How Long Does It Take to Charge an EV?

Charging times vary based on your car, your location, and your activities

Electric car instrument cluster showing charge status nearly full.


There's no easy, quick answer to how long it takes to charge an electric vehicle (EV). Charging is similar to fueling up a gas-powered car in some ways, but it’s very different in others.

The most significant difference is that electric vehicle charging stations don’t all charge at the same rate, which is why addressing the question of how long it takes to charge an EV can get a little complicated. Still, there are a few things you can take into consideration to help you determine how long it would take to charge an EV you're considering.

When you fuel up a gas-powered car, the only thing you need to account for to know how long it will take is the size of the gas tank.

Know Your Electric Vehicle Battery Capacity

When you charge an EV, you need to consider the battery’s storage capacity and charge level, the vehicle’s built-in battery charger’s capabilities, and the charging station’s power source.

Big batteries take longer to charge, and fast chargers provide more power, but the capabilities of the vehicle’s charger can also affect how long it will take the battery to charge. Charging stations just provide power, as the actual charger is inside the EV.

That means two EVs plugged into the same charging station can take different amounts of time to charge based on battery size, battery charge level, and the capabilities of the chargers built into each vehicle.

Different electric vehicles have varying battery capacities. The battery’s capacity is similar to the size of a fuel tank in a gas-powered vehicle, and it has a direct impact on the range of the vehicle. Big batteries provide more range, but they also take longer to charge when fully drained, just like a big fuel tank takes longer to fill than a small one.

Range also depends on other factors, like how efficient the vehicle is, the driving conditions, and your driving style, but the rule of thumb that bigger batteries provide more range still applies. Pure electric vehicles or battery electric vehicles (BEVs) typically have batteries that range in size between 17 and 100kWh.

Batteries at the low end don’t provide much range, so driving even a little bit will drain the battery and require you to charge it. Batteries at the high end allow you to drive long distances or to take many short trips, but charging one from empty to full takes a very long time.

Consider How Much You Drive

Battery capacity is only one part of the story, as an EV battery only depletes when someone drives the EV. If you have a long daily commute, you need to charge the battery regularly, possibly weekly, even if you have one of the biggest batteries available.

If you have a short commute or only use your vehicle sporadically for errands and other tasks, you won’t need to charge as often, and charging won’t take as long.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The speed at which an electric vehicle battery charges depends on how much power the charging station provides and the vehicle’s charging capabilities.

You can plug some chargers in at your house. There are charging stations that can plug into an outlet similar to the one your clothes dryer uses or be wired-in directly, and commercial charging stations where you can pay to charge your batteries.

Level one chargers are EV battery chargers that you can use at home and plug into a regular 120V outlet, and they typically provide between 1.4 and 1.9kW of power. That isn’t a lot, and these chargers can take a long time to charge a battery. A level two charger must be plugged into a 240V outlet or wired-in directly, but it can provide charging power up to 19.2kW. That’s ten times faster, but it can still take a long time to charge a big battery.

Commercial fast-charging stations use DC Fast Charging to provide up to 350kW. If the charger built into an EV can’t handle that much power, it provides the amount that the charger can manage. For example, if the charger in an EV can accept up to 50kW, then the DC Fast Charger will only provide 50kW. If the charger in another EV can accept up to 350kW, the same DC Fast Charger would provide 350kW.

Regardless of the type of charging station, the speed at which an EV battery charges is always limited by the maximum amount of power it can handle. If an EV has a charger that can handle 350kW, it will charge much faster at a DC Fast Charging station than a vehicle that can only handle 50kW.

For example, a vehicle with a dead 100kWh battery and the ability to accept 350kW from a fast-charging station will take about the same amount of time to charge as a vehicle with a 14kW battery that can only manage a maximum charging power of 50kW.

Portable chargers also exist, but they’re more for emergencies than fully charging your battery. A portable charger can quickly provide an EV with a minimal charge level if the vehicle’s battery runs out on the road or a bit of extra range is required, but usually only enough to limp to the closest available fast charger.

