The popularity of electric cars among UK citizens is increasing. There are 250k+ electric cars and more than half a million hybrid cars in the UK. This requires an effective electric car charging infrastructure that supports the growing demand for charging solutions. Many electric charging solution providers have set up charge points across the country to fulfil this rising need.
Here is a comprehensive guide to electric vehicle charging networks, along with different charging options and the best ways to use a public charging point.
EV Charging Stations Map: UK Charging Infrastructure
Finding a charging point for your electric car shouldn’t be an issue. There are over 42,000 connectors in 15,700+ locations in the UK, including public and private chargepoints. Furthermore, companies regularly install new charging points so that EV drivers can charge their cars anytime and anywhere.
Here is an interactive map of all EV charging stations in the UK. Check your location and find the nearby charge points.
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How can you find free electric car charging solutions?
According to ZapMap, 20-30% of electric charging stations in the UK are free to use. You can easily find a free electric charge point, though they are more common in public places. Some spots where you can find a free electric charge point are:
- Car parks
- Retail stores, shopping centres, and supermarkets
- Corporate buildings
- Hotels, resorts, restaurants, clubs, and bars
- Public attractions like museums, theatres, zoos, parks, etc.
Now, which areas in the UK have the highest number of public charging stations? Scotland is on the top of the leaderboard with 1,300+ free EV stations. The South East, with 600+ free stations, is the second, followed by the North West with 400+ stations. The Channel Islands has the lowest number of free stations (8+), followed by the Isle of Man (9+).
How much time is needed to charge an electric car?
The time it takes to charge an electric car depends on your car’s battery and the output of the charge point. A 7kWh charge point will take 8-12 hours to charge an EV with a standard 60 kWh battery. On the other hand, a 50kWh fast charger can fully charge your car in about an hour.
Some factors that affect the charging time of electric care are:
- Charger output (maximum charging rate)
- Battery size and current status
- Temperature, moisture, and other environmental factors
Here’s a comprehensive guide to electric car charging time to help you out.
Types of EV chargers
EV chargers are categorised into Slow, Fast, and Rapid depending on their power output. Let’s talk about the three types of chargers, and the time it takes for each of them to charge an electric car from zero to full.
1) Slow chargers
Slow charges have a rating of 2.3 kWh-6 kWh. Three-pin plug charges found in households have an output of 2.3 kWh. Lamp-post chargers, on the other hand, have an output of 5.5 kWh.
Slow charges can take six to 12 hours to charge your electric car fully. Slow chargers are best suited for home charging. You can plug in the charger and let your EV charge overnight.
Most slow chargers are untethered; however, some of them can be tethered as well. Also, most slow chargers are type 1 chargers with five pins.
2) Fast chargers
Fast chargers, as the name suggests, are faster than slow chargers. They have a power rating of 7 kWh-22 kWh and can fully charge an EV in two to six hours. These charges can be single-phase, two-phase, or three-phase. Most fast chargers are type 2 with seven pins. The Tesla Destination Network is a popular network of fast chargers with a power rating of 11 kWh.
3) Rapid chargers
Most rapid chargers have a power rating of 43 kWh AC or 50 kWh DC and are the fastest EV chargers out there. Rapid chargers can charge an electric car from zero to full in about an hour. Ultra-rapid chargers are an upgraded version of rapid chargers that come with 100 kWh+ output. For example, the Tesla Supercharger provides 150 kWh-250 kWh of charging power. All rapid chargers come with tethered cables.
Rapid chargers are of three types:
- Type 2
Information about Electric car charging networks in the UK Europe
With so many electric charge point providers in the country, deciding which one to use can be confusing. We have made things easier for you. Here are the best electric vehicles charging point solution providers in the UK.
Tesla: Tesla has the largest electric car charging infrastructure in the UK with 700+ rapid charging stations and 1,100+ total charging points. It charges £0.28 per kWh. Moreover, if you bought the Model S or Model X before January 2017, you can use the Tesla Supercharger network for free.
Pod Point: If you’re an avid electric car driver, you must have heard of Pod Point. With more than 3,000 charging points, Pod Point is one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in the UK. The stations are compatible with all major electric car brands. Pod Point’s fast chargers are free to use, while the rapid chargers cost £0.26 per kWh.
BP Pulse: BP Pulse is another popular electric car charging company with 7,000+ charging stations in the country, 700+ of which are rapid chargers. BP Pulse offers membership at £7.85 per month. Members can charge at any BP Pulse point in the UK without any extra costs. Non-members can also use the chargers at a nominal fee of £0.16 kWh. BP Pulse provides free charging for the first three months to new users.
InstaVolt: InstaVolt is a popular electric vehicle charging company in the UK with more than 550 rapid charging points. It supports contactless payment functionality via NFC, thereby providing a seamless charging experience. However, InstaVolt chargers are priced towards the higher end. Drivers need to pay £0.40 per kWh to use the charge points.
