Guide| Car29th June 2022

Everything you need to know about the UK’s new Smart Charging Regulations

The world of electric vehicle (EV) charging is about to get a whole lot smarter.

As more and more people across the UK make the switch to EVs, the government is taking steps to ensure the National Grid is able to keep up with the increased demand for electricity. The Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations require all EV chargers sold for domestic or workplace use across England, Wales and Scotland, to be pre-configured to encourage smarter charging behaviours amongst drivers. 

Adjusting to new regulations can be challenging and confusing, which is why we’ve pulled together this new guide to help our customers on their journey towards smarter charging. 

So what exactly do EV owners need to know about the changes?

Mum and daughter playing in front of house.

01. When is this happening?

The new regulations will come into effect from 30th June 2022.

02. What are the new rules that come with the regulations?

There are a few key points to note:

  • Every charger sold after June 30th must now have smart functionality, which means it is pre-configured to encourage drivers to charge their EVs at a time when there is less demand on the electricity grid, or when there is an abundance of renewable energy available.

  • Chargers must allow for a randomised delay function. This means each owner will experience a slight delay between plugging in their vehicle and the start of the charging session, to help alleviate the impact of a ‘mass plug in’ at certain times of the day, a bit like when lots of people switch the kettle on at half time when watching a big football match on TV. 

  • These functions will come pre-configured on the charger, but owners remain in control with the ability to adjust them to their preferred settings.

  • Later in the year they will also introduce new cyber security requirements to further protect the charger and user data.

03. Your questions answered

I already have an EV charger at home. Will I have to buy a new one? 

Thankfully, no. The new regulations only apply to chargers sold on 1st July 2022 or later. If you already have a charger installed, or you’ve purchased one and are waiting for it to be installed, you do not need to worry about upgrading it. Even if your previously purchased charger is sitting at home until you can find a convenient installation date, rest assured there is no time limit on when it can be installed, provided it was bought before 1st July. 

Does my existing EV charger need a software upgrade to comply with the new regulations?

No. If you already have an EO charger installed, you do not need to take any action to comply with these new regulations. The rules apply only to chargers sold after 1st July 2022.

What if my current charger has a fault and needs a service? Is my charger provider still obligated to help with repairs?

If you are an EO customer then our customer care team is always here to advise and help with anything you may need. The extent of the support available will depend on your warranty and the length of time you've had your EO charger, so if you do find that your charger is in need of repair it would be best to give us a call. 

If you are not currently an EO customer, we would recommend checking out the T&Cs of your charger supplier or getting in-touch with them to see how you are covered after the changes in regulations.

Do the new regulations mean I can only charge my EV during off-peak hours?

No, the new regulations encourage EV drivers to charge their cars during off-peak hours (e.g. between 10pm and 8am), but it is not mandatory. After July, all new chargers (for domestic or workplace use) will come with a default scheduling programme, encouraging owners to charge their cars when there is lower demand on the grid. Owners will have the option to override the settings of their charger if the default scheduling does not work for them, but for the majority of people, charging off peak is the smartest and most cost efficient option.

What if charging during off-peak hours doesn’t align with my EV tariff, will my bills increase to charge at off-peak hours?

There is no need to worry. You can enter all your preferences into your charging app to ensure it starts at the right time for you. Once you have set your preferences and then connected your car to the charger, you’ll experience a short random delay, and then charging will begin.  

What do you mean by ‘random delay’? 

Part of the new ruling dictates that when you plug your EV into a smart charger, there could be anything from a one second to a ten-minute delay for charging to kick in. Don’t worry, it’s not too long a wait and you will still wake up to a fully charged car. 

What impact does the random delay have on me charging my EV?

As an EO customer, let’s say you get home after a day at work and have your tariff preferences set for your car to start charging at 7pm. If all EV owners were to start charging at 7pm there would be a huge surge in energy and a strain on the electricity grid. That is why the delay is randomised, so that different charge points gradually start to charge over a ten-minute time window to create more of a demand ‘wave’ rather than ‘sharp spike’. 

But don’t worry, if for any reason you need your car to start charging at 7pm on the dot, you can choose to override the random delay via your EO app.

If I have a solar panel do I still have to wait to charge my car?

You will be pleased to know that you can use any renewable energy you have generated yourself as soon as you would like. The regulations only apply to energy imported from the grid, so no, there would be no delay if using solar energy to power your EV. 

Will there be a random delay when I plug my car in at my local supermarket, or in other public places?

No, the new regulations do not apply to public charge points. Their focus is to encourage smarter choices for private charging in homes or businesses.

So if I can accept, remove or change these charging hours and the random delay, are smart chargers actually reducing pressure on the grid?  

That is the goal. It is hoped that as more and more smart chargers are installed across the UK, the growing number of EV drivers will start to think differently about their charging habits and collectively opt for off-peak options. For the majority of EV drivers, a small ten-minute delay (or even less) will have little impact on their ability to charge. In the future, if we all take a few minutes to better plan when we charge our EVs, it will make a big difference. 

I’ve heard about the opportunities for V2G in the future. Are these new regulations designed to help make that a reality?

Vehicle to Grid technology, also referred to as 'V2G', enables energy stored in EVs to be fed back into the electricity grid to help supply energy at times of peak demand. It’s considered a real game-changer, because this two-way transfer not only encourages a more active way of consuming energy, but could also open up new income streams for everyday drivers and fleet operators.

These new regulations are not specifically intended to enable V2G technology, but the smart charging requirements pave the way for this in the future.