FAQ

About Co Charger

What is Co Charger?

Co Charger is a platform that enables neighbourhoods to share electric vehicle chargers so that everyone can get the key benefits of charging at home.

Who is a Host?

A Host is a person who rents out their home EV charger to neighbours using the Co Charger app. Download the Co Charger app, and become the Host.

Who is a Chargee?

A Chargee is a person who rents a neighbour’s home charge point to charge their electric vehicle using the Co Charge app.  Download the Co Charger app, and become the Chargee. 

Why is home charging so important?

One of the joys of electric vehicle ownership is that you leave behind the faff of standing by your car, in all weathers, holding a nozzle while it fills up. It becomes a bit like a mobile phone – you just plug it in occasionally at home while you go about your life (in most cases while you sleep).

It also helps that it is incredibly cheap compared to fuel; a 200-mile charge can cost under £2!

Public chargers – if you can find one that is available – tend to limit the time you can stay (so you can’t just go home or to sleep or you get fined) and can cost over twenty times as much as home chargers. They are vital and we need many, many more of them – but for most people they just don’t give the same benefits as home charging.

This means that people who can’t charge at home are tending to stay away from electric vehicles longer. In the UK someone with the ability to charge at home is around four times more likely to own an EV. Co Charger was created to level that playing field.

Who can benefit from being a Host?

Anyone who has a car charger at home and is able to let others use it can benefit from being a Host.

Who can benefit from being a Chargee?

There are lots of reasons why it’s not always possible to install a charger at home:

  • Flats or houses with shared parking areas away from the home’s electricity supply
  • Any accommodation (such as terraces or flats) with no parking on or adjacent to the property. (It is illegal to drape cables across pavements!)
  • Rented accommodation where the landlord does not give permission to install a charger.

Around 40% of people in the UK have these kinds of restrictions, and Co Charger exists to help those people.

Can I trust Co Charger?

Co Charger is a UK firm, based in Devon, with a board of directors with backgrounds in the automotive, tech and not-for-profit sectors. The company has the principles of triple bottom line (Ecology, Society, Finance) written into its memorandum and articles of association and is applying for B Corporation status. It is also affiliated with, and part-owned by Co Cars cooperative social enterprise. Co Cars founder is also on the Co Charger board, tasked with ensuring that the highest ethical standards are not just followed, but used to drive everything the company does.

How is Co Charger different from PlugShare, BookMyCharge, etc.?

This is a very important question! Other charger sharing apps are primarily aimed at helping existing EV owners when they need a charge while away from home – a very important function! They are all about the “distance model”, providing mainly one-off charging sessions when public chargers aren’t a good option.

Co Charger is all about helping those who don’t have EVs yet – a community-level innovation based around neighbours and regular, routine charging. As a result, both the app and its adoption are very different. By making the costs and practicalities of EV ownership work for millions of people who can’t charge at home, we aim to accelerate the switch away from fossil fuel vehicles, which in turn makes those ‘distance model’ charger sharing apps even more important.

Is Co Charger just in the UK?

Only at first! The beauty of the Co Charger model is that it is social innovation rather than technical, and as such can be deployed anywhere in the world with no new hardware. We aim to find partners to help deliver the benefits of Co Charger globally over the next few years and we are already talking to contacts in some countries.

How much can I earn as a Host?

As a Host, you can set your minimum price for a charging session and the price per hour that the chargee will pay while your charger is actually delivering electricity. The app helps you compare your rates with your electricity tariff so that you can decide how much over and above your costs you wish to be paid for providing the service. As an example: Let’s say you pay 12p per kWh for your home electricity and have a standard, 7.4kW charger. Let’s also say you have four neighbours who each use 40kWh of charge per week (about average) via your charger. Then if you charge £1.70 per hour then the chargees will pay £9.19 per session, of which £3.47 is profit to you, adding up to £721 per year.

Do I have to own an electric vehicle to be a Host?

No! You usually get a government (OLEV) grant towards a charger when you buy a new electric vehicle, which is why most home chargers belong to EV owners at the moment.  However, there are laws that mean most new UK houses have to have chargers, and of course, you can easily earn enough as a host to pay for a charger very quickly (they cost from around £350) so it’s open to anyone.

What about risks and liabilities?

When it comes to insurance, theft or damage occurring when carrying out a charger session is likely to be covered by the Chargee’s car insurance in the same way as when they are on the public road. The Host’s household insurance may also cover damage to the Host’s property, but this is less certain. We advise both Hosts and Chargees to check with their insurer just in case they need to make a claim.

