EV charging: How to find free electric vehicle charging points in UK

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Sure, electric vehicles (EVs) can be more expensive to insure (and buy!) than petrol or diesel cars. But they’re also a lot cheaper to run when it comes to fuel. Especially as there are thousands of free charging points for EVs across the UK.

Surprised? We were too! Here’s everything you need to know 🔌

Costs of charging vs fuelling

It’s hard to say exactly how much you can save by switching to an EV because charging costs vary from place to place and petrol and fuel prices also fluctuate depending on supply and car type.

But to give you a bit of an idea:

  • The average cost of charging an EV in the UK is about 4.1p/mile.
  • The average cost of petrol or diesel is about 10 to 20p/mile, depending on the car. [As of April 2022]

So we’re talking about savings of around 60 to 80% - not bad!

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EV charging points

EV charging points are devices to top up your car’s battery, using a simple plug-in mechanism.

There are three types:

  • Slow chargers. These get you around 15 miles of charge in an hour.
  • Fast chargers. These 7kw chargers get you around 30 miles in an hour.
  • Rapid chargers. These are rarer (there are around 450 in the UK) but will get you 150 miles in an hour.

Free charging points make up about 20% of all EV charging stations in the UK. That percentage goes way higher in Scotland, where around 60% are free to use. (You just have to pay a £20 annual fee to the operators, Chargeplace Scotland.)

Most free charging stations are paid for by local councils who are keen to fight climate change, businesses trying to make a visit more attractive for their customers, and some energy companies.

EV chargers can be found for free across the UK
EV chargers can be found for free across the UK

Where to find free EV charging points

Some areas have a lot more free EV charging points than others. At the time of writing in April 2022, Scotland has just under 1,500, for example. The South East of England has just under 700, and Yorkshire & the Humber has about 500.

Here’s a quick breakdown of where you might find free EV charging points:

Supermarkets 🛒

Tesco has 600 free EV charging points spread over 300 locations. Its fast 7/22kW chargers are free to use, but you’ll have to pay to use its rapid chargers. Still, every little helps!

Sainsbury’s, Aldi, and Lidl also have free EV charging points.

You won’t find free EV charging at all big-name supermarkets though. Morrissons, Asda, and Waitrose only offer pay-as-you-go EV charging (as of spring 2022).

Attractions 🎡

Lots of attractions like museums, theme parks, garden centres, zoos, and National Trust properties have free EV charging points.

Edinburgh Zoo, for example, offers free EV charging to visitors. Wild!

Hotels and B&Bs 🛏

Lots of hotels and B&Bs offer free EV charging to their guests. A handy one to know if you’re planning a road trip in your EV.

Public and private car parks 🅿️

Places like restaurant, pub and shop car parks sometimes have free EV charging points. They can often be found at street parking areas too.

There are some restrictions, though. You might need to watch out for things like ‘customer only’ free EV charging. Some supermarkets might only let people who are actually shopping with them charge for free, for example.

Watch out for paid parking too. In some places, it might be free to charge your car but you might have to pay for parking.

Free EV charging stations map

You can search for thousands of free EV charging points and stations using the Zap-Map.

Make sure you select the option to only show free charging. Just click ‘filters’, then ‘payment’ and finally ‘free to use’. Then select ‘apply’ and get searching!

Check out the free EV charging map here.

Free EV chargers are located across Britain
Free EV chargers are located across Britain

Future of free EV chargers

Bad news: it looks like there are probably going to be less free EV charging points in the future.

One councillor recently said he thinks some local authorities will stop offering free EV charging as more people buy EVs. This number is going to keep rising as the 2030 petrol/diesel car ban looms.

Another example is the energy company Engie. They used to have 63 free EV charging points in Leeds but they started charging customers to use them in October 2021. Other companies may soon follow.

EV charging at home

Can’t find a free public EV charger near your house? Never fear: you might be able to get a discounted charger at your own home.

The Government’s EV Chargepoint Grant means people with EVs can get money towards installing a smart EV charging point at home.

You can get up to 75% of your home EV charging point paid for by the Government. That includes the cost of buying and installing it.

The cost of actually charging your car at home won’t be discounted though. You just pay for that like you would any other energy bill.

Thinking of making the switch to an EV? Here’s a quick guide to the best cheap electric cars to get you started.

Get Cuvva

Going electric is a choice, but getting insured isn’t. All cars, whether they use petrol, diesel or electricity, must be insured before they hit the road.

Luckily, Cuvva can help you get sorted - and quickly! You can get a quote in minutes, with policies from one hour to 28 days.

Updated on 15th June 2023