Electric car charging 101: Basics of EV charging

Electric car charging stations supplies energy to the battery of electric vehicles. “Electric car charging 101” explains all the basics to know about electric car charging.

Electric vehicles are basically 3 types – Battery electric vehicle (BEV), Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Have you read the basics of electric vehicles?

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) can be plugged to the power socket and charge the car battery. Now, we can have a look at a few electric car charging basics.

Electric car charging 101

Electric car charging 101 post is arranged as a question and answer type post. Common basic questions about electric car charging are answered here.

#1 How long does it take to charge an electric car?

This is a common question asked by a person who thinks of an electric vehicle. There is a notion that electric car takes longer to charge. Is it true?

Compared to internal combustion engine fuel filling rate, electric vehicle battery charging is a time-consuming process. Time taken for charging an electric vehicle depends on the type of charger used.

There are 3 types of electric car charging stations – Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 charging stations.

A home-based level 1 charger charges an electric car battery at a slow rate. In general, an electric car charges overnight using Level 1 home charging station. Level 1 chargers can deliver around 1.4 kW of energy per hour to the battery. It would make the vehicle to travel around 2 miles in 1-hour charging.

Since a car does not drain the battery fully every day, and the average distance traveled by car in a day is 40 km, makes it charged in 7 to 8 hours. But to fully charge an empty battery would take around 4 days which never happens!

A Level 2 charger uses 240-volt output and delivers 3.7 to 17.2 kW per hour to the battery. There are Level 2 public charging stations which are capable of charging an electric vehicle at a little more faster rate.

Home charging stations sometimes upgraded to Level 2 for making the charging faster. It takes around 4 hours to charge the battery of the electric vehicle to travel 40kms.

DC fast-charging stations which use 480 volt DC current to charge the battery can charge the vehicle in a rate that enables the vehicle to travel 170 miles in less than 30 minutes.

Tesla fast chargers charge 80% of battery in less than 45 minutes.

#2 Where can I charge my electric car?

An internal combustion engine vehicle fills gasoline from the gas stations. An electric car charges from electric car charging stations. Electric car charging stations are power electronics converters that deliver controlled current to the battery.

In general, they are AC-DC converters. Electric vehicles have the flexibility to charge form a charging station located at any location. For example, there are 3 types of charging stations – Home charging station, Private charging station, and Public charging station. So an EV can be charged from all of the charging stations.

#3 What are different types of charging stations?

Electric car charging stations convert electricity into direct current to charge the battery of a car. Based on the voltage level, power delivery capacity, and type of charger, charging stations are classified into three. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 chargers.

Level 1 charger is the common charger installed in a home to charge electric vehicles. They work at 120 V AC power socket and takes relatively long to charge the battery of an electric vehicle.

Level 2 charger works at a voltage level of 240 V and it’s the common public charging station. Home charging stations are sometimes upgraded from Level 1 to Level 2 to enhance the performance.

Level 3 charging stations are known as fast-charging stations and they use 480 V. Most of the fast-charging stations are capable of charging 80% of battery in 45 minutes. Tesla has already established a lot of fast charging stations all over the world.

Another classification of the charging station is as follows

  1. Home charging stations
  2. Public charging stations
  3. Private charging stations

You can read more details about charging stations in the post: Electric car charging stations: Everything you should know

#4 How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Cost to charge an electric car depends on the factors such as unit electricity price, the efficiency of charging, rating of the motor, etc. We can calculate the cost to charge an electric vehicle by having the following assumptions.

  • Unit electricity prices around $0.11in US
  • An electric car consumes 1kWh energy to travel 5km
  • The efficiency of the charging circuit is 88%
  • Average distance traveled by car is 21560km

Cost to charge an electric car is divided into 3

  • #1 Cost to charge electric cars to travel 1km
  • #2 Cost to charge the battery fully
  • #3 Cost to charge an electric car for a year

#1 Cost to charge electric cars to travel 1km

Now let’s see how much it costs to charge electric cars.

The efficiency of the charging circuit is 85 to 92%. We assume efficiency is 88%. It requires 200Wh to travel 1km. To charge 200Wh with an efficiency of 88% needs 200/0.88 Wh electricity. It’s 227.27 Wh.

