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 (EV). In general, the most efficient ways cost more, while the slower ways are more affordable. 

The time 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.

What Impacts EV Charging Speed

Variables that impact EV charging speed include the temperature, the charging rate, and the size of the battery.


Cold batteries charge more slowly than warm ones. When the battery is cold, its thermal management system draws energy from the charger to warm the battery. 

This slows down charging since some of the power is diverted.  At below-freezing temperatures, charging speeds can be three times slower than average.

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 Charging Rate

Every electric vehicle has a charging capacity, which is the amount of power the battery management system will accept. 

When you plug an EV into a standard outlet, an inverter in the car converts the AC electricity into DC battery storage. Inverters vary in the efficiency at which they can convert AC to DC, which is one reason different EVs have different charging rate capacities.

Battery Size

Bigger batteries mean longer charging times, but enable vehicles to drive further between charges. The average EV on the market in 2020 had a battery capacity of 60.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

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.
  • Level 2 chargers are a 240-volt socket, the same kind that runs a clothes dryer. Level 2 chargers are what many EV owners install at home, and are 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.
  • Level 3 DC Fast Chargers 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.

More Options, More Savings

Electric vehicles come with far more options for fueling than gas-powered cars do. This means there's more of a learning curve before you settle into a charging routine. 

The benefit of these options is that EV drivers can tailor their charging habits to their routines and daily needs. They also become more aware of their energy consumption and fuel spending. It may mean more calculations, but it also means more control.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How much does temperature impact electric vehicle charging time?

    Extreme heat or cold can increase charging time by up to 300%. In the most extreme temperatures, electric vehicle batteries won't charge at all.

  • What is the optimum temperature for an electric vehicle battery?

    EV batteries perform at their best when kept between 60 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In the dead of winter, garages and closed parking structures are your friend.

  • How often do you need to charge an electric vehicle?

    Depending on the make of the car and the weather, an electric car typically needs charging every 200 to 300 miles. You don't, however, have to charge the battery up fully that often. An 80% charge will suffice for driving short distances and maintaining battery health.