We spend three months of the year here in France. We’ve just ordered an electric car in the UK (a new Kia Niro EV) and take delivery at the end of October when we get back to the UK.
Being totally new (and therefore ignorant) to the EV market I’m curious about people’s experience of charging EVs. Most of the public chargers round here are no bigger than 22 kW. Our house is deep in rural Dordogne, right on the borders with Charente and Haut Vienne. The electricity supply is shaky at best.
So I’m wondering whether charging at home without a dedicated EV charger (or just using a normal wall plug) is feasible or will I blow the entire village!
How do people living in rural France get on with owning an EV?
Thank you. We ended up on the biggest power supply as our fuses kept being blown by the electric wall heaters we have so that shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m not sure we can justify the cost of a wall charger for the limited time we spend here - two periods of six weeks. It’s cost us over £1,000 to have one installed in the UK. I assume prices are similar here?
It depends on the milage you’re doing each day, the “trickle” charge of a wall plug might be sufficient. We’ve a 22 kV box on the garage wall (though the car can, like others, only accept 11kV AC) but we only use it before long trips, Otherwise for day to day milage (around 40 to 50km) we just stick in the wall plug in the abri. While Jane is correct to advise caution, we’ve never had an issue with charging from the plug over the last five years, first hybrid then full on electric. And the car is set suck up as much as it can, 33amps? Anyway, better safe that sorry
We have a Legrand “Green’Up” reinforced socket in our courtyard. It cost 500€, installed by a specialist electrician. It is about twice as fast as an ordinary socket and we just leave it overnight on the cheaper tariff. We have had it for over a year and it works fine.
Thanks Emily. That one came up in a Google search last night so I’m going to order it. My neighbour here was an electrical engineer for Electric Ireland so he’s going to install it for me in the garage. He said it’s very easy as we already have a modern consumer unit and a 12kVa supply (it might be 9 actually) together with a circuit breaker. Going to order it today.
Welcome to the world of EVs. My comments here are made as an owner of an electric car for 5 years, & an electric van for 3, both of which I have driven & charged at home here in France & also on many trips to the UK. I’m also an electrician.
In your case paying out for an expensive home charger would not be worthwhile. There are plenty of public chargers in France for your longer trips, but the simplest & cheapest option is to charge at home, ideally on a cheap overnight tarif.
As others have said you can use a trickle charger (often called a “granny charger” in the EV community) which uses a standard domestic socket.
Such a device will charge your car at around 2,3kW (10A). The special Green’Up system mentioned by @EmilyA is only faster if you have a trickle charger that is designed to use it - many are not. I don’t know what (if any) charger the E Niro is supplied with.
If you don’t get a granny charger with the car they are easily available from Screwfix, as well as other more expensive suppliers. %m version shonw here, but they do 10m as well.
Just be aware that you will need to make or buy a good quality French male plug to female UK 13A socket to use this at your French house. Do NOT use cheap nasty travel adaptors.
Although you can theoretically use any convenient earthed outlet to charge the car I would strongly advise that you only plug into a dedicated socket run via it’s own protective device(s). Although 10A is not a massive amount of current it to run through a 16A connector it’s the time factor that is important. Several hours at that level is sufficient to exploit any bad/loose connections, & cause some heat…
I clearly have no idea as to the state of your house wiring. If in doubt, get it checked.
The Kia Niro EV comes with the standard type 2 charging cable but not a cable to connect to a standard domestic socket. The dealer suggested buying one from Amazon or similar as they are much cheaper.
I’m in France at the moment so rather than buy a type 2 to 3 pin cable and an adapter I thought I’d try to get a type 2 to 2 pin cable so I don’t have to use an adapter. Can’t find one anywhere. Are they not sold here?
Yes I think I’ll do that. We’ll need a granny charger in the UK so I’ll get the Screwfix one you suggested then get an adapter for use here. Is there one you’d recommend? But yes my neighbour could make one.
It’s not something that’s widely available from a trustworthy source.
I’d buy a decent plug here in France (Legrand…) & a decent trailing 13A socket (Duraplug etc.) in the UK. The necessary flex can be from either but it’s best to go for 2,5mm² & ideally rubber sheathed. Make sure you have at least a metre so that anything plugged in doesn’t end up hanging from it if you use a higher mounted socket.
We have just returned from our first trip to a house we are buying in the Dordogne using our Volvo xc40 recharge EV [220mile range], which in effect was our trial run, we did think we may have to sell and buy a hybrid if the charging need was too onerous . I am glad to say its not and would fully support the earlier comments about the charging infrastructure in France is excellent and very accessible through the Chargemap app. It also offers the benefit of cheaper tariffs than the UK. A UK based company called Tough Leads offers robust two pin adaptors amongst a host of EV lead products that are of good quality.