge on the go.

Charging a car is no different.

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

There’s no getting away from it, charging your car on the public network will be more expensive than charging at home most of the time, but when we compare the cost of charging on the public network versus the cost of running a petrol car, the savings are still significant.

The cost of charging on the road is around 5p per mile, whereas the cost of fuel is around 15p per mile. That’s a 3x higher cost to move from one place to another in a fuel car. This doesn’t take into account the greater costs to our planet and our health.

At home charging is the cheapest way to charge an electric car. It can work out as little as 1.8p per mile when you use our Intelligent Octopus tariff and charge at night when electricity is cheapest. With Intelligent Octopus you get 4 hours of super-cheap energy overnight between 12:30 - 4:30 am so when you wake up in the morning your car is ready to go.

What if I don’t have off-street parking?

The UK’s public charging network has nearly 50,000 charging connection points for electric cars. There’s more than enough out there for everyone.

There are lots of options to charge on the street or out and about. There are thousands of free charging stations in places like shopping malls, supermarkets, public car parks, train stations and service stations.

The best way to plan your charging is to check out our Electric Universe map. It’ll show you all of the chargers closest to you, let you know what networks they run on and the cost to charge. You can download the handy app and use it for journey planning so you never have to worry about running out of charge.

On street charging

There are lots of lamp post chargers available for charging on the street. Ubitricity is the largest network of lamppost charging stations, with over more than 4,500 points available. Char.gy lamp posts can be found on the street in and around London, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire, with over 800 lamp post chargers available. Hooking up to lamppost and on-street chargers will cost around 5p per mile.

Public charging

Lots of supermarkets offer charging points so you can get a few hours of charging each week when you’re doing the big shop. Supermarkets that offer electric car charging include Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Co-Op.

Some council-owned chargers can be free to use, so you can top up when you visit public facilities like swimming pools or libraries.

Scotland has a history of free charging with over 2,000 council installed charging stations. Though some have introduced charges to use the networks, many of the chargers are still free to use. You can check out their charging map here.

Workplace charging

Many workplaces offer free charging, so it’s a great idea to charge at the office so you never have to worry about having enough juice to get home.

So how do charging on the road and charging at home compare?

Meet Max and Julia. They both drive a Volkswagen ID.3 clocking up an average 500 miles a month each.

Max lives in a flat and has no driveway or car parking space.

Julia lives in a house with a driveway and has had a charger installed, powered by the Intelligent Octopus tariff.

Max uses the UK’s public charging network to top up his electric car battery. He uses a variety of different chargers while he is out and about including charging on the street overnight, charging at his office, charging at public car parks and charging at the supermarket.

Julia does most of her charging at home overnight to make sure she has a full charge at the start of every day. Julia’s cost for charging at home is about 2p per mile as she takes advantage of the super low energy prices at night.

During the week, Max charges his car at work. His company offer a free charging point as one of their employee benefits. At the weekend, Max charges his car overnight using a lamppost charger. This costs him around 4.7p per mile.

Both Max and Julia charge at Tesco or Asda stores for 2 hours 1-2 times per week. These stores offer free charging for customers who are shopping in the supermarket. A two hour top-up gives enough energy to add up to 60 miles to the charge on an 11kW charger.

While Max is getting used to what it means to charge on the road, he makes an effort to charge up as often as he can while the car is stationary. Once he gets used to a pattern of charging, he has lots of options available to him.

As Julia can always charge from home she doesn’t spend as long familiarising herself with her local charging network and instead focuses on where she’ll charge on longer journeys.

For longer journeys, both Max and Julia can use high powered rapid chargers. 95% of motorway service stations have rapid chargers, and lots more petrol stations are installing them. They can sometimes be found in pubs and hotels too. These chargers offer a faster charge in a shorter period. Both Max and Julia can top up 100 miles in 15 minutes at a 150 kWh rapid charge point. The price to charge at the rapid charger for both Max and Julia ranges from between 10p - 18p per mile.

Across the month, Julia charges 300 miles at home, 100 miles at free chargers and 100 miles on rapid chargers. Julia’s average cost of charging for the month is £16.

Max charges 300 miles on the street, 100 miles at free chargers and 100 miles on rapid chargers. Max’s average cost of charging for the month is £25.

Max has to factor in a bit more time for planning, and it does cost him more to charge than Julia, but if he were driving a petrol car his cost to fuel each month would be £75. He is making massive savings each month by driving electric and spending a bit more time planning his charges.