The dawn of the electric car is upon us and it seems more and more Britons are making the switch to this greener way of driving every day.

These unique vehicles require a bit of extra planning to keep them powered up and you’ll need to figure out the wait time for charging before you can hit the road with a full battery.

How long does it take to charge an electric car? A standard electric car takes around eight hours to charge completely, but it can vary depending on the size of the battery in the car and the capacity of the charging point.

These cars can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as 12 hours to charge their batteries from empty to full.

Before you can jump into an electric car, you need to learn the fundamentals about its battery and how it all works.

This guide will explain how to find a charger for your car, battery sizes, and types, charging speeds, and how long it takes to go from empty to fully charged, so read on to get the basics on your greener automobile.

Types of Electric Cars

An electric vehicle (EV) comes in many shapes and sizes, and they’re not all powered up solely on batteries.

The type of EV you drive will be determined by how much electricity it needs to power up the battery, with each of them offering something different in the way they’re fuelled.

Battery Electric Vehicles

Battery Electric Vehicles

These EVs run only on batteries powered by electricity and they feature no combustion engine.

If you own one of these, it’s imperative to understand the capacity of the battery and how it meets your demands.

Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

A plug-in hybrid also uses fuel and electricity, but the battery is charged with a plug-in outlet, like a traditional BEV.

Once the battery runs out, they can then run with the combustion engine so you can rely on both electricity and petrol to power them up.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

A hybrid features both a petrol engine and an electric motor. There are two types of hybrid, the series, and the parallel.

The parallel can power up either of these engines independently and the series uses the engine to charge the battery of the car and power up its electric motor.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

A fuel cell electric vehicle uses compressed hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity within a fuel cell which powers up the car.

These types of EVs are less common but can travel further than a battery-powered car, even if it’s harder to find someone to refuel.

Potential Power Sources

Potential Power Sources

If your car relies on electricity to run, you’ve got a few places you can fill it up, and it’s smart to have a range of places you can use to keep your EV going.

These days, there are more opportunities than ever to recharge your RV on the road with over 35,000 public charging points and plenty of options to do it efficiently at home, so check out what’s available.

Charging Networks

Charging Networks

Each charging point located around the country belongs to a charging network, similar to a petrol station chain that you’d use for your regular car.

These networks are run by private entities, charities, and governments, and most of them will require a payment to use, but some will be free.

You’ll likely have to sign up for an account with that specific network to charge your EV’s battery, otherwise, it will be on a pay-as-you-use basis.

Home Charging

Home Charging

As well as having access to public charging stations, you’ll want the ability to charge your car up at home.

This is done simply with a standard electrical Power Point that the car plugs into, delivering between 3 – 7kW of electricity, or in some cases 22kW with a three-phase (AC) supply and fast charger.

If you want to be even more energy-efficient, you can use solar power to charge up the car, either connected to your home or the battery of the vehicle.

Charger Types and How They Work

Charger Types and How They Work

When you come across a charging station or are planning on powering up your EV at home, there are three types of chargers you’ll be able to use.

These are the most common options in the UK and what they mean:

  • Three-pin plug: These are the common three-pin plugs that you can connect to a 13 Amp socket, like the ones used at home.
  • Socketed: A socketed connection is a charge point that uses either a type one or type two cable, depending on what your car has.
  • Tethered: A charging point that has the cable attached and can be either type one, type two, or have both.

Electric Car Charging Speeds

An electric car’s charging speed is determined by the size of its battery but more importantly, the charging connector it’s using.

These connectors are categorised into the speed at which they can charge your battery and their maximum electrical output, and the three types are slow, fast, and rapid.

Slow Charging

Slow Charging

A slow charger has a maximum electricity output of around 3kW.

Your standard household outlet and three-pin domestic plug would fall into this category, and you can expect it to take around 12 hours to fully charge a basic model of an electric car.

These aren’t commonly found at public charging stations but rather at home, given the length of time, it takes to charge them.

Fast Charging

A fast-charging outlet is the most common speed you’ll find in the public network and its power output ranges from 7kW to 22kW.

If you’re charging on the lower end of the scale at 7kW, it’ll take around five hours to complete, but a 22kW connection can do it as quickly as one hour.

