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How fast can an EV charge? 

In this article we will explain how technology, infrastructure, and individual vehicle characteristics determine EV charging efficiency.

1. Charging Infrastructure:

Power Level of Charging Station:

The first consideration in how fast you can charge your EV is the power of the charger itself.  

Level 1 Charging:

This is the most basic form of electric vehicle (EV) charging, where the EV is connected to a standard 120-volt household outlet. The same type of outlet used for everyday appliances like lamps. Assuming a current of about 12 amps, Level 1 chargers generally provide around 1,440 watts (1.44 kilowatts).Level 1 charging is slow, typically requiring between 40 and 50 hours to fully charge an EV from an empty battery. However, considering that the average daily mileage of U.S. car owners is about 31 miles, Level 1 charging might suffice for daily use or emergency top-ups.

Level 2 Charging:

Many EV owners install Level 2 charging equipment in their homes forovernight charging. Level 2 chargers operate on a 220-240 volt system, similar to what large appliances like dryers and ovens use. These chargers can typically provide between 3,300 watts (3.3 kilowatts) to 19,200 watts (19.2 kilowatts), depending on the amperage, which can range from 15 to 80 amps.    Level 2 charging is significantly faster than Level 1, allowing an EV to charge from empty to full within approximately four to ten hours. Public Level 2 charging stations are commonly found at workplaces and commercial parking lots. 

Level 3 Charging:

Also known as Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC), Level 3 charging is the quickest way to charge an EV. These chargers can refill an EV’s battery from empty to full in as little as 20 minutes. Level 3 charging stations are more expensive to use but are ideal for drivers who need rapid charging, such as those on long road trips or city dwellers without easy access to home charging. The power output can vary widely but typically starts around 24,000 watts (24 kilowatts) and can go up to 350,000 watts (350 kilowatts) or more, depending on the specific installation and the vehicle’s charging capabilities.

Charger Compatibility:

Your electric vehicle is designed to support only certain types of charging. For instance, Level 1-capable vehicles are not designed to handle the high voltage and current provided by DC fast chargers. These vehicles lack the necessary internal hardware and software to manage the direct current provided by Level 3 chargers.  On the other hand, if a vehicle supports high-power charging but is connected to a lower-rated charger, the charging speed will be limited to the charger’s capacity.

How to know what type of charger your EV is rated for 

Consult Your Vehicle’s Manual:

The owner’s manual for your EV will provide detailed information on the types of charging the vehicle is capable of supporting. This includes whether it can handle Level 1, Level 2, and/or Level 3 charging.

Check the Onboard Charger:

Most EVs are equipped with an onboard charger which dictates the maximum rate at which the vehicle can charge. This will typically be stated in terms of kilowatts (kW). For instance, if your onboard charger is rated for 7.2 kW, it means that while the vehicle can be connected to a Level 2 charger, it will not benefit from a charger that delivers more power than 7.2 kW.

Examine the Charging Port:

The physical design of the charging port on your EV can also indicate which type of chargers it can use. For example, all EVs sold in North America feature a standard J1772 connector for Level 1 and Level 2 AC charging. If your vehicle is capable of DC Fast Charging (Level 3), it will have an additional port or connector type such as CCS (Combined Charging System) or CHAdeMO.

Vehicle Specifications Online:

Manufacturer websites often provide detailed specifications for each model, including information about compatible charging levels and types.

Check for Software Settings:

Some vehicles allow you to check charging capabilities through the vehicle’s infotainment system, where you might find settings or information about charging speeds and compatibility.

Dealer or Manufacturer Contact:

If you’re still unsure, contacting your dealer or the vehicle manufacturer directly can provide you with clarity on the charging options supported by your EV.

2. Vehicle’s Onboard Charger:

 Charging Capacity:

The onboard charger in an EV is a critical factor. It determines how much power the vehicle can accept from the charging station. EVs with higher charging capacities can take in more electricity per unit of time, resulting in faster charging.

 AC vs. DC Charging:

DC fast charging bypasses the vehicle’s onboard charger, allowing direct current to flow into the battery. This is typically faster than alternating current (AC) charging, where electricity passes through the onboard charger before reaching the battery.

3. Battery Technology:

Battery State of Charge (SOC):

EVs tend to charge faster when their battery state of charge is lower. Charging speed may decrease as the battery approaches full capacity. This is because the charging system adjusts to prevent overheating and to preserve battery health.

Thermal Management:

Effective thermal management systems in EVs help regulate battery temperature during charging. Optimal temperature conditions contribute to faster charging speeds, as extreme temperatures can hinder charging efficiency.

4. Vehicle Model and Manufacturer:

Charging Capabilities:

Different EV models and manufacturers have different charging capabilities. Some vehicles are designed for faster charging, while others may have more modest charging speeds. Researching the charging specifications of a specific EV model is crucial for understanding its capabilities.  You might not need a charger up to 48A if your vehicle can only take 32A.  This may also influence your decision to hardwire your charger vs. installing a NEMA outlet for your charger.

Adoption of Advanced Technologies:

Advancements in battery and charging technologies, such as silicon carbide power electronics and more efficient charging protocols, can contribute to faster charging speeds. The incorporation of these technologies varies among different manufacturers and vehicle models.

Conclusion:

The speed at which an electric vehicle charges is influenced by a multifaceted interplay of technological, infrastructural, and individual factors. As the EV landscape continues to evolve, advancements in charging technologies, increased charging station capacities, and improvements in battery efficiency will collectively contribute to faster and more efficient charging experiences. Whether you’re planning a road trip or charging at home, understanding these factors empowers EV owners to make informed decisions and embrace the electrifying future of mobility.

Ready to shop for a level 2 charger?  Click here to explore Emporia’s Award-Winning Level 2 Chargers

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