Charging Your Vehicle
Imagine never stopping at a gas station again, and instead, have an unlimited supply of fuel available at home or wherever you normally park. For many electric car drivers, this is a reality. All-electric cars never need gas, and for short trips, plug-in hybrids might use no gas.
Electric car charging is simple, cost-effective and convenient, particularly when you are plugged in at home—filling up your car even while you’re asleep. How long it takes to charge depends on the charging equipment and the size of the car’s battery and its available charging capacity.
Although electric car drivers primarily charge at home, workplace and public chargers are increasingly available in communities nationwide.
There are three convenient ways to charge your electric car.
I can charge at home any time I want, and it is quiet and drives beautifully!
It’s so quiet and quick. I wake up everyday with a full charge, ready to go.
No need to gas up weekly! After work I just come home and plug my car in.
See how easy it is to charge? Now compare electric cars and find out more about range.
You can charge your electric car using standard 120 volt(V) home outlets (Level 1), 208-240V outlets like those used by your dryer (Level 2), or dedicated 480V public fast chargers (DC Fast Charging). The time it takes to charge using each of these three options depends on your drive and the size of the battery. Charging speed is also determined by the size of the vehicle’s on-board charger and the power lever of the charging equipment.
Level 1 charging uses a standard 120-volt plug. Today, new electric cars come with portable charging equipment to allow you to plug in to any 120-volt outlet. Typically, the average daily commute of 40 miles can be easily replenished overnight with a Level 1 charger.
In most cases Level 2 charging requires charging equipment to be purchased and installed. The typical Level 2 charger can replenish the same 40 mile average daily commute in less than 2 hours.
DC Fast Charging
DC fast chargers can provide 10 to 20 miles of range per minute.
DC Fast Charging is for public charging stations only and not for home use.
Most fully electric cars are equipped for DC Fast Charging today, but always be aware of your car’s charging connector before you try to plug in. You will either have a Tesla connector that can be used at a Tesla Supercharger, an SAE Combo connector or a Chademo connector.
Want to learn more on Fast Charging?
Check out this Quick Guide to Fast Charging by ChargePoint.
Level 1 and Level 2 Charging Options
Level 1: Electric cars come standard with a 120-volt Level 1 portable charger. Yes, these chargers can be plugged into a simple household outlet, and don’t require any special installation. Pretty cool, right?
Level 2: Drivers can also pursue a higher-powered Level 2 unit for sale and installation in their home. Shop Level 2 chargers and learn about incentives using our Home Charging Advisor. Learn more about home charging with our FAQs.
Tesla’s electric cars come with a plug-in 120/240-volt Level 1/2 charger. These require a 240-volt outlet, which most owners need to have professionally installed.
In general, most electric car drivers want the assurance and convenience of a quicker charge and eventually install the 240-volt, Level 2 charging ability in their home.
Home Charging Advisor
Find chargers and apply for incentives for charging your EV at home.
See how easy it is to charge? Now compare electric cars and find out more about range.
If charging at home is not an option or if you need to “top off” during the day for an extra errand, workplace charging is another convenient location to charge your car. Many employers are installing charging for their employees, so check with your company to see if this is an option for you.
If your employer has not implemented workplace charging yet, you can advocate that workplace charging is a good move. You can also provide them resources to help them consider the benefits.
Level 1: AC trickle charging
This is the most basic home or destination charging option, where you plug the car into a standard 240V AC (alternating current) socket.
While convenient, this is the slowest method, offering only about 2.0kW of power through a normal 10A socket. This means it can take from four to 50 hours to charge your car, depending on the battery size.
How to work out Level 1 charging time for battery capacity
Calculating this is quite simple – just divide the battery capacity (kWh) by the charging rate to gain an approximate time. For a Level 1 charger, this rate is typically 2.0kW. For example:
- The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a 20kWh battery. divide that by two and you get about ten hours.
- The Tesla Model 3’s 57.5kWh usable battery takes about 29 hours.
- The Mercedes EQC 400’s 80kWh usable battery will take about 40 hours.
There’s also a more accurate formula: divide the battery capacity (kWh) by the charging power speed (kW).
