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how long does it take to charge an electric car

The question of how long it takes to charge an electric car is not as simple as it might seem at first. In reality, there are many factors that can affect charging speed: battery size, battery condition, charging point capacity, environmental factors, and the list goes on.

All of these will intertwine and create all sorts of different answers that will range between 30 minutes to over 12 hours, depending on the specific combination of factors.

What factors affect EV charging speed?

Let’s explore the ins and outs of charging an electric car and how long it actually takes to do so in this complete guide.

Read more about:

  • Battery size: How long does an electric car battery last?
    • Battery maximum capacity
  • Charging station type
    • Rapid charger
    • Fast charger
    • Slow charger
  • Environmental factors
  • Charging habits
    • Top up charging
    • Overnight charging

Battery size: How long does an electric car battery last?

When dipping your toes into the electric vehicle world, one can quickly find out that there are many different vehicle features to pay attention to. One of them is the battery size, meaning the battery capacity to store energy and run the vehicle with it.

But even within some of the most popular electric vehicle models, such as the Jaguar I Pace and the Nissan LEAF, batteries vary much in size – the first one carries a battery of 90 kWh and the second is less than half that size, at 40 kWh.

Read more: The 20 longest range electric cars for any budget

Now, it might come as no surprise when we say that if both vehicles are charging under the exact same circumstances (charger type, same initial amount of battery, weather, etc.), charging times for a large EV battery will be longer, versus a smaller battery size taking a shorter time to charge – the amount of energy they can take on differs.

From our two examples, the I Pace will take longer to charge than the LEAF, just because of the simple fact that the car’s battery is much larger.

  • If the I Pace is charging on a 22 kWh charge point, it will fully charge in about 4 hours.
  • If the LEAF is charging on a 22 kWh charge point, it will complete a full charge in just under 2 hours.

To know how long it will take to charge your electric car from empty to full, there is a simple equation:

Battery size/ Charger capacity = Charging time

Battery maximum capacity

The battery’s maximum capacity is what will determine how much energy per hour the vehicle will be able to take while being plugged in to a charger.

Our previous examples, for instance, can take a maximum of 90 kWh, and 40 kWh while charging respectively.

It’s worth noting that it is possible to charge an electric vehicle in a charger that has a higher maximum charging rate than the battery itself. The battery just won’t be able to charge faster than the vehicle’s maximum charging rate will allow.

Charging station type: How long does it take to charge an electric car at a charging station?

Charging station type

Rapid charging stations, fast charging stations, and slow charging stations – what makes all of these different, and how do they affect the charging time?

Regardless of whether we are talking about dc charging or ac charging, the short answer is that the charging rate, meaning the charging speed, is what differentiates them from each other. Here’s a small breakdown:

Rapid chargers

This type of charging is most commonly found at public charging stations, especially in motorway service stations. Rapid chargers are most well known for being able to leave most electric vehicles fully recharged in 30 minutes to an hour or even less.

Chargers of this kind can be found with different charging capacities: 43 kWh, 50kWh and Tesla’s superchargers even have a capacity of 150 kWh.

Although only Tesla owners can take advantage of the last rapid charger, these charging points are ideal for long road trips, especially for topping up when your battery is getting low.

Did you know?

When charging on a rapid station, the first 80% of the battery will charge at the maximum speed that the charging point can give and that the battery capacity can take.

Interestingly, the leftover 20% of the battery will charge at a much slower rate no matter what the power rating was like before, although the price for charging per kilowatt will be the same.

That is why it is recommended to charge the first 80% on a rapid charger and the remaining 20% on a fast charger.

Learn more: Unravelling the charging frontier: Why the EV roaming market needs a rethink

Fast charger

Fast charging stations will fully charge most electric vehicles, from empty to 100%, in 4-6 hours. Big batteries of 75 kWh and up will generally take about 5-10 hours to complete charging. Fast chargers are very popular at public car parks, but also they are often used for home charging as well.

This type of charge point allows for 22 or 7 kilowatt per hour, and most of the time they work with a three phase electricity supply, which is now the charging standard across Europe.

