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Electric Car Charging Speeds Demystified

We get it, it can be confusing. We explain what Slow, Fast, Rapid charging speeds are and how you can charge your car.
Updated on
April 8, 2024


If you are close to purchasing your EV, you may have seen the terms ‘rapid-charging’ or ‘slow-charging’. Chargers are rated by their ‘power’ rating which are in kilowatts (or kW) and the higher power rating, the more power can be delivered to your EV battery which ultimately means a faster charge.

Home Charging

There are two types of charging: AC or DC charging. AC charging can be done at home or in public and covers power ratings up to 43kW while DC charging starts from 50kW and are predominantly in public locations.

If you plan to charge your EV at home, you will have two main options: ‘slow charging’ and ‘fast charging’.

Socket types for home charging and the maximum speeds you can expect.
Socket types for home charging

Slow vs. Fast Charging

Slow charging: anything below 3.7kW
Fast charging:
anything between 7.4 and 22kW

It is important to note that charging at home is limited to only 7.4kW due to your supply capacity. Not to mention, most electric cars only allow a maximum of 11kW (and sometimes 3.7kW) of power input.

How long will it take?

Naturally, charging times will vary if you plan on charging your EV to full capacity and will vary based on your battery capacity. Example:

Battery capacity: 38kWh (e.g. BMW i3 120 Ah), charging from 0 to 80%
Fast Charging: 4 hours
Slow Charging: 8 hours for slow charging

A 3-pin wall socket or a commando plug is the cheapest and simplest method of supplying power to your EV and there are options out there for fast charging but they are not suitable for the Office for Low Emission Vehicle (OZEV) home charge grant and they are not ideal as a permanent charging solution.

A dedicated mounted EV charger is a much better and safer choice as it will be able to supply the needed power for fast charging and can be eligible for the OZEV home charge grant. Additionally, you will have smart features that make your charging experience more enjoyable.

Public Charging

AC fast charging can be found in commercial and public locations and they usually offer power ratings of 7.4kW and 22kW. With a 22kW power rating, you can expect to charge your vehicle three times faster than with a 7.4kW home charger (about 1.5 hours for a 38kWh BMW i3 120Ah from 0-80%).

Importantly, most cars do not accept 22kW charging.
Rapid charging and the cables/sockets you need

Rapid & Ultra Rapid Charging

Rapid charging on the other hand is at 43kW for AC and upwards of 50kW for DC charging (with anything above 100kW called ‘ultra-rapid charging’) which will charge your vehicle about six times faster than a 7.4kW home charger or about 30-40 minutes (.e.g 38kWh BMW i3 120Ah).

DC rapid and ultra-rapid charging has gained popularity because the technology offers much faster charging times with the simple reason being that a DC charger has a larger inbuilt AC to DC converter than the one in an EV which means that it can deliver more power to the battery. But EVs have limitations on the maximum DC power they will accept. For instance, a BMW i3 120Ah accepts a maximum of 50kW while an Audi e-tron 55 Quattro at 155kW. I have a BMW i3 120Ah and choose a tariff that is higher than 50kW, you will simply be paying more without charging any faster.

To utilise DC charging, your EV needs to have one of these sockets: CCS1, CCS2 or CHAdeMO. CCS1 and CCS2 (combined charging system, CCS) are simply Type 1 and Type 2 connectors with an added connection for DC which gives the flexibility of home and public charging. CHAdeMO connectors usually work with Japanese imported cars such as the Nissan Leaf but they are also compatible with Tesla cars given the right adapter. Tesla cars on the other hand have their own DC charging connectors but do have adapters for Type 2/CCS2 connectors.

While there have been more public charging locations in recent years, they can only still be found at service stations or in public areas in larger cities and DC charging locations are sparser. Furthermore, they will be more expensive to use compared to home charging. If you plan on travelling to less populated areas, finding one at your convenience may be an issue. With VoltShare HH1, charging at home became that much simpler and cost effective. With our community charging service, going for a spontaneous drive anywhere in the UK will be much more convenient as you can easily reserve charge sessions along your journey without fears of an empty battery.

Is my car compatible?

Did you recently buy your electric car? If so, then you have nothing to worry about. Most new EVs in the UK come with Type 2 sockets and most home chargers and all public chargers offer Type 2 compatibility.

But if you have or will have an EV that has a Type 1 socket (e.g. a first-gen Nissan Leaf), you will simply need a Type 2 to Type 1 adapter where the Type 2 female connects to the charger and the Type 1 male to your EV. EV chargers also come in untethered (no cable attached) which means you will need to supply your own charging cable or tethered (cable permanently attached).

Fortunately, VoltShare’s HH1 EV charger comes with a tethered Type 2 charging cable without the extra hassle of finding a charging cable and it is rated at 7.4kW which will give you the greatest convenience as an EV charger owner or as a user of the community charging service.

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VoltShare are an EV charging technology provider for the hospitality industry that simplifies management, payments collection, and technology integration. We empower small to large-sized venues to futureproof themselves, while ensuring they remain resource-efficient and profitable.

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