As the number of electric vehicles on UK roads rapidly increases, EV charging becomes an ever more important aspect of car ownership. With considerations such as power, connector type, and electric vehicle specification to bear in mind, Zap-Map has created a step-by-step guides to cover all the necessary areas. Click on any of the sections below to head to the Public Networks, Charging at Home, Charging at Work, Charge Point Types, or EV Charging guides respectively.
EV charging explained
There are three core types of EV charging – rapid, fast, and slow. This represents the power output, and therefore charging speed, available to the driver charging their EV.
Rapid chargers are divided in two sections – AC and DC. Currently available Rapid AC chargers are rated at 43kW, while Rapid DC are typically 50kW. Both will charge an EV to 80% in around 30 minutes. There are two different main connector types for Rapid DC chargers – CCS and CHAdeMO – though additionally, Tesla Superchargers are also Rapid DC and currently charge at around 120kW.
Fast chargers cover those with 7kW and 22kW power outputs, which typically charge an EV in 3-4 hours.
Slow units (up to 3kW) are best for overnight charging and usually take between 6 and 12 hours for a pure-EV, or 2-4 hours for a PHEV.
Charging on public networks
There are a number of public charging networks in the UK, divided roughly between those that offer UK-wide or national coverage, and those that cover a specific region. The largest major networks include Chargemaster Polar, Ecotricity, Pod Point, and Charge Your Car.
Smaller networks usually cover easily defined areas such as East Anglia, the Midlands, or the South West. Since a number of these are run or have links with national networks, it is often possible to use some of these points with a national account. This is dependent on the network and charge point though.
Payment methods vary, but most networks require an account to be set up before use. Some networks prefer drivers to use an RFID card and others a smartphone app, while some allow access using either. A large number of EV charge points are free to use, while others are accessible with set charges. These tend to be a connection fee, price per time, price per energy consumed, or a combination of the above.
How to charge an EV at home
Charging at home is often the most convenient and cost effective way to recharge an EV. There are grants available for EV owners to access, and a number of companies offer a fully installed charge point for a fixed price.
Charging speeds available are typically either 3kW or 7kW. Faster, higher powered wall units normally cost more than the slower 3kW option, but roughly half the charging time is needed. Many plug-in car makers have deals or partnerships with charge point manufacturers, which in some cases can provide a free home charge point.
Until other options are commonly available, it is recommended that only those with off-street parking have a charge point installed at their home, on the basis of safety and security. There are also infrastructure requirements that need to be met to allow a charge point to be fitted, but these are rarely a problem. On-street residential charging units are beginning to become more widely available though.
How to charge an EV at work
With benefits available for companies fitting EV charge points at the workplace, an increasing number of firms are offering EV charging options for employees and visitors. Like home charging, it can be a crucial aspect of running an EV since an employee’s vehicle is typically stationary for most of the day when it can be conveniently charged.
Whether there are any costs involved in charging at work depends on the charge point owners. Many are free to use though – or extremely cheap – to encourage the uptake of plug-in vehicles.
Charge points at work are often similar speeds as those fitted at home, though commonly more points are installed and available for use. Often business units can charge two cars at once too, in a similar way to many public charge points. More powerful options aren’t uncommon either for businesses that need their plug-in fleets to cover a lot of miles, though these rapid chargers cost a lot more to install than a slow charging unit.
Charging your electric car
There are a large number of EVs available to buy, which means that there are few different set-ups to understand. Manufacturers tend to favour one of two charging standards – Type 2 and CCS, or Type 1 and CHAdeMO – which simplifies the market somewhat.
Different models can charge at different speeds though, and some don’t allow for rapid charging. Along with driving range, battery capacities have a significant influence on charging speeds and costs, while charging cable inlets vary from model to model.
As such, we’ve created a number of EV charging guides for the UK’s best selling EVs. These cover all aspects of charging an EV, and include models from the likes of BMW, Nissan, Renault, Tesla, and Volkswagen.