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FAQs

You may notice that older, unreliable ecarNI chargers are being upgraded across Northern Ireland and the new chargers are branded as ESB. ecarNI has been rebranded to ESB which involves new branding on new chargers. The current ecarNI chargers will remain unchanged and drivers can continue to use these chargers in the same way with their charge point access card and via the ecar connect app.

Why are there reliability issues with the charging infrastructure in Northern Ireland?

We are aware that there are reliability issues with parts of the electric vehicle charging network in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, due to the age of many of these chargers, most of which were installed almost 10 years ago, they are no longer supported by the original manufacturer and cannot be fixed despite the best efforts of our maintenance contractors. ESB replaced 30 fast/22kW AC chargers in Northern Ireland to date and plans to replace a number of rapid chargers upon delivery of new equipment in the coming months.

A much larger replacement programme is required to ensure a reliable and modern network that meets electric vehicle drivers needs for years to come. With the help of £3.27 million from the Levelling Up Fund (LUH), we are working to expand and enhance the EV charging network which will transform the public charging experience for current and future EV drivers in Northern Ireland.

Will ESB invest in the charging infrastructure?

ESB replaced 30 fast/22kW AC chargers and plans to replace five rapid chargers upon delivery of new equipment in the coming months. A much larger replacement programme is required to ensure a reliable and modern network that meets electric vehicle drivers needs for years to come. With the help of £3.27 million from the Levelling Up Fund (LUH), we are working to expand and enhance the EV charging network which will transform the public charging experience for current and future EV drivers in Northern Ireland.

What 30 fast/22kW AC chargers have been replaced?

Below is a list of chargers that have already been replaced.

Public Parking, Palace Demense Park (A3), Off Friary Road (A3), Armagh, BT60 4ELArmagh
Car Park, Abbey Lane, Off Linenhall Street, Armagh, BT61 7DWArmagh
Public Car Park, Quay Street, Bangor, BT20 5EDBangor
BCC Car Park, Cromac Street, Belfast, BT2 8JNBelfast
BCC Car Park, Hope Street North/Bruce Street, Belfast, BT12 5EDBelfast
BCC Car Park, Little Donegall Street, Belfast, BT1 2JDBelfast
Lower Crescent, Belfast, BT7 1NRBelfast
Strand Road, Londonderry, BT48 7AJDerry
Victoria Market Car Park, Off Queens Quay Roundabout, Londonderry, BT48 7ASDerry
Carlisle Road, Belfast, Derry, BT48 6JWDerry
Riverdale, Off High Street, Larne, BT40 1LBLarne
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Car Park, Benson Street, Lisburn, BT28 2AALisburn
Newry & Mourne Museum (Bagenal's Castle), Abbey Way (A28), Newry, BT34 2BYNewry
Public Car Park, Bridge Street, Newry, BT35 8ANNewry
Hill Street, Newry, BT34 1AR,Newry
Robinson Centre, Montgomery Rd, Belfast, AntrimAntrim
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, 153 Bangor Rd, HolywoodHolywood
Agnew Street, LarneLarne
Car Park, @Spar on Harbour Road/Garron Road, Havelock Place, LarneLarne
Jordanstown Train Station Park & Ride, Lynda Avenue, JordanstownJordanstown
Wellington Street, EnniskillenEnniskillen
Ulster-American Folk Park, 2 Mellon Road, OmaghOmagh
Monaghan Street, Newry, DownDown
The Quays Shopping Centre, Via Bridge Street or Albert Basin, DownDown
Quayside Public Parking, Stella Maris Street, Strangford, DownDown
Ratkeltair House, Market Street, DownpatrickDownpatrick
Galgorm Resort and Spa, 136 Fenaghy Rd, Ballymena, AntrimAntrim
Trolan's Supervalu (Filling Station), Ballymena Road (B62), BallymoneyBallymoney
DRD Car Park, Lower Lansdowne Road/ Bath Road, Portrush, 438.0, AntrimAntrim
Cairnshill Park and Ride, Saintfield Road/PurdysburnRoad, Belfast BT8 SHBelfast

Why were these specific chargers selected to be upgraded?

The chargers were selected for a variety of reasons including uptime, usage (current and historical) and adjacent population.

Why are you changing the brand on the chargers?

Given ESB’s investment and operation of the network it makes sense to align the branding with other chargers on ESB’s network.

Have you any plans to introduce pay for use for the chargers in Northern Ireland? If so, how much?

Further investment is required to improve the reliability of the network before “pay for use” can be introduced. A much larger replacement programme is required to ensure a reliable and modern network that meets electric vehicle drivers needs for years to come. With the help of £3.27 million from the Levelling Up Fund (LUH), we are working to expand and enhance the EV charging network which will transform the public charging experience for current and future EV drivers in Northern Ireland. ESB will introduce pay for use for the chargers in Northern Ireland in the coming months.

