How Often You Have To Charge An Electric Car: Purchase with Confidence


how-often-do-you-have-to-charge-an-electric-car

More and more people are making the switch to electric cars. If you are one of the many, who are considering the switch to an electric car, you may be wondering how often you will have to charge your electric car. 

How often you have to charge your electric car will depend upon where you live, how far you drive on a daily basis, and what type of electric vehicle you have chosen. Electric car battery ranges are 153-miles to the Tesla Roadster with a 620-mile range.  

If you are one of the thousands of people who are looking to save money and leave a smaller carbon footprint, continue reading for more information about electric cars and how often you need to charge them. 

The Four Categories of Electric Vehicles

There are three types of electric vehicles (EV). All three will be discussed; however, the one we will be focusing on in this article is the BEV version. 

The first type of electric vehicle is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). A battery-electric vehicle is fully rechargeable and has no gas engine. The motor and accessories all run off of the battery. There are no harmful emissions like traditional gasoline vehicles. That said, these types of electric vehicles can only be charged by an external power source.

Unlike the fully electric version, the traditional Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) uses a combination of gasoline and a regenerative braking system, which allows the vehicle to charge while you are driving it. The regenerative braking system is activated when the brakes are being used. No external power source is necessary with this type of vehicle. 

The third type of electric vehicle is the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles still rely mainly on the charge from an external source, but the regenerative braking system will keep the battery topped off while you are driving, which reduces the number of times you will need to charge it. 

Another difference between the plug-in hybrid and traditional hybrid electrical vehicle is that a traditional hybrid electric vehicle runs and charges as the gasoline and electric system work together at the same time. The plug-in hybrid vehicles will not use your gasoline reserve until the battery is fully empty. 

The fourth type of electric vehicle is still very new. It is called a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). These vehicles operate by storing hydrogen gas in a tank. The fuel cell then creates electricity by combining hydrogen gas and oxygen from the outside air. The great thing is that they also do not create any harmful emissions as traditional gasoline vehicles do.

The only by-product is the water that is created from hydrogen and oxygen and is released through the tailpipe. These vehicles do not need to be plugged in; however, you will occasionally have to refill your hydrogen tank, which may be difficult to do until this becomes a more popular trend. It only takes around five minutes to refill the tank on the fuel cell electric vehicles. 

Pros and Cons of Owning an Electric Vehicle

The table below details some common pros and cons to owning an electric vehicle: 

ProsCons
Electric cars are less expensive and require less frequent maintenance than vehicles that run on gasoline. Electric vehicles are typically more expensive to purchase. 
Electric vehicles are quieter than gasoline vehicles. Electric vehicles have a shorter driving distance range than most gas-powered vehicles. 
Electricity is a renewable source, whereas gasoline is not. It can be difficult to find a charging station in more rural areas or areas where electric vehicles have not become common yet. 
Environmentally friendlyRecharging the battery takes a long time. 
In some states, there are driving lanes made especially for electric vehicles. There aren’t as many models and designs that consumers have for making their choices. 
There are tax credits available to those who own electric vehicles. Check with your local government to see what they offer. 
80% of the energy produced by an electric vehicle is actually used to power the vehicle compared to a gasoline engine that only uses around 15% of the engine’s energy. 

Average Daily Commute Time for Most Americans 

It is said that most people spend approximately 50 minutes per day round-trip commuting to their places of employment. If you base that on a five-day workweek with 52 weeks in a year, it adds up to be around 200 hours per year, which is approximately nine days of sitting in your car so that you can get to work. 

Another thing to remember is that number does not include any extra outings to fun places, children’s sporting events, or your regular, mundane errands that need to be taken care of on a weekly basis. 

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Average Travel Distance Before Charging is Needed

The following table is composed of the makes and models of battery electric vehicles that are sold in the United States today; they are ranked from the longest distance without a charge to the shortest distance. 

