This is how you charge your electric car in the United Kingdom

It’s often a bit different when you’re traveling in Great Britain. What about driving on the left, miles instead of kilometers, pounds instead of euros, a passport in your pocket…and charging your electric car in the UK? Is it somewhat doable?

Charging points and fast chargers are on the rise

If you look at the number of charging points for cars, it is growing like other countries. The British Bureau of Statistics counted a total of 34,637 charging points in October 2022, of which 6,395 were quick chargers and 19,746 were fast chargers. Note that by fast charger the British mean a charging station that supplies between 7 and 22 kW. Faster than 25 kW is called a fast charger. Glad to know.

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Charging points on lampposts

Across the UK you’ll find charging stations in places you don’t easily notice: on lampposts. It is very treacherous as there are usually no signs and often no markings on the road. That means you can also park cars without charging there. Being a small box that can be at knee height, it cannot be seen when passing by. So you need a loading utility to find them. Not all charging apps show this. We see them in the Shell Recharge app, Charge Assist, Pump and Plugsurfing. But there may be many applications that show these. Usually the charging speed of these points is low, 5.5 kW.

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Seen through apps

Smartphone apps like Zap-Map and mainstream apps like Chargemap, Plugsurfing and A Better Route Planner (ABRP) make it easy to find these public chargers, while navigation apps like Apple Maps or Google Maps provide directions to the nearest charging point. But your own electric car often has these functions in navigation.

Make frequent payments by debit or credit card

What you’ll see more often than in the Netherlands is the option to pay for a charging session by debit or credit card. The UK government is pushing for the rollout of the charging network and has called for all newly installed fast or high-power electric car charging points to be fitted with contactless bank card readers.

However, many operators offer preferential rates to customers who have registered to use their services. If you regularly use the same network, these will also be useful for you. You benefit from these promotions with passes or accounts from specific operators. This also applies to Fastned, which operates with various charging points in the United Kingdom, for example.

BP Pulse offers three charging options: There is a full membership rate that charges monthly, but offers access to hundreds of free-to-use chargers, as well as lower rates for fast chargers. There is also a free membership where you enter your details and use the chargers at a low rate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Finally, the contactless bank card option has a more expensive rate per kWh, but you don’t have to log in. You can charge by holding the card in front of the charger.

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How much does it cost to use public EV chargers?

Having a smartphone is useful if you’re looking for a charging station on the go, but you already have one. You can use various apps to find charging stations and sometimes you can also pay in the app. And you can also compare the prices of different charging points in different apps.

Entry and electricity costs vary. Some places, such as hotels and shopping centres, offer free electricity, but in most places a unit of electricity costs around £1.50 an hour. Fast chargers are generally more expensive because they can pack more power into the battery in less time. Expect fast chargers to charge up to £1 per kWh, which is actually comparable to typical rates in continental Europe.

Ferdinand Woolridge

 "Subtly charming analyst. Beer maven. Future teen idol. Twitter guru. Lifelong bacon fan. Pop culture lover. Passionate social media evangelist."

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