Where can you find them?
What types of public chargers are there?
Unlike home charging, where charge points are almost always limited to 7kWh, the public charging network has the power supply to support charging of up to 150kWh. This means charging times can be reduced to as low 20 minutes. We’ve detailed the different kind of public chargers below.
Not all public charge points are rapid chargers. You still commonly find slow 3.7kWh chargers at public charging locations throughout the UK
The same applies to fast 7kWh chargers. They are currently the most commonly found charging rate in public
Rapid chargers provide power rates of either 43kWh or 50kWh. 50kWh chargers are the most commonly found rapid charger
Ultra-rapid chargers provide power at a rate of 100kWh or more. They will be the next generation of public charge points as the network expands
How long do they take to charge?
The higher the power rating the faster the charge. The time taken to charge also depends on the size of the battery, so we can provide a rough guide for how long each power rating takes but it will always vary from vehicle to vehicle.
Slow chargers produce up to 15 miles of charge per hour and can take around 12 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle
Fast chargers produce up to 30 miles of charge per hour and can fully charge an electric vehicle in 4-6 hours.
Rapid chargers can fully charge an electric vehicle in just over 60 minutes
Ultra-rapid chargers up to 150kWh
Ultra-rapid chargers can fully charge an electric vehicle, even with a large battery, in 20-40 minutes.
How much do they cost?
Public charging networks are more expensive than charging your car at home.
As a rough guide a full charge from a fast charger costs between £8-10 and between £10-£12 from a rapid charger. Rapid chargers’ installation and operation costs are higher than other chargers, hence they cost more to use. You pay a premium for the convenience of faster charging.
Prices vary from provider to provider. Each have different approaches to pricing with some charging a monthly subscription fee whilst others choose to charge per minute or per kWh. Providers can also include registration costs and connection fees along with their cost per charge. You can see which provider charges what in detail in our available networks section.View available networks
How do you access them?
There are at least 20 different operators running nationwide car charging networks in the UK. The variety of offering is good but can become complicated as each has a different method for accessing their network. We’ve listed below the different ways networks allow you to access their chargers:
Free to use
These networks allow you to plug in and charge for free with no sign up fees and instant access. Access to these chargers may be limited and doesn’t include rapid chargers.
To access these networks you must download a smartphone app and sign up through it. You can see locations of charge points and manage your payment directly from an app. If you want to access multiple networks, you’ll have have multiple apps and multiple accounts.
These networks use personalised key cards for access. They allow you to track and manage your payments, and you aren’t dependent on phone signal. If you lose your card you’ll have no access to the charging network until a new one arrives, and if you want access to multiple networks you’ll have to carry multiple cards.
You can access these networks without a membership. You pay for usage at the end of your charge with your debit or credit card. Because there is no membership required these networks are more expensive to use than other.
There are two main plug types used by the majority of manufacturers worldwide. They are distinctive on the end and only fit vehicles with the correct inlet. A good comparison is how the charging wire for Apple and Android is different on one end depending on what phone you have.
There is a wide variety of both Type 1, Type 2, CHAdeMO and CCS chargers throughout the UK so you'll never have to worry about being able to find the right charger. Our plug types features below will tell you which ones you need to look for.
Type 1 is a plug type used by vehicles for regular charging. It is typically used by Asian manufacturers. A Type 1 plug is used to achieve charging speeds of up 7kWh and requires a separate inlet for rapid charging.
CHAdeMO is a plug type used by vehicles for rapid charging. Almost all vehicles that use Type 1 plugs for regular charging use ChaDeMo for rapid charging. If the vehicle is compatible for rapid charging it will have two separate inlets on its charging port, one for Type 1 and one for ChaDeMo, as the plugs are different shapes. The CHAdeMO inlet allows the vehicle to charge at rapid and ultra-rapid speeds.
Type 2 is a plug type used by vehicles for regular charging. It is typically used by European manufacturers, however some Asian manufacturers have started to produce vehicles with Type 2 inlets for the European market. A Type 2 plug can facilitate charging speeds of up to 22kWh and requires a modification for rapid charging.
CCS is a plug type used by vehicles for rapid charging. Almost all vehicles that use Type 2 for regular charging use CCS for rapid charging. Type 2 and CCS use the same inlet on the vehicle since, as you can see, the plugs are very similar. If the vehicle is compatible with rapid charging it will simply come with the CCS modification on the bottom of the Type 2 plug. The CCS inlet allows the vehicle to charge at rapid and ultra-rapid speeds.