Power Play: How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

Woman charging an electric car

When shopping for a new car, it makes sense to test drive a few different models in order to choose the vehicle that’s right for you. The same goes for charging time when shopping for electric vehicles.

One of the biggest questions to keep in mind when browsing around the car lot or online is just how long it takes to juice up that battery. The first thing to understand is that EV charging time varies widely from model to model. The length of time to get to a full battery pack is dependent on a variety of factors

So, how long does it take to charge an electric car fully? Whether you’re utilizing a home charging system or a public charging station, things like battery capacity, battery size, charging rate, and even the temperature outside all play a role.

Most electric car drivers use their chargepoint to “top up” on battery power versus doing a full charge from empty, not unlike stopping at the gas station before the low fuel light comes on. 

Let’s break down the basic variables that impact the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle.

The Basics of Electric Car Charging

While the specific time it takes for an electric car to reach a full charge is not standard, there are common factors that go into how long any EV takes to charge. This breakdown will give you an idea of the factors involved in EV charging and how they can affect charging speed. 

Battery Size

The lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles are not unlike the rechargeable batteries that your cell phone or laptop uses. While they’re much, much bigger, the battery technology is quite similar.

Battery size is measured in kWh, or kilowatt-hours. Electric car batteries can range in size from 17.6 kWh to 100 kWh. The larger an electric vehicle’s battery capacity, the longer it takes to charge. 

For example, a 50-kWh battery could take about 8 hours with a Level 2 home EV charging station and about 22 hours with a domestic socket, which is a standard electrical outlet that one would use for a phone charger. But a 100-kWh battery could take about 12 hours with a Level 2 charger and about 53 hours with a domestic socket.

Battery Status

Battery status simply refers to how much charge your EV battery has. Batteries that need a complete “fill up” take longer to charge than batteries that simply require a “top off” of power.

Charging Station

Whether you’re utilizing a public charging station or a home charging station, the amount of time each takes to replenish your car’s battery doesn’t change. This is known as vehicle charging rate.

An electric car’s charging rate refers to how much of a charge your vehicle can take in during a single charge. 

Even if you’re driving a particular EV that has a large kWh battery, it can only refill as fast as your charging point’s charging rate. An hour of charging at a station with a fast charging rate will replenish your battery faster than one with a slower charging rate.

A Level 1 charging station charges EV batteries through a 120-volt alternating current (AC) supplying an average recharge output of 1.3-2.4 kilowatts per hour. 

This equates to approximately 3.5 miles of EV range per hour charged. 

Level 2 charging stations charge EV batteries through 240 volts of AC power supplying an average recharge output of between 3-19 kW per hour. 

This equates to approximately 18 miles of range per hour charged.

A Level 3 charging station, also known as a DC Fast Charging station, charges EV batteries through a 200-600V DC and with a recharge output 50+ kW per hour. Level 3 charging stations require so much electricity that they are rarely utilized as home chargers and instead utilized at public charging stations. A Level 3 charging station can completely recharge an electric vehicle‘s lithium-ion battery pack in under an hour.

Weather and Temperature

Extremely hot and extremely cold temperatures can change the behavior of an electric vehicle‘s battery chemistry. In very cold temperatures, lithium-ion battery packs resist charging and do not hold their charge as long

In very hot temperatures, prolonged use of an electric car’s air conditioner can be an added drain on charging cycles.The same goes for when it’s cold out and you crank the heat for long periods.

Battery Life

The minimum warranty for every electric car battery sold in the United States is eight years or 100,000 miles.

Some auto manufactures even go beyond that. For instance, Kia gives its battery packs a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty, and Hyundai offers lifetime coverage. 

Automakers BMW, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Volkswagen offer customers a promise to replace their EV’s battery unit should it fail during their ownership of the car.

Early research indicates that the lithium-ion battery packs that operate in states with frequent high temperatures tend to lose their overall capacity quicker than those in more temperate regions.

Fastest Charging Electric Vehicles in 2021

New battery technology emerges with each passing model year that aims to improve common EV charging problems, such as battery degradation, battery performance, and energy storage. So what are the fastest-charging electric vehicles for 2021?

Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan

Battery capacity: 79.2 kWh

Approximate home charging time for full battery: 12 hours

MPG/MPGe: 79 city/80 highway

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP): $79,900

The 2021 Porsche Taycan is an all-electric four-door luxury sports car that currently boasts some of the fastest charging times on the EV market.

At a Level 1 charging station, the Porsche Taycan can achieve a full battery charge in 24 hours.

At a Level 2 charging station, the car’s battery is fully charged in 9.5 to 10.5 hours.

Unfortunately, the car’s high price point makes it an impractical choice for most drivers.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Battery capacity: 75 kWh

Approximate home charging time for full battery: 8 hours

MPG/MPGe: 150 city/133 highway

MSRP: $38,490

The Tesla Model 3 is suited for both commuters and small families, thanks to its reasonable MSRP and comfortable interior. The car also features an optional all-wheel drive package for improved traction, something that remains rare in the electric car market.

At a Level 1 charging station, the Tesla Model 3 reaches a full charge in about 35 hours.

At a Level 2 charging station, the Tesla Model 3 battery car reaches a full charge in 7.5 hours.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Battery capacity: 60 kWh

Approximate home charging time for full battery: 10 hours

MPG/MPGe: 117 combined city/highway

MSRP: $69,420

While expensive compared to more practical EVs on the market, the Tesla Model S offers a Level 2 (240 V) charging time of approximately 23 hours, although its Level 1 charging time of four days is considerably slower. 

Although it offers seating for just four passengers, the Tesla Model S offers an in-car video gaming system that may appeal to families with young children.

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

Battery capacity: 40 kWh

Approximate home charging time for full battery: 8 hours

MPG/MPGe: 123 city/99 highway

MSRP: $31,670

The Nissan Leaf‘s 40 kWh battery is small compared to most of the competition. The silver lining of its small battery size is its impressive affordability.

The 2021 Nissan Leaf’s Level 1 charging time is 20 hours, while its Level 2 charging time is between 4 and 8 hours. 

Nissan’s popular EV hatchback offers impressive cargo room with the rear seats folded, which makes it one of the most functional all-electric vehicles currently on the market.

Charging Ahead

So, how long does it take to charge an electric car? The charging time of electric vehicles ranges considerably based on battery size and type of charge. Before choosing an electric vehicle and home charger, consult an electrician to see what level charging station would be most effective or your home and budget.

With a little experience, EV owners tend to recognize their electric vehicle‘s battery and charging tendencies and develop a routine to maximize battery performance.

Take some time to survey the availability of public charging stations near your home or place of work or other locations that you frequent so you can get a better idea of what’s available within the driving areas you go to most often.

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