When it comes to electric cars, charging time is a hot topic. With the advent of rapid charging, being stranded for hours waiting for your car's battery to charge could soon be a thing of the past. However, because these chargers are still uncommon, what are your options for the remainder of the time? Here, we'll look at all of the options and determine which ones are the most effective.
This method, as the name implies, results in the longest charging durations, with some bigger EVs requiring up to 24 hours to recharge their batteries. Even something as simple as a Nissan Leaf with a 40kWh battery will take roughly 12 hours to charge. These chargers, which typically run at around 3kW, are still infrequently available at public charging stations, but are more commonly the portable variety with a three-pin connection for use with a household energy supply.
Most electric cars come with one of these units as standard, however due to the ever-increasing size of battery packs, most manufacturers advise only utilising them when no other option is available. Slow charging, on the other hand, allows you to easily top-up the car's cells overnight if you don't drive many miles per day, and the slow rate of charge means less heat is generated in the battery, which can help extend its usable life.
This is gradually becoming the most popular charging option, especially for home use. Fast charging comes in two speeds: 7kW and 22kW, the latter of which is only available at public charging stations. Most dedicated household wallboxes, such as a Pod Point, operate at a lower 7kW rate, which cuts charging time in half when compared to a sluggish charger.
For example, a Nissan Leaf with a 40kW battery will take around six hours to fully recharge, whereas a Tesla with a 75kW battery will take about 12 hours. 22kW requires a three-phase power supply, making them a rare and costly option for household use. They also require a vehicle that can charge using both Direct Current (DC) and the more common Alternating Current (AC) methods. If your electric car can absorb this rate of charge, expect charging times to be cut in half when compared to the 7kW unit, meaning a 75kW Tesla will be charged in less than six hours.
On paper, this appears to be the quickest way to charge your EV's batteries, with some chargers capable of delivering a significant amount of energy in as little as 20 minutes. These machines, which charge at 50kW to 350kW, are typically found at motorway service stations and specialized charging hubs. You'll need a car that can handle this form of DC charging, and you should only charge up to 80% of the battery's capacity for best results, as the rate of charge slows substantially beyond this point to protect the cells from the high temperatures caused by such strong electrical currents.
Of course, to take advantage of this feature, you'll need a vehicle with a rapid charging system. Most entry-level cars come with an optional upgrade that allows for up to 100kW of DC charging, while more expensive versions like the Tesla Model 3 and Model S can charge at up to 250kW. Some Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT models employ an 800 volt electrical system that can handle up to 270kW, while the Lucid Motors Air will claim 300kW when it goes on sale next year. check used electric car on GoodAutoDeals.
A 40kW Nissan Leaf with a 50kW charger (currently the most common in the UK, but additional 150 and 350kW units are on the way) is a good example of charging speed being added all the time) can be charged to 80% capacity in under an hour, which is roughly the same time it takes to charge a 75kWh Tesla with a 150kW charger. The Taycan takes little over 22 minutes to charge from zero to 80 percent on a 350kW charger.
However, regardless of the charger's wattage, your automobile will only be able to charge at the maximum rate set by its onboard system. So, even when hooked into a 350kW charger, a Leaf with a 50kW charging capability will get current at this rate.
What is top-up charging, and how does it work?
Most EV drivers use this strategy, which is to plug in and charge whenever they have a chance, usually at a public charger on the street or in a supermarket parking lot. Rather than waiting for the battery to totally discharge, it's actually easier and faster to just keep the cells charged, ensuring that you'll always have enough power and rarely experience range anxiety. This method is frequently combined with a full charge overnight using a household slow or turbo charger.
Charger speed is affected by a combination of factors.
There are a variety of elements that can affect charging speed, especially when it comes to a full charge. To begin with, there's the battery size; the higher the capacity, the longer it takes to recharge. Then there's the charge level in the battery, with the first 80% of capacity being filled significantly faster than the last 20% - this is when the charging pace slows dramatically, especially on fast or rapid chargers.
The pace of charging is also determined by your car's onboard adaptor; if it's rated at 50kW, that's the maximum you'll get, even if you hook into a 150kW charger. The same is true of the charger you use; on a fast charging wall box, a car capable of 150kW will only charge at 7kW. When the weather is chilly, you'll notice slower charging, especially if you're using a quick charger. Battery heating systems strive to minimize the speed drop to a minimal, but they do so by drawing extra current, which adds to the somewhat longer charging time.