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How do I charge my electric car at a public charging station?

public charging stations

Faced with the urgency of climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, the market for electric vehicles market is experiencing significant growth. They are expected to account for two-thirds of worldwide sales of light vehicles by 2035, according to EV Volume. This ecological transition therefore brings with it some practical questions about charging electric vehicles away from home. As of January 1ᵉʳ, 2024, France counted 40,201 stations and 118,009 charging points according to Bison futé. This article offers a clearer picture of the use of public charging stations for current and future electric car owners. Discover a complete guide to make recharging easier when you're on the move.


Also read → The best charging stations in France

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What is a public charging station?

What are the different types of recharging point?

Understanding the different types of charging stations is essential to being able to use them better and optimize the use of your electric vehicle. Here's an overview of the different types of charging stations available.

Refill type Power Recharge time Description
Standard (or slow)
Up to 3.7 kW
8-12 hours
Ideal for night-time recharging at home or at work.
From 7 kW to 22 kW
3-4 hours
Suitable for public parking lots, shopping malls and some workplaces.
From 43 kW to 50 kW
30 minutes at 80% load
Available at rest areas and service stations. Uses mainly CHAdeMO and CCS connectors.
Very fast
Over 100 kW
Less than 20 minutes for 80% load
Ideal for long journeys, available from the latest generation of charging stations.

Charging infrastructures are developing rapidly, and several networks offer suitable solutions:


  • Ionity An ultra-fast charging network in Europe, with stations offering up to 350 kW for compatible vehicles.


  • ChargePoint Offers a wide range of charging solutions, from accelerated charging stations to fast charging stations, available in many countries.


  • ENEDIS : Set up accelerated recharging stations in public spaces, facilitating access to recharging for all electric vehicle users.

Each type of charging station has its own specific features, and choosing the right one depends on a number of factors (vehicle model, driving habits). Charging networks continue to expand, offering greater flexibility and convenience.

Also read → Top 10 best charging stations on the market in 2023

How to find them?

Being able to easily locate a charging station is important to ensure that your electric vehicle stays charged and ready for use. Here are apps and online tools for simply locating public charging stations:

  • PlugShare One of the most comprehensive and widely used applications. It features an interactive map showing the locations of charging stations, as well as user reviews, photos and details of the types of plugs available. PlugShare also lets you filter results according to charging type (standard, accelerated, fast), network and accessibility.


  • ChargeMap ChargeMap is another popular application among electric vehicle drivers. It provides detailed information on charging points in Europe, including connector types, charging power, and access times. ChargeMap also allows users to contribute by sharing new charging points or updating existing information.


  • A Better Route Planner (ABRP): For those planning a long trip, ABRP is the ideal tool. This app suggests routes optimized for electric vehicles, taking into account battery charge level, vehicle model, and the locations of fast-charging stations on your route.


  • Tesla Destination Charging and Tesla Supercharger : Tesla offers two recharging networks for its users: Superchargers for fast recharging on long journeys, and "Destination Chargers" more suited to long-distance recharging, available in hotels, restaurants and shopping centers.
Criteria PlugShare ChargeMap A Better Route Planner (ABRP)
Mainly in Europe
Available languages
Mainly English
Complete inventory of charging stations, Active community for sharing opinions, Possibility of filtering charging stations by plug type and charging speed.
Detailed map of charging stations in Europe, Powerful filters to locate stations according to your needs, Chargemap Pass for easy access to numerous charging stations
Optimized route planning for electric vehicles, Takes into accountrange and recharging requirements, Suitable for long journeys
User interface can be improved on some devices
Less extensive coverage outside Europe, some features require Chargemap Pass
Less focused on community and user feedback, Mainly in English, perhaps a disadvantage for non-English speakers.

How do you prepare your electric vehicle for recharging?

What are the right steps to take?

Identify the charging point

Use applications such as those described above to locate public charging points around you. They are managed by local authorities or private operators and can be found in various locations (parking lots, public spaces, freeways).

Ensuring access

Some recharge points accept payment by credit card, but most require an RFID badge or mobile app to unlock the trapdoor. RFID badges are often interoperable, meaning that a single card can be used to access several recharging networks.

Carry out the correct checks before connection

Make sure your vehicle and cable are compatible with the terminal. Most public charging stations offer several types of plug (Type 2 being the standard in Europe), and various power levels. Choose the right power level for your electric vehicle. This will avoid damaging the battery.

Proceed with recharging

Once the charging station has been identified and the vehicle properly connected, the charging process can begin. Some kiosks offer the option of monitoring charging progress via an integrated communication tablet, displaying information such as charging time, energy consumed and cost.

Check pricing

The price of a charge at a public charging station varies according to the operator, the type of charge (normal, accelerated, fast), and sometimes the time of day. Be sure to check the rates before you start charging, to avoid any surprises.


Also read → Charging station: the new QR code scam

What payment options are available?

The payment options available are diversified to meet the needs of each user. They can pay using a variety of payment methods:


  • Mobile application: The mobile application is extremely easy to use, enabling users to locate charging stations, launch a recharge and pay from their smartphone.


  • Credit card: This is a practical option for occasional users or those who don't want to bother with subscriptions or specific applications.


  • Subscription : This is an economical solution for regular users of electric vehicles. It gives access to a network of charging stations at reduced rates.


Please note: some operators offer free refills or reduced rates during certain hours. 

Good to know

Can a public charging station recharge two vehicles at the same time?

Yes, but the charging power will be shared between the two electric cars.

Are there any public charging stations powered solely by renewable energies?

Yes, solar or wind power can be used for a more ecological recharge.

Can loyalty points from a supermarket chain be used to pay for recharging at their public charging points?

Some operators have partnerships with supermarket chains. The latter can offer benefits or discounts to their loyalty cardholders.

Can I receive an alert on my phone when a nearby public charging point becomes available?

Most charging applications have an option for receiving an alert when a charging point becomes available.

Picture of Adrien-Maxime MENSAH
Adrien-Maxime MENSAH

If you believe in the electrification of vehicles, you're already halfway towards your ecological transition. That's why I'm offering you some content on the electric vehicle environment.

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