While there has never been a better time to drive electric, with so many models to choose from, and new terminology to get your head around, making the switch can be daunting. Plus, if you’ve never driven electric before, you probably have a lot of questions, one being: How long does it take to charge an electric car?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question, but knowing the variables can make it easier to figure out. Let’s take a look at what factors influence charging time to guide you towards a reliable estimate based on your situation.
EV charging times
Type of EV
Average Battery Size (right) Power Output (Below)
Approximate time to charge the battery from 20 percent to 80 percent state of charge (SoC). For illustrative purposes only: Does not reflect exact charging times, some vehicles will not be able to handle certain power inputs and/or do not support fast charging.
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand how the EV-driving mindset differs from driving a gas-powered vehicle. Typically, gas vehicle drivers fill up their tanks whenever the fuel gauge reads empty. When it comes to EVs, instead of letting the battery drain empty before recharging, most EV drivers top up whenever they park.
Whether that’s at home overnight, at work, or at the supermarket, with a charging station on hand, all that valuable parking time can be used to keep the battery topped up and ready to go. So, while charging an EV does take longer than filling up with gas in some cases, you probably won’t notice while you’re off doing more important things.
What impacts electric car charging time?
1. Battery size
Just like with the size of a gasoline car’s tank, the size of a vehicle’s battery determines how much energy a vehicle can hold. Measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) which are the electric equivalent of a liter or a gallon, the bigger the battery, the longer it will take to charge. As some larger vehicles, like say the Porsche Taycan or the Tesla Model S take more power than others, with battery capacities of 90 kWh and 75 kWh respectively, they will take longer to charge at the same power output as a smaller vehicle.
2. State of charge (empty vs. full)
Similar to the fuel gauge on a car, state of charge (SoC) refers to how much energy your EV can use between ‘full’ and ‘empty.’ Like mobile phones and laptops, EVs use lithium-ion batteries which degrade faster when drained to zero and then fully charged. That sounds more scary than it actually is, as EV batteries are designed to last for the long term.
To counter this, auto manufacturers put systems in place to prevent batteries draining below or charging above certain limits—typically above 80 percent and below 20 percent. This means charging from 80 to 100 percent could take as long or longer than the initial charge.
3. Charging capacity of the vehicle
Whilst larger batteries mean they can store more power, they don’t always mean faster charging times as some vehicles can take a higher input of power than others. For example, the Tesla Model 3, has a fast charging capacity of 250 kW, whilst the smaller Peugeot e-208 only supports 50 kW fast charging—a big difference in charging times. As a result, a small battery doesn’t necessarily mean that a vehicle will charge faster. While the Tesla’s battery mentioned above may be far bigger than the Peugeot’s at the end of the day, it will take less time to charge when using fast charging.
4. Weather conditions
Environmental conditions play a vital role in how fast you can charge an EV. Batteries operate most efficiently when temperatures are between 20–25°C (68-77°F). If temperatures get too low or too high, it may take slightly longer to charge, particularly if using a Level 3 charging station. This is because a vehicle’s battery management system (BMS) reduces power to protect the battery when faced with higher or lower temperatures.
5. Charging capacity of the charging station
Aside from the above, one of the central things influencing charging time is the capacity of your charging station. There are different levels of charging, and generally speaking, the higher the level, the faster it can charge your vehicle. Let’s take a look at each to see how they compare.
Electric car charging times for all EV charging levels
Level 1 charger
What is Level 1 charging?
Level 1 charging refers to plugging the cable that came with your EV into a standard household socket.
Level 1 charging speed
Charging via a domestic socket is the slowest way to charge an EV. Standard household outlets deliver up to 2.3 kW (10 A). This equates to around 4 to 5 miles of range per hour (6 to 8 kilometers). So, for example, if you’re looking to fully charge a 50 kW Peugeot e-208 on a Level 1 charger, it would take 24 hours and 30 minutes. This method is not only slow, but under certain circumstances, it can be dangerous. Learn why we don’t recommend this charging method.
Level 2 charger
What is Level 2 charging?
Level 2 charging refers to charging your EV via a charging station either mounted on the wall, a pole, or standing on the ground. Given their price point and charging speed, Level 2 chargers are commonly found at residential and commercial locations.
Level 2 charging speed
Depending on the power output and the vehicle type, charging on a Level 2 charging station is roughly 5 to 15 times faster than charging via a regular socket.
Level 2 chargers come in a range of charging capacities. Charging for an hour with a 7.4 kW charger delivers about 25 miles (40 kilometers) of range, an 11 kW charger about 37 miles (60 kilometers) of range, and a 22kW charger around 75 miles (120 kilometers) of range. These calculations are estimates based on the average battery use of 18kWh per 62 miles (100 kilometers).
To put this into perspective, to fully charge a 50 kW Peugeot e-208 on an 11 kW Level 2 charging station would take only 5 hours and 15 minutes—significantly faster than the Level 1 example above.
Level 3 charger
What is Level 3 charging?
Also known as DC fast charging, Level 3 charging uses direct current (DC) to charge a vehicle. In short: Level 3 chargers deliver more power, faster, making them ideal for short-stop locations like gas stations and fleet depots. As it’s available at a much higher voltage, it goes without saying that DC chargers are far more powerful than Level 1 and 2 charging.
Level 3 charging speed
As its name suggests, DC fast charging is the fastest way to power an EV, recharging most vehicles in just minutes instead of hours. Level 3 chargers come in many different shapes, sizes, and charging capacities. That, in combination with the many vehicles and battery types out there makes it impossible to provide an exact answer in regards to charging speed. However, we can give you a reliable estimate per vehicle type based on the average battery size and power output.
How long will it take an electric car to charge in the future?
As EV technology continues to advance, it won’t be long before charging electric cars gets even faster. With new lithium-ion battery materials out there as well as all-solid-state batteries in the works, many companies are already investing in ways to make charging more stable, safe, and affordable than today's best-performing batteries. In five to 10 years, recharging an EV in under 20 minutes could be the new standard.
Looking ahead, many scientists and engineers are already working on speeding up charging time even further. A team of Harvard researchers recently designed a lithium-ion battery prototype that, under laboratory conditions, can recharge over 50 percent of its capacity in just three minutes—and do so thousands of times without significantly degrading. This, the researchers say, could pave a path toward batteries that can recharge fully in as little as 10 minutes. So, it’s safe to say the future is looking bright for super-fast charging.
Whatever way you look at it, the time it takes to charge will always be different from putting gas in a tank. Driving an EV is –in many ways– different from driving a car that runs on gas. Check out our exhaustive EV charging guide to learn everything you need to know about charging an electric car; from the costs of charging, and the range of the average car battery, to untangling the difference between EV charging cables, plugs, and connectors.