Electric vehicles (EVs) have been popular with drivers who desire these vehicles’ eco-friendliness and cutting-edge design. But lately, EVs are increasingly attracting consumers because they want to save money on fuel and steer clear of gas stations.

EVs are also becoming cheaper to own and easier to maintain thanks to a proliferation of charging stations at shopping centers, office buildings, and other public places. Also, the federal government is offering tax incentives for buying select new or leased cars. There are also incentives for used electric cars.

However cutting-edge, economical, and attractive EVs may be, the lack of charging stations in certain areas and slow charging times in certain circumstances may hinder their popularity.

Factors That Impact EV Charging Time

Charging times can vary due to several factors, many of which consumers do not know.

Charging Power Source

Your charging time also depends on the maximum charging rate of the charging station you are using. Even if your car can charge at a higher rate, it will only charge at your charging station’s maximum power rate, which can adversely affect charging time.

Start with your home power source to get a sense of how long it will take to charge your car. A Level 1 power outlet charges at the least amount of power, while Level 2 chargers can plug into outlets like the ones electric clothes dryers use and charge at twice the power.

Unlike Level 1 chargers, however, you’ll need an electrician and a compatible circuit to install a Level 2 charger at home. (A quick way to calculate the power you can generate is to multiply your voltage and the number of amps you plan to use.) There are also splitters that let EV drivers use a standard household garage outlet without unique installations.

Level 3 chargers (also called direct current fast chargers or DCFCs) use a high-voltage direct current that goes straight to the car’s battery. However, these chargers aren’t compatible with every electric vehicle. While they are sometimes hard to find in certain places, infrastructure continues to grow at a rapid pace thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy’s and U.S. Department of Transportation’s Joint Office on Energy and Transportation continuing the push to build out the nation’s charging infrastructure as well as more networks and car companies adopting access for multiple charging platforms. Beyond that, many drivers who can’t use DC fast chargers opt for the combined charging system (CCS). CCS supercharges its power sources by conjoining Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.

EV Charging Capacity

When car shopping consumers often overlook how much of a charge a vehicle can accept at once.  Unlike filling a car's tank with gasoline, every EV accepts charges at different rates, and a vehicle’s maximum charge rate is static. So, it won’t save time by charging at a more powerful charging station. That is why it is important to carefully consider an EV’s charging capacity when purchasing an EV. For calculations, get the optimal charging time for the EV by dividing the battery capacity (measured in kWh) by the power rating of EV’s onboard charger, then adding 10% to the loss of power associated with charging it. 

Battery Size

Lithium-ion battery capacity is measured in kWh (Kilowatt hours).  The average capacity is around 40kWh, but some cars now have up to a 100 kWh capacity. Just as the size of a gasoline tank will impact how far you can drive on a full tank, the battery capacity of an EV will have a direct impact on how much electricity it can store and how much range it can offer, so the higher the kWh the better. But the more capacity of a battery, the longer it will take to charge, even to 80 percent.

Top-Up Charging

Anyone who’s ever driven a car with a standard gasoline engine has “topped up” their gas tanks or filled them way before the gas gauge hits “E.” It makes sense: No one wants to run out of gas, especially on a long road trip. The same goes for EV drivers - they usually do not charge their vehicle from an empty battery. And like gasoline drivers, EV drivers tend to “top up” their batteries instead to lengthen the time they can drive on a single charge.  But it really is not best to top up your electric car’s battery.  

If you need to charge your car when it’s below 20% of charge or above 80%, it’s like a balloon. When you blow up a balloon, getting the first few puffs of air into it is hard … the same goes for when it’s almost full. It’s the same thing with an EV. When it takes more energy to push the current into the battery, the charge time slows down.

Even times from rapid or fast charging can decrease significantly when the battery falls under 20% or above 80% complete.

But this factor works in favor of the3 consumer. Slower charging after 80 percent keeps the battery from overcharging and keeps it in optimum condition. This is why many manufacturers gauge charging times by how long Level 3 DC fast charging can get your battery charged to 80%.  In addition, the battery works best when it isn’t running below 20% or above 80%.

Weather

Lower temperatures can affect vehicle efficiency and lengthen charging times, especially when using rapid chargers. Conversely, hot weather can also affect your electric car’s thermal management systems, affecting its efficiency. Hot conditions can also test an electric vehicle’s internal resistance, rising as battery charges increase. That can adversely affect how well your car works over time.