Make/ModelMPGe (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent)Approximate Distance Can Travel Before Charging
Tesla Roadster135620
Tesla Model S111373
Tesla Model 3134353
Tesla Model X96328
Tesla Model Y125326
Ford™ Mustang Mach-E100300
Chevrolet™ Bolt EV118259
Hyundai™ Kona Electric120258
Volkswagen™ ID.4 97250
Kia™ Niro EV112239
Jaguar™ I-Pace76234
Polestar™ 296233
Porsche™ Taycan79222
Audi™ e Tron78222
Audi e-tron Sportback77218
Volvo™ XC40 Recharge79208
Hyundai™ Ioniq Electric133170
BMW™ i3113153

Time Spent Charging an Electric Vehicle

The time it takes to charge an electric vehicle depends upon the size of the battery used and the charging station’s speed. Charging times can vary greatly from as little as 30 minutes to lasting well over 12 hours in many situations. 

For example, the Tesla Roadster can take up to 32 hours at home to fully recharge or around 45 minutes when charging at a fast charge station. 

The Three Charging Levels for Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicle chargers are grouped by the speed at which they recharge; there are three levels. 

Level 1: This charger uses a regular 120v outlet that you find in your home. Charging your vehicle for eight hours will equal approximately 80 miles of traveling distance. 

Level 2: This type uses a specialized charging station that runs off of 240v. These are mostly used in workplaces and public charging stations. If you charge your electric vehicle for four hours, it will equal approximately 80 miles of traveling distance. 

Level 3 / DC Fast Charge: These are special charging stations typically located in public places and rest stops. Every 30 minutes of charging equals approximately 90 miles of travel distance. Only fully battery electric vehicles are able to use the fast charge systems. 

Approximate Charge Time for EV’s in this Article

The table below gives the approximate battery charge time for each model that was discussed above. Charge time depends on the type of charger the vehicle is able to use. 

Make/ModelLevel 1Level 2Level 3
Tesla Roadster32 hours3.5 hours45 minutes
Tesla Model S96 hours12 hours1.3 hours
Tesla Model 336 hours8.5 hours45 minutes
Tesla Model X89 hours12 hours1.3 hours
Tesla Model Y20 hours + 1 0 hours1.25 hours
Ford™ Mustang Mach-E95 hours14 hours1.25 hours
Chevrolet™ Bolt EV30 hours +10 hours1.25 hours
Hyundai™ Kona Electric40 hours +10 hours1.25 hours
Volkswagen™ ID.4 50 hours7.5 hours1.25 hours
Kia™ Niro EV60 hours10 hours1.25 minutes
Jaguar™ I-Pace30 hours13 hours1.5 hours
Polestar™ 232 hours8 hours1.5 hours
Porsche™ Taycan31 hours10 hours1.5 hours
Audi™ e Tron129 hours10 hours1 hour
Audi e-Tron Sportback30 hours9 hours30 minutes
Volvo™ XC40 Recharge26 hours11 hours1.5 hours
Hyundai™ Ioniq Electric13 hours + 10 hours1.25 hours
BMW™ i313 hours + 7 hours45 minutes

Determining the Cost to Charge an Electric Vehicle

In order to determine how much it costs to charge your electric vehicle, you need to know how much a kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs. These costs will vary depending on your geographic location. Your electric bill at home will be able to give you all the information you need to know. 

Once you know how much a kWh costs you at home, you need to find out how much electricity your specific electric vehicle uses to travel 100 miles. You can then use this information to figure out the approximate cost to charge your electric vehicle fully. 

For example: If your electricity costs $0.13 kWh and your electric vehicle uses 33 kWh for every 100 miles it travels, it should cost around $9.00 to fully charge your vehicle if it is a fully depleted 66 kWh battery that can travel a distance of 200 miles. 

Best States to Live if You Own an Electric Vehicle

The following states are listed as the best to live in if you own an electric vehicle. This is because the local costs of electricity are lower and/or there are more charging stations available. The number of electric vehicles being sold every year in these states is increasing greatly: 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington

The following states are listed as being the least electric vehicle-friendly due to the lack of charging stations available: 

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Louisiana
  • New Jersey
  • Wisconsin

Different Ways of Charging at Home

As previously mentioned, there are two main ways of charging your electric vehicle at home. The first and most common way people charge their vehicles is by simply plugging into any regular outlet that is near where you park your vehicle. The home outlet is the slowest and is a level 1 charger

Most people that own electric vehicles get in the habit of charging their cars overnight. This typically will cover the distance that they drive on a daily basis. For times when you may have to take a longer trip, many states are now offering charging stations that are available for you to ensure a quick top-off. 

