How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?
The time it takes to charge an electric car can be as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty to full with a 7kW charging point.
Most drivers top-up charges rather than waiting for their battery to recharge from empty to full. For many electric cars, you can add up to 100 miles of range in ~35 minutes with a 50kW rapid charger. The bigger your car’s battery and the slower the charging point, the longer it takes to charge from empty to full.
Charging an electric car is similar to charging a mobile phone; you top it up during the day if you need to and give it a full charge at home overnight.
- Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge your electric vehicle, providing between 60-200 miles of range in 20-30 mins.
- Home charging points typically have a power rating of 3.7kW or 7kW (22kW chargepoints require three phase power, which is very rare and expensive to install).
- All electric cars can charge on compatible chargepoints with a higher maximum charge rate than they can handle; they just charge at the maximum rate that they can accept.
Almost all full battery-electric cars can rapidly charge, most plug-in hybrid electric cars cannot.
Factors That Impact Charging Time
Charging times may vary due to several factors. What is your power source? How much power can your electric car handle? How can drivers charge their vehicles and get back on the road more quickly? Depending on an electric vehicle power source and battery capacity, drivers can charge their cars in as little as 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the standard. Most drivers will need about a couple of days (roughly 40 hours) to charge a fully depleted electric car battery if they use the standard three-prong plugs found in mobile devices, laptops, and the walls of most homes.
Other Factors That Impact Electric Car Charging Time:
There are 5 main factors that affect the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle.
- Size of battery: The bigger your vehicle’s battery capacity (measured in kWh), the longer it will take to charge.
- State of battery (empty vs. full): If you are charging from empty, it will take longer to charge than if you are topping up from 50%.
- Max charging rate of vehicle: You can only charge a vehicle’s battery at the maximum charge rate the vehicle can accept. For example; if your vehicle’s max charge rate is 7kW, you won’t charge any faster by using a 22kW chargepoint.
- Max charging rate of chargepoint: The time it takes to charge will also be limited by the max charging rate of the chargepoint you are using. For example; even if your vehicle can charge at 11kW, it will only charge at 7kW on a 7kW chargepoint.
- Environmental factors: A colder ambient temperature can make it take slightly longer to charge, particularly when using a rapid charger. Colder temperatures also mean vehicles are less efficient, so less miles are added per time charging.
In cold weather, bringing the cabin space (and battery) up to temperature takes energy not used to drive the car. If the car regularly heats then cools down after short journeys, you use much more energy and your range significantly reduces. This means it’s a good idea to use regular top-up charges. On longer trips, the effects of cold weather are less pronounced, though still noticeable.
Your Power Source (Electrical Outlet)
If you want to get a sense of how long it will take to charge your car, start with your power source. A Level 1 battery outlet charges at 120 volts, while Level 2 chargers can plugin places where you would usually place larger appliances like refrigerators or washing machines and charge at 240 volts.
Unlike Level 1 chargers, however, you’ll need an electrician and a 40-amp circuit to install such a charger at home. Companies like California-based startup Splitvolt have also developed splitters that let drivers use a standard 240-volt outlet without unique installations.
Level 3 chargers (also called DC fast chargers, or DCFCs) use direct current at 480 volts instead of lower-level chargers’ alternating current. However, these chargers aren’t compatible with every electric vehicle.
Also, they are both expensive and hard to find beyond public spaces like malls and parking garages. Automakers like Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Tesla offer Level 3 charging systems for their vehicles.
At the same time, third-party manufacturers like Electrify America and Sparkcharge have also produced DCFCs for cars that can use them. Beyond that, many drivers who can’t use DCFCs opt for the combined charging system (CCS). CCS supercharges its power sources by conjoining Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.
Your Car’s Charging Capacity
You should also consider your car’s charging capacity when you figure out how long it will take you to charge it. For calculations purposes, optimal charging time for your electric vehicle by dividing the battery capacity (measured in kWh) by the power rating of your car’s onboard charger, then adding 10 percent to the loss of power associated with charging it.
For example, a Tesla Model 3 Performance has an 11.5-kW charger and an 80.5 kWh battery, which would take roughly 7 hours to charge fully. However, the typical electric vehicle offers a standard 6.0 kW charger, which would more than double that car’s charging time.
DCFCs like Tesla can charge at 250 kW, which would lower that charging time to a mere 20 minutes.
What to Know About Rapid Charging?
Rapid charging seems easy and convenient, but that speed comes with a caveat. Even the fastest chargers’ charging time can decrease significantly when the battery falls under 20 percent or above 80 percent complete.
This keeps the battery from overcharging and keeps it at optimum condition. Many manufacturers often gauge charging times by how long DCFCs can get your battery charge to 80 percent.
Rapid charging is also becoming a bit easier to access thanks to initiatives like the EV Charging Network, a coalition of six electric utility giants who plan to build DCFCs across 17 interconnected states. Volkswagen is even mulling using mobile charging robots to “fill up” batteries without investing in new charging infrastructure.
What Is Top-Up Charging?
Anyone who’s ever driven a car with a standard internal combustion engine has “topped up” their gas tanks or filled them way before the gas meter hits “E.” It makes sense: After all, no one wants to run out of gas. But should you top up your electric car’s battery the same way? Not really.
The battery works best when it isn’t running below 20 percent or above 80 percent. Many manufacturers discourage topping up batteries in hot weather since the act of charging combined with excessive heat can adversely affect your electric car’s thermal management systems and internal resistance systems.
Most electric car drivers plug in to charge whenever they park, be it at home overnight or during the day at the supermarket, gym, or workplace. This is called top-up charging.
- Instead of letting the battery run empty and waiting while it fully recharges, drivers make use of the time their car is parked (which is about 95% of the time) to keep the battery topped up.
- Public and workplace charging points typically range from 7kW to 22kW, making them ideal for top up charging. Find out how to access public charging in our guide.
- Combining daytime top-up charging with overnight charging at home is an effective way to keep your electric car charged and ready to go.
How much range do you get per hour of charging?
As an electric vehicle driver, it’s useful to know how many miles of range you are getting during the time your vehicle is charging so you know you can get to your next destination.
Miles of range added per hour of charging:
|3.7kW slow||7kW fast||22kW fast||43-50kW rapid||150kW rapid|
|Up to 15 miles||Up to 30 miles||Up to 90 miles||Up to 90 miles in 30 mins||Up to 200 miles in 30 mins|
- Range per hour varies depending on how efficient your car is. Small full battery electric cars (e.g. Renault Zoe) are the most efficient and get 30 miles of range per hour charging at 7kW.
- The biggest full battery electric cars (e.g. Audi e-Tron Quattro) are heavier and get ~20 miles of range per hour at 7kW. (Plug-in hybrids are usually less efficient than full battery electric vehicles).
- How efficient a car is also depending on environmental factors like temperature. This means electric cars are more efficient and get slightly better range per hour in summer than they do in winter.
How long would it take to charge some of the leading electric cars on the road fully?
Use these approximate calculations based on a 240V Level 2 power source and charging capacity, according to the manufacturers’ websites for the following 2021 cars:
- Chevrolet Volt EV: 10 hours
- Nissan Leaf: Up to 11 hours
- Tesla Model S: 12 hours
- Karma GS-6: 4 hours
- Tesla Model 3: 12 hours
- Porsche Taycan: Up to 10.5 hours
- Mini SE Hardtop: 4 hours
- Audi E-Tron: 10 hours
- Polestar 2: 8 hours
- BMW i3: 7 hours