Using a 3-pin plug to charge an electric car at home – 2023 update

Slow going, but it could be all you need!

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Charging your electric vehicle at home is convenient and inexpensive. You can pay 100% more to charge in public than at home, so charging at home is crucial to minimise your running costs – even if it means using a 3-pin plug.

Using a 3-pin plug to charge at home is easy. 3-pin sockets charge at 2kW to 2.3kW max, so it’s the slowest type of charging available. However, as a backup or overnight charging solution, it works fine. How long does it take to charge an electric car with a 3-pin plug? You’ll get 8-miles of range per hour, so adding 60kWh to your battery takes 7.5 hours overnight – ideal if your daily mileage doesn’t exceed 60 or 70 miles.

If you want to charge your electric car with a 3-pin socket with voltage information, you need a smart 3-pin car charger. We recommend the following chargers (all available from Amazon):

3-pin charging cables for electric car


We recommend

EVDANCE EV Charger Type 2 UK 3 Pin

Smart 6A to 13A adjustable charging, plug and play design, safety certified, made with high-quality materials, user-friendly for all EVs, and backed by a two-year quality guarantee for worry-free use.

And for less than £100, we recommend this charger:

EVJUICION 6M EV Charger Cable Type 2 to 3 Pin Plug

Best charger under £100

EVJUICION 6M EV Charger Cable Type 2 to 3 Pin Plug

Priced at under £140 with a 6m cable and under £150 for an 8m cable, this smart Type 2 to 3-pin EV charger has a a 1-year warranty, a cable bag, and compliance with IEC 62196-2 standards for safety. A great budget pick!

Note that charging outdoors with a 3-pin plug requires a weatherproof outdoor socket with a 13 amp rating, like this:

weatherproof outdoor socket

We recommend

RICOKEY Weatherproof Outdoor Socket

Fully waterproof outdoor socket with neon indicators, heavy-duty cable, clear locking cover, and 2 year guarantee – perfect for charging your electric vehicle with complete weather protection.

You can find even more top-rated 3-pin chargers in our best EV charging cables guide.

How long does it take to charge an electric car with a 3-pin plug?

Charging an electric car with a standard 3-pin plug can take a very long time compared to using a dedicated EV charger. A normal household socket provides between 1.8kW to 2.3kW of power. For a Tesla Model 3 with a 50kWh battery, charging from empty would take around 28 hours with a 3-pin plug. For other electric cars with smaller batteries like the Nissan Leaf (40kWh), it would be 10-20 hours.

The slow charging speed is due to the low power output from a household socket. While it is possible to charge an EV overnight with a 3-pin plug, it is not recommended for regular use. Using public rapid chargers or installing a dedicated home charger like the Pod Point Solo 3 or Ohme ePod can reduce charging times to just a few hours. Overall, 3-pin plugs should only be used occasionally as a backup option due to their extremely slow charging speeds.

Here’s everything you need to know about charging your EV with a 3-pin plug:

Quick guide to 3-pin charging

Charging with a 3-pin plug at home is easy, and anyone can do it.

When you bought your car, it will have come with a 3-pin charging cable called an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) cable.

Your EVSE cable will have the right connector for your car, either Type 1 or Type 2. So, to charge with a 3-pin plug at home, you only need two things:

  • EVSE charging cable
  • 3-pin socket (with power)

Things you need to know:

  • 3-pin sockets are not designed to charge electric cars for hours at a time. The danger of overheating is real. You need to monitor heat at the socket. If the socket gets hot, pull the plug.
  • Your EVSE cable will only be around 4-5m in length, so you will probably need to use an extension cord.
  • The extension cord has to be heavy-duty, rated for 13A, if you intend to charge overnight. While extensions cords below 13A will work, 13A leads are less likely to overheat at the wire and are considered safer.
  • Unless you have an outside socket, charging with a 3-pin plug probably means leaving a door or window open. This creates obvious security issues.

Comprehensive guide to 3-pin charging

Our comprehensive guide to charging at home with a 3-pin plug has more advice to help you charge safely.

Can you charge an EV from a 3 pin plug?

Yes, you can charge from a 3-pin plug. A 3-pin plug will give you up to 8-miles of range per hour and could be all you need.

3-pin plug charging speeds

A 3-pin plug charges at 2.3kW, adding up to 8 miles of range per hour, or 4 miles in half an hour. For example, charging the 42.2kWh BMW i3 from 0-100% with a 3-pin plug would take 18 hours 35 minutes. You can calculate the charge time by taking the battery capacity and dividing it by the kW speed.

How long does it take to charge an electric car with a 3-pin plug?

