Once you're on the road, unless you manage your mileage very carefully, you will eventually need to recharge your electric car or van at a public or private charge point.
The Charging Conundrum
Recharging your electric vehicle at a roadside or car park charge point presents two problems:
- Finding a charger with the correct power output and connector for your electric vehicle.
- Paying for your recharge.
The solution to the first problem can often be found in the answer to the second.
You'll normally need to join one of the subscription services for recharging electric vehicles - charge points in public places or at supermarkets and service stations are typically run by companies who allow members of their service to recharge at their charge points.
Normally they will have a smartphone app or a website with details of their charge points and the fees for using them. Some require a monthly subscription whilst others also offer a Pay And Charge ('PAC') option so you can use them as little or as often as you want, though you will typically pay more per recharge for 'PAC' than with a regular subscription.
Quite often you can sign-up on-the-spot to a recharge service at the actual charge point, so if you find an available charge point and you're not already a member of the charge point owner's service you can just join immediately if you have a debit or credit card.
Get It Right!
Finding the correct away charger for your electric car or van is vital, especially for many of the early electric vehicles.
This is because the charging capacity of older electric vehicles is much lower than more recent models and the charge rate needs to be slower to prevent damage to the batteries and associated charge management components.
Types of Charge Point
When you're on the look-out for charging stations you'll find quite a range, so here's our guide to the types of charger you're likely to come across.
Slow Charger: These typically provide a 3kW charge rate, though some lamppost chargers now provide 6kW. They typically don't have a tethered cable so you'll need to provide your own. Charge times are typically between 6-12 hours for a full charge, depending on battery capacity.
Fast Charger: Normally providing 7kW, a fast charger will typically charge a compatible EV in about 4-6 hours, though more powerful 22kW fast chargers can do it in 1-2 hours. Once again you'll need to provide your own cable.
Rapid Charger: This class of charger provides the fastest type of charging that's available generally in the UK at the moment. Typically rated around 43-50kW, rapid chargers have tethered cables so you will need to find one with the correct type of connector for your electric car or van. A rapid charger should recharge your EV to 80% of battery capacity in around 30 minutes.
Ultra-Rapid charger: These charge points aren't as widely available as Rapid Chargers but the numbers are growing. They can provide 100kW or more, providing a full recharge for compatible vehicles in less than an 45 minutes. These chargers will also work with some earlier cars that can take 50kW recharging as they match the charge to the vehicle's ability to accept power.
Tesla Superchargers: Designed only for Tesla cars, these charge points can provide up to 150kW of recharge power through a special Tesla-only connector. Depending on your model of Tesla you may need a special adapter to connect to their Superchargers.