With more and more electrically powered new and used cars on our roads every year, there are concerns that the UK charging infrastructure is not keeping up with demand; potentially putting drivers at risk.
Both the UK government and the UK motor trade have been keen to encourage sales of electric and hybrid vehicles, offering incentives like a plug-in grant of up to £3,500 off the price of a low or zero emissions vehicle.
Also, battery electric vehicles are exempt from road tax, while plug in hybrid vehicles pay a reduced tax rate. Vehicle manufacturers will also offer deals to compensate for the initial purchase price of an electric car, ranging from free battery replacements to cheaper motor trade insurance.
Although there are nearly 120,000 electric vehicle charging points in the UK, with many more planned for the future, it can still be difficult to find one that’s available and convenient. Drivers who live outside urban areas may have to travel some distance for a charge point.
Parking for electric vehicles is usually free in special marked bays and include a charging station. You may find charging points at large stores and supermarkets, enticing vehicle owners to shop there. Many London boroughs offer on street parking and free charging to encourage cleaner vehicles in the city.
It is still relatively unusual for the workplace to offer electric vehicle charging so many drivers tend to recharge their vehicle overnight while at home.
However, a survey by Electrical Safety First, a charity that works to reduce deaths and injuries caused by electricity, found that many electric vehicle owners use a domestic plug socket rather than a purpose-built vehicle charge point to charge their vehicle.
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Of the 1,500 electric and hybrid vehicle owners surveyed, three quarters admitted to charging their vehicle from the mains using extension leads. Often, extension leads intended for indoor use only are used to reach a vehicle in a garage or parked outside, half of those polled left charging leads in place while it was raining.
In addition, 75% of the respondents said they used several extension leads plugged in series to reach from the socket to the actual vehicle. Known as daisy chaining, this practice carries a risk of electrocution or fire.
A car’s manual will list the right electrical current and connection type for your vehicle. To ensure safety when charging a vehicle at home it’s advisable to have a domestic charging point installed by a professional.
Quick and safe charging at home will make it well worth the purchase and installation, and government grants are also available to reduce the cost.