Of course, these times will be less if the battery is already partially charged – a 50 per cent charge will require half the time, which is why it’s a good idea to top up whenever possible.
How to work out EV charging times for distance
If you want to know how long you’ll need to charge your car to travel a certain distance, the charging power in kW is the same value as the kilometres you’ll get from 10 minutes of charging.
For example, if you are using a 2.0kW Level 1 charger you will get around two kilometres for every 10 minutes of charging.
Level 2. AC fast charging
While Level 1 charging will usually be convenient for plug-in-hybrids that can be fully topped up overnight, you might need something faster for a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) with a much bigger battery – if you need to utilise the full driving range capabilities every day (200 to 700km depending on model).
The good news
- There’s a quicker home option by installing a Level 2 (wall-box) charger, which increases the single-phase charging power to 7.2kW.
A Level 2 unit brings charging times down considerably, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV gaining a full charge from empty in 6.5 hours, and the Tesla Model 3 and Mercedes-Benz EQC at around 8 and 11 hours respectively.
And you’ll get a 7.2km travel range for every 10 minutes, meaning about 43km after an hour’s charging – which is enough for the average Aussie commute.
A 7.2kW Level 2 charging unit works off standard 240V single-phase wiring with the wall-box costing around 1000 to 1500 dollars plus installation, which is pretty good value considering what you pay for a full set of tyres or new car options such as a sunroof.
Level 2 charging can also increase to 11kW or up to 22kW capacity if you have 415V three-phase power available.
Since most EVs are limited to charging a maximum of 11kW AC only (via the ‘onboard charger’ inverter), you can get 11km for every 10 minutes of charging, so an hour on the plug will yield about 66km of range. A limited number of models are capable of 22kW, such as the BMW iX1 as standard, and available on the Mercedes-Benz EQE and Porsche Taycan.
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You’ll also find many public charging points are Level 2 (7.2kW, 11kW or 22kW), so be sure you know what capacity they are before you drive to them if time is important.
They may also require your own Type 2 to Type 2 (Mode 3) portable charging cable, which is usually a separate accessory purchase for around 200 to 500.
It’s worth noting that most PHEV models, because of their smaller battery capacity and battery management systems, will only charge at a maximum rate of 3.6kW or 7.6kW even when using a 22kW AC charger.
GET Electric has also opened its own hub of 22kW chargers in Port Melbourne, giving nearby EV owners an option for a top-up – particularly those living in the area’s high-density apartment towers.
Level 3. DC Rapid charging
Charging capacity ranges from 50kW on a Rapid charger up to 350kW on an ultra-Rapid unit.
These are the public DC chargers (480V/direct current), including Tesla Superchargers, that are crucial in making EVs viable for driving long distances with little downtime for charging.
It’s worth noting that lower-capacity EVs, such as plug-in hybrids and the Nissan Leaf, MG ZS EV and Lexus UX300e can use 350kW chargers, but will still only charge at a rate of about 50kW. Similarly, the BYD Atto 3, MG ZS EV, and GWM Ora are limited to between 60 to 90kW DC.
Higher-capacity models such as the standard range Polestar 2, Tesla Model Y RWD and Mercedes-Benz EQA, have a maximum charging capacity of around 100 to 150kW – which brings more than 100km every 10 minutes.
New-generation 800V architectures allow even faster charging, with models like the Porsche Taycan, Audi E-Tron GT, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 capable – in the right circumstances – of charging from 10 to 80 per cent in under 30 minutes.
Most PHEV models can only connect to AC chargers, but the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV, Outlander PHEV, Mercedes-Benz A-Class PHEV (optionally), and Range Rover PHEV line-up can charge via either AC and DC power.
⏱️ 0-80 per cent charge time
You may have noticed carmakers often provide a DC charging time based on a battery being charged up to 80 per cent instead of 100 per cent.
This is because the internal resistance of a battery rises as the state of charge increases. In other words, the more the battery is charged the slower and less efficient it is to keep charging it. Charging past 80 per cent also isn’t healthy for typical lithium-ion batteries.
As a result, charging is quickest when the battery is flat. After an initial burst, the charger settles into a constant rate until the battery reaches about 80 per cent full.
