The EV charging infrastructure is getting better all the time. But there’s still room for improvement. Many EV drivers — especially those who don’t have dedicated home charging points, or live far from free public charging stations — use an EV charging cable extension to charge their electric car.
Using a car extension lead can help if you haven’t committed to installing a home charging point yet. Many people who get an electric car on subscription want to trial the technology before making a larger commitment, so they use car charger extension cables instead.
But there are safety and efficiency concerns around using certain extension cables to charge your car. In this article, you’ll learn:
Yes, but you should only use a heavy duty extension lead for charging an electric car. Most extension cords aren’t designed to deliver maximum charge for several hours at a time. This increases the risk of overheating and other safety issues.
Car extension leads must be at least 13-amp and rated for outdoor use. They must be waterproof (not just weatherproof) and free from defects. Standard home extension leads aren’t suitable for charging your electric car.
Using an EV extension cable to charge your car should be a last resort. Many EV manufacturers discourage drivers from using extension cables to charge their car.
That said, EV extension cables can be a useful stopgap solution if:
It’s also a good idea to make sure you have a good EV tariff if you’re planning to charge at home frequently.
Standard domestic extension leads aren’t safe or suitable for charging a car. They’re not always waterproof, and rarely have the required power for effective charging.
Here are the key differences between a home extension lead and a heavy-duty car charger extension cable:
Yes, but take extra safety precautions to reduce fire hazards. Carry out all the above checks before plugging in your car.
Also, consider other security issues. Don’t leave windows open overnight to charge your car. Plug your extension lead into an external socket only. If possible, use a lockable socket so the extension lead can’t be removed.
Yes. Relying on a 3-point plug is slower than charging with a purpose-built EV charger anyway. But adding an extension lead can reduce charging speed even further.
Charging speed depends on the power of your EV charging cable and your extension lead. If your extension lead has a lower power output than your charging cable, it will limit the charging speed.
Here are some examples based on a 230V voltage (standard for a UK plug socket):
*Approximate times based on charging a Renault Zoe with a 52kWh battery.
By comparison, a rapid, non-extended charger has a power output of up to 50kw. So it could charge the same car to full capacity in just over an hour. Learn more about EV charging times.
Here’s what to look for in the best car charger extension leads. The best EV extension cables must be:
Your EV extension cable should also have an RCD (residual current device) included. This can prevent potentially fatal electric shocks. We could find leads starting from about £69 (budget option so read reviews first), all the way up to £220 (high-end brand). In our research we found this one provided a good balance between cost and positive reviews.
There are more than 37,000 public charging points in the UK — and more are being added to the network all the time. Public charging points are much safer and faster than using an extension lead at home. Some even offer free charging. So if you don’t have a home charge point, it may be better to rely on public charging stations where you can.
Use our electric car charging points map to find local charging stations where you can top up your EV safely and efficiently. There are also charging apps for electric car owners to help you find a charging station when you’re on the road.
This page contains Amazon affiliate links. This hasn't affected the advice in this guide. We may get compensated for any purchases made through our links, at no extra cost to you.
Browse all cars available on subscription
There are hundreds of cars available via UK subscription companies.
Ever wondered what 'miles per kWh' means for your EV driving?
Knowing what to look for in a used electric car is crucial.