How to Use a Public Charger For Your EV

Find out more about public charge points and how to use a public charger for your electric vehicle. 

  • What is a public charger for an electric vehicle?
  • Where are public chargers located?
  • Are there different types of public charge points?
  • How do you use a public charger?
  • How much does it cost to use a public charge point?
  • Where to find public charge points
  • Public EV charger statistics
  • Get in touch


Public charge points are convenient and an excellent way to charge your electric vehicle (EV) when on the go or away from your home charge point. The UK’s public charging infrastructure is growing and more and more public charge points are being installed for EV drivers. At the beginning of the year, there were over 28,000 public charge points across the country, according to GOV UK

But how do you use a public charge point for your EV? And what’s the safest way to charge? We’ve covered all you need to know, as well as the various things to look out for when using different types of public charge points.            


EV charging at public charge point with cable


What is a public charger for an electric vehicle? 

Public charge points are EV charging stations that are accessible to the general public, and therefore anyone with an EV. They are located on streets, in public places and in key destinations such as shopping centres, petrol stations and supermarkets. 

The main use of public charge points is for EV drivers to top up their vehicle’s charge whilst on the go. As well as being a convenient top-up whilst carrying out day-to-day tasks, such as going to the supermarket, some will also use public chargers as part of a longer journey, enabling them to get to their final destination.  

Public chargers can be owned by local authorities or businesses and can be free to use or a paid-for service, depending on the provider. There are also different types available, ranging in size, speed and features. 


Where are public chargers located? 

Public chargers can, and are, located in various places across the UK. With the network continuously growing to meet EV demand, public charge points can be found in many car parks, supermarkets, streets, petrol stations, leisure centres, shopping centres and many other businesses. If a charge point isn’t installed at someone’s private home or place of work, then it’s most likely a public charge point!

If you’re a business wanting to install public charge points, speak to the team today.


public ev charger


Are there different types of public charge points? 

Yes, there are different types of public charge points available, and their main difference is most commonly to do with charging speeds. These speeds tend to vary based on the type of charger and its intended use. For example, a destination charger at a supermarket with a slower charging speed, or a rapid charger intended for those on the go and located at a service station. 

Public charge points will either have a charging cable attached already or a socket available so that the EV driver can plug in their own cable. 

Destination Chargers

Destination chargers are usually located at places in which EV drivers are likely to stop for a significant amount of time. Usually convenient places in which they can top up their vehicle’s charge whilst carrying out other tasks, such as going to the gym or shopping. These types of charge points usually range in speeds from 7kW to 22kW, which provides approximately 30-50 miles of range per hour of charging. 

Rapid Chargers

On the other hand, rapid chargers are usually located at service or petrol stations, to cater for those on the go and wanting to charge and top up their vehicle fast, most commonly on a longer journey. They provide a much faster charging experience with speeds of 50kW to 350kW, catering to those who want to charge in 30 minutes or less. 


EV's charging


How do you use a public charger?

It is relatively easy to use a public charger for your EV. The simplest bit is plugging in the vehicle, as this will most likely be the same process for every charge point you come across. What might be tricker is starting that charging session and paying to use the charge point, as this can vary across public charge point models.

Here are our simple steps to follow when using a public charge point:

  1. Locate the charge point you wish to use and park in the designated charging bay. Make sure you’re close enough to the charge point so that a charging cable can be easily plugged in. 
  2. Open your EV’s charging port. It is most common for this to be located either on the side or front of the vehicle. 
  3. Observe whether the public charge point supplies its own charging cable. If not, you will need to use your own. 
  4. If using the charging cable supplied, select the right connector on the end of the cable that is compatible with your vehicle. 
  5. Plug the cable into your EV’s charging port.
  6. You now need to pay for your charging session. Depending on the charge point you may need to set up an account or download an app to start the session. Others simply allow you to use a contactless payment method.


Woman charging EV in carpark


How much does it cost to use a public charge point? 

Public charge points will vary in price as many are managed by businesses and third-party providers, all with varying monetisation models. Some may choose to offer free charging as long as you are spending time or money with the business, or spend over a certain amount with them. Other public charge points may have a standard charge rate or add on a standard usage rate on top of the electricity used. 


Where to find public charge points

The public charging landscape is growing and changing every month. As of July 2022, there were over 20,300 locations with public charge points, not including those installed at workplaces that might also offer public charging at certain times. 

When looking to find public charge points, your vehicle may have an inbuilt system that helps identify nearby charge points or helps you plan your journey via public chargers. Alternatively, we recommend Zap-Map, an App that provides a database and map of all registered public charge points. 

EV charging stations


Public EV charger statistics


Get in touch

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