How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

EV charging is getting closer to the time it takes to fill a tank of gas.

woman's hand plugging in a charging lead to her electric car
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There are many ways to charge an electric car, some faster than others. In general, the most efficient ways cost more, while the slower ways are more affordable. Electric vehicle charging is getting closer to the time it takes to fill a tank of gas. How long it takes to charge an EV depends on three basic factors: how fast a charging station can deliver electricity, the speed at which an EV can accept it, and temperature. Shifting from pumping gas to EV charging takes some lifestyle adjustments, but with those adjustments, the cost savings and convenience can outweigh any differences in speed.

About 80% of EV charging is done at home, overnight. The vast majority of EV owners come home, spend about five seconds plugging in their vehicle, then get on with the rest of their day. The next morning, their vehicle is ready to go. There's no standing in the pelting rain or bitter cold, no gas fumes breathed in, and no worries about late-night safety at some poorly lit self-service station. For the most part, charging an EV is as convenient as charging a phone.

Variables to Consider

There are times, however, when speed is important—you need to charge at work, you're on the road, you get home late at night, you have a battery on near-empty, or any number of circumstances. Here are the variables to consider when calculating EV charging speed.

Weather

Cold batteries charge more slowly than warm ones. The battery's thermal management system draws energy from your charger in order to warm the battery, slowing down the charging. In the coldest conditions (below freezing), charging speeds were three times slower than at warmer temperatures.

Heat also affects charging times. During extreme heat, the battery's thermal management system will slow down charging speeds to protect the battery, and many EV charging stations prohibit charging above 122 degrees F.

Battery Size

Range is one of the key considerations among electric vehicle buyers. “Range anxiety” is decreasing as the range of newer models with bigger batteries exceed 200 miles. Bigger batteries mean longer charging times, all other things being equal. The average EV on the market in 2020 had a battery capacity of 60.7 kilowatt hours (kWh).

Battery Capacity in Popular EV Models (2021)
Standard-Range Models kWh
Audi e-tron 86.5
Porsche Taycan 83.7
Tesla Model Y 80.5
Tesla Model 3 80.5
Volkswagen ID.4 77
Mustang Mach-E 75.7
Chevrolet Bolt 66
Hyundai Kona Electric 64
Kia Niro EV 64
Nissan Leaf 40
Source: Car and Driver

Battery Charging Rate

Every electric vehicle has a charging capacity, measured in kilowatts (kW)—the amount of power the battery management system will allow a charging station to send it. When you plug an EV into a standard AC outlet, an inverter in the car converts the AC into DC to store in the battery. Inverters vary in the efficiency at which they can convert AC to DC, which is one of the reason different car models have different charging rate capacities. A Chevy Bolt can accept 50 kW of power, while the Porsche Taycan can be charged with up to 270 kW. For safety reasons, EV manufacturers also limit the maximum charge a battery can receive.

Charging Station Power

There are three basic charging station standards: Levels 1, Level 2, and Level 3 DC Fast Charging, based on Society of Automotive Engineers standards.

  • Level 1 is your standard 120-volt wall socket. Aptly called “trickle charging,” Level 1 charging can deliver up to 1.9 kiloWatts of power, or around 3.5 miles of range per hour. If your EV had a 50-kWh battery and you charged it in an ordinary wall socket, it would take you roughly 17-22 hours to fully charge it from empty to full. This rarely happens, as most drivers never completely drain their battery.
  • A Level 2 charger is the 240-volt socket, the same kind that runs a clothes dryer. Level 2 chargers are what many EV owners install at home, and is also the lower speed at many public charging stations. Its energy output can range from 3 to 19 kW, equal to roughly 18 miles of range per hour.
  • A Level 3 DC Fast Charger requires lots of electricity, and you will rarely find them in homes. They can charge vehicles with 200 to 600 volts, at a rate of 50 or more kW per hour. A 2021 Tesla Model Y, for example, can accept DC fast charging up to 250 kW, allowing the battery to be fully charged in 13 minutes. Not all electric vehicles have the ability to accept DC fast charging, however.

Time Per Charge

Woman charging an electric vehicle using her phone.
Unlike pumping gas, you can control EV charging remotely from your phone.

Volodymyr Kalyniuk/Getty Images

With an EV, you are likely to find yourself in a similar charging situation to one or more of the following three scenarios. Given the wide variety of charging speeds of different vehicles and charging capacities of different home or public charging stations, your charging rates may vary. See the table below for the calculations made with the Electric Vehicle Charging Time Calculator at homechargingstations.com.

1. Your Kia Niro EV has a 64 kWh battery with an EPA-rated range of 239 miles, but it's winter, and your range is down to 180 miles. You took a weekend skiing trip in your home state of Vermont and returned home in the evening with only 36 miles left of range. You only have a Level 1 “trickle charger” in your garage, but you have a 64-mile round-trip commute to work tomorrow. How long will it take you to charge the car?

2. You live in an apartment that doesn't give you the ability to charge at home. You'd like to buy a Nissan Leaf. You'd like to charge your Leaf while doing your weekly grocery shopping trips at the store's Level 3 public charging station. The Leaf has a 40-kWh battery with a range of 149 miles, with DC-fast charging capabilities. With a short weekly commute of 60 miles, can you get away with charging just once a week?

3. The dealer where you're buying a used 2018 Chevy Bolt is trying to convince you to buy a Level 2 home charger. The 2018 Bolt has a 60-kWh battery with a 238-mile driving range. You don't want to spend the $600 dollars extra for the Level 2 charger, because you don't know how often you'll need it. Car and Driver says it takes about 9 hours to charge a Bolt from empty to full with a Level 2 charger. You doubt you'll ever run your battery down to zero, but how much longer will it take to use just a Level 1 charger?

Charging Time Calculations
Scenario Battery (kWh) Start Level End Level Location  Temp. Charge Rate Time Needed (hh:mm)
1 64 20% 35% Home (Level 1) 32 F 1.3kW 8:12
2 40 40% 80% DC Fast-Charging 75 F 50 kW 00:21
3 60 0% 100% Home (Level 1) 60 F 1.9 kW 34:44

More Options, More Savings

Electric vehicles comes with far more options for fueling than gas-powered cars do, which means there's more of a learning curve before you settle into a charging routine. The benefit of those multiple options is that EV drivers become much more aware of how much energy they consume and how much money they're spending on a regular basis. It may mean more calculations, but it also means more control over how you spend your money.

View Article Sources
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  2. Motoaki, Yutaka, Wenqi Yi, and Shawn Salisbury. “Empirical analysis of electric vehicle fast charging under cold temperatures.” Energy Policy, Vol. 122 (2018), 162-168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2018.07.036.

  3. Battery University. "BU-410: Charging at High and Low Temperatures.”

  4. Electric Vehicle Database “Useable battery capacity of full electric vehicles.”

  5. Colwell, K.C. “How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Vehicle?Car and Driver, May 22, 2020.

  6. Compare.com. "Power Play: How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car?"

  7. ultimateSPECS, “Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD Specs.”

  8. Vehicle specifications from Car and Driver.