How long does it take to charge an electric car?

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Every model of EV is different, so drivers can expect varying charging times depending on the make and model of their vehicle. Similarly, chargepoints come in various capacities, some capable of charging much quicker than others.

EVs run off of lithium-ion batteries. The battery capacity is measured in Kilowatt hours (kWh) and has a direct impact on the vehicle’s range. Think of the battery size as similar to the engine size of an ICE vehicle.

Smaller EVs have a reduced battery size, with some as little as 30kWh. An EV with a 30kWh battery can hold around 100 miles on a full charge. On the other end of the scale, some luxury EV models have a battery capacity of 100kWh, travelling around 300 miles on a single charge. The exact mileage will also depend on the efficiency of the vehicle model. 

With both extremes in mind, the average EV battery size is around 60kWh, so that’s the vehicle size we’re using for the upcoming figures in this blog post.

 

Understanding chargepoint speeds

There are four classifications of chargepoint speed on the market:

 

  • Slow: 3kW – 5kW. BEVs are not recommended to be charged by a slow charger due to the very low electrical output. PHEVs have a smaller battery (often below 25kWh) so are more suitable for a slow charger.
  • Fast: 7kW – 22kW. Fast chargers are the standard for most public and home chargepoints. A higher wattage, such as 22kW, will charge the vehicle quicker than a lower figure, such as 7kW.
  • Rapid: 43kW – 50kW. Rapid chargepoints can often be found at petrol stations and motorway services, but can sometimes be found at public charging stations, such as in a supermarket car park.
  • Ultra-rapid: 100kW / 150 kW / 350kW. Chargepoints with a wattage this high are usually only found at motorway service stations or luxury car dealerships.

 

Rapid and ultra-rapid chargepoints will charge an EV the quickest, but will also cost the most to use. They can be very handy for a quick top-up when driving a long distance but are unnecessarily powerful and pricey for longer stints of charging, such as overnight.

There are also three levels of chargepoint:

 

  • Level One: 120-volt. Level One chargers output between 1.3kW and 2.4kW. They can be plugged into a standard home wall socket to charge an EV. However, they are often too slow to charge a BEV but can be more suitable for PHEVs.
  • Level Two: 208-volt – 240-volt. Level Two chargers range from 3kW to 22kW. This is the most common level for everyday charging, including home, public and business chargepoints.
  • Level Three: 400-volt – 900-volt. This is the fastest level of chargepoint, with models starting at 50kW and going up to 400kW. DC Chargers and Tesla Superchargers are Level Three chargepoints.

No matter the speed of the chargepoint, any EV will be limited by its on-board charger (OBC). The OBC is a device built into the EV that converts AC power from external sources, such as a chargepoint, to DC power that charges the vehicle’s battery. Any EV can be safely plugged into any speed charger, but if the EV’s OBC is limited to 50kW, it will never exceed this speed, even when plugged into a 150kW ultra-rapid chargepoint.

 

So, how long does it take to charge an electric car? 

Taking the above information into consideration, here’s how long it will take to charge an average EV with different chargepoints:

  • A slow 3.7kW chargepoint can fully charge the average EV in around 16 hours, providing up to 15 miles per hour charged.
  • A 7kW fast charger will take around 8 hours to fully charge, providing up to 30 miles per hour charged.
  • A 22kW fast charger can fully charge an EV in around 3 hours, topping up the vehicle with up to 90 miles per hour.
  • 50kW rapid chargepoints can provide up to 180 miles per hour when the vehicle is on charge, which is roughly the average range of an EV, so the vehicle will fully charge in around an hour.
  • 150kW ultra-rapid chargepoints can recharge up to 400 miles per hour, charging the average EV from empty to full in around 30 minutes.

 

Factors impacting EV charge speed

As we’ve mentioned throughout this blog post, the size of your EV’s battery and OBC, coupled with the kW outputs and level of the chargepoint will impact how quickly it will charge. 

Another factor is how much charge the vehicle has to begin with. That may seem obvious, as a vehicle with a higher percentage of battery should charge quicker than one that is nearly empty. However, the level of charge your battery has before you plug in has a big impact on the charging speed. EVs have a battery management system designed to protect the battery when it is nearly empty or full. When charging an EV from almost empty, charging will start slowly, speeding up once the vehicle has a reasonable amount of charge, then slowing back down when it reaches around 80% capacity. Therefore, you may find that your vehicle charges from 50% – 80% quicker than it charges from 80% to 100%. It’s advised to not charge your EV over 80% unless you really need the additional mileage for a trip.

A final factor that can impact charging speed is the ambient temperature. Extremes in hot and cold temperatures can drastically reduce charging efficiency. Cold temperatures in particular can pose a range of issues for your EV and its battery – find out more here.

 

Practising top-up charging

‘Top-up’ charging is the method of plugging in your EV at any given opportunity, to regularly recharge in smaller increments compared to a bulk of hours at once. If you have a home chargepoint, charging opportunities at your workplace, or regularly visit places like a supermarket, restaurant or gym with charging facilities, try topping up your vehicle gradually throughout the day rather than charging all at once.

Top-up charging may seem like it’ll make little difference to your EV charging experience, but since your vehicle is parked up for around 95% of the time, charging at these times can make it feel as though you never need to charge! Having to dedicate time to charge your vehicle can start to get a bit tedious and inconvenient for many.

There’s no cut-and-dry answer for how quickly an EV will charge. Having a home chargepoint that you use regularly makes it much easier to gauge so that you aren’t caught waiting around unexpectedly for your vehicle to charge. And if you don’t already, try out top-up charging to see what difference it makes to your schedule!

If you’re looking to install a chargepoint at home or your business, contact us to find out how we can help.

If you had difficulty understanding any of the terminology or acronyms in this post, check out our handy EV glossary.

 

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