The popular game, The Six Degrees of Separation, claims that everyone on the planet is connected by six acquaintances or fewer.
But not Kevin Bacon. He once said that he’s worked directly with everybody in Hollywood or someone who has worked with them. Reducing his professional degrees of separation to just two.
What’s this got to do with electric cars? If you’re thinking about going electric, you need to know how far away you are from any one of the UK’s electric car charge points. We explore that and more in this article.
How many charge points are there for electric cars?
According to the Department for Transport, the average distance between charging stations is six kilometres. Since that report was published the network has expanded, reducing the separation between you and your closest charging point.
But how can you locate your closest charge point? A quick search using your postcode on charging point locator ZapMap reveals those within a five mile radius. Zoom out to take in the entire UK and you’ll see that the UK is well covered with over 6,500 charging locations and almost 19,000 connectors.
It’s important to know that not every part of the UK has equal coverage. London, Manchester and Newcastle are more like Kevin Bacon with just 100-200 metres between public charging points on average.
However, in North Devon you're likely to find a charger every 18 to 47 miles so planning is crucial to ensure access to a charger. Stumbling across Kevin Bacon is still a lot less likely.
Where to find electric car charge points
Unlike petrol stations, chargers are located in places you’re likely to spend some time, for example in car parks:
• outside hotels and supermarkets
• at gyms, spas and leisure centres
• near shopping high streets
Some of these points can only be used by customers visiting the establishment and others are publicly accessible. ZapMap highlights which you can use and where you’d need to visit the shop (or gym, hotel etc) in order to legitimately use the charge point.
Certain venues, like hotels or shopping centres, allow you to charge your car for free. Where you are charged, most power costs around £1.50 per hour. Rapid chargers tend to cost a little more as they dispense additional electricity in less time.
Most electric car drivers observe good charge point etiquette and only use public points to top up their battery sufficiently to get them home or on to their next location. This allows more people to access the chargers when they need them. Plus, replenishing your battery at home is often preferable because power is much cheaper.
How do you plan journeys in an electric vehicle?
Get the Zap Map app for Android or Apple and it’s easy to plan your journey on the go. Both the online and app versions allow you to filter out unsuitable types of electric car charge points so you only see those relevant for your vehicle.
You can refine your journey planning further by adding your:
• make and model
• single charge range
• connector type
• start and end postcodes
• current battery charge
The app assesses all this information and helps you plan the best route for your journey recommending charging locations along the way so you never run out of battery.
To use public charging points you’ll need to sign up to relevant providers. While some suppliers are nationwide, others only serve a particular region so select those which best suit your needs. This might mean you need to keep multiple membership cards in your car or you could take up a cross-company pay-as-you-go membership like Charge Your Car.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
This depends on a combination of the make and model of your car and the speed of the charger you use. They come in three speeds: rapid, fast and slow. Typically, they take between 30-60 minutes, three to four hours or six to twelve hours to charge an electric vehicle respectively.
While it is possible to charge at home overnight using a normal three pin socket, this is the slowest charging method available. However, a quicker charging point can be installed from around £400 once the government’s OLEV grant is applied. Not only will this speed up your overnight charge but it will also help you top up between journeys throughout the day.
For longer excursions, most motorway services are served by Ecotricity’s rapid charge points. They fill most cars to 80% capacity in half an hour for about £6.
Knowing how far you are from one of the UK’s many electric car charge points is an important part of electric vehicle use. As electric vehicle use increases, the six kilometres of separation between you and your closest charging point will be reduced to Kevin Bacon-esque proximity.