How long does it take to charge an electric car?

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Charging an electric car battery is very different from charging gasoline. Charging time depends on a number of factors, including battery size and type, but it definitely takes longer than filling a car’s gas tank.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

Electric cars are gaining in popularity, but many people still want to know how long it takes to charge one in the real world before switching to gas. It’s a fair question and one that requires a different perspective on refueling than we’re used to after years of driving gasoline vehicles.

The main factors that influence the charging time of electric vehicles are:

  • The maximum charge rate of your power source
  • The maximum charge rate of your EV
  • battery size
  • Battery status at the time of charging
  • Climate

We will review each of them in turn.

Max charge rate

Two maximum charge rates are important when plugging in an EV to start it: that of its power source and that of the vehicle itself. In order for the upload to be as fast as possible, these two need to be in sync. If a charging station has a high maximum rate, it won’t matter if the EV’s maximum charge rate is lower, because an EV has its own default maximum rate.

An electric vehicle with a maximum charging rate of 7 kilowatts (kW), for example, will not charge faster than at an 11 kW charging station; it will still default to 7 kW. In contrast, if you plug a vehicle capped at 11kW into a 7kW charging station, you’ll only get a 7kW charge.

Depending on the level of charging station you use, an electric vehicle battery can take between days and half an hour to charge. This is because different charge levels deliver power to the battery at different rates.

Level 1 charging, for example, is a 120-volt wall outlet. It’s the same type of outlet you’d plug a kitchen appliance into. That’s more affordable than Tier 2 charging systems at home, but it only provides a little power: Car and Driver likens charging an EV at a Tier 1 outlet to filling a multi-gallon barrel with a spray gun. Water. You’ll get there eventually, but it takes a long time. Charging an EV battery from near-depleted to full on a level 1 output takes days.

Level 2 chargers are 240 volts and can recharge an electric car battery in a matter of hours. Wall outlets for heavier appliances, like an electric dryer, can deliver as much power. You can also have a dedicated level 2 charging station installed, but that can get expensive. An overnight charge of about eight hours is usually enough to recover most of an electric vehicle’s energy on a level 2 connection.

Level 3 fast charging stations, also called DC or DCFC fast charging stations, are the fastest to recharge an electric vehicle. The fastest ones will get you to around 80% capacity in about half an hour, and even the slowest DCFC stations will charge in about an hour. Regular DCFC stations deliver between 43-50kW of power, Tesla’s Supercharger stations can pump out up to 150kW, and the fastest fast-charging stations at the time of writing can put out a whopping 350kW. Please note that not all electric vehicles can use the faster DCFC stations; they may not have the proper plug or maximum charge rate needed to take advantage of them.

Battery size and condition

The amount of power an electric car battery has when it is plugged in for charging also affects charging time. A battery at 45% charge will take less time to recharge than one at 20%, just like any other rechargeable electronic device. It is a good idea to keep an electric vehicle battery between 20 and 80% of its capacity to prolong its life and optimal operation. To keep the battery in that range and reduce charging time, many EV drivers plug in during the day while they’re at work, having lunch, or anywhere else they’ll be staying for a while that has access to a charging station. This keeps the battery “recharged” and is known as a recharge charge.

The charge level of a battery is sometimes referred to as the “state of the battery” or “state of charge (SoC)”. If your battery’s SoC is below 20% or above 80%, most electric vehicles are programmed to reduce the charging rate to protect the battery. So even if you’re connected to a DCFC station, you won’t get full speed if your battery is outside of the optimal charging range.

It is important to consider the size of an electric car battery, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The size of the battery affects how much power it can hold, which determines the range of the car. A car with a nearly depleted 100kWh battery, for example, would take about ten hours to charge at a 10kW charging station. A 50kWh battery would take half the time using the same power source because its capacity is less. Put another way, it’s much easier to fill a glass with water than it is to fill a pool with the same garden hose.

Climate

Extreme weather will affect the charging time and charging capacity of electric cars. Extreme cold, in particular, can cause the liquid element in a lithium-ion battery to become viscous and slow down the chemical reactions needed to produce electricity. That also makes it take longer to get a full charge. Many electric vehicles come with a battery heating and cooling system to help mitigate the effects of inclement weather on charging time, and it is recommended that people use these systems to precondition the battery before connecting it to a station. load.

No flat metric yet

At the time of this writing, there is no single metric to measure the charging time of electric vehicles. The number of variables involved, from battery capacity to a vehicle’s maximum charge rate, means the answer won’t be the same for all electric vehicles.

Improvements in battery technology in the coming years will also change how quickly and how often electric car batteries need to be charged. Some manufacturers provide estimates of charging time, but most of the time it will boil down to making estimates based on your vehicle’s maximum charge capacity, battery capacity, and available charging stations in your area.

RELATED: How Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Car Battery Life?