February 14, 2023

The Electrifying Question: How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Vehicle (EV)?


5 Min. Read

Electric vehicle (EV) owners who are new to electrification may have many questions when it comes to charging their cars and maintaining the battery health of their vehicle. Understanding which charger to buy or why a hardwired EV charging station may be preferred over a plug-in outlet for an EV charger can be a challenging topic. One of the most common questions asked when it comes to driving and owning an EV is how long it will take to charge, something that is very important when it comes to reducing range anxiety and increasing the accessibility of electric powered cars.

Several variables will impact how long it takes to completely charge an electric vehicle and it’s important to understand how charging conditions can also affect charging rates. These factors include the capacity of the vehicle’s onboard charger, the capacity of its battery, the ambient temperature, and the final and most important factor, the type of charging station used. We’ll explore these variables in more detail below and then lay out the charging time ranges for the three charger types.

EV Onboard Charging Capacity

Your electric vehicle’s onboard battery capacity, or the amount of energy capable of being contained in the battery, is a major factor in the useable range of your car and the length of time it takes to charge as its power output is what determines how fast your battery charges. An EV charger, such as the Level 2 EV charging station you may have installed in your home, delivers power at a controlled rate to the onboard charging components of your electric vehicle.

The internal charging components of your vehicle’s system are rated for power output measured in kW (kilowatts). The higher the kW rating, the faster the charge.

The energy capabilities and output of an electric vehicle’s internal charging system varies by manufacturer, starting at 6kW and going as high as 18kW. Knowing the output rating of your vehicle as well as the capabilities of your external EV charging station will help you calculate your EV’s charge time.

EV Battery Capacity

An EV battery’s capacity is measured by its power output over a set period with the standard measure being kilowatt hours, or kWh. Currently, EV battery capacity averages 66.7 kWh within a wide range.

The key takeaway is that the higher the battery capacity, the longer the charging time, holding all other variables constant. If your EV has a high-capacity battery, it will also have a higher-output onboard charging components.

Battery Charge Level Before Charging

The charge level of your battery when you plug in and start charging affects the charge time. A battery charges at slower rates when it is below 20% capacity or above 80%. In fact, the last 10% of battery charging can take more time than the first 90%. One way to keep charging times manageable for day-to-day driving is to frequently “top off” to at or around 80% to keep the capacity within the recommended range. This will also help maintain the longevity and health of your EV’s battery.

Ambient Temperature

Excessively cold temperatures can significantly decrease charging speeds and increase the time it takes to charge because they slow down the chemical process of charging. Temperatures that are too high speed up the chemical process and can accelerate battery degradation. The optimal range for battery charging is between 32°F and 86°F. Most cars kept in a garage will fall within this temperature range.

EV Charging Station Types And Charging Durations

There are three basic types of charging stations. Their characteristics vary by the types of power and infrastructure needed and by charging time. The complexity of those factors determines the charger’s level designation. The three charger types available are:

  • Level 1 – In general, Level 1 chargers require a standard 120/208V AC household outlet. Level 1 EV chargers are the simplest, least-expensive types of charging, but they are also the slowest, with charging times ranging from 40 to 50 hours from empty. Also known as “trickle chargers,” Level 1 chargers are always a good option to have on hand or in your vehicle but may not be adequate for daily use depending on your driving habits.
  • Level 2 – Level 2 chargers are a bit more complex and require a dedicated 208V AC (commercial) or 240V AC (residential) circuit and special outlet. They are significantly faster than Level 1 chargers, taking 4 to 10 hours to charge from empty. Level 2 charging stations are the best compromise between speed, complexity, and cost for EV owners. These chargers are often used for overnight charging and increase the convenience of at-home charging, but may require panel upgrades or other electrical work. A certified electrician who is trained in electrification services should always install these chargers to ensure safety and efficiency.
  • Level 3 – Level 3 chargers are the most complex and expensive option. Also known as Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) stations, these EV charging stations require a powerful DC energy source between 50 and 350 kW. Usually reserved for commercial operations due to the cost and required electricity, these EV chargers can power an EV in 20 minutes to 1 hour. While optimal for quick charging, frequent use of Level 3 charging can lead to battery degradation. For that reason, its use should be limited to no more than three times per month.

What Charger Provides The Best Charge Time For Your EV?

Many variables must be considered as you decide what type of EV charging station you need. One suggestion is to review the charger types and charging durations and choose the best one for you based on your daily or weekly commute. An experienced professional can also help you make the best decision based on your home’s current electrical system, available electrical panel capacity, EV type, and any other factors that might impact the cost and feasibility of different EV charging set-ups.

As the most trusted leader in EV charging and electrification solutions, Qmerit can help. With the largest network of certified, licensed electricians in North America consisting of EV charging technology specialists, we can discuss all the charging options that fit your needs and provide an installation solution that works for you.

Get started with your next electrification project today by sending us information about your home, driving needs, and sharing a few quick photos so our team can create custom solutions that work for you. Qmerit is Electrification Made Easy™ and done right, and with over 261,500 installations to date, we can help you find the perfect fit!


Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network