After that, the charging slows again – partly due to the decreased efficiency and to prevent the battery from being damaged by overheating or overcharging.
The time it takes to charge between 80 and 100 per cent can vary based on a number of factors, such as battery heat. This is why carmakers can calculate how quickly the battery will reach 80 per cent, but can’t provide a definitive time for a full charge.
How Much Range Does a Fast-Charger Add in a Half-Hour?
Generally speaking, when an EV battery‘s SoC is below 10 percent or above 80 percent, a DC fast charger’s charging rate slows considerably; this optimizes battery life and limits the risk of overcharging. This is why, for example, manufacturers often claim that fast-charging will get your EV’s battery to 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Some vehicles have a battery preconditioning procedure that ensures the battery is at optimum temperature for Rapid charging while en route to a DC fast charger. So long as you utilize the in-car navigation system to get you there, that is.
That last 20 percent of charge may double the time you’re hooked up to the fast charger. The time-consuming affair of completely filling the battery via a DC charger makes these units best utilized on those days when you are traveling a long distance and need additional electricity to reach your destination. Charging at home overnight–sometimes called top-up charging–is a better solution for getting the juice you’ll need for daily, local driving.
As the hunt for range supremacy continues, the battery capacity of some EVs has ballooned to absurd levels. Others are targeting increased efficiency. This plays a massive role in charging time. Upsize our barrel to an 85-gallon unit. Even with a fire hose, it’ll still take longer to fill than the smaller 55-gallon barrel. While a GMC Hummer EV is built on an architecture capable of 350-kW intake, filling its 212.7-kWh battery compared to the 112.0-kWh pack found in a Lucid Air Grand Touring requires exponentially more time, even if the charging rate is similar. The Lucid can travel over 40 percent further on a charge while having 100 kWh fewer in its battery pack than the Hummer. Efficiency, indeed.
No doubt someday manufacturers will settle on a single metric for expressing charge times. But for now, know that filling up an EV’s battery still takes considerably longer than topping off a gas-powered car’s fuel tank no matter how or where you do it.
There is a common misconception that the thing you plug into an electric car is the charger. In fact, there’s a battery charger in the car that converts the AC electricity from the wall into DC electricity to charge the battery. Onboard chargers trickle power into the battery pack safely and have their own power ratings, typically in kilowatts. If a car has a 10.0-kW charger and a 100.0-kWh battery pack, it would, in theory, take 10 hours to charge a fully depleted battery.
To gauge the optimal charge time of a specific EV, you divide the battery capacity’s kWh number by the onboard charger’s power rating, then add 10 percent, because there are losses associated with charging. This is assuming the power source can maximize the vehicle’s charger.
Typical onboard chargers are at least 6.0 kilowatts, but some manufacturers offer nearly twice that, and the cream-of-the-crop have more than triple that figure. The current Tesla Model 3 Performance, for instance, has an 11.5-kW charger, which can take full advantage of a 240-volt, 60-amp circuit to recharge its 80.8-kWh battery, while the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 comes with a 7.6-kW charger. Doing the recharge-time math indicates that it will take nearly the same time to fill the two cars’ batteries, though the Performance model’s is roughly 30 percent larger. The beauty of a well-paired electricity source and onboard charger is that you can plug your EV in at home with a nearly depleted battery and have a fully charged steed waiting for you in the morning. You can also find approximate recharge times on some EV manufacturers’ websites.
K.C. Colwell is Car and Driver’s executive editor, who covers new cars and technology with a keen eye for automotive nonsense and with what he considers to be great car sense, which is a humblebrag. On his first day at C/D in 2004, he was given the keys to a Porsche 911 by someone who didn’t even know if he had a driver’s license. He also is one of the drivers who set fast laps at C/D’s annual Lightning Lap track test.
Jacob Kurowicki’s love affair with cars doesn’t end at track weapons and posh land yachts, but rather extends to the dopey and eccentric. Pining for a Pontiac Sunfire GT as a child was the first indicator, but an ongoing desire for a Lamborghini LM-002 is the kicker. He luckily found a home in the Car and Driver testing team that allows him to further develop his love for the automotive world and the oddities that come with it.
