Make plans to keep your electric car charged up so you can enjoy the ride

When you’re looking at making the switch to an electric car, you need the confidence to know you can rely on your new wheels without any disruption to your lifestyle. You don’t want to find yourself stranded and waiting for a long charge when you have places to be and friends to meet.

Planning in electric car charging time is a new experience compared to filling up with fuel, but with a few simple changes to your driving plans you’ll soon get into the swing of it.

Work out how long it takes to charge an electric car

Electric car charging time is one of the issues that can put people off buying an electric car, especially if they’re concerned about the lack of fast charging facilities on their regular driving routes. Although, ZapMap reported In February 2022 that there were now more than 25,000 public charging locations across the UK.

The time it takes to charge your car depends on the size of the car’s battery and the power output of the charger you’re using. But don’t worry, there’s a simple equation to put your mind at ease and help you work out the length of time it’s going to take you to recharge and continue your journey.

Battery size (kWh) ÷ charging power (kW) x 60 = charge time (minutes)

We’ll take a look at an example here. If you’re driving a Volkswagen ID.3 with a 58kWh battery, and you’re charging it at a 50kW power point, it will take just over an hour to charge.

  • 58 kWh ÷ 50 kW x 60 = 70 minutes

If how long it takes to charge a car battery is what’s holding you back from going electric, let’s look at different ways to charge a car and how you might fit that into your schedule, from overnight charging at home to a quick boost when you’re out shopping.

What’s the fastest electric car charging time?

The average time to fully charge an electric car could be as little as half an hour or more than 12 hours, depending on where and when you are charging. The higher the kW output of the charger, the faster a car charges – and the higher the price may be too.

There are three different main categories of chargers that you can use in the UK, and with the number of public charger locations rapidly increasing to over 25,000, you should have plenty of choice to keep topped up and moving.

  • Rapid charging - this term usually applies to chargers from 50kW to 350kW. These are usually found at motorway service stations and petrol stations. They might only take 30-60 minutes to charge but can only be used with electric cars that have a rapid-charging function.
  • Fast charging - fast chargers provide between 7 and 22 kW of power and are found at both public charging stations and can be installed at home. Car parks, supermarkets, cinemas and leisure centres will have fast chargers. These will take 3-4 hours to fully charge. Home versions of fast chargers will be capped at 7kW as this is the maximum a home power supply can handle.
  • Slow charging - these chargers usually supply 3-5kW. Public slow chargers may reach 5kW, but a regular home plug will only charge at 2-3kW. Charging this way will take 8-10 hours to fully charge.

Most electric car owners will use a combination of all of these methods to make sure they keep on the move and don’t let charging needs restrict their plans.

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How long does it take to charge an electric car battery at home?

Charging at home isn’t fast when compared to the options available in public. Using a 7kW charging point at home, a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery will take just under 8 hours to charge from empty to full.

It is possible to upgrade to a 22kW charger at home, but this means you’ll have to install threeway power supply to support a higher voltage of electricity to your property. This can be expensive but if your electric car has a large battery and you have a high daily mileage, this may be something you need to consider.

You can also plug your car into a regular home socket, but this is the slowest way to charge and can take more than 24 hours to achieve a full charge, as they only provide 2-3kW of power.

With the right charger in place, the best time to charge an electric car at home is overnight, as you know you won’t be needing your car and you might be able to benefit from a lower electricity tariff to help keep the costs down.

What else can affect electric car charging time?

Now you have a good idea of timings and how to work out how much time you’ll need to allow for charging your car, but there is also an environmental factor to bear in mind. That English favourite, the weather, can impact charging times and skew your calculations. Colder temperatures can slow the charging rate and reduce the overall range of your electric car, and this could have quite an impact in the winter months.

Top-up charging for electric cars

Experienced electric car drivers will use top-up charging to keep their cars ready to go. This would mean plugging in whenever you park, rather than waiting for a battery to completely run down before charging. You might top up while you’re at the supermarket or gym, plug in at work or get a quick fix at a service station when on a longer journey. Manufacturers actually recommend keeping the charge at 20-80% of capacity to prolong battery life, rather than fully charging.

Once you’re in the right mindset for electric charging rather than regular petrol or diesel refuelling, nothing will stop you enjoying the freedom, fun and versatility of a new electric car.