How Long It Takes to Charge an Electric Car
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You could add 200 miles of range to an electric vehicle in 30 minutes using the fastest available commercial charger. At the other extreme, only two or three miles will trickle into your EV’s battery during the same amount of time if you use a charger that plugs into a standard outlet.
Other factors can affect charging speed, including the battery’s age and the temperature outside, but the type of charging connection is the main factor in how quickly your battery charges.
Electric vehicles and charging equipment
Level 3/DC fast charging
Range added per hour of charging (approximate)
200 miles or more.
Available for in-home use?
Yes. The charging hardware comes standard with nearly every new EV.
Yes, but you’ll need to buy additional equipment and have it professionally installed.
No. Only available at public charging stations.
When this type of charger works well at home
If you drive fewer than 40 miles each day, using a Level 1 charger at home could work well. If you need a quicker charge, use a public charger.
If you typically drive more than 40 miles per day — or value convenience — you might want a Level 2 home charger.
Available on the road?
Not available at public charging stations, but you can easily bring and use your charger if your destination has an outlet you can use.
Yes. Most public chargers are Level 2. Often located where you park your car for a while, like a workplace or a parking garage.
Yes. Usually found on corridors where people want to charge quickly and keep driving, like an Interstate.
J1772 or Tesla.
CCS, CHAdeMO, or Tesla.
Level 1: Slow, but easy
A Level 1 charger plugs directly into a standard wall outlet. This type of charger connects to your car via hardware called a connector, which resembles a gas pump with a stubby nozzle. On the end is a circular plug that has five smaller circular connection points. This universal connection, called J1772, is compatible with nearly every EV in the U.S. Think of it as a more advanced version of the standard plug that’s found on items like lamps and vacuums.
Level 1 is the slowest type of EV charging. Charging overnight might add 40 or 50 miles of range. That’s enough for an average day for the average person, but if you need a quick fill-up, you’ll need to go elsewhere.
There’s a place for Level 1 charging, even if you decide to upgrade to Level 2. It’s not fast, but its compatibility with regular outlets makes it a good thing to keep in your car, in case of emergency.
Level 2: Faster, but requires extra hardware
A Level 2 charger connects to your car with the same J1772 connector as in Level 1 charging — unless your car is a Tesla, which uses its own connector. But the hardware on the other end of the cable is different; it draws power from a more powerful source, tapping into a 240-volt connection on a dedicated 40-amp circuit. That extra power means a faster charge: 25 miles or more in an hour.
That amount of power in a home is usually reserved for large appliances, like an electric clothes dryer or oven. The outlet this type of connection uses looks different from a standard wall outlet. This type of connection isn't found in most garages — though it might soon become the norm for new builds — so if you want a Level 2 charger where you park your car, you’ll need an electrician to install one. Because Level 2 charging hardware is nearly universal, you can shop around. Between wiring and equipment, installing this type of charger at your home can cost a few thousand dollars.
About 3 in 4 public chargers are Level 2 connections. Because it might take an hour or two to charge up, these chargers are found in settings where you leave your car parked for that amount of time — at a mall, in an office complex or in a parking garage, for example. There are more than 50,000 public charging locations available in the U.S.
Level 3/DC fast charging: Fastest, but not needed for everyday use
The fastest charging speeds are on Level 3 chargers, also called DC fast charging, or DCFC. You can add hundreds of miles of range in as little as 30 minutes.
You’ll only find these chargers at commercial charging stations due to the high-power connections.
Level 3 connectors come in three configurations:
CCS connector. This looks like a standard connector with an additional plug beneath it. Most newer EVs sold in the U.S. are CCS compatible.
CHAdeMO connector. While less popular in the U.S. than CCS, some cars, including the Nissan Leaf, use it.
A Tesla connector. Tesla has its own charger, which works for Levels 2 and 3.
Over time, heavy use of DC charging can degrade battery health. Using Level 1 or Level 2 charging as your default method, and reserving DC charging for longer trips, is one way to prolong an EV battery’s life.
Most Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles — those with a battery that can be charged via a plug or an internal combustion engine — don’t work with this charger level.
Tesla charging stations: Only for Tesla owners — for now
Most car manufacturers use universal charging standards. Tesla, however, uses its own connector, sells its own at-home charging hardware and operates a network of Level 3 chargers, called Superchargers. It also maintains a network of businesses that have installed at-home chargers for customer use.
With more than 1,600 locations, Tesla’s fast charge network has an extensive U.S. footprint, including coverage along lesser used corridors where other charging companies don’t have chargers. However, unless you drive a Tesla, you can’t currently use these chargers due to Tesla’s unique connector. By the end of 2024 that will change: Tesla plans to make at least 7,500 chargers compatible with EVs that use standard CCS chargers.
Tesla drivers are able to use non-Tesla connectors at public charging stations if they buy an adaptor. The adaptors work with a standard connector for Level 1 or Level 2 charging or a CCS Level 3 connector. Tesla doesn't sell CHAdeMO adapters.
Other factors that affect charging speed
The time needed to charge depends on the state of the battery. For example, charging from 90% full to 100% full can take as long as going from empty to 90% full — a phenomenon you may notice when charging your phone, too. This can be annoying if you need a completely full battery, but it also presents a money-saving opportunity. If you’re charging at a public charger that charges by the minute, you get incrementally less power per minute as your battery level rises. The most cost-efficient time to stop charging is often when your battery is around 80% charged.
EV battery sizes vary. For example, some Lucid vehicles have ranges that top 500 miles while the Nissan Leaf gets 200. Bigger batteries take longer to fully charge. As a result, it’s more useful to think about charging in terms of how much range is added under similar circumstances rather than time to charge from empty to 100%.