Electric car charging stations may not be as common as fuel stations, however, since 2011 there has been a significant increase in the number or charging points around the UK. With over 17,500 chargers located in over 6,000 locations; charging your electric car whilst out and about is becoming easier, so you don't need to worry about running out of battery power.
Where are they?
Finding your local electric car charging station is simple with websites and apps such as Zap-Map or Pod-Point, showing you where all your local charging points are located. All you need to do is enter your postcode and you will be presented with a map pin-pointing your local charging stations. You can also plan long-distance journeys so you don't need to panic about running out of battery charge to power your vehicle.
An increasing number of companies are installing workplace electric vehicle (EV) charging points for use by employees and visitors. It is at the company's discretion as to whether they charge for the use of the chargers or provide free charging facilities.
How do they work?
Electric cars currently use multiple standards of connection which can be confusing but it is nearly impossible to use the wrong connection. A far less stressful situation than accidentally filling your diesel car up with petrol! Worst case scenario would be that your car is charged at a slower speed than if you had used the correct connection.
How long does it take?
Charging times differ depending on the size of your vehicle battery and the speed of the charging point. There are three main types of EV chargers that represent different power outputs and therefore charging speeds, power is measured in kilowatts (kWh). The three types are:
- Rapid: provides power from 43 kWh and will charge the majority of EVs to 80% in around 30-60 minutes
- Fast: provides power from 7 kWh to 22 kWh and will charge an EV fully in 3-4 hours
- Slow: provides up to 3 kWh of power and are best used for overnight charging. Taking between 6 and 12 hours for a pure-EV or 2-4 hours for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
How much does it cost to charge?
Whilst many EV charge points are free to use, the majority of fast and rapid chargers do require payment. The rates of charging are often displayed as £ per kWh or £ per hour, with some charging points requiring a subscription account, whereas others can be be paid directly as single use. Prices and accepted payment types are displayed at the charging point or on websites/apps such as Zap-Map.
The most convenient and cost-effective method of charging is at your home. In 2019, the average domestic electricity rate is just over 14p per kWh so if your car has a 60 kWh battery it would cost you around £8.40 to charge from completely empty to full. If you have an Economy 7 meter you should be able to charge your vehicle for even cheaper overnight.
How do you charge at home?
EV charge points can be installed at your home but often require you to have off-street parking, for ease and safety. The majority of home chargers' power output are slow or fast types so you are best to think of it like a phone; charge it every night and start the day with 100% battery life. It is also worth noting that the higher powered charges will cost more than the slower 3 kW option but Goverment grants are available for the installation of home EV charge points. In some areas, on-street residential charging units are becoming more common.