How long does it take to charge an electric car?

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Electric vehicles are becoming more common by the day, and the old concerns of range anxiety seem to be fading as many new EVs offer more miles per charge than many people drive in a week. That said, charging speeds are becoming more of a concern, especially as more people consider EVs for longer trips, because nobody wants to sit for an hour to get enough juice to keep going. That leads us to an obvious question: How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The answer, frustrating as it might be, is that it depends. Charging speeds depend on the charger — whether that's an electric car charger at your home or one of the many electric car charging stations — the vehicle, and even the weather. Even so, there are a few basics that can make charging speeds much less of a mystery.

EV charging speed overview

Without getting into a science lesson (in which someone would surely correct every word) an excellent way to explain charging speeds is actually to think about chargers like gas pumps. The larger the hose and nozzle, the more fuel, or in this case, electrons, can flow through. Volts are like the pressure that pushes electrons through the circuit, while amps are the number of electrons flowing. Chargers, especially home chargers, rated for more amps charge faster than lower-amperage chargers.


The gas pump analogy also comes in handy when looking at public chargers to understand how they work. Chargers advertise kilowatts, or kW, as a measure of charging speed. DC fast chargers offer rates of 350 kW in some cases, but Level 1 chargers only offer up to around 2.3 kW and and Level 2 chargers offer up to 19.2 kW.

On the other end, the vehicle itself can only accept so much fuel at a time, limiting the overall flow. The same is true for EVs. Fast chargers – with speeds of up to 350 kW or more – can rapidly add range to EVs, but only models equipped with 800-volt capability can take full advantage of the speed.

Charging Levels

Electric vehicle charging is currently broken down into three levels. The first two are accessible at home, but the costs and space required to install and use DC fast chargers are such that they are mostly limited to public areas or businesses.

Level 1 Charging

Level 1 charging is the slowest speed and requires a standard household outlet. The 120-volt outlets are painfully slow at charging any EV, returning only 3-5 miles of range per hour. Without forcing you to do the math, a vehicle could take days to fully recharge a car with a larger battery capacity. Most people will find a much better time using Level 2 and should only rely on Level 1 in an absolute pinch. Level 1 charging is an ok choice for plug-in hybrid owners because of their smaller battery size and faster charge times.

Level 2 Charging