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How do you charge an electric car?

An electric vehicle (EV) can be charged at home, at work or at one of 30,000 public charge points in the UK.

At most charge points, you can simply plug in your vehicle with the cable provided, or you might need to use your own. Many EV drivers charge their car at home overnight. If you have a long commute, you can also top it up at work. For lengthy journeys, you can access public charging points at shopping centres, supermarkets, car parks, service stations and more locations all over the UK.

UK Plug-In Car Grant

Find your closest EV charge point

Explore over 30,000 UK charge points with Open Charge Map.

As drivers make the switch to electric, many more are choosing to install a wall charger at home. This allows you to conveniently charge your car at similar speeds to a public charge point. If you can’t install a wall charge, you can still use the conventional 3-pin plug.

EV charger types

Slow chargers

Slow chargers charge up to 3 kW and are best for overnight charging at home. It usually takes between 6 and 12 hours for a pure EV, or 2 to 4 hours for a PHEV.

EVs charge on slow devices using a cable which connects the vehicle to a 3-pin or Type 2 socket.

Commander charger

Fast chargers

Fast chargers provide power from 7 kW to 22 kW, which typically fully charge an EV in 3 to 4 hours.

The most common public charge point in the UK is a 7 kW untethered Type 2 inlet, although tethered connectors are available for Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 charger

Rapid chargers

Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an electric car, charging up to 80% of your vehicle’s battery in less than an hour. You’ll mostly find them on motorways or outside city centres.

Rapid charge points charge at 43 kW or 50 kW for DC charging. You’ll also find ultra-rapid charge points, which can charge from 100 to 350 kW, but are DC only.

Type 2 charger

Ultra-Rapid chargers

Ultra-Rapid charging starts at 150KW increasing to 350KW. Using the already available CCS and CHAdeMO connectors, on average both types can charge from 10% to 80% battery depending on the capacity in around 50-60 minutes. There are over 1200 available in the UK on major motorway and truck roads.

The Ultra-Rapid charges use DC power, bypassing the vehicles inbuilt AC charger and supplying the power straight to the battery. Please note, not all electrics vehicles can use ultra-rapid charging so please check first.

Ultra-Rapid charger

Tesla Supercharging

Using a Type 2 connector and its own Supercharger network, Tesla offers drivers the option to charge at up to 250 kW, providing rapid DC charging from over 500 charging points up and down the UK. Using a Supercharger, you can charge the 85 kWh Model S to 50% in 20 minutes and to 100% in 75 minutes. If you drive a Model 3 Long Range, a V3 Supercharger will give 75 minutes of charge in just five minutes.

There is a network of charge points across the UK at restaurants, hotels and service stations. Tesla is currently rolling out its version 3 of the supercharger across the UK and Europe.

Tesla charger

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

It obviously varies on how much it costs to charge an electric car as it depends on the size of vehicle you have. It will also vary dependent on where you charge the car – whether it be at home, work or a public charging station.

Charging cost
To get specific cost details:Check Open Charge Map

Charging electric cars at public charging points vary between – slow, fast and rapid and can vary in cost based on location and power rating. There are free options, which are typically slower than the ‘rapid’ speed which are typically more expensive than most.

Increasingly, owners of electric cars are choosing to install a charging point at their home as there are Government Grants. Typically it costs around £1,000 to install a charging unit at home. EDF Energy provides an example of home charging costs: if you travel 8000 miles per year in your car, this might equate to around 2800 kWh of additional electricity on your yearly bill if 1 kWh equals 3.5 miles.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Charge time for electric cars depends on two factors: the size of the battery and the type of charger. Roughly speaking, it’s a simple equation: the battery size (kWh) multiplied by energy to be added (%), divided by charging speed (kW) equals the time to charge.

Here are three examples of how long it would take to charge an electric car:

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3
  • Rapid Charger - 50kW
  • (80kwh*0.80%) / 50kw = 1.2hrs
View Tesla Model 3

Polestar 2

Polestar 2
  • Home Fast Charger / Wallbox - 7kW
  • (78kwh*0.80%) / 7kw = 8.9hrs
View Polestar 2

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf
  • Home 3-pin plug - 3kW
  • (62kWh*0.80) / 3 = 16.5hrs
View Nissan Leaf

Places to charge

Charging at home

Most cars are parked at home overnight, so most electric drivers rely on home charging to ensure their EV is ready to go each morning. Not only are they very convenient, but home charge points are normally the cheapest.

You can get up to £350 off the cost of installing a charge point at home with the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS). Learn more about how much you could save with EV government grants.

Charging at work

Many EV drivers top up their car at work after their morning commute. Most workplaces will let you charge your EV for free. However, you might need to bring your own charger cable.

The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) also gives businesses vouchers towards the cost of installing charge points, so employers can save money when going green.

Public charging

Most public charge points allow you to plug in and pay by card, cash or an app, so you can see how much you’re paying upfront. Many are contactless now too, making it quick and easy to top up your car.

Some charge points are free, but it’s best to check at each station for prices and time limits.

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