Charging advice

Hi everyone

I’m thinking of joining onto, but am a bit unsure about the charging situation. Would really welcome your thoughts, especially on whether charging from a regular plug works fine.

  • I don’t have a private parking, just on the street in front of my house. I understand that means I can’t get a home charger installed as the cable would have to go across the pavement.
  • There are a few public chargers around my house, but none close enough that I’d be able to be at home while it charges. I could obviously use them from time to time, but I don’t want to be relying on these exclusively.
  • So I think only real option is home charging on regular plug. But I’ve read mixed things on this. Some suggest it can be dangerous to use that on a regular basis? Do I need to get an electrician to check something? Is it fine to have it across the pavement up to my car (I could buy something to weigh it down that people can walk over)? I guess the real question is can I rely safely and exclusively on that? (Also I’m assuming the chargers are quite small and can go through a letterbox in my door.)

I should add that I have two young kids, so being able to leave home with a fully charged car / charge without having to go somewhere else is really important.

Also, based on my charging situation, if there are any cars I shouldn’t/should go for, that would be really helpful to know! (E.g. not e208 and DS3 because range is an issue?)

Thanks all!


Hi Simon,

I don’t have a charger at home, but regularly (1 or 2 times a week) charge at a rapid charger for half an hour while staying in the car. If that’s not an option for you, it might be harder to just rely on the granny charger (the one that you plug into a normal plug).

I don’t think the charger would fit through the letterbox. There’s the 3 pin plug on one side and the Type 2 charger on the other, both of which are too big to fit through.

It’s not at all dangerous to use a normal socket - as long as that socket is in decent condition and up to scratch. (Not some dodgy socket wired in by your granddad 40 years ago!). Check that it and the plug doesn’t get too hot. If in doubt, consult an electrician etc.

If you’re going to use an extension lead, it should be a good quality one, long enough so it doesn’t present a trip hazard, but not so long it’s getting in the way. And it should be fully unwound if it’s on a reel. The connection to the charger should be indoors if possible, and a waterproof arrangement if not. You can buy a rubber mat to put the cable under where it runs over the pavement - different councils will have different rules.

An outdoor socket (normal, 13 amp) is a possibility if you’re going to be doing it long term.

The charger and the plug at the car end won’t fit through the letterbox, but the 13amp plug end will. If all else fails, the socket end of an extension lead will, but you should buy a waterproof box to put on if it will be in the rain.

I don’t think we have a particularly small letterbox opening, but there’s no way the 3 pin plug would fit through ours :man_shrugging:

Could you not go for a long range car like the Kona with large battery and good efficiency, then top up at one of the higher speed rapid chargers while you wait as and when you need to recharge? Depending on your usage this shouldn’t have to be very frequent at all. Or maybe there’s a supermarket with a rapid you could plug in at while you shop?

Best advice is probably just to try it. You aren’t signing a long contract with ONTO so can easily swap or simply return the car if you try and find it simply isn’t for you. Trying it in the real world is the best way to know for sure what will work.

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Thanks very much all. Very helpful.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about the Kona for that reason. Just a bit on the expensive end for me. Initially had the Zoe in mind. Will think about that one a bit more. But you’re right about just trying it and that I might not need to charge that often.

Have measured my letterbox: 3.7cm. Smaller than I thought.

The Zoe ZE50 will average somewhere around 180-200 miles. A little less in the depths of winter or on motorways. A little more if careful in the summer. The bigger issue really is that the Zoe is fairly slow on a rapid charger, especially if you aren’t plugging in under ideal conditions.

I am lucky enough to be able to charge at home, but it took a while to get the charger installed and my onto arrived before that. We have ended up fitting the charging in around a trip to the shops or getting something else done. Rapids are pretty few and far between near me but it was quite nice to be able to get out for a bit to be honest and even with the charger now at home I am trying to use a rapid for the big charge - and take advantage of onto’s free leccy!

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I’m surprised. I thought they were a standard size! Anyway, the socket end of an extension should fit through. I use this waterproof box for the connection wheni need to use an extension.

Masterplug Splash-Proof Outdoor and Indoor Plug and Socket Cover, 21 x 8.5 cm

Longer range car is one way to make your life easier, but it sure is an expensive way!

An e-208 will charge much faster than a Zoe on a rapid charger, so you could get a decent chunk of charge during a supermarket trip for example

Hi Simon,

I personally wouldn’t want to trust having a charging cable running across the footpath as I’d worry someone would trip. It’s up to you at the end of the day based on how you feel about it.

I personally don’t have a charging unit at home and charge the car on my drive using the 3 pin, always checking to see if it gets hot 10 mins or so after starting a charge.

What I’d do if I was you is find out which rapid chargers are nearby or aren’t much of a detour from a regular commute of yours. Most often I rely on one charger that’s on my way home from work. I charge for 30-45 mins every time I drive by which is once or twice a week during lockdown. Take a look at Zap Map and filter using rapid CCS only.

Thanks for all the responses!

Need to look a bit more into how fast different cars charge. That indeed sounds like a downside for the Zoe.

On the e208 - I like the car a lot - but all the comments seem to say the range (esp in cold weather) is bad and unpredictable. Any real life experience to share?

Have had a look at Zap Map. There are a few rapid ones within 2-3 miles. So that might be a good option. Will consider this a bit more.

Think it clearly shows me thought that, as Koda mentioned higher up in the chain, I probably just need to try and see how it goes. Quite difficult to get a sense of how it will actually work out in practice as I’ve never used an EV before.

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That’s exactly it. Just try it out and see how it suits you. It’s definitely a new way of thinking about your vehicle but it’s well worth it IMHO. A few rapids within 2-3 miles (especially if they are BP Pulse.Shell/Osprey/Ionity etc and come free with the Onto subscription) definitely sounds promising.

Regarding the e208, I have one. The range isn’t as efficient as the i3 I used to have but it’s nothing dire. I’d say I get 140-150 miles out of a charge at the moment, which consists of approx half motorway, half local driving. It’s really not worth charging on a rapid much above 80% as the charge speeds drops off quite significantly but that’s the same for most vehicles. The i3 I’d leave charging until it was 95% without noticing much drop off. Again, you can try out a car or two (for the sake of £50 exchange fee) and see what suits you.

Zoe on rapids isn’t the best. The lack of active battery cooling really nixes it. Even by the end you’re not much better off than a 22kW AC. I find it easiest to charge the Zoe when going shopping or when I head for a walk somewhere then just give it some time.

That isn’t actually the problem. Especially at this time of year it’s quite the opposite! I’ve gotten into the habit of blasting down the A1 at 70 and turning round a few junctions down the road if I need to get it to charge rapidly. You need a nice warm battery as well as less than about 20% remaining to charge at full speed. Once the battery is warm it will consistently follow the same charge curve for 4 sessions before heat becomes a problem that slows it down a little. (3 sessions at the height of summer)

The lower peak charging speed is a similar issue to the Hyundai Ioniq. Both of these cars have a lower than average battery pack voltage. The reduction after that is simply Renault being cautious and avoiding the risk of batteries wearing quickly.

I believe the Zoe does has active battery cooling. In warm weather you’ll hear a rather loud fan come on during rapid charging (on the ZE40 at least). It can also use the HVAC system to cool the battery if it starts to get too hot during charging.

Just found this video. Don’t think we’ll ever face this issue in the UK!