Electric cars are fundamentally different from ICE in many ways. For example, while you burn fossil fuel to provide the energy to move the wheels on an ICE car, a battery in an EV powers the electric motor that produces locomotion. As an EV owner coming from an ICE, you will quickly notice the two types of cars do not take the same time to ‘refuel.’ This article looks at how long it takes to charge an electric vehicle by looking at the factors that affect EV charging.
How long does it take to charge an EV?
When you drive an ICE to a fuel station, you can put enough fuel in the tank in less than five minutes and return to the road. With EVs, however, it is not possible to give a direct answer as many factors come into play when you plug in to charge.
One of the factors that determine how long charging your EV takes is the charging speed.
The charging speed
Just like you can pour water into a bottle at different rates, you can supply electricity to an EV battery at different speeds. EVs come with an internal charger that determines how much charge they can receive on AC.
The maximum power EVs can take on AC is capped at 22 kWh, but you can find models with as low as 11 kWh. This means that even if you use a 22 kWh EV charger on an EV capped at 11 kWh, the car cannot accept more than 11 kWh. Logically, a vehicle with a 22 kWh internal charger will charge faster than a one with lower ratings.
A more practical example is home charging, which could either be Level 1 or Level 2. If you use a Level 1 charger, which is the easiest and least expensive, your car could take days to reach 100 percent because the charger will give you less than 3 kWh. However, if you invest in a Level 2 wallbox or home charging station, you could fill up your battery way faster, even overnight.
DC chargers, offered by public third parties, charge way faster, with promises of up to 80 percent in about half an hour. Popular fast-charging station networks include Electrify America in the US and Electrify Canada in Canada, both started by Volkswagen. Tesla has its own proprietary network globally.
A word of caution on DC fast chargers: they cause your EV battery to degrade faster, so use them as sparingly as possible.
Another factor that affects how long charging takes is the capacity of your battery.
EVs have different battery capacities, with the most expensive ones having larger batteries and hence longer ranges. For example, Hyundai Kona Electric owners with a 64 kWh battery will drive longer than owners of the same model with a 39.2 kWh battery before they need to charge.
However, when the two trims are plugged in, the 39.2 kWh battery will fill up faster than its more expensive siblings.
To be practical, regardless of your battery size, you do not need to charge your vehicle to 100 percent each time, just like you did not need to fill your ICE car’s tank to full capacity each time. If, for example, you just need to top up your battery to get you home, you won’t have to charge as much.
The ambient conditions
The weather affects your charging experience. When it gets colder, the battery charges slower because the chemical reactions that bring about charging slows down, regardless of whether you are using a fast charger or not. Inversely, cold temperatures affect the discharging of the battery too, which explains EVs having shorter driving ranges during the winter.
EV makers apply some methods to alleviate this charging slow down, including preconditioning the battery or raising its temperature before charging or discharging starts.
State of charge
Interestingly, the percentage of your battery or state of charge (SoC) before you start charging can affect how long the process takes. For example, moving from 80 to 100 percent takes longer than any other 20 percent jump due to the physics and chemistry of the battery.
So, except you are embarking on a long trip where you need to drive for as long as possible before having to stop for a charge, you should try to maintain your battery between 20 and 80 percent.
Tip for charging your EV
Look out for destination charging when going about your day. That way, you could use the charging time more productively. Also, make it a habit to plug in when you get back home. This will help you leave home with a good battery level.