Electric cars are very much ‘in’ now thanks to the global push to find cleaner, greener, and more environmentally conscious ways to live. Of course, for those who are used to traditional cars, the switch to electric vehicles can be a little daunting. Here’s what you need to know about electric car charging in the UK today.

The Low-Down on Electric Car Charging Stations

a public electric car charging point

One of the biggest concerns for people who are looking to switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle is the availability of electric car charging points. Thankfully, it is much easier to find charging points than it used to be.

In fact, since 2015, the number of electric car charging points in the UK has increased significantly with a 37% growth in the last year alone. As of January 4th 2021, there were 20,775 electric car charging points (UK), 3,880 of which offered rapid charging. These do not include the private charging points, which many vehicle owners have at home.

How Much Does Electric Car Charging at Home Cost?

an electric car is charging at a station

Having an at-home charging point is pretty much a necessity if you want to get the best results from your electric vehicle, especially if you live outside of London (where public charge points of all kinds are most common).

While there is some upfront cost to installing a charging point at your property, the benefits are many and there are still some grants in place which can help you to cover these costs.

The average smart charger for your home will cost roughly £1000, but the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (or OLEV) can offer grants of up to £500 to help you cover the cost of installation. Likewise, some manufacturers offer discounts or free installation when you buy a new electric vehicle with them. All of this reduces the cost of electric car charging at home.

The precise cost of charging your car to full battery at home will depend on your electricity provider’s tariff and the size of your car’s battery. However, a good estimation is roughly £5.60 per full charge. This is based on the national average tariff of 14p per KWh and a 40Kwh 2018 Nissan Leaf.

This can change, of course, and could be much lower if you find a good EV charging tariff. These are not overly common right now, but energy companies are finding them popular, so they look set to spread!

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car at a Charging Station (UK)?

Previously, most public charging points for electric cars were free. This was part of a push to incentivize electric car ownership, and while there are still some free-use charging points, most charge now.

So how much does it cost to charge an electric car at a charging station? The cost of these electric car charging stations can change from region to region. Broadly speaking, however, public charging costs are as follows:

  • Between £1.30 and £3.90 p/h for fast charging (7 to 22KWh)

  • Between £8 and £12.50 p/h for rapid charging (50KWh+)

This means that charging the battery of an average vehicle from 0% to 100% could be between £7.20 and £10.00 in the UK (on average). So, as you can see, it is often far more convenient and cost effective to charge your car at home, which is why so many people have their own charging stations installed.

How Do You Pay for Electric Car Charging?

Payment methods are another concern for many people who are new to electric vehicles. However, there is really not all that much to it! When charging your car at home, the cost will generally be included with your electricity bill, or be paid in a similar manner (e.g. monthly, quarterly, or annually and directly to the provider).

If you are charging at a public station, you will be able to pay by card (contactless payment is becoming very common). However, there may also be the option of using a smartphone app, or even an operator-issued RFID card which is connected to your account. This is common with larger operators like POLAR.

How to Use Electric Car Charging Stations

a woman is charging her car at a charging station on a sunny day

Learning to use electric charging points will, of course, take a little bit of time, especially if you are used to driving traditional cars, but the basic principles are much the same.

Most public charging stations will simply have a port that you can plug your car into (electric cars will generally come with their own cable). However, rapid charge points will often have their own cable. All you have to do is plug the correct attachment into your car’s port.

The most common charger type today is the Type 2 (or Mennekes) charger, but some older cars and charge points still have, or are compatible with, Type 1 (or J1772) chargers.

Most charging are capable of charging all cars in current production, but there will be some outliers, so never leave charging until the last minute if you can help it.

Charging Point Etiquette

As with most situations, there are some basic rules of etiquette to follow when charging your vehicle.

First and foremost, if you have a hybrid car, you should give precedence to fully electric vehicles which come to the charging point. While we understand that you want to be environmentally friendly where possible, you have the option of using traditional fuel, whereas a full EV does not.

Secondly, don’t leave your car unattended while charging.

Thirdly, never unplug someone else’s car from the charger, even if it seems to be fully charged. Some cars will not allow you to unplug them while locked, and this can lead to damage to the car or charge point.

Finally, stow away the cable when you are finished to prevent damage to the charging point or accidents for people passing by.