How Long Does It Take To Charge An EV?
EV charging times are a hot topic, especially with 38% of Americans considering making an electric car their next vehicle purchase.
As one of America's leading providers of home solar systems, SunPower is committed to supporting Americans in their switch to sustainability. That's why we've put together this helpful guide to help you make informed decisions about EV ownership.
In this article, we'll explore each of the factors affecting EV charging time, reveal our top tips for keeping your car fully charged, and share how renewable energy is empowering EV owners to charge their vehicles more affordably and sustainably.
Understanding EV Charging: Which Factors Impact Results?
Think of an EV charger as an eco-conscious gas station. When you hook up your vehicle to a charging point, the station provides electric power. This electricity then converts into direct current, which your battery uses to power your vehicle.
EV charging times depend on dozens of factors, including the capacity of your battery, the ambient temperature, and the charging station you use.
Battery capacity: Your battery size impacts both the miles per day your vehicle can travel and how long it takes to charge. A bigger battery has a larger charging capacity than a smaller one and will typically take longer to charge.
State of charge: Your battery's state of charge plays a role in how long it takes to fuel your vehicle. Generally, batteries that are almost entirely depleted will charge faster than batteries that are nearly full.
Temperature: Car batteries work at an optimal temperature of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Charging your vehicle significantly above or below this temperature could negatively impact charging times.
Charging infrastructure: The more power a charging station supplies, the faster it will charge your car. Most at-home chargers fall somewhere between 3.7 kW and 7 kW, whereas faster public charging stations often provide around 50 kW on average. Some DC fast chargers even go up to 350 kW, though you can expect to pay more for rapid charging.
How Charging Stations Impact Charge Times
The power output of a charging station is measured in kW. A higher kW output means a faster charging speed, but it can also result in greater upfront cost if you're using public chargers to fuel your car.
Depending on their maximum charging rate, charging stations can be grouped into three power ratings: Levels 1, 2, and 3.
Level 1 chargers offer the most basic form of charging, typically using a standard 120-volt household outlet. They are slow, delivering a maximum charging speed of 1–1.4 kW, or an average of 3 to 5 miles of range per hour. Typically, this means you’ll need around 30–40 hours to charge a standard 60 kWh EV.
While level 1 chargers aren't fast enough to charge most modern battery electric vehicles quickly, they can be helpful if you own a plug-in hybrid, as these cars typically have much smaller batteries.
Level 2 chargers are the next step up, utilizing a 240-volt outlet. They offer faster charging, usually at a rate of 10–30 miles of range per hour. Level 2 charging stations are widely used for at-home charging because they can comfortably refuel most EVs overnight. You can expect a 7 kW level 2 charger to charge a 60 kWh EV in around 8 hours.
DC Fast Charging (Level 3)
DC charging stations offer the fastest charging times possible and are capable of fully charging a 60 kWh EV in around 30 minutes or less. That said, level 3 chargers are usually only available in public areas, may cost money to use, and can contribute to battery degradation in extreme cold or heat without preconditioning a battery.
Top Tips for Effective Charging
Of course no one wants to end up stranded on the freeway, so it’s no wonder charging is a common concern for those considering an EV. To help you on your way, here are five tips for a smooth EV journey.
Plan: When heading on a long trip, plan your charging schedule to find cost-effective and convenient charging stations.
Off-peak: Take advantage of off-peak electricity rates for cheaper charging.
Battery health: Don't let your battery run flat, maintain optimum temperatures, and avoid rapid driving to boost your battery life expectancy.
At-home charging: Install a dedicated charging station at home to take full advantage of overnight charging.
Go greener: By pairing an EV charger with a renewable energy system, such as home solar panels, you can save money and lower your carbon footprint.
The Benefits of Renewables: Where Do Charging Stations Fall Short?
EVs offer a number of environmental benefits over gas-powered vehicles, but sadly, that doesn't necessarily mean they're wholly sustainable.
If you hook your car up to a conventional charging station, most of the electricity your vehicle receives comes from the grid. While some of the grid's power may be the result of renewable sources, much of it today comes from fossil fuels.
How do we solve this problem? A recent UCS study revealed that if renewables were to make up 95% of EV electric power generation, emissions from electric vehicles would drop to one-third of their current level.
Renewables are the key to sustainable EV charging, and you have the power to lead this change. By combining renewables like solar panels with a smart technology EV charger, you can make your charging more sustainable, all while saving hundreds of dollars on your annual electricity bill.
Ready to learn more about how you can power your EV with clean, solar energy?
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