Someone using a ChargePlace Scotland charger

Free EV charging points: Where are they all?

A breakdown of free EV charging devices across the UK
Olly Goodall

You might be surprised to hear that there are still quite a lot of free electric vehicle (EV) charging points around in the UK.

Out of more than 59,000 charging devices on Zapmap, we found that – as of April 2024 – 2,354 were free to use. Put another way, that’s around 4% of all EV charging points that won’t incur a cost. So where are they all?

Well, we’ve broken down some of the figures for you. Below you’ll see:

  1. The number of free EV charging devices displayed by geographical area
  2. Free devices split out by charge point speed
  3. The number of free devices by type of location
  4. Other interesting categories and statistics on free EV charging points

To locate these charge points across the country select “free to use” within the payment filter in our EV charging app or desktop map.


Where can I charge my electric car for free?

The chart below shows the number of free EV charging devices by geographical area.


Free EV charging points in the UK by geographical area


As you can see, some areas have far more free devices than others. The three areas with the highest number of free EV chargers are the South East with 438, Scotland with 286 and Greater London with 268.

Many of Scotland’s free charging points are mostly accounted for by ChargePlace Scotland (backed by Transport for Scotland). Around 150 of the operator’s 2,800+ chargers are still free to use.

At the other end of the scale, you can see the Isle of Man with 10 free devices, the Channel Islands with 11, and Northern Ireland with 14.

There are some other noteworthy points too. Greater London’s 268 free chargers comprise only 1.4% of its total number of charging devices, reflecting the high concentration of paid-for on-street chargers and rapid devices in the capital.


Which types of EV chargers are free to use?

So you’ve found your free EV charging point – but how fast are the chargers? Well, the chart below displays free charging devices split out by highest connector speed.


Free electric car charging points in the UK by connector speed


As the chart makes clear, most free EV charging points are fast (destination) chargers. There are 1,986 of them, making up more than 84% of free chargers.

In contrast, most slow chargers are now on-street chargers, the vast majority of which incur a cost. This would explain why there are only 323 free slow chargers across the UK (around 14% of total free devices).

Interestingly, there are 45 rapid chargers around the country that are still free, representing almost 2% of the total number of free chargers. While you can find these around the country, they are concentrated in Scotland, especially south of Glasgow. Here some local authorities are still providing free charging as an incentive for drivers to switch to electric, supporting their broader clean air and environmental objectives.

It is unlikely that this will continue indefinitely and an increasing number of these chargers are beginning to incur a cost. In Scotland, many cities and local authorities have already started to introduce a fee on the ChargePlace Scotland chargers. For example, in November 2022, there were 283 rapid chargers around the UK that were still free to use, representing just over 7% of the total number of free chargers at that time.


Which locations have free electric car charging?

We’ve broken down the number of free devices by location type. So which sort of places can you expect to find free EV charging points?


Free electric vehicle charging points in the UK by location type


As you can see, public car parks have the most free EV devices, with 433. You’ll also find 359 free devices at dealership forecourts, and 306 at hotels and other accommodation around the UK.


Categories of free EV charging points in the UK

Let’s look in a little more detail at some of the categories where you’ll find the highest number of free devices.

1. Attractions

As you might imagine, many attractions offer free charging as a way of encouraging customers to visit. This is often referred to as destination charging.

If you take a look through Zapmap and filter by location type, you’ll find cafes, restaurants, pubs, museums, garden centres, theatres, zoos, National Trust properties and leisure centres that provide free charging.

2. Hotels and accommodation

Many hotels and B&Bs offer free charging to visitors, perhaps more than have registered. What’s more, Charity ZeroNet provides charge points for the hospitality and leisure sector. Around 15% of the network’s more than 350 charging points are free to use.

3. Car parks

Taken together, public, retail and workplace car parks have by far the highest number of free EV charging devices, at 975. As with accommodation and also supermarkets, many retailers use free charging as a way to attract loyal customers.


Is electric car charging free at supermarkets?

Yes, it’s free at some supermarkets. Supermarkets with free EV charging points include Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Aldi. Pod Point is the network provider and free charging is mostly on its fast 7/22kW chargers. Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda also have EV charging points, but they aren’t free to use on a pay-as-you-go basis.

As of November 2022, the fast 7/22kW Pod Point chargers at Tesco are no longer free to use. Indeed, customers now need to pay for these fast chargers, as has always been the case with the rapid charge points.


Do free electric car chargers have access restrictions?

Yes, some of them do and this is something you’ll need to bear in mind when locating free chargers. Many free charge points have some kind of access restriction (e.g. devices that are ‘customer only’, for example).

Another consideration is that you’ll need to ensure you have the appropriate RFID card or app to start a charge and, while the charging might be free, there may well be some parking charges to pay.

Before you head off to grab your free charge – make sure you check Zapmap and, in particular, the user comments to get insights on all the details of a particular charge point.


You and Yours

Plus, if you’d like to know more, you can hear Zapmap Co-founder & COO Melanie Shufflebotham speaking to BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme about free EV charging points in the UK.


Explore the Zapmap app


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