How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Car

How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Car

Electric car’s are growing rapidly in popularity among British drivers. Offering a smooth, quiet driving experience with zero tailpipe emissions, modern EVs provide all the convenience of gasoline or diesel cars but with a lighter environmental footprint.

However, the charging requirements of electric cars still cause some range anxiety versus just filling up quickly at petrol stations. On the surface, charging may seem slow and inconvenient compared to 5 minute fuel stops.

But with an understanding of the different charging methods, speeds and real-world charging times, any concerns around EV charging are proven largely unfounded. This guide will explore all the key factors that determine how long it takes to charge an electric car in the UK.

The Basics of Electric Car Charging

While fossil fuel vehicles are powered by combustion engines, electric cars run on rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs. These battery packs are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electricity source, either at home or at public charging points.

There are three main levels of electric vehicle charging:

Level 1 – Slow charging via a standard household socket (2-3kW)

Level 2 – Faster AC charging via a home or public station (7-22kW)

Level 3 – High-speed DC rapid charging (up to 350kW)

The size of the car’s battery pack, the maximum charging speed it supports, and the power output of the charging equipment determine how long it takes to recharge an EV’s battery from empty to full. We’ll now look at these key factors in more depth.

Charging Speed and Power Output

Electric cars sold in the UK today usually have a maximum charging rate of 50kW (for AC charging) or 100-150kW (for DC rapid charging). But upcoming models like the 900hp Lucid Air can charge at speeds up to 350kW, adding up to 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes!

The maximum charging speed may not always be achievable though – it depends on the power output of the charging equipment used, as follows:

  • Level 1 (Household Socket): 2-3 kW – provides 10-15 miles of range per hour charging
  • Level 2 (Home/Public Charger): 7-22 kW – provides 25-90 miles of range per hour
  • Level 3 (Rapid Charger): 25-350 kW – provides 100-300 miles of range in 10-30 minutes

So a car capable of 115kW charging can only recharge at 7kW from a normal household socket. But it could gain 180 miles in 30 minutes from a 100kW rapid charger. Faster chargers dramatically speed up charging times.

Charging Speed And Power Output
Charging Speed and Power Output

Battery Size and Range

The size of the EV’s battery pack directly impacts how long it takes to recharge. Long-range electric cars like the Tesla Model S with 100 kWh battery packs require longer to recharge fully than a Nissan Leaf with a 30 kWh battery.

But what matters most is the charging time required to add a usable amount of range – not necessarily a full recharge. Even an 80% quick top-up can add enough range to complete your journey.

For example, today’s rapid chargers can add 150-180 miles of range to an electric car in just 20-30 minutes. For drivers stopping for lunch or coffee, that’s ample range to continue your road trip after a short break.

Real-World Charging Times

Now let’s examine realistic charging times for today’s top-selling electric cars in the UK, based on their battery size, max charging speed and charger used:

  • Nissan Leaf (40 kWh battery):

Level 1 – 21 hours for full charge
Level 2 – 6 hours for full charge\
Level 3 – 45 mins for 80% = 140 mile range

  • Tesla Model 3 (50-80 kWh battery):

Level 1 – 30 hours for full charge\
Level 2 – 8 hours for full charge
Level 3 – 30 mins for 180 mile range

  • Kia e-Niro (64 kWh battery):

Level 1 – 35 hours\
Level 2 – 9 hours for full charge
Level 3 – 1 hour for 253 mile range

As you can see, slow overnight charging at home is best for topping up day-to-day. But even for longer road trips, taking a 45 minute charging break every 2-3 hours enables you to drive an EV almost as conveniently as a petrol or diesel car, thanks to rapid charging.

Real-World Charging Times
Real-World Charging Times
EV ModelBattery SizeCharging Time by Charger Type
Nissan Leaf40 kWhLevel 1: 21 hrs 
Level 2: 6 hrs Level 3: 45 mins (140 mi range)
Tesla Model 350-80 kWhLevel 1: 30 hrs
 Level 2: 8 hrs Level 3: 30 mins (180 mi range)
Kia e-Niro64 kWhLevel 1: 35 hrs 
Level 2: 9 hrs  Level 3: 60 mins (253 mi range)
Audi e-tron95 kWh
Level 1: 48 hrs
Level 2: 11 hrs Level 3: 30 mins (200 mi range)

charging Times

Factors That Shorten Charging Times

Beyond the charging speed and battery size, several other factors can shorten the time required to charge an electric car:

  • Warmer weather – cold battery temperatures slow charging, so charging in winter takes longer
  • Lower charge level – the battery charges fastest when at a low state of charge, slower towards full
  • Pre-conditioning – warming the battery while plugged in prepares it to accept a faster charge rate
  • Software updates – manufacturers release updates to optimize charging speeds and times
  • Charger power rating – using a charger that meets or exceeds the car’s max charging rate
  • Cabin pre-heating – warming the cabin while charging preserves range at start-up

For the shortest charging times, use the fastest charger available and minimize battery pre-conditioning needs by parking in warmer locations.

