Switching to an electric car from a petrol or diesel car is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It's also a great way to save money. Charging an electric car costs less than re-filling a diesel or petrol car, and in many cases charging an electric car is free.
In this guide, we're going to take a look at where you can charge your EV for free in the UK. This'll give you all the information you need to reduce the costs of charging your electric car.
Scotland currently leads the way when it comes to free electric car charging in the UK. Electric car owners in Scotland have access to the ChargePlace Scotland network operated by Transport for Scotland.
This vast network includes many free charging points, making it fairly easy for electric vehicle owners to charge their vehicles for free.
Rural areas in places like the Channel Islands and Wales have the least free charging points in the UK. This is due to lower levels of population density when compared to cities like London.
However, local authorities in places like Yorkshire and Greater Manchester are planning to increase the number of EV charging points. This is to encourage the use of electric cars.
Cities with high population densities such as London and Manchester have far more free charging points than rural areas.
Although it's becoming easier to find a free charging point anywhere in the UK, you still shouldn't completely rely on them. The majority of electric car charging stations in the UK still cost money to use. Free charging points will also usually be in high demand so you may have to wait a while to use them.
If you're staying at a B&B or a hotel then it's quite common for them to have a free charge point. These free charging points are reserved for guests. There's also a charity called ZeroNet which supplies the leisure and hospitality sector with free electric car chargers.
Many visitor attractions in the UK also have free EV charging points. Some examples of attractions that often have free-charge points are leisure centres, garden centres, zoos, theatres, museums, and National Trust properties.
The most likely locations where you'll find free chargers are public car parks. This also includes workplace and retail car parks. Many companies have started to install free charging points in their car parks to encourage their employees to use electric cars.
There are some supermarkets in the UK with free EV chargers. Aldi, Lidl, and Sainsbury's all offer free charge points to their customers. However, supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons, and Waitrose don't have free chargers.
Tesco used to offer free charging at its fast charging points but from November 2022 customers will now have to pay to use them. Tesco's rapid charging points have never been free to use.
The two different types of charging for electric vehicles are DC and AC. DC is the type of charging that's used by rapid chargers. AC is used in destination charging as it's slower than DC charging.
There are four main types of EV charging points that are used in the UK. So, let's take a look at each one.
Ultra-rapid charge points charge at 100kW or above. They're the fastest type of charging points and can fully charge an electric car in about 20 to 30 minutes. They're usually found in charging hubs or on motorways. As they're the fastest EV charging points, they're usually not free.
A rapid charging point uses DC and can charge an electric car to 80% battery capacity within 20 to 40 minutes. Although these chargers don't tend to be free it is possible to find free rapid charging points. Currently, it's easier to find a free rapid charge point in Scotland than in other areas of the UK.
Fast charge points are often found in public car parks and supermarkets. Depending on the capabilities of the specific charging point it can take between one to six hours to charge an electric vehicle. Fast chargers are often free to use making them an economical choice.
Slow chargers are usually used as home chargers as they take a long time to charge a vehicle. It can take between six to twelve hours to charge an EV to full when using a slow charger.
Destination charging points are often free to use and are typically fast charging points. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, a destination charging point will add between six to thirty miles of range for each hour that you charge your vehicle.
Tesla has a network of destination charging points around the UK. You'll find them in places such as car parks, hotels, and restaurants. As long as you have a Tesla and are a customer of the business then these chargers are free to use.
However, you may still be charged for parking at the business whilst you top up your vehicle. So, always make sure that you check this first.
One of the biggest free charging networks in the UK is operated by Pod Point. None of its public EV chargers has connection charges or subscription fees. The locations where you'll find Pod Point's free chargers include Mcdonald's, Tesco, Lidl, and Premier Inn.
The vast majority of car dealerships have rapid chargers on-site. These are used for charging their own vehicles and customer vehicles. Generally, customers will be allowed to use these chargers for free.
Dealers will also often allow customers who bought vehicles from them to charge their vehicles for free.
The Scottish government runs ChargePlace Scotland and the network now includes over 2,168 EV charging points. Most of these chargers are free to use for network members.
The easiest way to find the locations of these free charging stations is to visit the ChargePlace Scotland website. Here, you can view the numerous locations and find the ones that are most convenient for you.
If you bought a Tesla Model S before 2017 then you will have unlimited, free access to the Tesla supercharger network. This means that you can use any of Tesla's rapid charging stations in the UK for free.
Other Tesla owners have access to the Tesla supercharger network at discounted rates. You may also be able to use their rapid chargers for free for a certain number of miles. This depends on the type of deal you received when you bought your Tesla.
A lot of ChargePoint EV chargers are free to use in the UK. Still, there are many that you need to pay to use. The best way to check this is to download the ChargePoint app which allows you to check which chargers are free to use. You can also do this on the ChargePoint online map.
How long it takes to fully charge your electric car depends on the battery size and the type of charger you use. Most electric cars have a 60kWh battery which takes about eight hours to fully charge when using a 7kW charger.
If you're using a 50kW rapid charger then it usually takes around 35 minutes to add 100 miles of range to your car's battery.
Morrisons charges a standard rate of 35-39p per kW hour to charge an EV. Unlike some charger networks, there is no monthly subscription fee.
One of the biggest advantages of owning an electric car is the amount of money you save on fuel. EVs are far more cost-efficient than vehicles with combustion engines and by using free charging points you can save yourself even more money.
They may still not be too common in rural areas but free charging points are steadily becoming more accessible to all areas of the UK. This is a trend that is certain to continue and is great news for EV owners all over the country.