At a glance

  • The size of your EV’s battery affects the speed it will charge at. Electric vehicles with bigger batteries will take longer to charge than smaller EVs
  • The UK is full to the brim with electric vehicle charging points. So much so, they now outnumber petrol and diesel stations
  • EV charging is pretty smooth sailing once you get the hang of it. Find out how to charge your car at home, on the go, and even at work
  • Discover the unwritten rules of EV charging etiquette


Charging red electric car

With the UK’s upcoming sales ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 – and with a ban on most new hybrids set to follow by 2035 – now is the perfect time to get to grips with EV charging. It might seem like a lot at first, maybe even quite daunting, but once you’ve read this guide you’ll have an understanding of just how easy EV charging really is – we promise!

Electric cars charge in the same way as any other electric device, such as your phone – you simply use the right charger for the right EV, plug it in, and wait for the battery to reach your desired level of charge. But where can you do this and how much is it going to cost you? From home charging systems to kilowatt (kW) usage to EV charging etiquette, our straight-talking guide covers everything you need to know about charging your electric car. 

Where can you charge your electric car? 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that finding a place to charge your electric car is tricky. After all, we tend to associate fuel stations as only accommodating petrol and diesel users. However, many fuel stations now cater for electric vehicle users too. Plus, the rise of electric cars brings with it the rise of dedicated EV charging stations – in fact, EV charging sites now outnumber petrol stations in the UK.

But public charging points aren’t the only place you can charge your electric car. Did you know you can also charge them at home and at work? Let’s take a look at everywhere you can charge an EV. 

Woman charging blue electric car

Charging your EV on the go

Public EV charge points are a necessity. Whether you don’t have access to a home charging system or are running out of battery on the road, here’s everything you need to know about public charging points.

Charging your electric car at home 

A question we’re regularly asked is ‘can I really charge my electric car at home?’ And the answer is yes, absolutely. It’s actually one of the best places to charge your EV because you can leave it on whilst you sleep and it will be ready for you to use in the morning. 

Not only is charging your electric car overnight at home one of the most convenient methods of EV charging, but it’s also relatively low cost too – depending on when you charge and your electricity provider. 

Charging your EV at work

So, we’ve talked about charging your electric vehicle at home and on the go, but what about charging your car whilst you’re at work? Charging your electric car this way means you can leave it on whilst you work and come back to a full battery at the end of the day – talk about convenience. 

Charging your EV at work is also often free (if not completely then at least to a point), plus, you don’t need to go out of your way to find a charge station – it’s literally right where you work. 

If you know your employer has plenty of charge points for you to use and you travel to your workplace regularly, you may decide that there isn’t any need to install a home wallbox charger. Not only will this save you money on the cost and installation of your own wallbox charger, but can reduce your energy bills too. 

Though you’ll need to consider this carefully. If someone you live with also has an EV, then you may still need a home wallbox charger. Plus, you might only work in the office occasionally, or may eventually change jobs. Either way, even if you do have an EV charger of your own, using one at work will still reduce your energy usage.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Unlike with petrol and diesel cars, you can’t just nip into a fuel station and leave five minutes later with a full battery.

As we touched on when looking at home chargers, the answer to this question will depend on several factors, such as the charge rate of the electric car. For instance, if your vehicle’s maximum charge rate is 7kW, you won’t be able to charge it any faster on a 22kW charger than you would on a 7kW charger. 

But did you know those aren’t the only two factors that will affect your EV’s charge time? Other factors to consider here include: 

  • How full, or empty the battery currently is – if your car has little to no battery left, waiting for a full charge will take considerably longer than just topping it up. That’s why a lot of EV owners tend to top up frequently instead of letting their battery get too low
  • The size of the battery – Just like how some cars have larger petrol tanks than others, some EVs have larger batteries. The bigger the battery, the longer it will take to become full (but the further you can go on one charge).
  • The weather – charging your car in a colder environment can cause it to take slightly longer 

Charging speed can also depend on the speed of the charger you use. 

Types of electric car chargers: slow, fast and rapid

EV chargers can be categorised into three speeds: slow, fast and rapid – the speed of the charger can determine how long it takes to charge an electric car.

Which electric car can charge the fastest?

The fastest-charging electric car on sale in the UK is currently the Porsche Taycan, with charging speeds up to 270kW. According to Porsche, it’s capable of a quick recharge adding 62 miles of range in a mere 4 minutes! As you might expect though, it’s on the pricey side. Other fast-charging electric cars include:

Types of EV charging plugs and connectors 

If charger speeds wasn’t enough to think about, different EV chargers also come with different connectors. 

Like phone charging cables, there are different electric car charging cables and plugs for different electric cars. It may sound complicated at first, but it’s actually quite straightforward. For example, you wouldn’t use an Apple charger on an Android, would you? Well, the principle is the same here. In short, the outlet of the charging point needs to match the outlet of your car. And, if it doesn’t, you’ll need an adaptor. 

