Charging away from home

If you’re on a long journey and need to top up, or don’t have access to a home charger, you’ll need to use a public rapid charger. These are the petrol pumps of the electric age and are popping up all over the UK. There are more than 7,000 DC rapid chargers live in the UK, with hundreds more being added every month. These chargers can recharge your electric car in minutes and are easy to use

Shell Recharge
Shell Recharge is the public rapid charging network from oil giant Shell. With points installed at a...
Gridserve is one of the most prominent public charging networks in the country, as there are points ...
​There are well over 700 Instavolt chargers installed across the country, and the firm has partnered...
Osprey charging
Osprey is investing particularly in ultra-rapid points and lots of them, all across the country. It ...

Rapid charge network guide

The UK’s rapid charging network is growing all the time. Some brands, such as Shell and bp will be familiar to many, but the electric revolution has introduced some new names, such as GRIDSERVE, Instavolt, Osprey and MFG. To discover more about the networks, select from the list...
Discover more UK public charge networks >>

Find your nearest electric car charger

How long will it take to charge my car?

Charging times depend on three main factors: the size of your battery (measured in kWh), the speed of the charger (kW) and the speed at which your car can accept a charge (kW). If that sounds confusing, you’re not alone. Working out charging times is probably the biggest bit of mental maths you’ll have to do when switching to an electric car. But don’t worry, because it’s something that you soon get used to. If you want to have a general idea of charging times, use our Charge Time Calculator below.

Charge time calculator

50kW DC rapid charger*
150kW DC rapid charger*
350kW DC rapid charger*
* Charge to 80%
Time (approx)
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What is public rapid charging?

Rapid charging allows you recharge your electric car far quicker than with a domestic AC connection. Rapid chargers have different ‘speeds’ according to how much power they can deliver. Rapid chargers vary from 50kW up to 350kW. Confusingly, electric cars limit the amount of energy they can receive when they are plugged in. The ‘charging speed’ of your car is the maximum power it can take. So, if you have a car with a maximum charging speed of 100kW, that’s the most you’ll be able to get - even if you plug in to a 350kW charger.

Electric car charging FAQs

How do I pay for rapid charging?

There are a variety of ways in which you can pay for your rapid charging session. Most chargers accept contactless payments. Just tap your card (or phone/watch if you use Apple Pay or Google Pay) on the payment terminal and you’ll be able to start charging. Some brands offer payment via their own app. All chargers are connected to the web, so if you have set up payment details in the app, all you do is select the charger that you are at and the session will start. A third option is an RFID card which some charging brands will send you on request. 

Can I charge my car at ANY rapid charging station?

Yes, but with one notable exception. Tesla has one of the biggest networks in the UK, but only 15 of its sites are open to non-Tesla drivers. If you own a Nissan LEAF or Lexus UX300e, your car will have a CHAdeMO connector. Although this is still supported by the majority of charge point operators, many sites are starting to install more CCS connectors, so you will not have as many units to choose from. 

How do I find a rapid charging station?

We recommend using a finder app such as ZapMap, PlugShare or WattsUp. These smartphone apps will show you charger locations, speeds and even live availability. Additionally, most charging brands have their own apps that also show the current status of their units. Google also details the locations of rapid chargers in the UK as part of its Google Maps app. Finally, most car navigation systems will list nearest chargers and of course provide navigation to them. 

Do I need my own cable for a rapid charger?

No. All rapid chargers come with cables attached to the units. All you need to do is plug the connector in to your car. 

Why do rapid chargers offer different speeds?

The higher the speed of a charger, the faster it will charge your car… However, bear in mind that all electric cars limit the speed at which they can charge. So if you have a car that has a peak charging speed of 100kW, that is the maximum it will accept. You can still use a more powerful charger, but it won’t charge your car up any faster. 

Can I use a more powerful charger than my car can accept?

Yes, your car will ‘talk’ to the charger via the cable and only accept power up to a certain level. You don’t need to do anything - just sit back and let the car and charger get on with it. 

How long will it take to charge my car?

This depends on a number of factors: the peak charging speed of your car, the charging speed of the charger you plug into and the condition of the battery. An empty battery will charge much faster than one that’s nearly full, for example. Rapid charging causes the battery to get hot, so your car will always turn down the charging speed to ensure that it stays as healthy as possible. Use our charging calculator to get an idea of how long your car will take to charge at a rapid charger.

Why should I only charge to 80%?

Charging a car battery with a rapid charger generates heat in the battery pack. Heat isn’t particularly good for battery health, so your car will reduce its power draw as it becomes full. Once your battery has reached 80% charged, the car will draw far less power from the charger to top up the last 20%. Unless you really need that last 20% to get to the next charger, unplugging at 80% will allow you to get back on the road much faster. 

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