What is the difference between slow, fast and Rapid EV chargers?
The latest stats from Zap-Map show the UK had 38,281 public electric car chargers at the end of February 2023. Of these, 9,645 are slow chargers, 21,911 are fast, and the remaining 7,426 are Rapid or ultra-Rapid.
Recent years have seen increased investment in fast and Rapid chargers, which is helping accelerate the growth of the electric car market. Plug-in vehicles represented 22.9 percent of the market in 2022, with EVs acounting for 16.6 percent of new cars registered.
So what is the difference between slow, fast and Rapid charging? Essentially, they all do the same thing – charge an electric car – but as the names suggest, the speed of charging varies according to the connector type.
Electric cars require a direct current (DC). If you charge using a domestic socket, the alternating current (AC) is converted to DC by the vehicle. Fast chargers do this conversion before the electricity reaches the car, speeding up the charging time. Rapid chargers (with one exception) also supply DC current straight to the car.
In the early days of EV adoption – until around 2012, let’s say – slow chargers dominated the public network. Today, you’re more likely to find them in home or workplace locations, where cars can be left on charge for longer periods.
The majority of slow charging points are rated at 3.6kW and will recharge an electric car in eight to 12 hours. This makes them suited to overnight charging, or when you’re in the office for a full day of work.
Although it’s possible to slow-charge an electric car using a domestic three-pin plug socket, we’d strongly recommend the installation of a wallbox. Not only is this safer, you’ll also see much faster charge times.
Alternatively, some lamp-post installations will charge at 6kW, which could be useful if you don’t have off-street parking at home.
There are four slow charger connector types:
- Three-pin domestic plug socket (3kW)
- Type 1 (3-6kW AC)
- Type 2 (3-6kW AC)
- Commando (3-6kW AC)
You can expect to pay around £800 for a 3.6kW home charger, although people who live in flats or rented properties can claim back 75 percent of the cost – up to a maximum of £350. Find out more about the government’s EV chargepoint grant here.
Fast chargers are the most common connectors in the UK, accounting for more than half of the charging network. The majority of fast chargers are rated at 7kW, but 22kW chargers are also available.
These tend to be found in locations where vehicles are parked for longer periods of time, such as car parks, supermarkets, leisure centres and retail outlets. A 7kW home charger will deliver charging speeds three times faster than a domestic plug, while a 22kW charger will be 10 times faster.
Charging times vary depending on the unit and electric car in question, but a 7kW charger should deliver a full charge in four to six hours. A 22kW unit will complete the task in between one and two hours. The network features both tethered (cable attached) and untethered (use your own cable) units.
Bank on spending about £1,000 on a 7kW unit, or £1,500 on a 22kW charger (including installation but excluding any chargepoint grant reduction).
There are three fast charger connector types:
Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an electric car. You tend to find them at motorway service areas or locations close to major roads. They can deliver up to 80 percent charge in just 20 minutes, but an hour is a more realistic figure.
A Rapid charger will provide power at between 43kW and 50kW, while an ultra-Rapid charger delivers either 100kW, 150kW or 350kW. The most common Rapid charger in the UK is the 50kW device.
Car manufacturers often refer to an ‘80 percent’ charge time in sales material. The reason is that Rapid chargers have an automatic cut-off at this point to protect the life of the battery.
The cable is tethered to the charging unit and only cars with Rapid-charging functionality can use the machines. Rapid chargers cannot be installed at home.
There are four types of Rapid charger connector types:
- Type 2 (43kW AC)
- CHAdeMO (50kW DC)
- CCS (50-350kW DC)
- Tesla Type 2 (150kW DC)
Click the link below to learn how to locate your nearest charging station.
How EV Fast Charging Works
Plugging in can take some time, but fast chargers will get you back on the road. fast.
Electric vehicles may be the future, but they aren’t the most popular vehicles on the market today by a long shot. Buyers have dozens of reasons for being leery of EVs, some of which are legitimate, and some are not rooted in reality. Two concerns that go hand in hand are range anxiety and long charging times, and while range is becoming less of an issue as new vehicles come to market, charging still takes too long in many cases.
This is where fast charging, or DC fast charging, comes in. With a vehicle capable of handling them, fast chargers can return as much as 80 percent of range within a half an hour or less, in some cases. Those are impressive numbers, but it is important to understand the basics of fast charging and how it works with today’s electric vehicles.
What Is Fast Charging?
Batteries need direct current, or DC, to both charge and discharge, but your local power grid operates using alternating current, or AC. This means that the AC must be converted to DC so that the battery can be charged, which requires a converter, either onboard the vehicle or in the charger itself. To increase the speed of conversion, and subsequently charging, the charging and converter components must be larger and heavier. While many vehicles have small onboard chargers that perform the power conversion, increasing the size of in-vehicle components make it heavier and more complex.
about Electric Vehicles
DC fast charging, also referred to as Level 3 charging, takes care of these problems. In EVs that are capable of using the technology, fast chargers bypass the onboard charger and send power to the battery directly. The rate of charging can reach 15 times that of other chargers, and in some cases can add as much as 75 percent or more of battery capacity in as little as 30 minutes. DC fast chargers are large and expensive, however, and are not practical or possible for most EV buyers, even if they have room for one. Some units can cost 50,000 or more, which is why they are mostly reserved for public charging stations.
Charging Levels Explained
Level 1 charging utilizes standard household outlets and is only capable of providing around five miles of range per hour. Most drivers find this method of charging far too slow to be practical for everyday use, and only consider it as a backup for when more powerful charging is not available. Level 1 charging also is not used in many global markets, because 220V is the standard in several countries.
Level 2 chargers handle voltages in excess of 200 volts and can charge many EVs at a much higher mileage rate than Level 1. In general, a vehicle being charged at Level 2 will regain 20 to 60 miles of range per hour.
