Skip to main content

How long does it really take to charge an electric car? What you need to know

Not all electric cars are made equal. We are still living in the dawn of the EV, in which charging technologies are not yet fully standardized and the different EV battery capacities and charging methods make for a wide range of charging times.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first fact the owner of an EV must be aware of is that the time it will take to fully recharge the battery of their vehicle will never be as short as the time it takes to fill up a gas tank or even to charge their iPhone. Technology may eventually get there, but it won’t happen soon.

Recommended Videos

The two main factors affecting the time it takes for an EV to get fully charged are the power source charging level and the capacity of the charger built into the vehicle. Let’s take a look. 

Levels of EV charging

There are three levels of EV charging, simply known as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The higher the level, the faster the EV will charge its battery. So far very easy, right? But what do these levels mean?

Level 1: This is the type of charging you get when you plug your EV into your regular 120-volt household outlet, the same one you plug your computer, cell phone, or toaster into. Level 1 charging makes for impractically long charging times, since the battery acquires somewhere between three to five miles of range per hour of charge. This means, for example, that the owner of a rear-wheel drive extended range Ford Mustang Mach-E will have to wait about 75 hours to fully charge their vehicle. Not exactly enticing.

Level 2: This is when you plug your EV into a 240-volt outlet, the same one used to power your dryer. EV owners will be best served installing Level 2 charging equipment at their home, since it’s capable of charging the vehicle up to 10 times faster than a Level 1 setup. Level 2 charging can provide between 12 and 80 miles of range per hour of charge, which means that most EVs will be fully charged overnight. Most charging stations found in office buildings, malls, and other public facilities offer Level 2 charging.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Level 3: Also known as “fast charging,” or “Supercharging” in the case of Tesla, Level 3 charging provides between 3 and 20 miles of range per minute. This is achieved by providing DC power straight into the battery, instead of an AC current that the car’s built-in charger then converts to DC, as is the case with Levels 1 and 2. Typically, a fast-charging session does most of its charging during the first 15 to 30 minutes, reaching close to 80% of range in that time, only to slow down significantly in order to prevent battery degradation. Fast chargers are often found in public places.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Charger capacity

An EV’s built-in charger is the device that converts the AC electric current from the power source to the DC electricity that is stored in the battery. These chargers are normally rated in kilowatts, so ideally when you divide the battery capacity by charger rating, you get the number of hours needed to charge the vehicle. For example, with a 10.5-kW charger and an 88-kWh battery, the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT would take 8.4 hours to charge from a fully depleted battery in a Level 2 power source, provided, of course, that the power source can output the 10.5 kW that the charger is designed to handle. Otherwise, the car will charge as fast as the power source can provide electricity. In any case, in most scenarios the car will be charged overnight.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

These numbers will always be an approximation because they can be affected by several factors like the health of the battery, how depleted the battery is, and especially how cold it is. According to Recurrent, in order to protect the battery, “many cars limit the charging voltage when the battery is cold.” That’s why it is advisable to condition or warm up the battery before charging on cold days. Cold weather also negatively affects the EV’s range, which will make for more frequent charging sessions during winter weather.

So, the question “how long does it really take to charge an electric car?” does not have a one-size-fits-all answer, but one thing is for sure, as technology progresses and EVs become more efficient in their use of power, EVs’ ranges will grow longer and charging times will get shorter.

Editors' Recommendations

Simón Gomez
Former Digital Trends Contributor
What colors go with brown? How to make this seemingly drab hue look glam in your home
Brown doesn't have to be boring. Here's how it can jazz up your space
Brown living room walls with neutral color palette design

Brown tones have a reputation for being "boring." These earthy hues often have a tendency to feel dull and bleak for many people. However, this is largely due to poor design execution. If used well, brown shades can enhance a room’s design and bring a new sense of vitality to a space. Brown can be a wonderful hue to add to your home if you're looking to create a luxe and vibrant environment. These rustic shades can be natural, rich, and earthy when paired with complementary colors that let this hue shine.

Unfortunately, many homeowners struggle to find the best shades to pair with brown, which leads them to create spaces that feel drab, bland, or unfinished. Today, we’ll cover some of the best colors to pair with brown and how this stunning color can help revitalize your space.

Read more
6 modern cabin decorating tips you need to know to avoid a kitschy design
Try these amazing tips to modernize your cabin decor
modern log cabin living room and dining room interior design

Cabins radiate a sense of coziness, warmth, and comfort for the lucky homeowners who get to experience their atmosphere. However, there is a tendency for these spaces to become dark, kitschy, and overwhelming when improperly decorated.

With so many earthy textures and dark tones to work with in the design, it can be challenging for homeowners to create a gorgeous, modern space. What you truly need is a fresh take on traditional cabin decor that will brighten the room and restore that sense of comfort and coziness that you adore.

Read more
The hidden costs of charging an electric vehicle nobody is talking about
Are there unknown costs to charging an EV? We've got the scoop
EV car charging

Are you among the many people considering an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car purchase? Before you take the leap into EV ownership, it's best to familiarize yourself with the cost. This includes not only the prices of electric cars themselves but also EV charging costs, including how much installing an EV adapter will cost you.

You likely won't be disappointed in your new eco-friendly vehicle. A recent J.D. Power study found that the majority of first-time EV owners are reluctant to go back to gasoline-powered cars. In fact, the popularity of electric vehicles is steadily on the rise, and almost 50% of the U.S. population is in support of phasing out gasoline cars completely.

Read more