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How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Car?

Don’t worry, you won’t go gray waiting for all those electrons to fill up your battery.

The Drive

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So you’re thinking about trading in your gas-guzzling SUV for a futuristic, energy-efficient, quiet-as-a-nun-walking-through-the-Vatican fully electric vehicle? Mazel Tov! But you’re wondering how long it takes to charge an EV? Well, fine sir or madam, you’ve come to the right place.

The electron pit-stop offers different charge rates based on capability, type of charger, weather, temperature, how many cars are connected to the station, time of day, and your car’s battery capacity. As such, EV chargers often require a quick tutorial by the manufacturer or dealer. But just like pumping gas, after a few fill-ups it becomes second nature.


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To make understanding EV jargon easier, The Drive’s crack How-To department is here to answer just how long it takes to charge an electric vehicle, along with a handful of other frequently asked questions about EVs. 


Types of Electrical Vehicle Chargers 

Nearly every electric vehicle comes with a factory-provided charger, but manufacturers and third-party businesses offer faster, more efficient chargers, too. These can be installed by an electrician or be gas station-like chargers installed throughout the country.

Here’s a quick rundown of the type of chargers available:

  • Manufacturer-Provided Level 1 Outlet Charger (~3.7kW)

    • The simplest form of EV charging, Level 1 chargers have a standard, three-prong household plug on one end, and a connector on the other end that plugs into the vehicle.
    • These chargers, which are usually portable and do not require installation by an electrician, dispense electricity at a wall outlet’s normal 120-volt rate. 
  • Manufacturer- or Third-Party-Offered Level 2 Charger (~6.6kW)

    • A handful of EV manufacturers and third-party providers offer quicker-charging 240-volt units. Residential Level 2 chargers are usually installed by an electrician and require a dedicated 40-amp circuit. Level 2 chargers can also be found in public places like parking lots, offices, and other commercial locations. 
  • Manufacturer-Built Standalone Fast Charger (~150-250kW)

    • The Tesla Supercharger network uses a proprietary 480V direct-current system. Tesla’s Supercharger network only works with Tesla vehicles. 
  • Third-Party Standalone Fast Charger (~150kW)

    • Like Tesla’s Supercharger network, the third-party fast-charging networks use a 480-volt system commonly known as DC fast charging but can accommodate a variety of electric vehicles. Third-party DC fast charging networks include ChargePoint, EVGo, and Electrify America.
  • Manufacturer-Built Standalone Ultra-Fast Charger (~350kW)

    • Porsche uses an 800-volt electrical architecture to enable ultra-fast charging of its Taycan EV. Currently in the U.S., only the Electrify America network, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America, has chargers that can accommodate Porsche’s 800V system (although the Taycan can also use 480-volt DC fast charging, albeit at a slower charge rate). Other  Volkswagen Group vehicles with the 800-volt system, like the Audi e-tron GT, will be able to use ultra-fast charging.

Author waiting for a charge in the rain. (J.F. Musial)

How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Car?

Now that you have an idea of the types of chargers available, here are The Drive’s estimates of how long it will take your electric car to charge, variables notwithstanding.

  • Manufacturer-Provided Level 1 Charger 

    • Tesla, Jaguar, Audi, Porsche, Nissan, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Honda, Mini, Volkswagen
    • 11 to 30 hours
  • Manufacturer-Offered Level 2 Charger 

    • Tesla, Jaguar, Audi, Porsche, Nissan, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Honda, Mini, Volkswagen
    • 4 to 6 hours
  • Manufacturer-Built Fast Charger 

  • Third-Party Fast Charger 

    • Electrify America, ChargePoint
    • 40 minutes to an hour
  • Manufacturer-Built Ultra-Fast Charger 

  • Top-Up Charging 

    • Top-up charging refers to replenishing your EV's battery before it runs dry. Typically, EV owners will top-up charge when they get to their destination or once they return home. 
    • Public chargers generally fall under the Level 1 or Level 2 category. Making top-up charging times fall in between the 4 to 30-hour range. 