These 7kW chargers are usually public untethered charging outlets that require you to bring your own charging cable, but if you want to install a fast-charging wall box at home, it’s possible to get to the higher range.

Rapid Charging

A rapid charger is the fastest way to recharge your electric vehicle and they do so with a massive 50kW of power at their most efficient.

There are also AC rapid chargers that reach around 43kW and these are found at motorway service stations. You’ll wait less than an hour to get your EV’s battery topped up and ready to roll.

Top-Up Charging

Top-Up Charging

If you’re planning on driving an electric car, you’ll quickly become accustomed to the phrase ‘top-up charging’. This occurs whenever you pull up somewhere, be it to park and go to a restaurant or in the garage at home for the night, and give your car’s a top-up of electricity to keep it running.

Many electric car drivers find it easier to fill up with these smaller amounts when it’s convenient, rather than letting the battery drain down too far and having to wait to fill it back up again.

Top-up charging is done while you’re using the vehicle and wherever you can conveniently plug it in, and when you combine it overnight charging at home, it’s more than enough to keep you going.

It’s important to note, though, that an electric car battery should only be charged to around 80%, so there’s no need to aim for any more than this.

Keeping it at this level will not only prolong the life of the battery but save you a lot of time.

To fill up the last 20% of the battery takes disproportionately longer than the first 80%, and will add a lot more time to your wait if you’re eager to get back on the road.

Factors That Can Affect Charging Speed

Factors That Can Affect Charging Speed

Just like a regular car, recharging the battery of an RV will require a different amount of fuel or electrical power.

Each car will need something unique to fill up and some things can affect how quickly it recharges, so keep these factors in mind.

  • Condition of battery: The current state of the battery and how empty or full it is will determine how long you need to charge it for until it reaches 80%. An older battery might not charge as efficiently as a newer one, so this should be factored in as well.
  • Size of battery: Bigger vehicles with large batteries will take longer to charge than average and smaller-sized ones.
  • Vehicle charging rate: Each car comes with a maximum charging rate that means it can only accept a set amount of kWh.
  • Charge point rate: The maximum charging rate of the point you’re using will determine how fast or slow it is to fill up.
  • External factors: During winter and colder temperatures, the battery will take longer to charge. It can also be less efficient while driving which means you’ll have to recharge it more often.

EV Charging Etiquette Tips

EV Charging Etiquette Tips

Charing your electric car is just like fuelling up at a petrol station with a regular car and there are some unwritten rules and etiquette to follow.

Consider these the next time you use a public charging point to make sure you’re being courteous of other drivers.

  • You should only park in an EV charging space when you are actively charging your car. If you’re only waiting or you’re finished, pull out and park somewhere else so others can use the bay.
  • Park on the right side of the charging station to match the side your cable is on. This saves you awkwardly pulling it over another car or taking a station from someone who needs it.
  • If you plan on leaving the vehicle while it’s charging, it’s helpful to leave a note. You can inform others that it’s okay to unplug your car once it reaches 80% or tells them when you will be returning.
  • Keep noise and disruption to a low when you’re charging your car. Turn off loud music and lower your voice so that you’re not annoying anyone close by while you wait.

The Efficient Way to Charge

Owning an electric vehicle requires a whole new way of thinking and planning so that you always have access to a charge whenever you need it.

However, with the range of benefits these cars offer, it’s worth spending a little time to get acquainted with their batteries and learn the most efficient charging methods to keep you on the road for longer.

Related Questions

Electric vehicles are an eco-friendly and efficient way to get around but as they differ from your regular car, there’s more to learn about them.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to an EV and need to know more, we’ve got expert answers to some commonly asked questions that can help you out.

Should I Charge My Electric Car Overnight?

Should I Charge My Electric Car Overnight?

There’s no need to charge your electric car every night unless you’ve spent all day driving it.

Most drivers who travel regular distances each day will only need to charge their cars every few days, but if you wish to charge it overnight while you sleep, there’s nothing wrong with doing so and you might be able to benefit from using cheaper off-peak electricity.

Does an Electric Car Lose Charge When Parked?

An electric vehicle with a high voltage lithium-ion battery park can lose a small amount of charge when parked but not enough to make a noticeable difference.

However, the slow rate that this happens can cause issues if you’re planning on parking it for an extended period, so make sure you prepare for these situations.


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