When it comes to EV charging, here are the main connectors you need to know about: 

Type 1 Connector

This is a five-pin connector that’s usually found in older EVs and first-generation models. It can also be found in some plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) such as the Mitsubishi Outlander. The Type 1 connector is designed for Alternating Current (AC), and can only be used with 3kW and 7kW chargers. 

Public charge points with a Type 1 connector are normally untethered. This means the charging cable is not permanently attached to the charging unit. As a result, EVs with Type 1 connectors will need to use an adaptor to plug into public charge points.

Type 2 Connector

This seven-pin plug is fast becoming the most common type of EV connector used in the UK. This is only set to increase with recent EU legislation requiring most carmakers to fit this as standard. Type 2 connectors accept faster chargers than Type 1, as they allow charge speeds of up to 43kW. 

Public charging points with a Type 2 connector are normally tethered, meaning they have a permanently attached cable. Unlike Type 1 connectors, Type 2 connectors can be ‘locked’ so they cannot be removed whilst charging.

Combined Charging System (CCS)

Also known as combination plugs, CCSs are for Direct Current (DC) rapid charging, allowing for much higher charging speeds.

Brand-new, all-electric vehicles tend to be fitted with this system as it allows the use of both DC and AC charging, giving drivers more flexibility.

CHAdeMO plug

An abbreviation of Charge de Move, this plug type is another DC rapid chargers. It was created in Japan and is used most by Japanese car manufacturers, such as Nissan and Honda. EVs that use the CHAdeMO system have two plug sockets, one for a Type 1 or Type 2 plug to connect to AC chargers, and the other for the CHAdeMO DC charging.

3-pin plug

This is your standard domestic plug socket for home charging. Most EVs can be charged this way by using a Type 1 or Type 2 plug attached to the car through a transformer box. The 3-pin plug then goes into your home’s wall socket. This charging method does come with risks so we only recommend it as a last resort. 

It’s important to note that you’ll only be able to charge your EV using a 3-pin plug if the cable reaches your car from your home. You should never use an extension cable to make them meet as the electrical load is too heavy for extension cables and can cause a fire or electrical hazard.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Like most things related to electric vehicle charging, the answer to this one depends on a variety of factors. And just like with petrol and diesel cars, the cost of running an electric vehicle will depend on the size, model and make of car you have. 

Another factor that will dictate charging costs is where you’re charging your electric car. So let’s break it down into costs by location. 

The cost of charging your electric car at home 

This will all depend on your energy provider, the kWh of your home charging system, and the electric car itself.

The recent rise in energy bills and changes in energy tariff caps also mean that the cost of charging your electric car at home has changed quite significantly and suddenly. However, the government’s energy price guarantee, which has been extended until June 2023, means that electricity is capped at around 30p/kWh (pence per kilowatt hour). 

So, if you pay 34p per kWh and your electric car has a 50kW battery, it will cost you approximately £17-£20 to fully charge your car at home. It’s worth noting that this figure is based on a day-time energy rate at the maximum tariff. Your energy provider may not charge the maximum kW per hour. Plus, a lot of energy providers offer discounted rates at night (off-peak), both of which can lower the cost of charging your EV at home. 

The cost of charging your electric car at work

As we mentioned earlier, this is likely to be free or heavily discounted. If your employer does make you pay for charging your EV at work, it’s likely to be at the same rate as public charging.

The cost of charging your electric car on the go 

Though some public charging points are free, the vast majority of them aren’t. Additionally, you can expect to pay more for faster, rapid chargers. The exact cost of charging your EV will vary from network to network but on the whole prices for public chargers tend to sit between 45-80p per kW. 

Below, we’ve broken down the average cost* to use some of the major charging networks in the UK:

Charging Network Approximate fees per kWh (PAYG) Membership fees Approximate fees per kWh(members)
BP Pulse 150 &50 67p £7.85 per month 55p
BP Pulse 7 57p £7.85 per month 44p
FastNed 73p £9.99 per month 30% off PAYG rate
EV Power (MFG) 79p No subscription fee N/A
GeniePoint 57-75p No subscription fee N/A
GridServe 49-66p No subscription fee N/A
Instavolt 75p No subscription fee N/A
Osprey 79p No subscription fee N/A
Pod Point Often free No subscription fee N/A
Shell Recharge 79-85p No subscription fee N/A
Tesla Destination Free No subscription fee N/A
Tesla Supercharger 69-79p* No subscription fee N/A


*Prices as at March 2023

*Some Tesla drivers may qualify for free Tesla charging

Which electric vehicles cost the least to charge?

