Can I charge an electric car with a domestic plug socket?

The vast majority of electric cars will be supplied with a cable designed for a three-pin domestic plug socket. So the short answer to our opening question is yes, you can charge an electric car with a domestic plug socket.

However, charging via a three-pin plug should be reserved for occasional and emergency use only. Fine for when you’re staying overnight with friends or relatives, but not for regular domestic use.

We’d recommend keeping the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging cable in your car for back-up, but there are a couple of reasons why a dedicated wallbox is the preferred solution. These are summarised below.

Wallbox-to-car communication

A dedicated electric car charging wallbox will communicate directly with the car, which makes it safer than using a domestic socket. What’s more, with a smart wallbox, you can take advantage of cheaper tariffs, with the car charging when supply is high and demand is low.

A smart wallbox also allows you to control charging remotely. Ideal if you want to ‘fill up’ during cheaper off-peak electricity periods.

Wallbox and Nissan Leaf

Faster charging times

A domestic plug socket is the slowest way to charge an electric car. Fitting a wallbox will reduce the time by 30-60 percent, depending on the vehicle.

Advice for charging home

The charity Electrical Safety First has the following advice for charging at home:

  • Never use a domestic multi-socket extension lead. If you MUST use an extension lead, make sure it is suitable for outdoor use.
  • Never ‘daisy-chain’ extension leads. This increases the risk of an electrical fire or an electric shock.
  • Always buy a charging cable from a reputable retailer or use the cable supplied by the manufacturer. If you’ve bought a used electric car and the cable isn’t present, contact your local dealer.
  • Regularly check the charging cable for wear and tear.
  • Ensure the wiring in your property has been checked – old wiring may not be able to cope with the demand from charging an electric car.
Wallbox and Tesla Model S

If in doubt, fit a wallbox. A 3kW box – which is equivalent to a domestic socket – will cost between £300 and £500. A faster 7kW charge unit should cost between £500 and £1,000, but will deliver far superior charging times.

Alternatively, if you have no off-street parking, it might be time to ask the local council to fit some charging points. Your local authority can apply for help with the cost of fitting on-street points for residential use using the Residential Chargepoint Scheme.

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