AC versus DC fast charging

AC versus DC fast charging

An important distinction that you might want to take into account at this point is the difference between charging stations that rely on AC charging and DC charging. The main difference between the two has to do with whether the AC power is converted inside or outside the car.

An AC charging point rellies on the car’s onboard charger for passing the power further to the vechicle’s battery. On the contrary, a DC charging point is able to transform the power itself making onboard chargers unecessary.

At the moment most public charging infrastructure uses AC charging but more and more public dc fast charging is expected to appear soon making the charging time for an EV even shorter.

Slow charger

Slow charging is, unsurprisingly, the slowest form of charging an EV. This happens since these chargers are only able to give 3.7 kWh to a battery. Even for the smallest of batteries, this can mean 4 hours of charging.

If we think about our earlier examples of a battery with a 90 kWh and 40 kWh capacity, it would take them 24 and 11 hours respectively to get a full charge out of these stations.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors

It should be a well known fact that colder temperatures will not only affect charging times, but also how much power a vehicle uses in a certain amount of time.

In cold weather, both the charging stations and the electric cars become less efficient at the time of giving, receiving and spending energy.

A study conducted on taxies in New York City found that when a Nissan LEAF was charged at 20 degrees Celsius, the battery would charge to 80% in 30 minutes. In contrast, when charged at 0 degrees Celsius the battery could only reach 44% in the same amount of time.

Charging habits

Another factor that will also affect how long it will take to charge an electric car involves your charging habits and schedule. Similarly to when you pump fuel into a petrol or diesel car, one can choose to charge more often but for less time, or less often but for more time.

Top up charging

The first option is top up charging, and it can be done both at a home charger or at public charging points. Top up charging means that a person won’t let their battery run very low, and they will charge their vehicle whenever they have the chance to – both at public and private chargers.

For many drivers that don’t personally own a home charger, this schedule for EV charging can be the most convenient and safest to make sure that their car always has the power it needs.

Here is where public rapid charging stations come in handy – these can be found at work, parking lots, shops, restaurants and more.

Read also: Over half of EV drivers can’t charge at work – Here’s why they want to

What this charging method also allows for is to not have to spend as much time parked by a charging station. Given that one will be adding about 30% more power to the battery, waiting times are much lower than they would be if more power was needed.

Overnight charging

Overnight charging
Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

To charge an electric car home overnight is the preferred charging option by home charger owners. Most of these home chargers are the rapid chargers we referred to earlier, and the majority of them are connected to WiFi and act as smart charging stations.

This type of charging schedule takes about 4 to 6 hours for most electric cars, as it usually charges from nearly empty to essentially full. While it is possible to do this at a public charger (typically at a parking lot) it is not very common.

For this type of schedule, one must simply plug in their electric car to their home charging station and set up either a smart or instant charging. By the time one wakes up in the morning, the electric car will be fully charged, just like a mobile phone would.

Read also: The 30+ Best Charge Points for EV Drivers

How long do electric cars run on a full charge?

electric cars

We have established that it is quite impossible to give one straight answer for how long it takes electric cars to refill their batteries – there are too many variables – but for the most part it takes just a handful of hours.

That being said, for each type of charger you can add up to certain amount of miles of driving range.

How much range can you get by per hour of charging? Your battery range will gain:

Slow charger

  • A 3.7 kW per hour charger will add up to 15 miles of range per hour to a vehicle

Fast charger

  • A 7 kW per hour charger will add up to 30 miles of range per hour to a vehicle
  • A 22 kW per hour charger will add up to 90 miles or range to a vehicle

Rapid charger

  • A 43-50 kW charger will add up to 90 miles or range to a vehicle in 30 minutes
  • A 150 kW charger will add up to 200 miles of range to a vehicle in 30 minutes (only available for use by a Tesla model vehicle)

All in all, it becomes evident that the time needed to charge an electric car depends on a plethora of factors, such as the battery size, the charging station type and the time of charging.


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