Public Charging Infrastructure in the UK

For EV drivers needing to charge on the go, the UK’s public charging network is expanding rapidly. There are now over 25,000 connectors at over 11,000 public charging locations across the country.

Around 37% of these are rapid chargers, able to recharge an EV battery to 80% in under 30 minutes.5 Nearly all motorways now have high-powered rapid charging sites at the service stations.

Major investments to upgrade motorway chargers to ultra-fast 150-350kW outputs are underway. This will allow an EV compatible with 350kW charging to add 200 miles of range in just 10 minutes!

Public Charging Infrastructure In The Uk
Public Charging Infrastructure in the UK

Home Charging Tips

Charging at home overnight is the most affordable and convenient way to keep your electric car powered. Here are some tips for safe, fast home charging:

  • Use the fastest home AC charger (7-22kW) your car’s on-board charger can handle to minimize charge times
  • Consult an electrician to install a dedicated circuit for home EV charging, to handle the power load
  • Charge after midnight to take advantage of cheap overnight electricity rates
  • Set charging to finish before your departure time, so the battery isn’t fully topped up for hours
  • Preheat your EV cabin while still plugged in, before departure to conserve range

For many drivers, installing a higher-powered home wallbox charger can completely eliminate the need for public charging.

The Future of EV Charging

The electric vehicle revolution is just getting started. Upcoming EVs with 800V electrical architecture and ultra-powerful 350kW+ charging will be able to add 200 miles of range in under 10 minutes.

Solid-state lithium batteries entering the market in 2025 could also double energy density, allowing EVs to drive further on a single charge.

In addition, new inductive charging technology will one day allow EVs to charge wirelessly while driving over special charging roads or pads. This could eliminate charging stops altogether!

Here is a shortened heading:

Key Benefits of Level 3 Rapid Charging for EVs

Speed – Level 3 rapid charging can add hundreds of miles of range in as little as 20-30 minutes. This enables convenient long distance travel with minimal added charging time.

Charging hubs – Rapid chargers are often clustered at highway rest stops and other convenient locations. This gives drivers access to high-speed charging without large detours.

High power – Level 3 chargers deliver up to 350 kW of power, allowing compatible EVs to charge at speeds 5-10x faster than slower Level 2 public or home charging.

Improved battery health – Frequent rapid charging is generally considered better for battery health than prolonged slower charging, as it minimizes time spent at peak voltage.

Charging freedom – Having access to rapid charging gives EV drivers more freedom and flexibility when planning longer trips. You don’t need to map out every charging stop.

Reduced range anxiety – Knowing you can add substantial driving range in less than an hour reduces worries about running out of charge at an inopportune time.

Future-proofing – Level 3 rapid charging is the backbone of enabling broad EV adoption. As battery capacities grow, fast charging will be essential.

While Level 3 charging is not essential for daily commuting, it provides a vital solution for convenient long-distance electric vehicle travel on par with gas cars. Rapid charging capability is a top consideration for many prospective EV buyers for this reason.

FAQs

Q: How long does it take to charge an electric car at home?

A: Using a Level 2 home charger, it typically takes 6-12 hours to fully charge an electric car battery from empty to full.

Q: Can I charge my EV using a normal household outlet?

A: Yes, you can charge using a regular socket (Level 1 charging), but it will charge very slowly – adding only 2-5 miles of range per hour.

Q: How fast is rapid charging at motorway service stations?

A: Rapid chargers (Level 3) along motorways can add 100-200 miles of range in just 20-30 minutes.

Q: Where can I find public EV chargers in the UK?

A: ZapMap has a useful map of all public charging locations across the UK. Many supermarkets, car parks and service stations now have EV charging points.

Q: How much does it cost to rapid charge an electric car?

A: The cost of rapid charging varies by network but is typically around 30-50p per kWh. Charging at home overnight is cheapest.

Q: Do all electric cars charge at the same speed?

A: No, charging speed depends on battery size, max charging power, and charger used. Newer EVs charge faster than early models.

Q: What’s the fastest charging electric car?

A: Currently, the Porsche Taycan can charge at 270kW, adding up to 100 miles of range in just 5 minutes. Upcoming EVs will charge even faster.

Q: Will EV battery charging get faster in the future?

A: Yes, new 800V electric architectures and ultra-powerful 350kW chargers coming soon will cut charging times to under 10 minutes for some models.

Q: How many miles can an EV add from a 10 minute charge?

A: At a 350kW charger, some new EVs will be able to add up to 200 miles of range in just 10 minutes of charging.

Conclusion

In summary, how long it takes to charge an electric car depends primarily on the battery size, charging speed, and charger power output. For daily commuting, slow overnight charging at home is most convenient. But even on long road trips, 30-45 minute rapid charging stops every 2-3 hours allow an EV to drive as far as needed.

Given the rapid expansions of rapid charging infrastructure and battery technology improvements on the horizon, “range anxiety” about EV charging times should be an outdated concern for most British drivers. For the majority of people, today’s EVs now offer charging times and convenience that fit seamlessly into modern life. The electric driving future has arrived!

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