About The Process and the App

For Chargees

How much does it cost to charge my EV using the Co Charger app?

Hosts can set their own minimum price per charging session and the price per hour for when the charger is actively charging your car. You will not be charged for any time between the car finishing its charge and you collecting your car.

By using the app you will be able to browse your local charge points and see rates that apply for each Host. The costs are shown before you commit to using the charger.

How is the amount to be paid calculated?

This can seem complicated, but fortunately, the app does it all for you! It knows how big the car’s battery is, it knows the speed of the charger. The user tells the app the percentage charge the battery has at the beginning and end of a session (or just unplugs and goes if it’s fully charged). From this, the app can work out how long the charger was actually running for, and hence apply the Host’s hourly rate (and minimum price) to arrive at the amount to be paid.

  • For example, let’s say a Chargee’s car has a 50kWh battery that is down to 25% charge at the beginning of a charge session. The Host has a 7.4kW charger and has set the hourly rate for the charger to £1.50 with a minimum session price of £4:
      • If they unplug 2 hours later, when the battery is at 55%, the Chargee pays the minimum £4, because 2 hours at £1.50 is less than that minimum. Of that, the Host gets £3.52 with the other 48 pence going to Co Charger, the payment people and the taxman.
      • If they unplug 3 hours later, when the battery is at 70%, the Chargee pays for that 3 hours of active charging, which at £1.50 per hour is £4.50. Of that, the Host gets £3.96, with Co Charger, the payment people and the taxman dividing up the remaining 54 pence between them.
      • If they leave the car until the battery is full (even if they turn up hours after it’s finished and just unplug and go) the app works out that the charger would have taken 5 hours and 4 minutes to get that 50kWh battery from 25% to 100% at 7.4kW. So the app takes £7.60 from the Chargee, pays the Host £6.69, and 91 pence goes to Co Charger, the payment people, and the taxman.

(Just as well the app works all this out, isn’t it?)

What if I don’t want to be there when my car finishes charging?

No problem. The app is set up to make the experience of using your neighbour’s charger as close as possible to using one at your own home – and that means you can collect the car when it’s convenient for you (and OK with the Host) and you only pay for the time the car is actually charging.

So yes, you can just charge overnight like any other EV owner.

How can I see the closest available home charge points in my neighbourhood?

After signing up to the Co Charger app, you will be able to view your local charge point locations and get in touch with the Hosts.

Is there a membership cost or contract to use the app?

The app is free to download, there is no contract or commitment, and Co Charger only takes 10% of the charge session cost each time you use it.

What if I need to charge at a different time from when I book?

Co Charger puts you in touch with your neighbour and the app lets you arrange to use their charger as the two of you wish. You can do impromptu charges, change bookings – whatever you like. The app just helps.

Is it safe? What about privacy?

Co Charger is about connecting communities and facilitating regular, ongoing arrangements between the same people week in, week out. The transactions are small and Host identities are verified to ensure safety and security.

What about risks and liabilities?

It is each user’s responsibility to ensure appropriate risk assessment and management are used. It’s really just common sense and existing laws apply when it comes to liabilities.

A Host has to ensure the charger is safe, functional and fully compliant with standards, and that the area that the Chargee uses is not dangerous in any way. A Chargee has to ensure their car is not going to cause any damage. Both are of course responsible if they do cause damage to the other’s property, as they would be in any other circumstances. Just remember: this is your neighbour, who you will see regularly; so be considerate and careful – a good neighbour!

When it comes to insurance, theft or damage occurring when carrying out a charger session is likely to be covered by your car insurance in the same way as when you are on the public road. The Host’s household insurance may also cover damage to the Host’s property, but this is less certain. We advise both Hosts and Chargees to check with their insurer just in case they need to make a claim.

What if I forget a charging session?

The app lets you set reminders ahead of sessions so that both Host and Chargee are always kept informed. The Host knows to make the charger available and the Chargee knows they don’t need to go and find a parking spot – they can just go to the Host’s place and walk home.

Do I pay for the whole time my car is connected to the charger? Won’t that make it expensive to charge overnight?

Co Charger aims to replicate the benefits of charging at home. For many, that means leaving the car connected overnight – longer than it takes to fully charge the car’s battery. For this reason, pricing is calculated based on how long the car was charging and not how long it was connected. (Note: Later versions of the app may allow Hosts to charge at a separate rate for “passive” parking so that they can offer charging and parking – for example, to enable Chargees to use their charger while at a nearby workplace. However, Co Charger is, and will remain, a neighbourhood charger sharing app, not a parking app. We will collaborate with, not compete with, driveway parking apps.)