The average price to charge most EVs from home during the day is around £17. However, there are electric cars that, in light of their smaller batteries, are cheaper to charge. Combine this with an off-peak electricity rate and you’re looking at considerably lower charging costs. Here are five electric cars that are amongst the cheapest to charge:

Please note: the exact amount each model will cost to charge will depend on your electricity tariff and what time of the day you charge it. 

It’s also worth noting that these are cheap to charge because they’re all models with small batteries, as such, they have a much smaller range – meaning you won’t be able to travel as far. 

White electric car charging on forest road

Where can I charge my electric car for free?

According to ZapMap, around 11% of EV chargers on their live map are free, but the question on everyone’s lips is ‘where are these free chargers?’

If you live in Scotland, you’re in luck, with Scotland being home to the highest number of free EV charge points. Followed by the South East of England and Greater London. It’s not such good news if you’re living in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, as neither of these locations have many free charging points. 

In terms of what kinds of places offer free chargers, these include supermarkets, car parks, dealerships, hotels and accommodation, retail and leisure car parks and workplaces. 

How to find free electric chargers

Even though some of the above places will offer free EV charging, that’s not to say they all do – and it’s no good driving around aimlessly until you find a free one.  Luckily, Zap Maps live map has a free filter that you can toggle on and off to help you pin down the exact location of a free EV charging station. 

Do free charge points have access restrictions?

Yes, lots of them will restrict access to customers only. In places like supermarkets or hotels, these charging points are free on the basis that you’re a paying customer -it’s a mutual transaction. 

It’s also worth noting that free EV chargers may have time limits on them too. So make sure you check it’s going to provide you with enough charge range for where you need to go. 

White charger plugged into green electric car

Electric vehicle charging etiquette 

When using public, residential or workplace chargers, it’s important to be mindful and respectful of other users. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of EV charging etiquette rules: 

  • Watch your charge status – don’t hog electric car chargers for longer than you need to. It’s best practice to recharge your battery to 80%. Doing so will not only help prolong your battery’s lifespan but also makes sure all EV drivers get their turn. 
  • Put the battery charge cable back – it’s good manners to put the cable away once you’ve finished using it. This leaves the charge station in an acceptable condition for the next person and prevents a trip hazard. 
  • Look out for your fellow drivers – if you’re in line and you see someone struggling to charge their EV, lend them a helping hand. We’re sure they’ll appreciate your small act of kindness. This can be a particularly nice gesture to a new electric car owner – after all, we were all newbies once. 
  • Let pure-electric cars go first – if you have a plug-in hybrid vehicle, it’s nice to let electric-only cars recharge first. This is because PHEVs can use their petrol or diesel engines instead, whereas an EV is limited to its battery. Only do this if it’s convenient for you though, of course. If you need to get somewhere urgently then feel free to take your rightful turn. 
  • Report charge station damage – If you see that a public charge point has become damaged or broken then notify the supplier straight away. The phone number will be on the charger. This means it can be back in action for yourself and others to use sooner rather than later. 
  • Don’t unplug other EVs – if you’ve been waiting to use a charge station for a while, don’t unplug someone else’s electric car. Even if it’s at 80% – you never know what they might be using it for. Wait for them to come back, or if it’s at a station or supermarket, ask a member of staff if they can make an announcement.
  • Remain calm and polite – if you see another EV user not following the unspoken rules of the EV charging world, or actively being hostile towards other users, it’s best to avoid an angry confrontation. These situations can escalate and you don’t want to put yourself in any danger. Don’t stoop to their level by swearing and shouting. Instead, find another charger or report them to the service station if necessary. 

Electric car battery

How to make the most of your EV battery – Top Tips

To help you get the most out of your electric car’s battery and extend its longevity, we’ve compiled a list of top tips. If you follow the guidance below, your EV’s battery should last longer and be able to retain a lot more of its charge.

  • Minimise rapid charging – long-term, regular use of rapid charging points can wear your battery out over time
  • Try to maintain an optimal state of charge between 20%-80% – fully depleting and fully recharging the battery can, again, strain it over time
  • Go for regular, short drives – this will help keep your EV and battery in peak condition
  • Fully charge your battery only when you need to – for long journeys, holidays, etc.
  • Avoid charging your EV in extreme heat – charging your car in extreme heat can overheat the system and not only damage the battery but present a hazard

Visit our Electric Car Advice Hub 

This brings us to the end of our ultimate electric car charging guide. We hope we’ve provided you with all the information you need to go out and charge your electric car with confidence. Whether you’re completely new to the world of EV charging, or simply needed a little refresher, we hope you found the answers to all your burning questions. 

If you need any more advice on all things EV related, you should check out our electric vehicle advice hub. From electric car range to EV tax – we’ve got loads of guides to help you learn more about electric vehicles. 

Or, perhaps you haven’t bought your electric car yet but are thinking about it? In that case, you should definitely take a look at our electric car buying guide. This ultimate resource leaves no stone unturned and will help you find the perfect EV for you.


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