Here in the UK, over 90% of EV charging is done at home as it's usually the cheapest and most convenient way of charging up, but sometimes we need to rely on public charging stations.
Thankfully, the UK’s charging network is better than ever and constantly improving.
There are 3 types of chargers you will come across during your EV ownership.
Typically, home charging falls into the first two types.
Slow charging is when you plug your EV into a regular 3-pin plug socket.
This has a maximum charge speed of 3kW per hour, which means you can charge a Nissan LEAF, which has a 40kWh battery from flat to full in just over 13 hours.
Then there’s fast charging which have speeds from 7kW – 22kW per hour.
You’ll need to install a home charging point for this, so a driveway is usually necessary.
A 7kW fast charger will take the 40kWh Nissan LEAF’s battery from empty to full in just over five hours. Perfect for overnight charging!
Sometimes, however, it’s not possible to have a home charging point or you may be going on a long journey, so you’ll need to find somewhere along the way to plug in.
If you’re wondering how to charge an electric car away from home, it’s time to get acquainted with the UK’s thriving public charging network.
The UK has over 13,000 public charge locations which are in car parks, at supermarkets or just at the side or a road in residential areas.
These points are typically fast chargers are offer speeds up to 22kW per hour.
The number of charge points across the UK is growing at an incredible pace.
As of the 26th December 2020 there are:
Information from Zap-Map statistics - https://www.zap-map.com/statistics/
To find your nearest charger, visit Zap-Map
These are typically found at service stations and are best for long journeys.
Charging speeds offered start from 50kW per hour with some points offering up to 350kW per hour, although these speeds are mainly for future vehicles.
Also these chargers will normally have a 45-minute time limit.
Going back to our Nissan LEAF, this means you can fully recharge its 40kWh battery in just over 40 minutes from flat.
Note: Charge speeds get slower the fuller the battery gets (like your smartphone)
Different companies operate different charging networks, and you may need to download an app, get a swipe card or open an account to use them.
It’s a good idea to plan any long journeys or pick out the closest charging stations to your home or work, but this all becomes second nature very quickly.
The cost of charging an electric car at a UK public charging station depends on a few factors such as which company operates the charge point and whether you’re a member or not.
Typical rapid chargers cost around 30p per kW at motorway service stations, so a full charge for the Nissan LEAF would cost about £6.
Many charge stations located in car parks and supermarkets are FREE to use.
Whatever speed you’re able to get, you need to ensure the station you visit is compatible with your car’s connection.
Be it Type 2, CCS or CHAdeMO your EV’s handbook and the charging network provider’s website will give you all the information you need.
Most EVs will likely come with 2 cables:
- A UK 3 Pin Plug to Type 2 cable which you would use to slow charge at home
- A Type 2 to Type 2 cable which you can use at home with your charge point or at the many fast charger across the UK
Rapid chargers will have their own cables attached (like a petrol pump).
Most rapid chargers will have both a CCS cable (the newer standard of rapid charging) and a CHAdeMO cable (the older standard).
CHAdeMO cables are capable of 50kW and CCS can go all the way to 350kW making it future proof.