Level 3 charging is considered DC fast charging or fast charging. Since it uses much higher voltages and requires a larger footprint than Level 2 charging, Level 3 charging is reserved primarily for public charging stations and those installed at commercial properties. The upside to fast charging is that it can recharge a capable EV to 80 percent or more in a half hour or so.
Is It Worth Installing a Level 2 Charger at Home?
The Ford F-150 Lightning’s home charger can also be used to have your truck power your house in an emergency.
If you own an electric vehicle and expect to do any charging at home, a Level 2 charger should be at or near the top of your to-do list. Charging with a standard 120V household outlet can take days to charge a modern EV with ranges of 300 miles or more. Consider this: At the typical household charging rate of four to five miles of range per hour, it could take you over two days to charge a Tesla Model 3 with a battery that is nearly empty. Moving to a Level 2 charger can cut that time by 80 percent or more, as some EVs can charge at up to 50 or 60 miles of range per hour.
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 to charge an electric car at home?
Most electric vehicles come with a Level 1 EV charger which you can easily plug into your standard wall outlet.
While convenient, it’s very slow and can take days to top up your EV battery.
If you want to make the most out of home charging, you’d want to install a Level 2 charging station in your garage.
But first, you’ll have to assess your home’s readiness.
Find out if your home’s electrical grid can handle the added burden of car charging. Most residential electrical systems are not created with EV charging in mind.
One hint that you need electrical upgrades is when your electrical panel doesn’t have any room for an additional circuit breaker.
Installation costs of EV chargers vary based on where you live and how complicated the installation process is.
If you park right next to an electrical panel and you want to install a charger just a few feet away, installation, including permitting could cost around 500. The total cost of installing one will go higher if your electrical panel needs upgrading.
If you need an electrical service upgrade, expect to shell out an average price of 5,000 to 8,000.
Installing an electric vehicle charger at home comes with other perks aside from the convenience.
Yes, the upfront costs may be higher but you will be saving money in the long run.
For one, there’s the Federal tax credit, which essentially returns 30% of the cost of hardware and installation, up to 450,000 if you install a home EV charging station.
There’s also the Time of Use rates, which offer lower electricity rates during off peak hours.
What is the best home EV charger?
Here are some of the Best EV chargers in the market today:
The best EV charger in terms of power and price is the Lectron V-Box, which comes in two versions: the 40 Amp and the 48 Amp. This Level 2 home EV charger allows you to adjust your desired amp setting from as low as 16 Amps and has high as 48 amps. providing has much as 46 miles of range per hour. It has a NEMA 14-50 plug and a 20-foot cord length. And with an IP55 rating, the Lectron V-Box is perfectly safe for outdoor use. It is also much more affordable compared to the rest of the chargers in the list. giving you the most bang for your buck.
ChargePoint Home Flex.
ChargePoint has one of the biggest networks of EV charging stations in the country. And its 50-amp Home Flex is similar in operation to its public chargers. It can either be hardwired into a 240-volt circuit or plugged into an existing 240-volt outlet. It has a 23-foot cable which gives you more installation options. It’s one of the few Smart chargers with Wi-Fi connection. Its major downside though is its price tag, setting you back almost 900.
JuiceBox is one of the few chargers that has Wi-Fi connectivity. This Level 2 charging unit has a 32-amp version, 40-amp version, and a 48-amp version that matches the Tesla Wall Connector. It has an adjustable output level from as low as 6 amps. At 699, it is still significantly more expensive than the Lectron V-Box.
Tesla Wall Connector.
If you have a Tesla vehicle, the Tesla Wall Connector is still the best EV charger for home charging. But even if you have a non Tesla EV, you can still enjoy 48-amp charging using a Lectron Tesla to J1772 adapter.
Which home EV charger is right for you?
While all of these suggestions are great, choosing the right EV charger for your home ultimately boils down to how you want it to be installed, how much power you need, and how much you’re willing to spend.
If you’re looking for the best home EV charging station with the most bang for your buck, go for the Lectron V-Box. It’s quite a bit cheaper compared to the other options, and can provide up to 46 miles of range for most EVs.
If you’re an EV owner who only care about charge speed and willing to pay extra for extra features, the ChargePoint Home Flex is your best option.
And if you’re a previous Tesla owner who has an existing Wall Connector in your garage, stick to it and use an adapter like the Lectron Tesla to J1772 adapter to charge your non-Tesla EV.
Are all EV home chargers the same?
No, not all EV home chargers are the same. While they may be similar when it comes to charging speed, some have extra features that the others don’t. Case in point, Wi-Fi connectivity.
Which is the best charger for electric cars?
This will depend on a few factors including your driving habits, how you want it to be installed, how much power you need, and how much you’re willing to spend. If we’re talking solely about convenience, any Level 2 EV charger can do the job. It’s significantly faster than a Level 1 charger but lesser complicated than a DC fast charger.
Can you buy a DC fast charger for home?
No, DC fast charging requires special facilities to operate and a residential home’s electrical grid is not designed for Rapid charge.
How long it takes to fully charge an electric car?
This will depend on your charger and your car’s total range. Let’s say you have a standard 200-mile range EV. It will take around 35 to 50 hours to fully charge using a Level 1 charger. With a Level 2 charger, it will take under 10 hours. And with a DC charger, it will take just under an hour to fully charge.
Can you install a DC fast charger at home?
No, DC fast chargers require specialized and powerful equipment to operate. Aside from its high cost, a residential area’s electrical grid is not designed for such powerful charging.
What is the fastest home electric car charger?
A 240-volt Level 2 charger like the Lectron V-BOX is the fastest way to charge an EV at home.