Has ESB plans to install charging hubs in Northern Ireland?

Yes. With the help of £3.27 million from the Levelling Up Fund (LUH), we are working to expand and enhance the EV charging network which will transform the public charging experience for current and future EV drivers in Northern Ireland. This project will double the existing number of rapid chargers and will also see the introduction of high power (200kW) charging for the first time in Northern Ireland through the delivery of five high power charging (200kW) hubs in strategic locations. These high-power charging hubs can charge multiple vehicles simultaneously and can provide an EV with 100km of range in as little as six minutes.

What is an electric vehicle (EV)?

Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered in total, or partially, by electric power from batteries charged in the electrical network.

What types of EVs are there?

  1. Battery EVs (BEVs) are vehicles powered by one or several electric engines, supplied by electrical energy stored in batteries that have been charged in the electrical network.
  2. Extended-Range EVs (E-REVs) are vehicles of similar characteristics to BEVs where traction is only electrical. However, they also include an internal combustion engine functioning as a generator to charge batteries, increasing the vehicle’s autonomy.
  3. Plug-in Hybrid EVs (PHEVs) are vehicles that combine an internal combustion engine (ICE) with batteries and an electric engine as well. Both engines power the vehicle so it has two external sources of energy: the fuel for the engine and the electrical network for the batteries.

What is the driving range of an EV?

The range varies depending on the make and model of the EV and is dependent on the vehicle efficiency, battery capacity as well as driving style.

How long does it take to charge an EV?

There are four different types of charging options:

  • Home charging - 6-8 hours
  • Standard/Fast charging (AC) - 1-6 hours depending on car model and range
  • Fast/Rapid charging (DC)  -30* minutes to achieve an 80% charge
  • High power charging - 100km of range in as little as six minutes

Why do EV's charge at different rates?

The rating marked on charge points is the maximum continuous rate of charge available to an EV from the charger.

The vehicle's Battery Management System (BMS) continuously controls the rate during a charging session and dictates the rate of charge. The rate depends on a number of factors outside of the control of the charger.

The most common factors effecting the charging rate are:

  • Make & Model of EV: Some models of EVs are not capable of availing of the full kW available from a charge point but can still obtain a charge suitable to its own maximum charging rate.
  • State of Charge (SOC) of battery: The rate of charging allowed by the EVs BMS reduces as the battery comes closer to fully charged in order to reduce stress on the battery pack. This reduction for most EV models starts around 50% and charge rate reduces dramatically after 80%. Fast charging is most effective up to 80% SOC.
  • Temperature of Battery: If the battery is too cold or too hot, the EVs BMS will adjust the rate of charge to protect the cells of the battery. Some EVs will activate internal heaters or fans to maintain a temperature between 20 and 25C. The main factors effecting battery temperature is the amount of driving and charging done up to the charging session.

What is the lifetime of an EV battery?

Most experts say that the lifetime of a battery is between six and 10 years. Once the battery comes to the end of its lifespan, it can be recycled. Some manufacturers offer a battery guarantee on their vehicles of five or seven years or 160,000kms, whichever comes first. Please check with your vehicle dealer for more information.

What are the environmental benefits?

EVs offer a real opportunity to reduce the carbon output of the transport sector, as they emit zero exhaust pipe emissions. Most people will charge their vehicles at night when a higher proportion of electricity is generated from wind. The growth in the generation of electricity from renewable sources offers a route towards carbon free, emission free motoring.

Where can I charge my EV?

The majority of EV's are charged at home or at work using a dedicated charge point or on the ESB public charging network which can be found at locations such as on-street, hotels and motorway service areas.

Charging your EV at home

How do I charge my EV at home?

The safest way to charge an EV at home is to install a home charger.  This consists of an outdoor socket properly protected against rain and a residual current device type that is designed to handle DC pulses, as well as AC current. A separate circuit from the distribution board should be used to supply the EVSE. Extension leads should not be used, as even uncoiled; they are not intended to carry full rated current for lengthy periods.

Charging your EV on the ESB public charging network

There are currently over 1,350 public charge points available across the island of Ireland with over 300 of those located in Northern Ireland. These are at locations such as motorway services, on-street, shopping centres, carparks etc.

How do I find the closest charge point to me?

Information on the location and real-time availability status of charge points is provided through the ecar connect mobile app available from the Google Play and Apple app stores and on our charge point map on the website.

Are there different charging connectors at the public charging points for different types of EVs?