Rimac C_Two Charge Indicator (Keiron Berndt)

What Are The Variables That Affect Charge Speed?

While conventional gasoline pumps have a predetermined flow rate, which can be somewhat affected by the number of cars fueling up, a charger’s is subject to a great many more variables that affect how quickly its EV juice is dispensed.

Here are some variables that affect an electric car’s charge speed:

  • Ambient temperature

    • Colder temperatures affect a battery’s electrochemical reactions, thus charge speeds will slow as the mercury drops. Likewise, range is affected negatively by cold weather. 
  • Charger type

    • They type of charger (see above) determines whether you’re in for a  quick pit-stop or a long lunch.
  • Amount of EVs connected to a station

    • Generally, the more EVs connected to a charging station the slower the charge rate.
  • Vehicle’s battery size

    • EVs are offered with a variety of battery sizes; the capacity of an EV’s battery (measured in kilowatt-hours) determines how quickly it charges. For example, the Tesla Model S and Model X are available with a high-capacity 100 kWh battery, while the base-model Hyundai Kona’s battery is 39.2 kWh. 
  • Vehicle’s battery depletion

    • A fully depleted battery will charge slower than a half-full battery. To ensure a battery’s longevity, an EV’s battery management system will retard the flow to protect the battery.
  • Time of day

    • Depending on where you live, power delivery could be affected by the time of day you charge your EV. Peak usage hours may slow a charger’s rate as more electricity is drawn from the grid.

(Jonathon Klein)

How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Vehicle?

In the U.S., the national average cost per kWh is around $0.13 but can reach $0.32 per hour in Hawaii— aloha. On average, however, you’ll spend less charging your EV than you would fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle.

There are also costs associated with your selected charger. Standard Level 1 chargers are normally included in the price of a vehicle, but if you want a faster Level 2 charger, that’ll require more investment as they’re more than just a plug-and-play setup. 

Tesla offers its Gen 3 wall charger for $500, and third-party chargers can range from $400 to $900, plus $1,500 to $2,000 for installation.

How Far Can You Travel In an Electric Car?

How far you can travel in an electric vehicle has become a sticking point, with many potential buyers citing “ range anxiety” as the biggest hurdle to adoption. 

Just like a gasoline-powered car, the estimated electric range varies from car to car. Consumers can get anywhere from 84 miles in a Fiat 500e to well into the 300-mile range in an EV like a Tesla Model 3 Long Range or Porsche Taycan

Considering the average American’s commute is 16 miles, any of the current EVs offer more than enough range. Charging stations are also becoming more common along highways making long-distance road trips achievable.


Fully Electric Rally Racer (Extreme E)

Are Electric Vehicles Reliable?

Electric vehicles are still in their infancy and as such can still suffer from build quality issues that commonly affect the first-generation system. That will change

As subsequent evolutions of the electric vehicle roll off the assembly line, EVs have the real potential to be more reliable than any gasoline-powered car. An electric car requires only a few moving parts, as well as few parts that require fluids that could be corrupted by the elements, fuel, particulates, or grease. Thus, electric cars won’t need as much maintenance and could triple a car’s longevity. 

FAQs About Electric Vehicle Charging Speeds

You've got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q. So how fast are home 7kW chargers?

A. As shown about, they'll supply about 30 miles of range in one hour. Though, at-home chargers are getting faster as the tech proliferates.

Q. What's the quickest-charging electric car?

A. That would be either the Porsche Taycan or Audi E-tron GT, both of which ride on the same electrical architecture and can make use of the 800v ultra-fast charging. 

Q. Can you overcharge your electric car?

A. You can and can't. Most manufacturers have built-in safe guards so that you don't overcharge your vehicle. Tesla actually released a patch that modifies its car's thermal loads and charge capabilities after a handful of cars spontaneously combusted. 

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This post originally appeared on The Drive and was published May 19, 2021. This article is republished here with permission.

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