A 3-pin plug add 8-miles of range per hour so topping up by 150 kWh takes 18 hours. If you have a 200 kWh battery, you’re looking at 25 hours. However, most people use 3-pin plugs as a back up to public charging, or they do such low mileage that a 3-pin plug just works.

What you need to charge at a 3-pin socket

You need a Type 2 to UK 3 Pin EVSE charging cable. You can buy one online for around £150.00. The EVSE cable is more than just a cable, it also regulates the charge and has an indicator for the charge status. There’s a good chance your car came with one.

An EV charging 3 pin plug is a standard socket – nothing special. Just make sure it is in good condition before charging, and select a low amperage on your EV charging cable if you are unsure about the plug socket.

3-pin sockets for EV charging

While ordinary 3-pin sockets will charge your electric car, you can get robust 3-pin sockets with that are more suited to the job such as the FNRIDS charger and Vorsprung charger listed above – these are better than regular cables.

Using an extension cable

Sometimes, you might have to use an extension cable to charge your electric car with a 3-pin socket. If so, only use a 13A heavy-duty extension cable.

slx outdoor extension lead for ev charging

We recommend

SLx Outdoor Extension Lead 20m

Weatherproof 20m power cable reel with 2 way splashproof socket, thermal cut-out protection, and tangle free fully retractable design for using appliances outdoors safely. From trusted British brand SLx, it provides power for professionals, DIYers, and households.

While you can charge an electric car with an extension cord, extension cords were never designed to be used for the duration it takes to charge an electric car. We recommend using them only for boosts now and again.

Downsides to 3-pin charging

3-pin charging is extremely slow. You’ll get up to 8 miles of range per hour and charging overnight won’t get you to 100% – 3-pin plugs take at least 18 hours for batteries over 42kWh (which most batteries are).

Another downside is safety. 3-pin sockets are not designed to deliver 2.3kW of power for 18 or so hours. For example, a fridge only takes around 400 watts. The danger of fire from overheating is real. You should use 3-pin plugs carefully!

Safety standards for low-voltage EV cables

In addition to sockets overheating, another safety concern is cheap EVSE cables and Type 2 to 13A adapters sold online. Like dodgy smartphone chargers, dodgy EV cables increase the risk of electric shock and fire.

13A/3-pin EV charging cables have the following standards:

  • CE marking
  • IEC 61851 (Electric vehicle conductive charging system)
  • IEC 61557 (Electrical safety in low voltage distribution systems)
  • IEC 62196 (Plugs, socket-outlets, vehicle connectors and vehicle inlets)

Avoid plugs and connectors without all relevant marks.

Scenarios where 3-pin charging is all you need

3-pin charging is all you need if the slow charge speeds work for your lifestyle. You will get 4 miles of range every half hour, and an overnight charge (10 hours) will top up a 42.2kWh battery to around 60% from 10%.

The fact is that 3-pin charging, while slow, is fine if you have time to leave your electric vehicle plugged in. However, if you have a driveway, a 7kW home charger will unlock significantly faster charge speeds.

So, if you have a driveway and can leave your car plugged in overnight, 3-pin charging could be all you need. After all, there are free supermarket chargers to top up and you can use ultra rapid chargers on longer journeys.

How much will charging your electric car at home increase your electricity bill? It depends on how often you charge at home, but on average, your electricity bill will increase 5-10% per month.

When to get a more powerful EV home charger

3-pin charging adds 8 miles of range per hour, which isn’t enough to drive on a motorway at 65mph for more miles 5 miles.

You should get a more powerful home charger if you need more range in a shorter space of time. A 7.4kW charger adds 30 miles of range per hour, while a 3.6kW commando socket adds around 18 miles of range per hour.

Best EV chargers up to 7.4kW

We review EV chargers, so we have a few recommendations:

If you want even faster charge speeds, then you need an 11kW EV charger which requires a 3-phase supply.

Is a 3-pin charger enough for an electric car?

This depends on your lifestyle. 3-pin chargers add around 8 miles of range per hour, so a 10-hour overnight charge will give you around 80 miles of range on top of anything that’s already in your battery. This will probably give you 25% to 50% of your total range, the rest of which you’ll probably get from a supermarket like Aldi or public rapid chargers.

For some people, charging overnight is the most convenient way to charge an electric car and getting 70-90 miles of range by the time you wake up might be enough.

Overall, charging with a 3-pin plug is slow, but if you only want to trickle charge at home, it’s a cheap, easy way to do it. If you want to charge even faster, get a 7kW single-phase charger – our EV charger reviews are a great place to start.

Do you charge your electric car with a 3-pin plug? Be sure to share your tips in the comments below. Happy charging!

Jakk is the founder and chief editor of Top Charger. He drives a Volkswagen ID.3 Family Pro Performance, and despite having a lead right foot, he consistently gets over 200-miles of range.