New locations to charge your electric car are popping up all the time
If you are thinking about getting an EV, one of your first questions will be: “Where can I charge my electric car?”
Fortunately, there are lots of options including at home – if you have off-street parking – at motorway service stations, increasingly at supermarkets and at work, as well as many hotels, leisure centres, etc.
Charging infrastructure is growing quickly and the chargepoints themselves are getting faster. Every year, it takes less and less time to charge an EV.
Although the charging point network for electric cars is expanding very quickly, EV drivers usually find the bulk of charging is done at home, assuming you have off-street parking and can get a dedicated charging point installed.
A typical scenario:
You leave your house in your lovely electric vehicle at 8am, and drive 20 miles to work. At 5:30pm, you leave work, drive the 20 miles back, and then plug your car into your home charging point. The car charges overnight on a cheap, off-peak tariff and you wake up to a full ‘tank’ of electricity in the morning. Job done.
Nearly all home chargers are now rated at 7.4 kW. If you are not sure what kW stands for, please read our helpful Energy Terminology page. 7.4 kW is about three times faster than charging on a standard 3-pin socket.
If you are part of the 40% of the population that doesn’t have off-street parking and can’t charge at home, there may well be a local charging solution available to you.
It’s called Local or Community Charging.
One of the best exponents of this type of offering is Co Charger. Their system links up the following groups:
- People in the neighbourhood who rent out their home charger
- People in the neighbourhood who need to charge, but don’t have a home charger
So, using their app, you simply locate charging points local to you and book yourself in at a specific time. At that pre-booked time, you park on your neighbour’s driveway, plug in, leave the car, and come back later at the agreed time.
The app takes care of everything including charging fees. If you rent out your charger, you can decide what fees you want to charge. But as it’s a marketplace, higher fee charging points won’t be booked as often as lower fee charging points.
If you are lucky enough to have a charging point where you work – and the boss hasn’t nabbed the space – the most likely ratings will be:
- 7.4 kW
- 11 kW
- 22 kW
A 22 kW charging point will charge your EV’s battery three times more quickly than a 7.4 kW point, assuming your car’s on-board circuitry can handle AC power at 22 kW, which many can’t.
Most EVs nowadays can handle charging up to 11 kW, which is about 50% faster than your standard 7.4 kW charger.
These 11 kW and 22 kW chargers draw power from a 3-phase electricity supply which is common at work and industrial locations. At home, you generally have a single phase supply which limits you to 7.4 kW.
Increasingly, EV charging points are being put in at locations you often find yourself at, such as:
- Cultural sites like National Trust
These are often referred to as Destination chargers.
They vary in speed. Many are 7.4 kW like home charging. However, some companies such as InstaVolt are installing rapid DC chargers rated at about 120-150 kW at places like Costa Coffee and McDonald’s for really speedy charging.
The charging points you typically find at motorway service stations can have very high ratings.
- 43 kW
- 50 kW (very common)
- 120 kW (common)
- 150 kW (common)
- 250 kW (Tesla)
- 350 kW (rare, but gradually becoming more common)
These will charge your car very quickly. For example, a Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery at only 20% charge will get up to 80% charge in about 30 minutes on a 50 kW charger.
Charging points in the 43 kW to 350 kW range are called rapid chargers.
To make things even more confusing, rapid chargers are either AC (not so common) or DC (very common):
- DC rapid chargers can access your battery directly – bypassing the car’s on-board charger – to charge more quickly.
- AC rapid chargers cannot access your battery directly and are limited by your car’s on-board rapid charger rating.
Gradually, the charging technology inside electric cars is being upgraded to allow for charging at these higher rates. Here are some examples of current EV models that can already handle charging way above 50 kW:
In March 2019, Gridserve announced a brand new way of charging your electric car when out and about: Electric Forecourts.
There will be Electric Forecourts up and down the country. When you are running low on charge in your EV, you simply pull in, park, plug in, and the charging starts.
Electric Forecourts are designed from scratch for electric vehicles – no diesel or petrol cars in sight. They are also large, with plenty of charging bays.
In addition to the fastest charging points technically possible – in the not too distant future, charging an electric car will take no more than 10 minutes – Electric Forecourts are also friendly, welcoming places to visit and include:
- Coffee shops in an airport-style lounge
- Ultra fast internet access
- Convenience store shopping, and so on
The first Electric Forecourts are now up and running, or very soon to open, in: