There are 3 main types of charging for electric cars - slow, fast, and rapid. Each of these charging methods has varying connectors and power rates.
When you are charging an electric car battery you must use a direct current. Standard mains with three pins use the grid, a form of alternating current. Many electric vehicles will have an in-built rectifier (a type of converter used to convert alternating current to direct current).
These three-pin chargers use a 120-volt power supply and are really only used to charge your electric car while at home. These are known as Level 1 chargers and are the least effective. They tend to charge your car enough to travel between 2 and 5 miles per hour.
Fast and rapid charging
Fast chargers are rated anywhere between 7 kW and 22 kW. Typically, these chargers will take 3 to 4 hours to fully charge small cars.
Rapid charging comes in 2 different forms, using either AC or DC charge. Rapid AC charging uses a higher power - around 43 kW.
Rapid DC charging sends a source of direct current to the car. This eliminates the need for the converter to be used which allows the car to charge faster.
These are more expensive than AC chargers as they use more power. They are known as Level 3 chargers. In around 1 hour, your car should be almost fully charged.
The most common chargers are Level 2, which use a power of 220 to 240 volts to charge your car. This allows your car to charge enough in one hour to travel around 25 miles. These are the types of charging points that you see at work, EVgo stations, and retail outlets.
During the time you are sleeping or working, these power points can recharge your car battery completely.
There are many different types of electric vehicle charging connectors.
There are 4 different connector types for slow chargers. These are 3-pin, Type 1, Type 2, and Commando. They tend to have a power rating of around 3 kW, although this ranges from 2.3 kW t0 6 kW.
To fully charge an electric motor it will take somewhere between 6 and 12 hours with this type of charger. Due to this long charge time, these types of charging points are commonly found in homes as opposed to at gas stations.
Not all vehicles are compatible with all charger types and you should check which one fits your car before traveling to a charging station.
The most commonly found charging connector is a Level 2, or J1772 connector which is compatible with all cars. This is an AC charger and tends to charge at a rate between 3.3 kW and 22 kW. The most commonly found power value is 7 kW.
Charging times vary but a 7 kW charger will recharge a 40 kW battery in 4 to 6 hours. In comparison, a 22 kW charger will only take 1 or 2 hours to recharge the same battery.
The three types of DC Fast connectors are known as Tesla, SAE Combo (or Combined Charging System), and CHAdeMO. CHAdeMO connectors tend to be designed for Asian cars. CCS connectors are best for American and European cars, and Tesla chargers work for Tesla cars.
These chargers tend to top out at around 50 kW. They are often either CCS or CHAdeMO systems and are the most common rapid electric vehicle chargers. They should be able to charge your vehicle’s battery up to 80% in between 20 and 60 minutes. These are DC chargers.
There are also AC rapid chargers which use the Type 2 connector. They have a power supply of 43 kW. They take around 20 to 40 minutes to charge a battery to 80%.
These will send a charge of anywhere above 100 kW. Common levels are 100, 150, and 350 kW, but you can find charging points with varying power outputs.
CCS chargers tend to charge at anywhere from 50 kW up to 350 kW. For 100kW and above, no matter the battery size, you should be able to charge your battery in 20-40 minutes. Even if your battery can only handle up to 50kW, you can still make use of these charging points as the vehicle will only direct the power the battery can handle.
These use a direct current supplied through a Tesla CCS connector or Tesla Type 2 connector and can charge at up to 150 kW. Tesla cars can also use standard charging points, although you will need an adaptor to make it fit correctly.
What can affect how fast your battery will charge?
The capacity of your battery will impact how long charging takes. Smaller batteries are less powerful and will require less power to charge fully.
The initial charge status of your battery will also affect how long it takes to reach full charge. If you are simply topping up the last 20% battery power, this will be much faster than charging it fully when the battery has drained.
Over time, batteries wear down. They will not charge as fast nor hold charge as well after a year of use. This slow wearing down of the battery life and quality will have a knock on effect on the time it takes for your vehicle’s battery to charge.
Do electric cars lose charge when parked?
Yes, just like traditional cars, the batteries in electric vehicles will wear down and drain if it is left stationary for too long. Some manufacturers, including Tesla, suggest you should keep your electric vehicle plugged in while not in use.
This is because there are 2 batteries in the car. The first powers the engine and the second powers all other electronic components. Keeping the car plugged in powers the second battery and means that it does not draw power from the engine battery to run the radio and other elements.