Electric car charging time: how fast can an electric car charge?

09 December 2020 | Aimee Tweedale

If you’re considering making the jump from petrol or diesel to an electric car, you’re bound to have a few questions about charging. One of the most common worries new EV drivers have is how long it will take to charge their car.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

When you’re used to thinking about fuel tanks, and measuring miles in gallons, navigating the world of charging speeds and kWh can seem a bit mystifying at first. 

But once you’re plugged in to all the latest information about electric vehicles, it’s actually pretty simple. Read on to find out everything you need to know about how long it takes to charge a car, how you can get the job done faster, and how you could reap the benefits of owning an electric car.

Wondering how much it will cost to run your EV? We’ve got a guide for that, too

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The future of EV charging is promising. One Californian company recently announced that they’re working on a charger that will bring your car to 75% full in just 5 minutes1!

But we’re not quite there yet. If you own an EV in 2020, your electric car could take as little as 40 minutes, or as much as several hours to charge. The question of how long it takes to charge a car depends on a few different factors. 

  • How much capacity does the battery have? The amount of time it takes to fully charge your car will, of course, depend on how much electricity your battery can hold in kW, and how empty it is when you plug it in. 
  • What’s the charge rate, or speed, of your charger? For example, a 7kW charger will not charge as quickly as a 22kW one can.
  • What’s the maximum charge rate of your car? This is just as important as the charger speed. If your car has a maximum charge rate of 7kWh, then even if you do plug it into a 22kW charger, it won’t charge any faster than it would plugged into a 7kW charger.
  • What’s the weather like today? Believe it or not, colder temperatures can cause your car to charge more slowly. This is especially true for rapid chargers.

So, if you’re thinking about going electric, but you need a car that will charge quickly, look at the battery size and the maximum charging rate. You can figure out how many hours it will take to charge by dividing the battery size in kWh by the charging rate in kW. 

For example: if you plug a 40kWh Nissan LEAF into a 7kW charger, you’ll have a fully charged car in about 5 and a half hours. 

What are rapid chargers, and how long do they take to charge an EV?

In the world of EVs, you’ll hear of ‘slow’, ‘fast’, and ‘rapid’ chargers. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

Slow charging

Slow chargers are your standard 3-pin domestic plugs. Most cars will come with a cable that you can plug into your normal socket, just like you would any other appliance. These have a charging rate of 3kW.

Fast charging

Fast chargers are dedicated EV chargers that offer a range of charging rates between 7kW and 22kW. You can get these installed at home, or find them out and about at public charge points.

Rapid charging

Rapid chargers do exactly what they say on the tin. They’re the speediest option, as they can charge an electric car to 80% full in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Most rapid chargers in the UK have a charging rate of around 50kW. 

The Tesla supercharger goes all the way up to 250kW2. That could fill your 60kWh battery in just 25 minutes, giving you enough power to drive from London to Brussels3!

Rapid chargers use a huge amount of power, so you won’t be able to get one installed at home. You’ll usually find them at motorway service stations and other public charging hotspots. Bear in mind that a 50kW rapid charger will cost more to use than a less powerful one. So if you’re not in a hurry, it’ll be cheaper to go with a fast charger.

Find out more about how much it costs to charge an EV here

How long does it take to charge an EV at home?

Charging at home will be fairly slow if you’re using your domestic 3-pin plug to charge your car. 

A 40kWh Nissan LEAF would take a little over 13 hours to charge with a slow charger. Many EV owners leave theirs plugged in overnight, to make sure they have a full battery in the morning. 

If you want to be more efficient, and charge your car more quickly and cheaply, you’ll want to think about getting a home EV charger. 

Installing a fast charger, between 7kW and 22kW, can drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to charge your car. To take the Nissan LEAF example again, a 7kW charger would cut your charging time down to just 6 hours4.

Having your own EV charger also means you don’t have to rely so much on finding public charging points. 

Find out more about the home charger installation process and costs here

Thinking of buying an EV? 

At OVO, we offer our environment-savvy members with electric cars the OVO Drive. This gives you low-cost charging overnight, free membership to the Polar Plus network of public charge points, and more. 

This tariff means members use 100% renewable electricity both at home and on-the-go5. We’ll also plant a tree for you, for every year that you’re with us. Get the lowdown on the tariff here.

What is top-up charging?

You don’t wait to charge your phone until it’s already died – so why would you let that happen to your car?

EV drivers usually get into the habit of plugging in their car every time it’s parked up – this is what’s known as ‘top-up charging’. This is also sometimes referred to as the ABC of electric vehicles: ‘Always Be Charging’!

If you can find a charging station at your supermarket, gym, office, or wherever else you’ve parked your car, leaving it plugged in keeps the battery topped up before you next have to drive.

Regularly top-up charging means you never have an empty battery. It’s good for your car, and it means you won’t get caught short when you need to go somewhere unexpectedly.

How many miles of range do you get per hour of charging?

Do you have ‘range anxiety’? Many new electric car owners or prospective buyers worry about how long it will take them to charge their car to make sure they can cover enough miles for their journey.

Of course, nobody wants their car to die in the middle of a road trip. But charging for just 30 minutes could give you a lot more mileage than you think.

The available range per hour of charging varies from one EV to another. It depends on the efficiency of your car’s battery, how you drive, and all sorts of other factors. But as an estimate, a standard 7kW fast charger could give you up to 30 miles in 30 minutes, while a 150kW rapid charger could give you up to 200 miles in 30 minutes6.

Find out more in our guide to planning long journeys in an EV

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

How much it costs to charge an EV at home

Home EV chargers usually cost between £300 and £1,000, depending on how much power you want. If that seems out of your price range, remember, there are grants and schemes available to help out with the upfront cost. 

Your actual costs will depend on the efficiency of the EV, and size of the EV’s battery. For example, a Renault ZOE has a 52kWh battery, so charging it with an average OVO Drive rate of 16.6p/kWh would cost just over £8.63. The ZOE has a 245 mile range, which means you’d be paying just 3.5p per mile.

Find out more about how to get a home charger installed 

How much it costs to charge an EV in public

Public charging is a little more expensive. The exact cost depends on which public charging network you use. Major networks include Polar, Ecotricity, and GeniePoint. And when you’re on the road, you can use Zap-map to find a nearby charger that works for you.

Most charging networks offer a subscription model, so you can pay a set amount per month, and then charge whenever you need too. Some also have a pay-as-you-go option. 

Find out more about how much it costs to charge an EV by reading our guide

Get a home EV charger with OVO – and save £70!

Arranging installation of a home charger is easy, and you can do it through us. Make the most of your electric vehicle with a next generation smart charger – now available at an electrifying price, exclusively for OVO members. Find out more about EV smart chargers here.

Thinking of switching to OVO? Hit the button below to get a quote in two minutes.

Sources and references



4 This estimate is based on a Nissan LEAF with a 6.6kW on-board charger.

5  The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.

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