We all know about range anxiety, but “charge-time anxiety” seems to be its less-talked-about counterpart. We’re here to tell you more about it, and that with a bit of planning and knowledge, charge-time anxiety just won’t be a thing. Find out how long it really takes to charge an electric car by reading on!
If you show off your EV to a lot of people – and many of our Zevvy drivers are full or part-time Uber and/or Lyft drivers, which means hundreds of people see their electric cars each month – you’ll find yourself answering questions, questions that fall into a few categories.
First, people want to know how far you’ll go on a charge. That’s the fear people have about EVs, being stranded with a giant, expensive brick. They’ll also want to know the how and where of charging; do you need special equipment, do you have to find one of those charging stations, and how much does it cost?
And then of course, they want to know how long it takes to charge. The worry, of course, is that it’ll take hours and hours, so a road trip will take an impossible length of time and you will suffer a horrible fate, like playing Oregon Trail in real life.
We all know about range anxiety, but “charge-time anxiety” seems to be its less-talked-about counterpart. It’s the fear that charging will take too long and be so inconvenient you’ll look like a schmuck sitting in your car waiting for enough juice to get to your next errand. But we’re here to tell you that with a bit of planning and knowledge, charge-time anxiety just won’t be a thing.
Gasoline is so cheap and easily available (relatively speaking, of course), that when you find a price at the gas station you like, you fill the tank up as much as you can – which takes just a minute or two longer than filling it part way – and then drive happily until your gas gauge tells you to repeat. So of course you’d expect it to be the same with EVs; find the cheapest source of electricity, fill your battery to 100 percent and then go on your way.
You could do it that way, but that will be as slow and inefficient as you’d expect (as well as more costly than necessary; we’re going to do a deep dive into charging costs later). Instead, what if we told you, infomercial style, that you could fill your battery instantly, every day, at a price cheaper than gas was in the 1950s (adjusted for inflation, of course)? Well, it’s true, and no need to call an 800 number to make it happen.
If you have a dedicated parking spot, you can set up a Level 2 charger. It sounds daunting, but what it means is a 240-volt outlet you can plug a charger into. You may already have a charger capable of level-two charging that came with the car, or you can buy an inexpensive one online.
If you own, there are multiple tax credits and other incentives to help you pay for a charger. If you rent, landlords in California and other states with large EV fleets are required – by law – to allow tenants to install charging equipment in the parking spaces they rent, as long as the installation work is permitted and performed by a licensed electrician. Note: they don’t have to pay for it, just let you do it. If the wiring is in place and reasonably modern, it’s probably not too expensive to do.
Once you have access to a Level 2 charger you can use overnight, charging is easy and fast. If asked how long it takes, the answer is now about five seconds – the time it takes to open your charge port and plug the charge handle in. Some cars, like the Tesla, even open the charge port for you. When you get in the car in the morning, it’s fully charged and ready to go – it didn’t really take any time at all.
If you were previously that commuter rushing out of the house, spilling coffee out of your travel mug as you flumped yourself down in your car, and then turning the car on and realizing you’d have to spend 10 or 20 minutes finding a gas station and filling up on your way to work seemingly every other morning, those days are a dim and unpleasant memory with an EV.
Charging away from home takes actual time out of your day. Just like a gasoline car, you have to find a charge station, plug in and wait – and usually much longer than you’d wait to fill up with gasoline. You can charge at a Level 2 station (like the one you installed at home, which usually takes six to 10 hours to fully charge) or find a DC Fast Charge (what some call Level 3), which can get you to an 80 percent charge in 20-70 minutes, depending on your car.
That sounds like a lot of time compared to filling up with gas, but there’s a very important concept that could alleviate charging anxiety: it’s called, “you don’t have to charge your car to 100 percent,” and it’s another thing people have a tough time accepting if they’re coming from a lifetime of pumping up their cars with gas. “Fill it up to the first click,” is what your mom or dad may have said to the gas-station attendant (if you’re old enough to remember that), because of course you’ll fill up all the way; it doesn’t take that long to add a few extra gallons and gas prices could increase in the next few days.
But you don’t have to do that with an EV. Electricity prices are pretty stable, and it takes a relatively long time to top off a battery past 80 percent on a fast charger, plus electricity is cheaper at your home charger, so why get more range than you need to get home? You know where you’re going and how many miles you need to go; why buy more pricey fast-charge juice than you need?
What that all means is, if you’re at a 10-percent charge and you need another 15 percent to get home, that 10-to-80 percent charge time in your owner’s manual is meaningless. Adding just 15, 20 or even another 40 percent will be faster than you think, because the fast charger speed slows down as the battery gets fuller. Imagine filling a glass of water from a pitcher: you start pouring fast, but as it fills you slow down so it doesn’t spill over. So charging the first half of an empty battery really is quicker than the last, and if you only need a partial charge to get home, why fill up more?
Once you get the hang of it, charging an EV is light-years simpler and faster than the expensive, stinky and inconvenient process of filling up a gasoline car. #period
At home, it takes seconds to plug in, and you’re rewarded with a full charge when you wake up the next day. Advantage: EV
Charging away from home can be inconvenient and time consuming, but knowing a few hacks can make it not seem so bad. First, most EV owners rarely charge away from home, but if you do have to, make sure you match the charging speed of the charger to your car’s maximum charge rate, and don’t waste time getting more charge than you need. For some cars, you can add 100 miles in as little as 10 minutes, plenty to get you home or complete your errands or commute. (Don’t believe us? Do this: on your next lunch break, pack a sandwich and go to a local fast-charge station. As you munch, play solitaire or whatever and watch the cars come in and out; most of them are there less than 30 minutes.)
Sure, a gas car can fill up in five minutes, but add up all the hours spent searching out the cheapest station and buying gas, and the advantage isn’t so great. (And that’s not even counting the piles of cash you’ll save not buying dino-juice!) Just a few weeks of driving an EV will make you a believer and make charge-time anxiety a memory.
Ready to drive electric? Learn more about how our flexible EV lease works here.