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What are the different types of electric vehicle charging stations?

The type of charging station you use determines how fast you can charge your electric vehicle and how much you pay to charge it.

There are 3 basic types of electric car charging points:

  • Slow charge
  • Fast charge
  • Rapid charge

Slow charge stations generally have a power output of 3-6kW, and include Home electric vehicle chargers. All plug-in electric cars should charge at a slow charging station.

Fast charge stations have a power output of 7-22kW. These stations are the most common, and most plug-in electric cars should be able to charge here.

Rapid charge points have a power output of at least 43kW, but some can go as high as 350kW for cars that can take that kind of charge.

You're more likely to find these charge points at motorway services, though they're increasingly commonplace elsewhere. They're designed to get your vehicle to 80% charge as fast as possible.

Tesla models S, 3, X and Y used to have exclusive access to Tesla Supercharger charge points. But Tesla has announced that it's opening up its Supercharger network to non-Tesla models too.

If you're a motorcyclist, electric motorbikes can usually use the same charging points as electric cars.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Your vehicle charge time depends on your vehicle and the type of charging station you use. But in general, you can expect to wait:

  • 6-12 hours at a slow charging station
  • 4-6 hours at a 7kW fast charging station
  • 1-2 hours at a 22kW fast charging station
  • 20 minutes to an hour to reach 80% charge at a rapid charge station

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The price you pay to fully charge an electric car varies depending on:

  • Your car's battery capacity
  • Where you charge your car
  • Your electricity tariff (if charging at home)
  • Whether the charging station has an additional connection fee

If you plan to charge your electric car at home, certain energy suppliers offer special tariffs for EV charging. These tariffs offer discounted rates overnight so you can charge your electric car at a lower cost however, with the current state of the energy market, these tariffs might be difficult to find right now.

Here's what you might expect to pay for different types of charging with certain electric car models:

Useable battery (kW)++ At-home charge cost* Fast charge cost** Rapid charge cost***
Kia Niro
Kia Niro
64.8 £22.03 £36.94 £44.71
Tesla 3
Tesla 3
57.5 £19.55 £32.78 £39.68
58 £19.72 £33.06 £40.02

+Models were selected as having the largest number of registrations in 2021, according to Department for Transport statistics.
++ Useable battery capacity taken from EV Database
* Based on electricity tariff of 34p per kWh
** Based on BP Pulse fast charge tariff of 57p per kWh
*** Based on LoCity rapid charge tariff of 69p per kWh

What are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 charging sockets?

The type of connector you have determines which electric vehicle charging stations you can use. It also limits how much you can charge your car. It should be easy to see what type you have by looking at the connector itself:

  • Type one connector socket for electric car

    Type 1 connectors allow for a charge of up to 7kW. These have 5 connection points and are usually found on older EVs.

  • Type two connector socket for electric car

    Type 2 connectors can handle a charge of up to 43kW. These connectors have 7 connection points and are common on most modern EVs.

    If your electric car is able to charge at a rapid charging station, you might have one of 2 other connectors.

  • CHAdeMO connector socket for electric car

    CHAdeMO connectors can take up to 50kW. These have 4 connection points and are often found on older Japanese and Korean electric cars.

  • CCs connector socket for electric car

    Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors allow for a charge of up to 350kW. These connectors look like a Type 2 socket with 2 extra connection points below it.

    Some American EVs that have a CCS connector might look like a Type 1 with 2 extra connection points.

Need more help?

How do I pay to charge my electric car?

Depending on what charger you use, there are several ways you can pay to charge your electric vehicle:

  • Contactless
  • Smartphone app
  • Membership-based

Contactless payments let you pay for your charge as you would most other purchases. Tap your card or phone against the contactless pad and the payment should be taken directly from your bank account. This is the easiest way to pay. All new charging points are expected to offer a contactless payment option.

Smartphone apps let you access certain public charge points and manage your payments. But you might need several apps to access EV chargers across different networks.

Membership-based charging services are available such as the BP Pulse network, which offers discounts for members.

These services might also offer a subscription model, where you pay a monthly fee for an even bigger discount on your EV charge tariff.

Depending on how much you plan to use the charge points in a specific network, a subscription could be more cost-effective.

Why do rapid charge stations charge to 80%?

Rapid chargers only charge at a rapid rate up to around 80% of the battery's capacity. After that, the rate of charging drops to preserve the battery and maintain efficiency. This is why you often see a 'time to 80% charge' listed on electric vehicles and charging points.

Is it free to charge an electric car?

Depending on where you go, some charging points are free to use. Often, these charging stations are found in supermarket car parks or near certain retailers.

Usually, these electric vehicle charge points are free for customers or visitors.

For example, Tesco has partnered with Pod Point and Volkswagen to install free electric vehicle charge points across hundreds of its UK stores. Certain locations at Aldi, Lidl and Sainsbury's also offer free electric vehicle charging.

These free stations are likely to be fast charging points.

When you use our electric car charging map, you can select to see only free nearby electric vehicle charging stations to narrow your search.

How many electric vehicle charging stations are there in the UK?

According to Open Charge Map, there are over 32,000 electric car charging stations at 14,000 sites across the UK. But this number may vary depending on what charging station tool you use.

It's estimated that there are over 1 million plug-in EVs registered in the UK. This means that there are around 31 electric vehicles for every electric car charging station, not including home chargers.

As you might expect, these electric car charge points tend to be clustered in cities and other urban areas.

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