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Charge Time and Vehicle Range
You’ll often see a battery’s capacity (miles), and a charging station’s total refill time (minutes or hours) captured in a range instead of an absolute value, because of the many factors that contribute to these seemingly simple metrics.
Here is a shortlist of factors that contribute to a vehicle’s range and a charging station’s refill capability.
1. Driving habits and conditions
Smooth acceleration, consistency, and anticipation of normal stops lead to better energy efficiency*. Driving conditions –such as flat vs. uphill and city vs. highway – also impact range.
2. Use of auxiliary power
The use of auxiliary battery-powered functions, like air conditioning, impacts a vehicle’s range.
3. Battery characteristics
As a rule, larger batteries have greater range, and smaller batteries have less range. The battery’s chemistry also has an impact on how far it can take a driver.
1. State of Charge (SOC)
If a battery is completely depleted, with a low SOC, it will take longer to fill the battery up to its full capacity. Conversely, if the driver has depleted the battery by only a fraction of its full capacity, it won’t take long to refill.
2. Size of On-Board Charger
The vehicle’s on-board charger makes a difference in all AC charging schemes. The charging station will limit the AC power charge rate based on the size of the vehicle’s on-board charger, so a 3.3kW on-board charger will take longer to charge than a more powerful 6.6kW charger. DC fast charging stations bypass the on-board charger, so the size of the on-board charger doesn’t affect refill time when charging using the DC scheme.
3. Charge Regimen
AC charging docks and stations send power to small on-board vehicle chargers and therefore are typically slower to refill than DC charging stations. AC charging stations are used for opportunity charging at home in the garage and in the mall while you shop, and don’t rely on fast refill times – because drivers are already engaged in other activities. DC charging systems, on the other hand, are meant to provide a fast off-board charge by by-passing the on-board charger. DC charging stations will come in handy when drivers don’t have a lot of time to wait for a charge.
4. Power/Current Availability, Off-Board DC Charging Station
Like the on-board charger that is integrated into the vehicle, the off-board DC charging station is limited by its power and current rating. In general, a 250kW “fast” DC charging station will charge more quickly than a 30kW “fast” DC charging station. However, charge speed is also affected by current limits, which are determined both by the charging hardware as well as the connector “plug.” For example, a high-powered charging station with a 50-amp limit will only charge at 50 amps. A 250kW charging station with a high current limit, however, will be able to maximize its power capability and charge very quickly.
5. Size of battery
Finally, a small battery is likely to have a shorter range, but because of its size, it is also likely to charge more quickly. Conversely, a larger battery might take longer to charge, but once “filled,” it will carry the driver farther and allow more time and distance between recharging.