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Electric Vehicle Charging Guide

Although sales of electric vehicles in the UK are continually increasing, the rise in ownership is still relatively slow which is bad news for government emission targets and the plan to eliminate sales of petrol and diesel cars altogether by 2030.

Guide to electric car charging

As well as cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions, which have long been recognised as harmful to the environment and to health, the advantages of buying an electric or hybrid vehicle include lower fuel bills, zero or low road tax costs, and often a reduction in the price of an insurance policy.

Concern about the availability of charging points, especially when driving long distance or in rural areas, is a major factor keeping drivers from committing fully to an electric car. Even though the number of charging points are on the increase, they are still not as commonplace as petrol stations.

There are several different types of connectors and charging points for charging up electric vehicles, we look at how difficult is it to keep an electric vehicle topped up in 2021, and what the options are.

If you have off street parking, it is possible to install your own charging point and there are grants available to help cover the set-up cost. If neither of these options are available, you may be able to contact the local council and suggest a location for them to install a public charger.

Charging at home is often the most convenient solution, especially if you already have a garage with power supply, this is less likely in cities where electric vehicles are quite common. Most home charger units offer a slow charge, but they are ideal for topping the battery up overnight.  

The cost of a home charge will affect your electricity bill, so look for providers who offer a tariff designed for electric vehicle owners.  For some drivers, a nightly charge at home might be all that is needed, but for longer trips, you will need to charge up at other times.

Some workplaces now offer electric car charging, so you can charge your vehicle up during the day. This is set to become more common as fleet and motor trade vehicles are increasingly switched to electric alternatives, with similar benefits to the environment and possible savings in motor trade insurance.

London and other cities have seen the greatest uptake of electric cars, reflecting the fact that charging points are more common. Parking for electric cars is often free to encourage the use of electric vehicles in congested urban areas, but some parking spaces are chargeable.

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If you are travelling between cities, many motorway service stations now offer electric charging points as well as petrol pumps. Here, however, the length of time it takes to charge can be a factor, with a full charge meaning a wait before your journey can continue. Rapid or ultra-rapid chargers are often found at service stations to help you back on your way as soon as possible.

Many supermarket chains and retail parks now offer customer charging points for electric vehicles as an incentive to shop there, so you can charge your vehicle for free while you carry out your shopping at the same time.

If you are planning a journey in your electric vehicle, or still deciding whether to purchase one, the Zap Map website has a map of the UK’s charging points to help you, as well as comprehensive guides to electric vehicles and charging.

Finally, if you get caught out by a low battery while on the road, most breakdown services now offer cover for electric vehicles, with employees trained to handle them safely.

A charge at the roadside is not yet possible, but they can take your vehicle to the nearest charging point and will also offer advice if you are parked at an unfamiliar charge point and unsure how to use it.