Charging Speeds Electric Cars: Home And Public Charging

electric car charging

If You Are Like Me And Most People I Know, You Are Confused With The Terminology Used In The Electric Vehicle Sector.  No, This Article Is Not For Those Seeking A PhD In EV Charging.  This Article Is For Those Who Want to ‘Get Up To Speed’ With Charging Basics In Five Minutes! 


When you have longer charging times to deal with, use it to call your loved ones, in particular your parents.  They would love to hear from you!  


In fact to be candid, I detest challenging terminology.  I love simplicity.  I personally find the world of charging terminology confounding.  I am confident that I am not the only one with this view.  So for all of you, current and potential EV drivers looking to enjoy zero-emission electric driving without a pit stop for a PhD, below is quick five minutes read on charging speeds and electric cars.  

  • In general, charging at home is slower than charging at public charging points.  Most homes in the U.K have a ‘single phase’ electricity supply that restricts the speed at which an electric car can be charged.  Usually the maximum charging rate is 7.4 kW (charging speeds are measured in kilowatts).  Yes, charging at home is really quite as straightforward as charging your mobile phone and frankly rather convenient, as most EVs are charged overnight while you are fast asleep! 
  • Some homes have a ‘3 phase’ electricity supply, more commonly seen in commercial premises.  If you happen to have a 3 phase connection, you can charge up to 22 kW. Yes, faster charging time than a single phase connection!
  • For those of you envious of your neighbours 3 phase connection, NO, you cannot drive across to your local DIY store and upgrade you connection to phase 3.  For any such ‘grid’ related activity you need highly qualified experts and best to make contact with your local DNO (distribution network operator).  
  • Time taken to charge your EV will also depend on the size of the electric car battery.  Most EV batteries are lithium-ion and the size (capacity) of the battery is represented in kWh.  Yes, ‘all things being equal’, the larger the capacity, the longer the emission-free range and the longer the battery will take to recharge! EV batteries come in all ‘shapes and sizes’ with recent EV models and upgraded EV models with 60 kWh plus battery capacity! 
  • To put charging time in perspective using an example (60 kWh EV battery), a domestic 3-pin plug will take up to 20 hours to charge your electric car (slow charging).  Apart from safety reasons, using a 3-pin to charge an EV is a waste of time! So please upgrade to a dedicated home charging point. 
  • While with a dedicated home charging point (3.7kW/7.4 kW) it will take between 8 to 16 hours.  I recommend anyone buying a home charging point to opt for the 7.4 kW charging unit (fast charging) instead of the 3.7 kW charger (slow charging).  You can fully charge your EV in 8 hours with a 7.4 kW home charger. 
  • Now if you are the envy of your neighbourhood with a spanking new Tesla Model 3 parked on your driveway with 3 phase charging (11 kW/ 22kW), then you could charge your EV within 6 hours using an 11 kW and in under 3 hours using a 22 kW charging point (fast charging). 
  • Public charging points, like home charging, come in all speeds.  However, the EV sector is rapidly (no pun intended!) pushing to deploy ‘Rapid DC’ chargers.  Charging speeds with DC charging are just as fast and exciting as the acceleration in electric cars i.e. FAST!  A 50 kW charger could charge a 60 kWh battery in just over an hour!  While a 120 kW charger can do the same within 30 minutes.  Wow! Engenie is a good example of a U.K. based EV charging infrastructure company dedicated to the deployment of rapid charging points.  
Engenie 50 kw rapid charging
Engenie 50 KW Rapid Charging (credit: engenie)

Now for those of you keen to impress your loved ones on your knowledge on EV charging speeds a quick recap:

  • Slow charging is 3-pin or up to 3.7 kW 
  • Fast charging is 7 kW-22 kW
  • Rapid charging is 43 kW to 120 kW 

On a final observation, all those that complain about the ‘EV charging speeds’ at public charging points, I do empathise, but the U.K. electric vehicle charging infrastructure is evolving rapidly.  It is only a matter of time!


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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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