GeniePoint: GeniePoint has 650+ EV chargers in the UK, with around 400 rapid chargers. GeniePoint allows its users to access the charging stations via the mobile app or RFID card. It charges £0.39 per kWh, which reduces to £0.32 per kWh after you register with GeniePoint.
Osprey: Osprey is another popular electric vehicle charging network in the UK with more than 200 rapid charge points. Drivers need to pay a charging fee of £0.36 per kWh, which can be paid using a contactless payment method like NFC or RFID.
How Much Does Charging at a Public Charging Point Cost?
Most public electric charging stations with slow and fast charging functionality are free to use. You can find them in car parks, corporate buildings, and public attractions. Rapid charging stations charge £0.10-0.40 per kWh. If you have a standard 60 kWh EV, you can fully charge it for £6-24.
Some charging network providers charge a monthly subscription fee in exchange for access to all charging points at no extra cost. BP Pulse, as discussed earlier, is a common example. BP Pulse also offers the most economical charging to non-members at £0.16 per kWh. On the other hand, InstaVolt is the priciest, with a charging cost of £0.40 per kWh.
Best Practices to Charge Your Electric Vehicle
If you have recently bought an EV, you must be having a lot of questions, such as which charger to buy, how often to charge, where to charge, and so on.
Follow these tips for electric car charging to get started.
1. Get a dedicated home charger to charge your EV at home
One of the benefits of having an electric car is that you don’t need to drive to a fuel station every few days. You can plug and charge your EV just like you charge your mobile phone and laptop. However, if you plan to charge your EV at home, you’ll need to get a dedicated home EV charger installed.
Get a home charger with a type 2 cable so that you can attach a separate cable to your EV. Also, be sure to find a good-quality charger that comes with features like OTA updates, energy monitoring, Wi-Fi, etc.
2. Reducing energy expenses by getting a good electricity deal
Driving an electric car will help you cut down your fuel expenses. However, your electricity costs will rise, as charging an EV consumes significant power. Get in touch with your electricity supplier and try negotiating a better deal. Inform them that you’ve bought an EV, and your electricity consumption will increase in the coming months.
3. Plan your trips beforehand
A small drawback to driving an EV is that it takes time to charge. If you need to drive to a place urgently, but your car is not charged, you can’t take it to the fuel station and fill its tank. Even if you manage to find a rapid charger, you’ll need to wait for at least 40 minutes. Therefore, make sure to plan your travel and charge your electric car accordingly, especially if it is your primary vehicle.
4. Look for nearby charging points in your phone
A fully charged electric car has a range of 150-250 miles, which may not be enough for long trips. If you plan to take your EV on a long trip, always have an electric charging network map with you. You can install mobile apps of charging networks like InstaVolt and BP Pulse and turn your notifications on. You’ll be notified when there’s a charging station nearby.
5. Allow electric-only vehicle drivers to charge first
If you have a hybrid car (that runs on both electricity and fuel), let drivers with purely electric vehicles charge first. Similarly, if you have an electric-only vehicle and notice a hybrid car driver plugging in their car, politely ask them to let you charge first.
6. Find rapid chargers for emergency trips
If an emergency trip comes up and your EV isn’t charged, find a rapid charging station nearby. As discussed, Tesla has 700+ rapid charging stations, and providers like BP Pulse and InstaVolt also have hundreds of rapid charging points. Download their mobile apps and look for a rapid charging point so that you can fully charge your electric car in less than an hour.
The electric car sector in the UK is booming, as many people are opting for electric cars to reduce their fuel expenses and the overall environmental impact. If you’re planning to buy an EV, it’s essential to know the ins and outs of how to charge it, along with the charging points available in your area.
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Public EV Charging FAQs
Can you use electric charging points for free?
20-30% of charging points in the UK are free, while others require you to pay a charging fee. Typically, slow and fast chargers are free, and rapid chargers charge a fee.
Are all EV charge points Universal?
Charging points are universal for Level 1 and Level 2 charging plugs. For DC fast charging, a specific plug type (type 1, type 2, CSS) is needed.
Which provider has the largest EV charging network?
With 7,000+ charging points in the UK, BP Pulse is the largest EV charging network. It also has the most 150 kWh ultra-fast chargers in the country.
What is the total number of electric vehicle charging networks?
More than 42,000 charge point connectors are there in the UK, spread across 13,500+ locations.
What payment methods do EV charging stations accept?
Almost all charging stations support contactless payments in the form of NFC, RFID, or mobile wallets.
Are EV charging points tethered?
Slow and fast chargers can be untethered. DC rapid charging points are tethered and have a cable attached to a CHAdeMO or CSS charging point.