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Electric Car Charging Guide

Electric Car Charging Guide

If you've just purchased your first electric vehicle or are considering getting one, it's best to learn all you can about charging. As opposed to an internal combustion vehicle, where you only need a few minutes at a gas station to fuel up, keeping your battery full requires a bit of forethought. You'll need to consider where you are charging your car, how your brand and model will affect your charge time, what capacity your battery has, and several other factors.

How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

Vehicle research can help you find the precise amount of time it takes to charge your car, with the quickest method being to contact the manufacturer. You can also find out further information with tools like a VIN decoder or a vehicle history report, which can show you details about a car's accident history, previous owners, and manufacturing origins. For charging, the time it takes to fill your battery will mostly depend on the brand, battery capacity, and the outlet you use.

Vehicle Brand and Model

Different EV brands will charge at various speeds, and before you purchase your vehicle, you may want to learn a bit more about a specific manufacturer's charging rates. How fast these brands can charge up their cars will vary depending on what level of charger you purchase and whether you visit a station, but most manufacturers will give rough estimates for their total fill-up times.

The Lucid Air, for example, boasts a charge rate of 20 miles per minute. That means it can reach its full range of 520 miles in as little as 26 minutes. The Tesla Model 3 can charge up to 15 miles in a single minute, so a charger will fill its battery in just over 18 minutes. Porsche's Taycan EV can charge at a rate of 15.5 miles per minute; with a range of 242 miles, its total charge time is around 15.5 minutes. Kia reports that its EV6 can charge 14.5 miles per minute, reaching its 310-mile range in approximately 21 minutes. Of course, these charge rates also don't always apply, as batteries will fill up faster when they aren't entirely empty, so they should only be used as rough estimates.

Battery Capacity

Battery Capacity

The capacity of your EV's battery will be measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh; the higher the kWh, the longer your battery will need to charge. However, these capacities can be extended by avoiding overcharging (meaning only filling up your battery to around 80%), using overnight lower-speed chargers, and maintaining smooth acceleration while traveling. The average capacity for a lithium-ion battery is around 40kWh, but some newer EVs can reach outputs higher than 100 kWh. Here are some of the usable battery capacities for the top EV brands on the market according to EV-Database.org:

  • Lucid: The Lucid Air Dream Edition P and R both have a usable battery capacity of 118 kWh, while the Grand Touring has a capacity of 112.0 kWh.
  • Tesla: The Tesla Model S Dual Motor, Model S Plaid, Model X Dual Motor, and Model X Plaid all have a capacity of 95 kWh, while the Model 3 Performance and Model Y Long Range both have capacities of 75 kWh. The regular Tesla Model 3 and Model Y have a capacity of 57.5 kWh.
  • NIO: The NIO ET7, ET5, and EL7 all have a battery capacity of 90 kWh, while the Et7 75, ET5 75, and EL7 75 all have a capacity of 75 kWh.
  • Polestar: The Polestar 3 Long Range Dual Motor and Long Range Performance models have a capacity of 107 kWh, while the Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor, Dual Motor, and Performance all have a capacity of 75 kWh.
  • Mercedes: The Mercedes EQS SUV 450+, 450 SUV 4MATIC, and 580 SUV 4MATIC all have a battery capacity of 108.4 kWh, while the EQS 450 4MATIC, 500 4MATIC, and 450+ all have a capacity of 107.8 kWh.

Outlet Level

Another factor that will determine how fast your EV charges is the capability of your station. There are three different outlet levels you can utilize, including:

  • Level 1: Level 1 chargers work with your standard 120-volt power sources and are usually capable of filling up your battery at a rate of 3 to 5 miles per hour. They are the cheapest to install, work with almost every type of electric vehicle, and tend to be the easiest to have at home. The drawback is that they can take quite a while to charge larger batteries, making them better suited to "top off" a car at the end of each day.
  • Level 2: Level 2 chargers need 240 volts to function correctly, but they have a much higher output than level 1. A level 2 charger can put out an average of 12 to 80 miles in a single hour, and while they are usually found at a station, they can also be installed at home. These chargers will carry a significantly higher price, but they are well worth it; while a level 1 charger may take up to 40 hours to fill your battery, a level 2 can do it overnight.
  • Level 3: Level 3 chargers have the most considerable energy requirements, necessitating a 480-volt unit to function, but have the advantage of lightning-fast charging rates. Able to fill up most batteries in under an hour, you'll find most level 3 chargers at an official station rather than at a driver's home.

Is It Better to Charge an EV at Home
or Public Charging Station?

Is It Better to Charge an EV at Home
or Public Charging Station?

Most EV owners have access to a level 1 charger at home, which comes standard with many electric vehicle purchases. You can get a level 2 charger, which can charge vehicles overnight instead of over a few days, but the installation price will be much higher. The fastest charging comes from level 3, with some batteries that can fill in as little as 30 minutes, but these can cost tens of thousands of dollars to install. It's more reasonable to find level 3 chargers at a designated station, where you'll have to pay a small fee for use. So, to sum up, it's more cost-effective to charge at home but faster to charge at a public charging station.