How long does it take to charge an electric car?

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While I was commuting in an electric car for six years, people would often ask me, “How long does it take to charge your electric vehicle?”

Answering this question was difficult for at least four reasons:

  1. They never empty up unless a tow truck pulled you home.

  2. There are different states of charge, ranging from household electricity (very slow) to compressors (fairly fast).

  3. Electric cars vary from about 100 miles to 350 miles, each of which takes a different time to charge.

  4. You’re almost always doing something else while you’re charging. Like sleeping, working or shopping.

Instead of going into all of the variables, I usually just told people that it took about four hours for my EV to charge. However, in order to answer this question more fully, here is a little background.

Basics of the charging process

The biggest factor affecting charging times is the type of charger used. Here are the most common charging options available today:

Level 1: This is the electricity that is available from the electrical outlets in your home. It’s about 120 volts. Charging in this way is extremely slow. ChargePointIt is estimated that it takes 17 to 20 hours to charge a 100-mile level 1 car battery powered by a network of independent EV charging stations.

Level 2: Many homes also have 240-volt sockets for tumble dryers and ovens. You can purchase a home charging station and plug it into an outlet to reduce the charging time for that 100-mile car battery to four to five hours. If you don’t have a 240-volt outlet, you can purchase a charging station and have it installed by an electrician for a total of $ 1,200. This is evident from the Home Remodeling website Fixr.

Charging on the run

If you are trying to charge from home, or if you live in an apartment and do not have access to a charger, it may take longer – not in the actual charging time, but because it is sometimes difficult to find an available public charger. Some workstations are installing charging points now, but you could compete with your colleagues to join.

When Steve Pearl got his Volkswagen e-Golf in 2015, which offered a modest 85-mile range for his 80-mile return trip to work as a product development engineer in Santa Clara, California, he was “on the Bladder” . Even though there were 20 chargers at work, “it was a hassle,” he recalls. “People would sit in the parking lot and wait for a space to open up.” But once it was plugged in, it could charge the drive home in about an hour.

Undaunted, Pearl rented a newer E-Golf with a range of 130 miles, which allowed him to make all his commute to work while charging at home at night when electricity tariffs were much lower.

It is predicted that public charges will steadily improve as the network expands.

Reach the next level

Many electric vehicles offer a quick charge feature, usually as an option at the time of car purchase, which allows the battery to be charged at level 3 or 440 volts – much faster than charging at home. Just 20 minutes of charging increases the range of at least 50 miles, according to tankeconomy.gov, a resource provided by the US Department of Energy. However, some of these quick chargers are currently available.

Using ChargePoint, I searched in Long Beach, California, where I live and found only two quick chargers available, while there are 77 level 2 chargers.

However, when you buy a Tesla you get access to a nationwide network of 20,000 compressors that can get you a range of 200 miles in just 15 minutes.

Gas stations vs. electric charging

When people find out about charging times for electric vehicles, they often compare it to the 10 minutes it takes to fill a gas tank to get more range. But here’s the thing: most people use electric vehicles as commuter cars, so they charge them at work or at home while they do other things.

Bryanne Hill has been commuting 25 miles a day to work as a admissions consultant at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles in a Chevrolet Bolt for the past four years. She says she doesn’t know exactly how long it will take to charge her car because “I’ll plug it in when I get home and it’s ready in the morning.”

She likes the way the Bolt drives and loves never having to go to a gas station, “especially when I’m running late in the morning.” But when she went on a road trip in the Bolt with her husband, she was that Charging time more conscious because they were stranded until they had enough range to start moving again.

Still, she says, if you plan properly and have a level 2 charger at home, “charge time isn’t a big deal.” Pearl, who commuted in his e-Golf for six years, agrees, adding, “It’s a no-brainer since you usually charge at night – so who cares if it takes four or eight hours?”

Charging tips

Here are some recommendations from EV insiders to make charging a little easier:

  • Sign up for a service like ChargePoint if you unexpectedly need more coverage for a detour.

  • Familiarize yourself with charging on the run before you need it. That way, you won’t spend time fiddling with the app in a weird parking lot late at night.

  • Take the time to get to know the true range of your electric vehicle – and how heating and air conditioning reduce your mileage – and not what the manufacturer promises.

  • Just in case, find chargers near you and familiarize yourself with them when others aren’t using them.

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