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How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

Kristie Leong looks for answers to questions consumers have.

How Long It Takes to Charge Varies With the Charger

It takes from half an hour to 24 hours to charge your car, depending on the type of charger you use. The charging time also depends on how depleted your battery is, the type of battery, and the environment and temperature you live in.

Is Charging Time a Deal-Breaker When Deciding to Buy an Electric Car?

Here are some of the best reasons to drive a plug-in electric car:

  • Electric cars save you money on gas and don't require oil changes.
  • Electric cars have fewer moving parts than gas-powered cars.
  • Electric cars can be charged from renewable energy sources.
  • Electric cars are incredibly quiet and smooth to drive.
  • Electric cars don't produce emissions while driving

The main difference between electric and gas-powered cars is the electric car's power plant. The electric car has rechargeable batteries that connect with the electric motor (which drives its wheels). In contrast, a gas car has an engine that sits under its hood, burning gasoline to make the car run.

With an electric car, you don't need fuel; all you need to do to continue your journey down the road is recharge it, by plugging it into an electrical outlet at your home, public charging station, or elsewhere.

Although EVs have lower upfront costs than their gas-guzzling counterparts, they have one major drawback: range anxiety, or the fear that your car won't make it to its destination before battery capacity runs down. And charging takes time. Is the time it takes to charge an electric car a deal-breaker?

How Fast Can You Charge an Electric Car?

If you live in a city, you're likely to have more charging stations available. Public charging infrastructure is becoming more commonplace in cities, and charging stations are often readily available. If you live in a smaller city or a more rural area, you'll find far fewer. Hopefully that will change in the future.

Once you're at a charging station, how long does it take to charge an electric car? It depends on the weather, the kind of charger you're using, and other factors. Fast chargers can charge your EV in as little as 30 minutes with up to 150 kW of power. This allows drivers with fast charging capabilities to travel hundreds of miles on just a single charge.

What Type of Charger Do You Need for Your EV?

There are three types of EV chargers: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and DC Fast. Each type provides different charging speeds.

  • Level 1: These chargers come with the EV. They plug into a standard 120-volt wall outlet and supply approximately 2-5 miles of range per hour of charging. It takes 20 to 24 hours to charge an EV with a fully depleted battery using a Level 1 charger.
  • Level 2: This type of charger is more powerful than a Level 1 charger, and is usually installed at the owner's home or workplace. A Level 2 charger requires an electrician to install a 240-volt outlet that can provide between 10-20 miles of charging per hour, depending on the EV model. It takes roughly 4 hours to charge an EV with a fully depleted battery using a Level 2 charger.
  • Level 3: 480-volt fast charging is used only at public charging stations. It can fully charge an EV in around 30 minutes and usually costs money.
  • DC Fast: This type of charger is the most powerful charger and can provide between 25-100 miles of range per 15 minutes of charging, depending on the EV model. You usually find public DC fast chargers can be along well-traveled highways for drivers going on long trips in an EV and at rest stops.

Which Type of Charger Is Best?

Level 1 has the slowest charging time and is for people who charge their car overnight or don't need a quick turnaround on charging. Level 2 is faster and better if you need to charge your car during the day and can't afford to wait for a long time. Level 3 chargers are extremely fast and typically found in public charging stations, but you should research them beforehand because they might not be compatible with your car.

Most electric vehicles come with a level 1 charger, but it makes sense to upgrade to level 2 if you use your electric vehicle frequently.

References:

  • "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging - US EPA." 28 Jan. 2022, epa.gov/greenvehicles/plug-electric-vehicle-charging.
  • "Electric Vehicle Charging Guide | ChargeHub." chargehub.com/en/electric-car-charging-guide.html.
  • "How to Charge Your Electric Car at Home - Consumer Reports." 31 Jul. 2019, consumerreports.org/hybrids-evs/how-to-charge-electric-car-at-home/.