So energy price would be 227.27*0.11/1000 = $ 0.025

To travel 1km electricity cost would be $ 0.025

electric car charging 101

#2 Cost to charge the battery full

Battery capacity of electric vehicles is not equal always. For example Tesla Model S has a battery capacity of 75kWh. Total cost of electricity to charge the battery from 0 to full capacity (at any case if it happens) is $9.375.

Nissan leaf with 30kWh capacity needs $3.75 to charge battery fully.

#3 Cost to charge an electric car for a year

How do we calculate the average cost to charge an electric car for a year? The distance traveled by a car in a year varies vehicle by vehicle, and year by year.

But statistics shows a passenger car travels around 21560 km per year in united states. With the assumption (which is not a simple guess) we can calculate the energy cost to charge an EV throughout a year. The electricity cost to charge an EV for a year is about $539.

#5 Can I charge my electric car from any charging stations?

Unfortunately the answer is No. You can not charge an electric vehicle from all charging stations. There are some standards defined by some organizations such as SAE, Tesla etc. for charging electric vehicle. Each EV manufacturers follows a standard.

You can charge the EV only from a compatible charger. All tesla cars can be charged from Tesla standard charging stations. Mitsubishi, Nissan etc. follow another standard called CHADeMO. Other available charging station standards are Tesla fast charging and Combined Charging System.

#6 How long electric car battery lasts?

Do you ask about the life of an electric car battery? or do you mean how long an electric battery lasts to drain completely? Let’s see the first question. Electric car batteries are one of the expensive parts of the vehicle which contributes much into the weight and cost of the vehicle.

Life of electric car battery depends on the number of charge-discharge cycles, rate of charging and discharging, depth of discharge, temperature, humidity, etc. Electric car battery life is expressed as two terms 1. Cyclic life and 2. Calendar life. Read more about electric car battery life expectancy.

Currently, most of the vehicle manufacturers provide a warranty of 8 years/100000 miles

#7 How far an electric car travels with a fully charged battery?

How far an internal combustion engine vehicle travel with full gasoline in tank? It depends on the kilometer/liter (mileage) of vehicle, capacity of tank, how the driver drives etc.

Similarly the distance traveled by an electric car with fully charged battery depends on many factors. The main reason why a person asks the question is range anxiety.

Capacity of battery, kWh/km of the vehicle, etc. affect the distance traveled by the vehicle with a fully charged battery. The quantitative answer from the available vehicle in market would be as follows.

Average distance that can be covered by an EV with one charge is 200 miles. Tesla cars have a range of 335 miles!

#8 Can I charge the electric car using solar energy?

Yes. You can.

You can charge electric vehicle using the electricity from any source. If there is a rooftop solar power plant, you can use the electricity generated from the solar panels to charge your electric car.

If the generated electricity is from renewable sources of energy, pollution due to energy generation and utilization can be minimized. A battery-electric vehicle emits no gas through the tailpipe.

By generating energy from environmental friendly way, the total pollution caused by EV can be minimized.

Solar charging of electric car can be in many ways. If solar panels are installed or integrated on the vehicle it can be charged itself from solar energy. The amount of charge that a vehicle can extract depends on the area of solar rays on the panel, efficiency of the panel, etc.

Anyway, it is possible to charge a car from solar energy. There are solar charging stations and solar cars.

#9 What is the vehicle to grid (V2G) technology?

Vehicle to Grid (V2G) is a technology in which those electric vehicles having plugin capability connect to power grid to draw energy and supply energy to the power grid. A bidirectional charger is used in a V2G enabled vehicle. Read more about Vehicle to Grid technology.

You can read “Electric Car 101” where more details about the basics of electric vehicle are explained.


Top 9 questions about the basics of electric car charging are explained in electric car charging 101 post. How long does it take to charge an electric car, where can I charge an electric car, etc. are a few of the questions that we discussed.

Charging of electric car is important since it affects how far the vehicle travels. Electricity is the energy to move the vehicle and battery stores the energy and converts to mechanical energy with the help of motor.

Key points

  • Time taken to charge electric cars
  • Charging stations
  • Life of battery
  • Solar charging
  • Vehicle to grid

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