How Long Does it Take to Charge an Electric Car?

Find out the factors affecting how long it takes to charge an electric car and how to work out its charging time in Savvy’s handy guide.

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, updated on July 31st, 2023       

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As the world moves towards a greener and more sustainable future, electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining immense popularity for their environmental benefits and cost-saving potential. If you're considering making the switch to an electric car in Australia, one of the critical aspects to consider is charging time.

Unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles that refuel within minutes, electric cars charge differently. Explore the factors which influence the charging time of electric vehicles in Australia and learn essential tips to optimise the charging process right here in Savvy’s comprehensive guide.

What factors affect how long it takes for an electric car to charge?

Several variables influence how long it takes for an electric car to charge. Understanding these factors is essential for EV owners to optimise their charging experience. Here are the key factors that affect charging time:

  • Charging level: electric cars offer different charging levels, each with varying speeds. Level 1 home charging typically uses a household outlet of around 2kW and is the slowest, while Level 2 charging can range from 7kW to 22kW and appears in public stations and homes. DC fast charging, also known as Level 3 charging, provides the fastest charging speeds, with some reaching up to 350kW. These are also often the most expensive charging option.
  • Battery size and capacity: the size and capacity of the car's battery pack play a crucial role in charging time. Larger battery packs take longer to charge, but they also offer a longer driving range on a single charge.
  • State of charge: the current state of charge of the battery affects the charging time. Charging is faster when the battery is nearly empty, but it slows down as it reaches its full capacity. This means your car will charge at a faster rate between 10% and 80% than it does between 80% and 100%.
  • Charging infrastructure: the availability and type of charging infrastructure in the area you live can impact charging times. The density of public charging stations, especially Level 2 and 3 chargers, can significantly reduce charging times for EV owners.
  • Home charging vs. public charging: charging at home is generally more convenient because EV owners can plug in overnight, taking advantage of off-peak electricity rates. Public charging, while essential for longer trips, may be subject to factors like charging station availability and charging power.
  • Charging habits: charging habits can also affect charging time and battery health. Avoid frequently charging to 100% capacity, as it may stress the battery and reduce its overall lifespan. Charging to around 80% for daily use and reserving full charging for longer trips can optimise battery life and charging efficiency.
  • Temperature: extreme temperatures can affect battery performance and charging speed. Charging an electric car in very hot or cold conditions may result in slower charging times.
  • Battery health: the age and health of the battery can influence charging time. Older or degraded batteries may not charge as quickly as newer, healthier ones.
  • Charging software and technology: advanced charging technologies and software updates can improve charging efficiency and speed over time. Regular software updates from the vehicle manufacturer can optimise charging performance.

How do I work out how long it’ll take for my electric car to charge?

You can use a simple formula to determine a rough estimate of how long it’ll take for your vehicle to charge:

Battery capacity (kWh) ÷ charging rate (kW) ÷ charging efficiency (%) = charging time (hours)

Before you do this, it’s important to identify each of the three above variables. These are:

  • Check your car's battery capacity: find out the capacity of your electric car's battery, which is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This information can be found in the vehicle's manual or specifications.
  • Identify the charging rate: determine the charging rate of the charging station you plan to use. Charging rates are measured in kilowatts (kW) and can vary depending on the charger type.
  • Understand efficiency: electric cars have charging efficiencies which are typically around 85% to 95%. This means that the actual energy stored in the battery after charging will be slightly less than the energy drawn from the charging station. For this calculation, we’ll assume a 90% efficiency, though this may vary.

Once you have all this information, you can calculate your vehicle’s rough charging time. For example, if you have a car with a 60kWh battery and are using a 7kW home charger, you can determine the following:

60kWh ÷ 7kW ÷ 90% (0.9) = 9.52

By subtracting the nine from the above number, we can multiply 0.52 by 60 to determine that this equates to a rough total of nine hours and 31 minutes.

Naturally, this will change depending on the various factors in the calculation, as well as those outlined above. However, by using this formula, we can see how changing the power of your charger can increase or reduce the time it takes to charge the same 60kWh battery.

Battery capacity Charging rate Charging efficiency Charging time (approx.)
27hrs, 47mins
9hrs, 31mins
3hrs, 2mins
1hr, 20mins

Before buying an electric car, it’s important to compare your options in terms of battery capacity if you’re focused not only on the range of the car but also how long it takes to charge.

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