The number of locations where you can charge your EV is expanding rapidly across the UK with more than 6,500 sites already providing at least one public charge point. Together with the tens of thousands of home and workplace chargers, there is ample opportunity for a full recharge or an en-route top-up, although for longer electric journeys, you do need to plan ahead. Let's take a closer look at the three types of charging locations available.
Home and workplace charging
Charging at home is by far the most common place for charging an EV. According to the latest Zap-Map survey, 87% of EV owners charge at home, enjoying the convenience of plugging in their car once they've parked, as well as benefiting from lower domestic energy costs. It's a simple and easy way to charge which avoids a trip to a public station. Most EVs home-charge overnight when electricity is cheapest and the vehicle is not being used anyway.
A number of home chargers are available to make EV charging as practical and affordable as possible, often with a government grant to reduce costs. Installation should be carried out by a qualified electrician for both safer and faster charging. Some car manufacturers even include a free home charge point when you buy one of their EVs.
Energy providers such as Scottish Power now offer special EV tariffs that minimise the electricity costs of charging an EV at home. Scottish Power's Smart Green Electric Vehicle tariff also includes a 100% renewable electricity commitment, which makes running your EV about as green as it could be. Even though running an EV increases your electricity bill, your vehicle energy costs will still be much reduced, simply because per mile electricity costs far less than petrol or diesel.
To complement home charging, growing numbers of businesses and other organisations have now installed workplace charging points, which is ideal for many commuters. While you're at parked at work, your EV can be quietly charging up, ready for when you need to use it to get home. Again, there are government grants which specifically support the installation of work-based charge points.
An increasing number of shopping and leisure centres, supermarkets and other 'destinations' are installing 3 kW and 7 kW EV chargers to add to their visitor facilities providing an extra chance to top-up your EV. Even though you won't be able to get a full recharge in the time available, an hour or two on a fast charger is time enough to add between 20 and 40 miles to your EV's range.
When you own an EV, you will quickly get to know which of your local destinations have charging points. There is quite a lot of competition to get your custom, particularly between high-end retail sites, so expect many more chargers at these types of locations. Often the EV parking (though not always charging) is provided free, plus you'll usually get a prime spot near the main entrance!
Depending on your trip, destination charging can be an integral part of a journey, for example if you're staying at a hotel with a dedicated EV charging bay. You might charge your EV overnight, just as you would at home, so it's fully charged when you come to leave in the morning. Many hotels and other kinds of accommodation now offer EV charging, and this is only going to increase.
Rapid en-route charging
This is the kind of charging that most people think of when they think of public charging. These high-power units are typically able to charge an EV from nothing to 80% within 40 minutes, depending on your model and initial charge. Rapid chargers, most of which are at least 50 kW, can typically provide 150 miles range per hour, or more if using one of the latest 'ultra-rapids' which are starting to be installed in the UK.
Rapid charging allows EV drivers to cover long distances with only minimal delays for recharging - although forward planning is required to make sure your route includes stopping at locations with the right type of charger for your particular EV model. You'll also want to stop somewhere with good local facilities while you take a break from driving or do some work while your EV is plugged-in.
The rapid charging network, which already covers more than 1,200 UK locations, is vital for longer EV journeys. Fortunately, many hundreds of new rapids are already planned, not only on fuel station forecourts, but also on other sites close to main cross-country routes. While most EV drivers don't use these points as often as home and destination chargers, they are becoming more widely used for regular charging, particularly by EV owners who don't have access to any off-street parking at home.