1. DC CHADEMO: This connector is used to charge Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi vehicles.

2. CCS COMBO: This connector is used to charge EVs such as BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai etc.

3. AC 43: This connector is used to charge EV's such as the Renault Zoe.

I am a new EV driver. How do I sign up to use the ESB public fast charging network?

To sign up to use the ESB public charging network, create an account via the sign up form on our Northern Ireland homepage (www.esb.ie/ecars/NI).  

How do I start and stop a charging session?

You can start and stop a charging session by using an ESB charge point access card or alternatively by using the ecar connect app following these steps;

1. Use the app to find your nearest ESB charge point (or ecarNI branded charger).
2. Select your charge point.
3. Select your connector type.
4. Follow the in-app instructions to start charging by swiping right.
5. Remember to check the app to ensure your car has started charging.
6. Keep an eye on the charger screen, chargers may vary, some may require you to press the start     button on the charger itself.
7. Swipe left to stop the charge when you are finished.

How much does it cost to charge my EV in Northern Ireland?

Chargers continue to be free to use in Northern Ireland in the near term. 

I want to report a safety concern, what should I do? 
If you have a safety concern, please contact our 24/7 helpline on 0345 601 8303. 

What safety measures are in place on the ESB public charging infrastructure? 

All ESB public chargers are designed with safety as the top priority. Each charger contains individual devices for overcurrent and earth fault protection, as well as a secondary level of electrical protection for the charger supply. 

Most chargers are also protected from impact by concrete-filled bollards and feature a “tilt-switch” device, which disconnects the supply to the charger in the case of a significant impact. 

The charging system also incorporates inherent safety measures, with the electricity flow regulated by communication between the vehicle and the charger. This system ensures that the electricity flow is interrupted when a cable is disconnected. A minor level of static charge may sometimes remain on the pins after disconnection. 

Are there guidelines to follow when attaching and detaching charging cables? 

When disconnecting from the standard/fast (AC) chargers, to reduce wear and tear on the connector it is advisable to disconnect the connector from the charger first, before disconnecting from the vehicle. You may need to unlock your car using your car fob to release the connector. 

Similarly, when starting a charge the connector should be connected to the vehicle first and then to the charger. This ensures that the vehicle’s control system will be immediately prepared to regulate the electricity flow upon insertion to the charger. 

When charging an EV it is important to never leave a charging connector trailing dangerously on the pavement or roadway as it may be a potential trip hazard or get damaged. 

When charging at a fast/rapid charger, remember to replace the connector securely when finished. 

Can I disconnect my connector even though the vehicle is not fully charged? 

Yes, you can disconnect your vehicle at any time.  

I am interested in signing my company fleet up to use the ESB public charging network. Who should I speak to? 
For queries relating to setting up an account for commercial fleets in Northern Ireland please email ecars@esb.ie. 

I am interested in putting EV charge points in my business premises. Who should I speak to? 
Email your query to smartenergy@esb.ie or visit  here.

Where can I find the ecar connect app?

You can find the ecar connect app on the App Store or  Google Play.

Can I use the ecar connect app instead of an ESB charge point access card?

The app was designed to complement the ESB charge point access card. You can use the ecar connect app to start and stop a charging session. The app will also tell you how long you have been charging for. However we encourage drivers to continue to keep their ESB charge point access card in their car as a backup.  

Is the ecar connect app secure?

Yes the ecar connect app is secure.

How much does the ecar connect app cost?

The ecar connect app is free to download.

What is an ESB charge point access card?

An ESB charge point access card is a credit card sized card that allows you to start and stop a charge on the ESB public charging network. Customers in Northern Ireland will receive an ESB charge point access card when signing up to use the network.


 

Do I need an ESB charge point access card to use the ESB public charging network?

You have two ways to access the ESB public charging network - by using the ESB charge point access card, or by using the ecar connect app.

What do I do if my ESB charge point access card won’t work?

If you experience an issue with your ESB charge point access card, please use the ecar connect app to start your charge. The app is available to download from the  App Store and  Google Play.  Alternatively, you can call our 24/7 customer services team on 0345 601 8303. Note: ecarNI branded charge point access cards will continue to work on all NI chargers. 

How do I use the charge point map?

To use the real time map, type in your desired location and select the closest and most convenient charger for you.

Available chargers are shown in green, and those being used in blue. You will find other icon types and their meaning in the legend (shown below).


When you click on your desired charge point a ‘How to Charge’ video will be available for you to watch.

Directions to your chosen charger, an option to report an issue and peak charging times will also be available.

It is now possible to simply swipe to start and stop charging sessions on all charge points on the public charging network directly from the map. Just select your required charger, click on the appropriate connector, and swipe to start.

The filter icon allows users to filter their preference in terms of charger type, which charge points are available, traffic flow and an option to see 3rd party charge points.

Download the ecar connect App

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