How to find electric car charging points: Zap Map

This handy app and website helps you quickly find a place to charge your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, all over the UK


Many potential buyers of electric cars are worried about being able to find somewhere to charge their car when they're out and about and away from their home wallbox.

But often the worries are unfounded. The number of public charging locations in the UK is increasing fast.

As of late 2019, there were almost 10,000 places to charge across the country, with nearly 16,000 individual charging points and over 27,000 individual charging connectors spread across those.

They can be located anywhere from fuel-station forecourts to supermarket car-parks, or even side streets.

But a relative lack of signs to guide drivers to them means it can be tough to find a charging point at first – especially if your car’s sat-nav maps haven’t been updated in a while.

You'll also want to know if a charging point is free to use, if it's working properly, how fast it can charge and what (if any) charging provider's network you need to be a member of to use it.

Nissan Leaf charging

This is where services like Zap Map come in. They not only help owners not only find a charging station nearby, but can also plan a route there and give an indication of how much it'll cost.

Zap Map explained

The vast majority of UK charging points are listed at for any electric-car owner or driver to find. Click on the map icon and you'll see the entire network across the UK.

To find the closest one to you, type your postcode and Zap Map will show you all available charging stations nearby. You can then click on individual icons to find out more information.

Things like whether the point is free to use and the type of charging cables it has are listed, as is commentary from previous drivers – such as whether the facilities nearby are nice or if they’ve ever had issues using the point.

You can also find the cost, often displayed as pounds per kWh, and whether the charger needs a subscription account to use, or if you can pay directly. This will help you compare various charging prices from nearby stations, much like comparing fuel prices across local forecourts.

You can also see which provider runs the charging point, so you can swiftly report any issues either directly to the station provider, or via Zap Map’s own service.

Finding the right connector and charging speeds

The Zap Map view can also be filtered by either connector or charging speeds. The left-hand side of the map has a menu that allows you to tick which connectors or speeds you’re after. This way, you can choose a station that has, for example, a rapid charger for a quick top-up.

What’s also helpful is the map shows you whether or not the station is in use, meaning you won’t spend unnecessary time and money driving to a location, only to find the charging bay occupied.

One of the filtering options is to filter by service and network provider. Different networks require different cards to use the machines, so it’s important to make sure that any station you choose, you are already a member of, or can use it without registering for an account.  

Also, if you’re unsure which type of connector your car has, the easiest thing to do is to filter the map with the make and model of your vehicle – this will show you only available stations that have cables to suit your car. Again, this can be done on the left-hand side of the map.

Route planning

If you’re going for a long drive, it’s worth planning the route in advance or at least having an idea of where the charging stations are along the journey. Zap Map has this covered, too, with its route planning feature.

Are there other services like Zap Map I should consider?

OpenChargeMap is another mapping service that shows nearby stations, whether they're operational and if they’re free to use. Its coverage extends to European countries, whereas Zap Map only covers the UK.

If you’re going on a Continental holiday in an electric or plug-in hybrid car, OpenChargeMap will help you find charging points along your route or around the destinations you’ll be staying at.

You’ll have access to their exact addresses, whether they need a subscription or not, and the type of connectors available.

Google Maps lets users locate charging points by searching for phrases such as 'EV charging' or 'EV charging stations'. As well as showing the nearest charging points, Google provides information on the type of charger available and the various charging speeds on offer.

Explore what businesses should know before installing their first EV charge points.

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