Bradley Jando | Wednesday 8th December 2021 11:03am
Electric cars are becoming an increasingly common sight on the UK’s roads. In fact, as of October 2021, there were over 345,000 recorded pure-electric cars and 675,000 hybrids!
Are you tempted to join in with the electric vehicle vogue? If so, it’s natural to have a few reservations and questions. One of the most striking differences between a regular combustion engine car and an electric vehicle is the charging situation.
As an undeniable indicator of the difference between the transport’s future and transport’s past, electric charging has sparked quite the conversation. Many drivers are concerned about the lack of immediacy surrounding the charging of electric cars.
If you’re interested in how long it actually takes to charge an electric vehicle, read on.
How to charge an electric car
You can either charge your electric car at home or on the go. Regardless of where you charge it, though, the process itself is relatively straightforward.
First, you’ll need to locate a charging station near you. If at home, where 80% of charging happens, you’re already set; but if you’re travelling, you can use a mobile phone app like ZapMap to find a station. In some electric cars, though, the built-in GPS has charging sites already plotted for ease.
When you’ve located a site, pull up to the designated space and plug in your car to the port. If the station is tethered, you can use the on-site cord for charging, but if it isn’t you will need to provide your own cord. Increasingly, public charging stations are allowing contactless payment options through apps or debit and credit cards.
How long will my electric car take to charge?
Broadly speaking, electric cars can take as little as 30 minutes and as long as 12 or more hours to charge. There simply is no single answer due to the range of factors affecting the charging speed of each vehicle. However, according to Podpoint, a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery would take around 8 hours to charge from empty to full at a 7kW charging point.
It is worth noting, though, that most drivers will rarely charge their car from empty to full, opting for the quicker ‘top up’ charging method instead — especially if they are on the road.
Factors that affect charging speed
Perhaps the most influential factor on charging speed is the type of charging station you visit. Charging your electric car at home is likely to allow for a consistent level of efficient charging; however, the charging stations on the road all differ slightly.
The three main charger types are slow, fast, and rapid — all of which have different kW capacities.
Slow chargers run at 3.7kW on average and take the longest to charge up an electric vehicle (hence the name). Most commonly, they are used at home but can also be seen at old street-side charging points that haven’t yet been updated. Using a slow charger to fully charge an electric car with a battery of 40 kWh like the Nissan LEAF (2018) would take approximately 11 hours, while a Tesla Model S (2019) would take 21 hours.
This charging type is increasingly becoming outdated as battery sizes get larger and fast charging stations become more accessible.
Fast chargers can charge at anything from 7kW to 22kW and are the most common type of charging point in the UK. Often referred to as ‘wallboxes’ these charging stations can be installed in your home or placed street-side or at service stations. For the vehicles used in the example above, a fast charger of 22kW would take between 5-6 hours to fully charge them. See the difference?
Rapid chargers, on the other hand, are in a league of their own entirely. As their name betrays, these chargers are the fastest charger type, operating at 43-50kWh and cutting charging speeds down to just 2 hours or less for some vehicles. Tesla have their own version of a rapid charger that charges at a whopping 150kWh, taking less than an hour, but that’s just for Tesla drivers to enjoy.
Vehicle type & battery capacity
Another significant factor that influences charging speed is the vehicle type. Different models of electric cars will have different battery capacities and therefore different charging speeds.
Before choosing the electric car for you, make sure you familiarise yourself with the wide range of battery capacities on the market. Using a tool like the Electric Vehicle Database, for instance, allows you to compare the difference in kWh for electric cars. According to the database, the Smart EQ forfour has the lowest at just 16.7 kWh, while the Mercedes EQS 450+ has the highest at 107.8 kWh, therefore taking the longest to charge but needing to charge the least often.
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