Electric vehicle (EV) sales have increased by 120% in the UK in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the first three months of 2021. As emission standards evolve, the demand for zero-emission cars keeps rising. Using a home charger is the most convenient and economical way to fuel up an EV. If you are planning to build a garage on your property, it is worth thinking about how to design it with electric car charging in mind.
The outbuilding will stand proud in your driveway for years to come. You may not be ready to let go of your beloved petrol or diesel car just yet, but chances are you will need to switch to an EV in the near future.
First, we will address some common questions on the topic, as having electric charging in your own garage is still rather rare.
Yes, 100%. The charger does not emit any gases, so you can close the door while charging is in progress.
No, it needs to be done by a qualified electrician. It is best to employ an electrician who already has experience in installing EV charging points. Many of these will lose their warranty if they are not installed by a certified professional.
Yes, in fact most manufacturers supply EVs with a 13A plug. However, you need to fit it in an appropriate plug. That is why you need to hire a professional to assist you. Using a domestic socket for charging can be done in an emergency, but it takes a very long time to get the vehicle to full charge - about 30-60% longer than a public charging station.
We now look at the steps you need to take to design a new garage that is suitable for electric car charging. There are a few points to bear in mind.
This is not directly related to the outbuilding, but it is a must. Before you consider buying an electric car, you should ask an electrician to check the mains household fuse box and the wiring on your property, as well as complete a load calculation - you may need to change the wiring or ask for an upgrade from your utility supplier. This is why a DIY installation is not a good idea.
As you design the foundations for your garage, you will need to work the cabling necessary for the charger into the plan. Bear in mind that an electrician will need to install a separate, independent circuit for the charging point. You will need to allow space for this, as well as room for the charging station.
The charger will need to be located close to the EV’s charging port, the position of which differs on many of the cars available on the market. It is worth thinking about where the port will likely be, depending on the models you are interested in and how you plan to park. For example, if you are likely to reverse into the garage, the port will end up sitting on the opposite side of the vehicle. It helps if you already know which model you are going to buy.
As most EVs are universal, their dimensions and requirements tend to be similar across different manufacturers. Should your careful planning for your garage design fail, you have the option to buy a universal charger that fits your outbuilding best. Some come with long, thick cables, so you can almost always remedy the situation. However, you will have less options to choose from.
If your house is very far from the ideal location for your garage, consider installing systems which incorporate solar panels and battery walls on the building itself. This will likely reduce the amount of groundworks you will need to carry out.
Would you like to use a smart charger via an app? The device will need to connect to a wifi. For this reason, you should try to position the charger or the router as close to each other as you can. If the garage is very far from your house, you could install a 4G router with a SIM card, as long as you install a separate socket for it. Without wifi, you will not be able to use features such as remote charging and battery level checking.
Electric car batteries do not handle changes in temperature very well and colder temperatures can temporarily affect the car’s range by 10-12%. Insulating the door and walls of your garage will help extend the life of the EV’s batteries. You can even consider adding heating to the outbuilding in order to maximise the vehicle’s performance. Factor this in when designing your new garage, especially if you are due a car upgrade soon.
While installing a home electric charging station generally takes a few weeks and is rather expensive (around £1,000), charging your EV at home is a lot cheaper and, of course, more convenient. Simply park up for the night and plug in - the car will charge while you sleep. You can even preheat or pre-cool the vehicle while it’s attached to the mains without impacting on its mileage capacity. The time and money you invest in it will pay off in the future.