It wasn’t too many years ago that the words “electric car” inspired jokes about really long...
So...How Long Does it Actually Take to Charge An Electric Vehicle?
If you are contemplating switching to an EV (electric vehicle), there’s a lot more to consider beyond all the money you'll save by skipping the gas - and possibly qualifying for that extra tax rebate. One of the most important issues regarding electric vehicles is how much time is required to charge them, and surprisingly there's no set answer, since it varies depending on the amount of driving that you do, and the level of the charger that you choose. It's a good exercise to work out those logistics before you start shopping around. So...how long does it actually take to charge an EV?
Let's Talk Charging Levels
There are three levels of EV chargers. When determining which charging level will work best for your household, it’s important to first answer these three significant questions: How many watts? How many hours? How many miles? Here, we break down each charging level along with their pros and cons.
Level 1 Charger
Many dealerships include a Level 1 charger when you buy your electric vehicle. Another great benefit is you can plug it into any household outlet at 120V. Remember, you should never use an extension cord with your EV charger.
What makes Level 1 less than perfect is the slow charge time you'll see from this charger. You can expect only 2-4 miles in range every hour it charges. However, if you only use your vehicle about 20 miles a day, a Level 1 charger will do an adequate job.
Unfortunately, because these chargers need to run for such a long time, they use a lot more electricity, making them less efficient and more expensive than Level 2 chargers. Moving up a level will bump up your miles per charging hour.
Level 2 Charger
If you or your family of drivers need more of a range than 20-30 miles daily, the Level 2 charger will soon pay for itself on the power bill, as well as provide dividends on speed and convenience. A Level 2 charger is a 240V unit, which may require a new line brought into your circuit board. The amperage will vary, but a popular 24-amp charger can provide approximately 6 kW of power and readies your electric vehicle with a range of 12–32 miles for every hour it’s charging.
Level 2 chargers are available with as many as 80 amps, producing 19.2 kW per hour. However, most currently available EVs cannot charge that fast anyway, so all that extra power isn't actually necessary. Despite that, the Level 2 charger is typically the preferred choice for the majority of EV car owners.
Level 3 Charger
A Level 3 charger is also known by another moniker: the DC-Fast charger. This is the charger you’ll want if you have to do a lot of driving for work, or if you live for summer road trips. A Level 3 charger can quickly add miles to your car's battery pack, to the tune of 100-250 miles in 30-45 minutes. This super-high voltage charger, 400V-800V, connects to the EV through an additional socket with extra pins.
Level 3 charge rates vary between 50 kW to 350 kW, but keep in mind that most battery packs cannot even handle 50 kW, so the charger wouldn’t operate at a higher rate. The other thing to know is that the speed of the charger slows substantially once the battery hits 80%. However, for a quick charge in a short time, a Level 3 charger can certainly be an absolute lifesaver on a long trip, whether for business or fun.
Wilcox Electric installs Level 1 and Level 2 chargers in Washington D.C. area homes and businesses. Our trained electrical experts can help you find the perfect spot to install your EV charger even when you have limited extra space. Contact us for a Level 1 or Level 2 charging station installation estimate.