Charging the battery in an electric vehicle (EV) can take anywhere from minutes to days. Here we’ll cover how long it actually takes an EV to charge, and what can have an impact on charging time.
So, How Long Does Charging an EV Really Take?
The short answer? It depends. Several factors come into play when it comes to your EV’s charging time, including battery size and the power output of the charging station you use.
It can take anywhere from half an hour to multiple days to charge an EV’s battery enough for a long drive. If you’re using a type 1 charging station, which is basically a normal wall outlet, you’re looking at days of charging time. Type 3 DC fast-charging stations, on the other hand, will get you most of the way to a full battery in about half an hour.
Because of the number of variables at play, it’s impossible to nail down a set amount of time that it would take any EV to reach a full charge. But there are specific elements that can speed a charge up or slow it down.
What Factors Affect EV Charging Time?
First and most obvious: the charging station you use. Most public stations will be type 2, which can deliver a full charge in a few hours and a reasonable amount of juice in a half-hour to an hour of charging time. Some people also get type 2 stations installed in their homes for faster charging. Type 2 and type 3 charging stations deliver the most power to your EV, with type 3 funneling the most electricity to the battery in the shortest amount of time. Tesla’s type 3 Supercharger stations, for example, can deliver over 200kW of output, enough to charge an empty battery to full in under an hour.
The second factor is the battery size. The larger an EV’s battery, the longer it will take to fill up. Plug-in hybrid vehicles rely mostly on gas for power, switching to an onboard battery in low-demand situations to save fuel. This means their battery pack is much smaller than an all-electric car, holds less power, and takes less time to charge. By contrast, an EV like a Tesla or Leaf runs entirely on battery power and has a massive slab of battery cells to charge, which takes much longer.
Somewhat related to battery size is the energy level the battery has at the time you plug it in. A battery charged to 80% will take a lot less time to power up than one at, say, 15%. You could call this factor “battery status” or “charge status.” When an EV’s battery is below 20% or above 80%, fast charging slows way down to preserve battery life, another way charge status can change charge time.
Maximum charging rate is another less obvious factor. Every EV has a built-in maximum charging rate that it can’t exceed. Charging stations are also built with a maximum charging rate. An EV can’t charge any faster than its max rate, even if it’s connected to a charging station with a faster max rate than its own. Conversely, if you connect an EV to a station with a lower max charge rate than the vehicle, it will slow down your charging time because the station can only pass so much electricity through to your vehicle.
This means that some vehicles might not be able to use type 3 chargers with the massive power output that allows for the fastest charge, or require expensive equipment to be able to charge at that rate. The 2022 Chevy Bolt, for example, has a standard max charge rate of 11kW which you can pay to expand to 50kW according to car and driver.
Weather can also take a toll on charging time and deplete an EV’s battery faster. Colder temperatures in particular can cause the battery to deplete more quickly and take slightly longer to recharge. EVs don’t have heat-generating engines, so heating the cabin takes more power than a car that runs on gas, sapping the battery. Cold enough weather can also slow down the chemical reactions that take place inside a battery.
To avoid these issues, most people who own an EV will plug it in to charge whenever they have it parked, using a public station in a parking garage or outside their workplace to keep the battery topped up. Then, they’ll plug the vehicle in at home overnight to fully charge. This helps the battery last longer throughout the day than it would if you let it reach nearly empty and recharge from there.
The Future of EV Charging
Advancements in battery and charging technology mean we could see much shorter charging times for EVs in the near future. Battery packs are getting smaller and more efficient and charging stations faster. Solid-state batteries that remain stable at higher charge rates and lithium batteries that can regain over half their capacity in less than five minutes are in the works, according to National Geographic.
For now, though, EV charging remains significantly slower than filling a gas tank. But that doesn’t mean owning an EV is impossible — it just takes a little rethinking around the way you refuel. For a visual breakdown of the factors around EV charging time, check out this video from The 8-Bit Guy on YouTube.