How do I report a problem, query or idea?

We always welcome ideas, and we are constantly updating the app and the process to broaden its use and make the whole thing better and better – so we’ve made it easy to get in touch! You can:

How secure is my information?

The app and back-end systems have been carefully designed to be both fully compliant with relevant regulations and standards and to follow best practice for secure systems – it’s the first thing we did when designing it all. The system is hosted by Guru, a leading zero-carbon hosting provider with impeccable security accreditations and track record. Only your basic contact data and information needed to run the app (charger, car, etc.) are held on our systems.

All financial data, such as banking or card data and all sensitive documentation, such as proof of identity and address, is held and processed by Stripe, a leading and highly reputable payment processing company. No copy is held anywhere else, not even by us. This means that your personal data is about as secure as it possibly could be.

What happens if I forget to end a session?

No problem! If you’ve not ended the session manually an hour after your booked time ends, the app will assume that the car charged to 100%. It then works out how long that must have taken and ends the session for you. If you are happy for the app to do that, you can just unplug and go!

Why can't I be both a Host and a Chargee?

  • Co Charger exists primarily to create EV owners and get fossil fuel cars off the roads sooner. That’s why our app is optimised for neighbourhoods and regular, reliable charging – a very different set of functions than is needed for helping existing EV drivers to find one-off charges when they are away from home. You can use the Co Charger app to do that – you can create a separate Chargee account, scroll and zoom the map to anywhere you wish to find a Host. However, there are already useful apps available for that ‘distance’ scenario: PlugShare, BookMyCharge and ZapHome, for instance. By creating more EV owners, Co Charger hopes to help those apps, and we have a strong ethos of “don’t compete – collaborate” – so we recommend that our users also sign up for those ‘distance’ charger sharing apps too.

Can I remove my account?

You can send a message to Co Charger at any time to request that your account is either temporarily disabled or removed altogether, and it will be done for you straight away.

For Hosts

How is the amount to be paid calculated?

This can seem complicated, but fortunately, the app does it all for you! It knows how big the car’s battery is, it knows the speed of the charger. The user tells the app the percentage charge the battery has at the beginning and end of a session (or just unplugs and goes if it’s fully charged). From this, the app can work out how long the charger was actually running for, and hence apply the Host’s hourly rate (and minimum price) to arrive at the amount to be paid.

  • For example, let’s say a Chargee’s car has a 50kWh battery that is down to 25% charge at the beginning of a charge session. The Host has a 7.4kW charger and has set the hourly rate for the charger to £1.50 with a minimum session price of £4:
      • If they unplug 2 hours later, when the battery is at 55%, the Chargee pays the minimum £4, because 2 hours at £1.50 is less than that minimum. Of that, the Host gets £3.52 with the other 48 pence going to Co Charger, the payment people and the taxman.
      • If they unplug 3 hours later, when the battery is at 70%, the Chargee pays for that 3 hours of active charging, which at £1.50 per hour is £4.50. Of that, the Host gets £3.96, with Co Charger, the payment people and the taxman dividing up the remaining 54 pence between them.
      • If they leave the car until the battery is full (even if they turn up hours after it’s finished and just unplug and go) the app works out that the charger would have taken 5 hours and 4 minutes to get that 50kWh battery from 25% to 100% at 7.4kW. So the app takes £7.60 from the Chargee, pays the Host £6.69, and 91 pence goes to Co Charger, the payment people, and the taxman.

(Just as well the app works all this out, isn’t it?)

How do I decide what price to set for using my charger?

As a Host, you set a price per active hour for the charger, and it’s important to remember that you are not selling electricity; you are renting your charger. So the price you set needs to take into account:

  • What the electricity will cost you (you will need to check your tariff)
  • Wear and tear on your charger
  • The 12% (10% plus VAT) that the app will keep paying to run Co Charger and pay fees for things like financial transactions
  • A reasonable amount to reward you for providing the service.

With a 7kW (or 7.4kW as most are in practice) a rate of £1.50 is the equivalent of 20p per kWh, but that doesn’t leave much margin for the other factors. We recommend something between £1 and £2 per hour for a standard, 7.4kW charger, but each Host will have their own circumstances.

What if I use a variable price tariff for my electricity?

