The answer is not a simple one but below we’ll explain why and how you can work out if recharging your EV is likely to be an issue for you (spoiler alert, it won’t be).
Electric cars all have different sized batteries. Predictably, the largest EVs such as the Tesla Model S and Jaguar i-Pace have large batteries whilst small EVs like the Renault Zoe and plug-in hybrids have smaller batteries. The amount of energy each can store varies considerably, in just the same way petrol tanks do in conventionally fuelled cars, therefore, the amount of time taken to charge them can vary too.
Unlike a petrol pump, electric cars can use chargers which charge at different speeds. For the purposes of this article we’ll separate these into just 2 types, a home charger and a commercial fast charger you may find in a car park or supermarket.
A home charger can add around 25 miles of range to your EV, on average. It charges more slowly than a large commercial charger because the electricity in your home (AC) has to be converted by your car into electricity it can use (DC). Also, all home chargers are limited by the amount of power available to them in your home and so have a maximum power of 7.2kW/32 Amps.
Larger commercial chargers can charge much more quickly because they provide DC electricity directly to your car, meaning it does not have to convert it. Also, because commercial chargers have far more power available to them, they can provide a lot more than 7.2kW. For example, Tesco’s chargers can be up to 50kW and some are much more than this.
Batteries don’t like being too cold or too hot and so the weather can affect your charging time (and the range of your EV too). Extremes of temperature make the most significant differences and will slow charging speeds.
Charge in the battery already
How much charge in is the vehicle already? Just like filling up your petrol or diesel car, how long it take to ‘fill’ and EV depends on how much electric charge is in the car already. Again, just like a petrol or diesel car, you are unlikely to have a completely empty ‘tank’.
Another factor affecting this is that all cars reduce battery charging rates after a battery reaches 80% full. This is a safety measure to ensure that the battery is not overcharged. So, whilst the charger can provide a continuous supply of electricity, your car will manage this and alter the charging speed to ensure the best possible charging.
Beyond the actual charging, consider too, how often you will need to charge. Many EVs now exceed 200 miles in range. How long will it take you to do 200 miles? It may be that you only need to charge your car once every few days or even once a week! Of course, you can top it up each day if you wish but do you do this with your petrol/diesel car?
With ever longer ranges, for the majority of people, charging times are less of an issue. If, however, you do undertake long journeys regularly there are thousands of commercial chargers available which charge your EV very quickly and you can combine this with a break in your journey to have a some refreshments. It may require a little more planning, but many people are already completing long journeys in EVs without any significant issues.
If you have a home charger, charging can be completed overnight and so the length of time it takes to charge becomes irrelevant as you’ll be soundly asleep whilst your car is fully recharged. Even EVs with the largest batteries will easily be recharged overnight (you can recharge them in the daytime too, of course!).
So, not a simple answer but hopefully this has helped you understand how long a car can take to charge and what affects charging times.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer but for almost everyone, the charging times are not an issue for them and certainly don’t outweigh the benefits of a very low cost ‘fill’.