Calculating How Long it Takes to Charge an EV

Many factors can affect how long it takes to charge an EV, including the maximum charging rate of the charging station, the maximum charging rate of the vehicle, the starting charge level of the battery, and the size of the battery. Other factors, like the ambient temperature, can also have an impact, but they are more difficult to calculate. In general, you can expect a battery to charge more slowly if it’s cold outside, and inherent inefficiencies in power transfer also increase charging time.

To figure out how long an EV battery will take to charge, you need this information:

  • Battery capacity: This is the maximum capacity of the battery in kWh.
  • Present charge level: This is how full the battery is at the moment, as a percentage.
  • Target charge level: This is how full you want the battery to be when you’re done charging.
  • Charging station output: This is the charging power provided by the charging station in kW.
  • Vehicle charging power: This is the maximum output of the vehicle’s built-in charger.

As an example, we will use these numbers:

  • Battery capacity: 100 kWh.
  • Present charge level: 20 percent.
  • Target charge level: 100 percent.
  • Charging station output: 350kW.
  • Vehicle charging power: 200kW.

Using your numbers, follow these steps:

  1. Compare the charging station output to the vehicle charging power.
  2. If the vehicle charging power is the lower number, use that as your charging power. If the charging station output is the lower number, use that as your charging power.
    Example: vehicle charging power (200kW) < charging station output (350kW), so we use 200kW as our charging power.
  3. Subtract present charge level from target charge level to get the required charge percentage.
    Example: 100 - 20 = 80.
  4. Multiply battery capacity by charge percentage.
    Example: 100 kWh * 80% = 80 kWh.
  5. Divide that number by the charging power.
    Example: 80 kWh / 200 kW = 0.4 hours, or 24 minutes.

In that example, we see that it would take 24 minutes to charge a 100kWh battery from 20 percent to complete with a 200kW charger. In reality, it will take a bit longer due to inefficiencies in power transfer, ambient temperature, and other factors. 

If you prefer a formula:

Charge Time = Battery Capacity (kWh) / Charge Power (kW)

Just remember that you won’t always need to charge the battery’s total capacity. The charging power cannot exceed the maximum charge power that the vehicle itself is capable of, even if a charging station can provide more.

Topping Up Your Battery Instead of Draining it Completely

Due to the inconvenience of stopping for gas, most people wait to fuel up their vehicles until the gauge hits empty. If you look at an electric vehicle through that lens, assuming that you’ll have to wait around for its big battery to fully charge every time, charging an EV probably looks like an even bigger convenience.

However, it’s helpful to think of charging an EV as more like charging your phone than fueling up a gas-powered vehicle. Most people charge their phone every day, or whenever convenient, instead of waiting for the battery to die, and you can treat the battery in your EV the same way.

If you install a level one or level two charger at home, you can easily top up your EV batteries overnight, even if you have a long commute or drive your vehicle a lot during the day for any other reason.

A level one charger is sufficient if you use your vehicle primarily for short errands, while a 19.2kW level two charger will take even a massive 100kWh battery from empty to full in less than six hours. That means you could theoretically have a round-trip commute of over 200 miles each day and still top up the battery in your garage overnight.

If you can’t install a charger at home, and one isn’t available where you work, then it becomes necessary to think of charging your EV in the same terms as fueling a gas-powered vehicle.

Let’s say you have a daily commute that’s a bit over the average at 40 miles round trip, and you drive a vehicle that consumes 300wH per mile. That would add up to 60kWh of juice in a five-day workweek.

If your vehicle can handle a maximum charge of 50kW, you’d find yourself waiting about one hour and 20 minutes each week to charge up. On the other hand, if you opted for a vehicle that could accept a charge of 350kW, you could top up in a little over 10 minutes.

The Convenience of Charging Electric Vehicles

Charging an electric vehicle takes longer than fueling a gas-powered vehicle, but it’s far more convenient if you’re in a position to install a charger at home. Even if you have a long commute, you can easily charge a big EV battery to full overnight with a level-two charger.

Fast charging stations help make charging a little more convenient if you can’t have a charger at home, but you don’t want to choose a vehicle with a low charging power if you have a long daily commute.

If you match the battery capacity and charging power to your driving style and needs, then charging an EV doesn’t have to provide that much inconvenience, even if you have a long commute and can’t have a charger at home.

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