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The UK’s best charging networks revealed

Dec18/ 2019

UK’s best EV charging networks revealed

With news of the UK’s public EV charging networks ranked by those who use them, we look at the top chargers available, what to look for when charging an EV, and how to use the charge points.

The top networks for electric car drivers have been ranked in Zap-Map’s 2019 EV Charging Survey, highlighting the pick of the public plug-in points. Users have rated 26 networks’ reliability, ease of access, speed, cost, and facilities, with both nationwide and regional operators judged.

Number one network

First in the list is Tesla’s Supercharger network, which receives praise from drivers able to use the high-power points, only accessible by Tesla owners. Following it up is InstaVolt, which is able to be used by the majority of electric vehicles, and just needs a contactless bank card to use the company’s rapid points. Pod Point comes in third place, which operates a range of charger speeds.

EV charging: what to look out for

With more than 1,600 EV drivers giving their feedback, the Zap-Map Charging Survey is a pretty good guide as to which networks are doing well. There are a few essentials to keep in mind however, depending on which EV needs charging.

The number one network is a good example, since it scores highly in the survey, but can only be used by Tesla drivers. For those driving a Nissan Leaf for example, the Tesla Supercharger network is useless.

Most pure-electric cars can be rapid charged, using those fastest points allowing a top-up in between 20-45 minutes for many models, depending on battery size.

Plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) typically can’t be rapid charged, however, so again, the rapid-charger only InstaVolt network in second place isn’t any use. Here, networks such as Pod Point in third and Polar in joint fifth, which run slow, fast, and rapid chargers, will be more useful.

Easy access chargers

For many drivers – either EV owners using the points or petrol/diesel drivers looking into it – accessing some public charge points can prove confusing.

There are a range of different access types, with the main ones being RFID card, smartphone app, and increasingly, contactless credit or debit card. This last access type is the easiest to use, with no registration or account set-up to go through before being able to charge up your electric car.

Regular users tend to sign up for an RFID card where offered, as reliability is good and all the account details are sorted beforehand. Although app access is widespread, it obviously relies on a reasonable mobile phone signal . . . and battery!

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