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May 23

Using an EV charger for the first time

Image of Octopus Electroverse mascot, Zapman, holding different EV chargers looking confused

Meet Louise, a 60s-something petrol driver from Worthing, West Sussex, who has been driving for around 30 years. She’s the occasional driver of a 2001 Vauxhall Astra estate, who has never driven an electric vehicle nor experienced charging on the public charging network… until now.

With no additional help, we parked a Polestar 2 at a Fastned charger and asked Louise to initiate a charge with an Electrocard. Let’s see how intuitive public charging really is.

Let’s get plugged in…


Hey, Louise! Before you get charging, it would be good to learn how much you know about electric vehicles - can you tell us?

Not much, apart from what I’ve read online and in the media.

I know that they are powered by large batteries, and there are different speeds to charge - although I couldn’t tell you what the speeds are (or what is considered slow or fast). I’m also aware that some charge points come equipped with cables, whereas others require your own cables - however, I couldn’t tell you when you’d need this or why they differ!

Where did you learn about this?

Online - searching the occasional question on Google, or watching a video on YouTube. I’ve also read some wider pieces in various newspapers.

With regards to EV news in the media, what’s the current perception around public charging?

From what I’ve read, it appears that there are not enough charge points (particularly in Scotland). The ones that do exist are largely all broken, which causes delays and huge queues.

I’ve also read that to own an electric vehicle, you have to be able to plan ahead and have a good smartphone to be able to help you out in sticky situations.

I wouldn’t say that this has influenced my opinion as I know the media likes to make mountains out of molehills, so will be using today to test this out!

Here's how it went...

So, you’ve completed your first charge! How did you find the overall experience?

Relatively easy - although I expected the process to be wildly different to how it actually was! As this is new technology, I had imagined there would be many different variables (or buttons to press) than there actually were - this explains why it took me so long to release the cable from its port - I had assumed that a button needed pressing, rather than just yanking it out.

The cable itself I did struggle with - there didn’t appear to be much flexibility and seemed rather cumbersome compared with a petrol hose at a service station.

Starting the charge was very easy though (once I had read the instructions on the screen). All it needed was a simple tap of the charging card and it began instantly!

Did you find anything difficult about the public charging experience?

My poor-ish eyesight combined with the unexpected heaviness of the cable, made plugging the cable into the vehicle somewhat difficult. I was also unaware that there were different types of charging cables, so first selected (what I now know to be) a CHAdeMO cable, when I actually needed a CCS cable. Perhaps additional signage on the charging ports would have been helpful here.

Did you find using the Octopus Electrocard straightforward and easy?

Yes, very straightforward and easy. I am very familiar with using contactless cards (such as debit/credit) and the process was exactly the same - so no problems there! It was also very good to see the card working instantly, and that there were instructions on the back of the card in case I did run into trouble - very handy!

After this experience, do you think you would be able to charge again?

Yes, without a doubt. This was my very first experience charging a vehicle with very little prior knowledge, so even with a few initial difficulties, the process is quite intuitive and wouldn’t take long for it to become second nature.

polaroid photos of a woman using an EV charger for the first time
purple/pink charging lead divider

If you'd like to learn more about charging an EV using the public charging network, check out some of our other blogs and video tutorials below:

  1. Top tips for using the public charging network

  2. Which charging networks offer rapid and ultra-rapid charging speeds?

  3. How to use an untethered EV charger

  4. How to use an Octopus Electrocard

  5. How to charge your car... from your phone!


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