Some tariffs, such as Octopus Go, charge less for electricity at set times. Others vary the cost throughout the day based on market prices. The app does not yet have tools to help you make use of these arrangements, but you can still do so by:

      • Talking to your Chargees and ensuring they set their car’s charge scheduler to start at a certain time.
      • If your charger has scheduling built-in or via an app, use that to set the start time. (Just make sure there is still time to complete the charge!).

Is there a membership cost or contract to use the app?

The app is free to download, there is no contract or commitment, and Co Charger only takes 10% of the charge session cost each time you use it.

Is it safe? What about privacy?

Co Charger is about connecting communities and facilitating regular, ongoing arrangements between the same people week in, week out. The transactions are small and host identities are verified to ensure safety and security.

What about risks and liabilities?

It is each user’s responsibility to ensure appropriate risk assessment and management are used. It’s really just common sense and existing laws apply when it comes to liabilities.

A Host has to ensure the charger is safe, functional and fully compliant with standards, and that the area that the Chargee uses is not dangerous in any way. A Chargee has to ensure their car is not going to cause any damage. Both are of course responsible if they do cause damage to the other’s property, as they would be in any other circumstances. Just remember: this is your neighbour, who you will see regularly; so be considerate and careful – a good neighbour!

When it comes to insurance, theft or damage occurring when carrying out a charger session is likely to be covered by the Chargee’s car insurance in the same way as when they are on the public road. The Host’s household insurance may also cover damage to the Host’s property, but this is less certain. We advise both Hosts and Chargees to check with their insurer just in case they need to make a claim.

What about locking and unlocking my charger or garage?

Most chargers are on outside walls and unlocked. But Hosts are free to put in place whatever security they wish – key safes or even remote opening of garages can be used – but if a Host wishes to go down and set up each session they can use the app to make sure that has to happen.

As a Host, what if I have nowhere to park my car while someone else uses my charger?

This is down to individual preference. If hosting is too inconvenient then the chances are another neighbour will be able to do it. It is possible to set pricing so that you can make plenty of income to offset any inconvenience, but it is not necessary for everyone who can host to be a Host.

What if I forget a charging session?

The app lets you set reminders ahead of sessions so that both Host and Chargee are always kept informed. The Host knows to make the charger available and the Chargee knows they don’t need to go and find a parking spot – they can just go to the Host’s place and walk home.

What if a Chargee doesn’t turn up?

This is in the Host’s control. The app lets a Chargee contact the Host easily but, if they are a no-show, the Host can choose whether to do nothing, charge the minimum or charge the full amount.

As a Host, what if I don’t get paid?

Hosts and Chargees both have to have verified payment details in place before they can book a charge session. If there are any problems at all, the app puts you directly in touch with Co Charger who will resolve any concerns and make sure everyone is happy.

What kind of charger do I need?

Co Charger will work with any kind of charger, but the vast majority of home chargers are Type 2, 7.4kW units – so almost all cars will charge on almost all home chargers.

How do I report a problem, query or idea?

We always welcome ideas, and we are constantly updating the app and the process to broaden its use and make the whole thing better and better – so we’ve made it easy to get in touch! You can:

How secure is my information?

The app and back-end systems have been carefully designed to be both fully compliant with relevant regulations and standards and to follow best practice for secure systems – it’s the first thing we did when designing it all. The system is hosted by Guru, a leading zero-carbon hosting provider with impeccable security accreditations and track record. Only your basic contact data and information needed to run the app (charger, car, etc.) are held on our systems.

All financial data, such as banking or card data and all sensitive documentation, such as proof of identity and address, is held and processed by Stripe, a leading and highly reputable payment processing company. No copy is held anywhere else, not even by us. This means that your personal data is about as secure as it possibly could be.

Why can't I be both a Host and a Chargee?

Co Charger exists primarily to create EV owners and get fossil fuel cars off the roads sooner. That’s why our app is optimised for neighbourhoods and regular, reliable charging – a very different set of functions than is needed for helping existing EV drivers to find one-off charges when they are away from home. You can use the Co Charger app to do that – you can create a separate Chargee account, scroll and zoom the map to anywhere you wish to find a Host.

However, there are already useful apps available for that ‘distance’ scenario: PlugShare, BookMyCharge and ZapHome, for instance. By creating more EV owners, Co Charger hopes to help those apps, and we have a strong ethos of “don’t compete – collaborate” – so we recommend that our users also sign up for those ‘distance’ charger sharing apps too.

Can I remove my account?

You can send a message to Co Charger at any time to request that your account is either temporarily disabled or removed altogether, and it will be done for you straight away.