How Many Amps Does an Electric Car Charger Draw?
Do you ever wonder why certain EVs require more than a day, overnight, or less than an hour to charge? If yes, perhaps you should ask the more specific question, “How many amps does an electric car charger draw?”
Nowadays, different charging points may have varying current ratings, leading to varying charging durations. In this instance, you should select the correct charger grade to suit your vehicle.
If you intend to build a charging station in your home, the following information may be helpful.
How Many Amps Does a Car Charger Use?
Electric vehicles, or EVs, are becoming extremely popular. However, one question about them is how long do they need to be charged for?
In this case, the answer is determined by the charging station. Generally, the higher the electric car charger amps, the faster it can power an EV battery. This is also why you may hear that some EVs require overnight charging while others may be fully energized in a matter of hours.
For a better understanding of EV charging, here is a summary of various charger levels.
Charge Point Electric Car Ratings
Level 1 Charger
Level 1 devices have a long charging duration that meets the power requirements of most plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Apart from PHEVs, these can also be used with typical EVs that have bigger battery capacities.
However, this may be inconvenient, since adding 3 to 5 miles of runtime per hour is too slow for many (fyi, an electric car typically lasts 194 miles on one charge). As a result, powering the EV battery with this device may take more than a day.
Level 2 Charger
The majority of today’s EVs are compatible with the level 2 charger. This type of 240 volt EV charger, such as a Chargepoint Level 2 Charger, requires a dedicated circuit connected to the main panel.
Using this device, you may be able to get your vehicle to full capacity overnight. Car owners should be able to drive 12 to 80 miles after an hour of using this power station.
Level 3 Charger
In addition to the types mentioned above, there is also a chargepoint called level 3 DC fast charging. Within a minute of this charger’s operation, you can drive your car 3 to 20 miles.
This type is the most common at commercial stations and may not be found in any home, due to its high electric car charging voltage and current. over, the purchase costs are so expensive that the average buyer would consider it a luxury.
Within all varieties of chargers, level 2 is ideal for household installation. If you’re wondering how many amps does a level 2 charger pull, look at the table above.
- Note: Before installing any home charging station, it is good to know first each electric car charger requirement. Then, evaluate if your home or your main service panel can accommodate it, whether you can pay the installation cost, and most crucially, whether you live in an apartment building.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Size Breaker Do You Need For An Electric Car Charger?
It depends on the level of charger you have. In most cases, a level 1 EV charger amps will suit 15 or 20 amps single-pole circuit breakers. At the same time, level 2 chargers might require a minimum of 50 amps for fault protection if they are 40 amps; with 50A chargers, however, 70 amp breakers are necessary.
Do You Need a 200 Amp Panel for a Car Charger?
A 200 amp panel service is not necessarily required for a chargepoint electric vehicle charger. However, a load center with a lower rating than 200 amps may be insufficient to power your other electrical devices while you are charging.
This is possible, mainly if you use a level 2 charger. As a result, while it is not required, a 200 amp service or higher is ideal for any car charger amperage.
Can I Use a Dryer Outlet to Charge My Electric Car?
Yes, you may power your EV using your dryer outlet. This is a good alternative if you cannot access a charging station. However, you may require a special Tesla charger or other specific adapters before you can connect your EV into this socket.
What is the Difference Between a 16 Amp vs 32 Amp EV Charger?
The main difference between these two chargers is their working speed. Usually, the charging time of a 16-amp model will double that of a 32-amp.
Also, electric car outlet requirements differ for these units. A 16-amp charger only demands a 120v outlet rating, while a 32-amp requires 240v outlets.
How Fast Can I Charge With a 50 Amp Car Charger?
A 50 amp EV charger, such as a Chargepoint Home Charger, can add 37 miles of drive range after one hour of operation. As a result, it is a good idea to utilize this kind of product if you intend to purchase a second EV or just want to boost your charging speed.
Knowing how many amps does an electric car charger draw will help you determine how slowly or quickly you can power your EV. This way, you’ll know which charger to get if you want to install one in your home.
On the other hand, installing a residential charging station is a significant investment. Hence, you must ensure that the charger you choose is UL certified, indicating it meets electrical safety regulations.