If you are a little less patient or if you tend to travel longer distances in your electric vehicle, then you may be considering a level 2 charger, which will require a 240V service. You will need to have an electrician inspect your breaker box to be sure that it can handle this addition and make any necessary adjustments if you do not have enough room for it. 

This can be a little costly upfront but will be worth it in the long run if you require a faster charge for your electric vehicle. In some states, you may be able to do your own electrical work if you have the skills but check with your local government first to be sure. Regardless, you will still have to have it inspected before you get it up and running

Top 7 PHEV Ranked by Popularity in the US 

For those of you who still wish to use gasoline, but perhaps get better gas mileage, here are the top seven plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the United States listed by popularity according to sales: 

  1. Toyota™ Prius Prime
  2. Honda™ Clarity PHEV
  3. Ford Fusion Energi
  4. BMW 530e
  5. Chevy Volt
  6. Kia Niro PHEV
  7. Mitsubishi™ Outlander PHEV

PHEV – Not Economical for Long Distance Drivers

If you have a commute to work that is up to 40 miles per day round trip, you will most likely need to recharge your PHEV every evening. PHEVs are not recommended if you regularly travel long distances. 

It defeats the purpose of having an electric car because you can only go around 40 miles on a charge with a PHEV before the combustion engine kicks in. However, you do save some energy and gas mileage with the regenerative braking system; but it is not enough to keep a full charge on your battery. 

If you are traveling hundreds of miles on a regular basis, it may be a better option for you to stick to purchasing a fully electric vehicle that can travel a few hundred miles before needing to be charged. 

A Little History on Electric Vehicles

Robert Anderson made the first electric vehicle in 1832, and the first hybrid electric vehicle was made in 1901 by Ferdinand Porsche. 

In 1908 the Ford Model T became popular, and the gasoline vehicle industry really took off at that point, which led to the decline in electric cars for many years. 

Around 1973, electric vehicles started to make their way back to the automotive industry’s front burner. Electric vehicles have been on a bit of a rollercoaster when it comes to being successful. Still, now with continuously improving and evolving technology, they are quickly becoming the future way of traveling. 

Plan Ahead to Prevent Being Stuck Without a Charge

An important thing to think about when owning an electric vehicle is that you need to plan your trips a little more carefully before going all willy-nilly and take off on a long road trip. There are a few scenarios to consider. 

Think of What Your Typical Daily Driving Needs Are 

If you are someone who does not drive long distances on a daily basis – for example, if you only have a short daily commute and run occasional errands, then you can recharge your vehicle overnight and have plenty of available battery charge to do your running for the day. 

If you travel often for work or pleasure, you need to know where public charging stations are available and accessible. Most GPS apps will offer an option to create a route that has public charging stations along the way; however, as not every state has joined the bandwagon, you need to be sure you can make it between charge points before running out. 

If you are on the fence about owning an electric vehicle, something you might want to consider is that in addition to saving money on your gasoline bill, driving an electric vehicle can potentially reduce your carbon footprint by 50%.

Electric Vehicles Save Money and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

If you are an individual who has a daily commute to work and you wish to reduce your carbon footprint on the earth, then owning an electric car is a great option for you. Whichever model you choose to purchase, you need to plan your trips and be sure that you are fully charged or know where you can stop so you can recharge your car when you need to along the way. 

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Jordan Fromholz

I'm an electric car owner, enthusiast, and founder of the Plugin Report. As a Chemical Engineer with over 14-years in the energy industry, I've made my passions be renewable energy, batteries, and electric cars. My family lives on Maui where we drive our 2017 Nissan Leaf and share everything there is to know about electric cars.

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