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Electric Vehicle charging: An easy reference guide from Jaguar

  • EV Charging times vary based on the power source and the car’s battery.
  • EVs can be charged with AC (Alternating current) and DC (Direct current) chargers.
  • DC is the fastest charging option and is generally found in public places like shopping malls and highway rest stops.
  • The wall socket at your home, like the one you use to charge your phone, is AC and is compatible with EV charging although at slower speeds.
  • The answer to “How long does it take to charge?” depends on where you plug your EV in to charge and how big its battery is.

How long does this take to charge?

AC or DC? 7.4kW slow charge or 60kW fast charge?

What is the difference between Type 2 and CCS connector sockets?

Jaguar has some helpful tips to dispel some confusion and demystify electric vehicle (EV) charging processes.

Aside from knowing that EV running costs are a fraction of those for internal combustion engines when comparing vehicles of similar power outputs, the first thing to understand is that charging times are determined by the power source (chargers) and the EV (battery) together.

EVs from different manufacturers vary greatly in terms of battery sizes and the amount of power they can accept while charging.

This can be a tricky concept to grasp considering that a 60-litre petrol tank will take the same time to fill, whether it’s in a car with a simple 2-litre engine or a monstrous supercharged V8.

EV Charging Time depends on the “tap”

Picture the battery of a particular vehicle as a 2-litre water bottle, and this bottle can accept exactly 2-litres of water in a minute when filling from a tap.

So, it should only take a minute to fill, right?

Well, now imagine that your tap only flows at a slow drip when turned on fully.

It’ll take longer now, despite the fact that the bottle could fill quicker with better water pressure.

Now imagine that your tap gushes like a fire hose.

Remember, the bottle can only accept a certain amount of flow without spilling over and making a huge watery mess.

Don’t worry, EVs have built in charging protection systems to prevent this, so there’s no risk of frying wires or yourself if you happen to plug into a charger that’s way too powerful for your car. But you get the picture.

Using this analogy, an EV’s battery is the water bottle and the charger is the tap.

Now understand that different EVs have varying battery sizes which can be filled at different rates, and the many types of chargers available, both at home and in the public space, provide electricity flows at different speeds.

A Jaguar I-PACE, for example, has a 90kW/h battery size and can accept a rate of charge up to 100kW, which would mean it should take just under an hour to fill in optimal circumstances.

At present, the most powerful publicly available chargers in South Africa are 80kW (most Jaguar Powerway chargers are 60kW due to capacity constraints from Eskom), so even if a vehicle, from Jaguar or any other manufacturer, could accept rates faster than this, its charging time would be limited by the capacity of the charger itself.

Hypothetically speaking, there may be water bottles out there that can accept 2-litres in five seconds flat.

Impressive, but there isn’t a tap available at the moment to support this extremely fast fill rate. Keep this comparison in mind when reading about the incredibly fast charging speeds boasted by some EV manufacturers.

EV Charging Types

Without getting too technical, there are two types of electricity flows to consider when charging EVs. These are AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current).

Your home’s wall socket where you plug in a lamp or charge your phone is AC, and in the I-PACE’s case can only supply a rate of around 2.3kW to the car’s charging system.

This should go a long way in explaining why it takes so long to charge an average EV using its supplied “occasional use” cable via a three-prong wall socket.

It’s like a dripping tap to fill a rather large bottle, but can be helpful in emergency situations where access to stronger current isn’t possible.

Charging speeds at home can, however, be bumped up to 7.4kW (or 11kW with access to three-phase power supply) for I-PACE owners when using a professionally-installed home wall box unit – ideal for overnight charging and included in the sale of the car.

A 7.4kW wall box should add around 35km range to an I-PACE per hour, while an 11kW three-phase version adds around 53km range per hour.

Though dedicated wall boxes are still AC charging, they require a special TYPE 2 connector to the vehicle which is compatible with most EVs and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles around the world and in South Africa.

DC charging is often referred to as “fast charging” and is most commonly found in public places like shopping malls and highway rest stops.

It’s identifiable by a much thicker charging cable and a bigger CCS connector. A 60kW DC charger will top up 100km range in around 20 minutes.

Look closely at a CCS connector and you’ll notice it’s actually a TYPE 2 but with two extra-large pins incorporated to supply the faster flow of electricity.

Hence, “combined charging system” (CCS), or CCS Combo 2 to be specific.

This is an extremely simplified explanation of EV charging and does not take into account the complexities of nominal voltage, amperage, ideal battery temperatures, fluctuations in the quality of electricity feeds or the reasons why charging speeds slow down after a battery reaches around 80% charge.

But it should help explain why the question – “How long does it take to charge?” ­– doesn’t come with a simple answer.

This article was published in partnership with Jaguar.

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Electric Vehicle charging: An easy reference guide from Jaguar