An electric car is a vehicle that uses an electric motor as its main source of power. Because an electric car does not use fossil fuel - diesel or gasoline- to power its motor, it has no tailpipe emission and does not contribute to pollution. That’s why it is called the future of motoring that will help save mother earth from extinction since it is environmentally friendly. EVs or electric vehicles as they are commonly called, use energy or electricity stored in rechargeable batteries.
If you are interested in buying the electric car, of course, you would want to know some details or facts about this novel invention in the motoring world, such as, how long does it take to charge the electric car, among other things.
Before we go into charging an electric car, let us first get to know some important details about it!
Different Types Of Electric Cars
In general, there are three kinds of vehicles that are considered electric. The label “electric vehicle” or EV generally refers to three principal types of automotive drivetrain; Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), Conventional Hybrid Vehicle (HEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (pHEV).
1. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) - I’m sure when you think of an electric car, the BEV is the first thing that comes to mind. It is the authentic electric vehicle since it runs purely on electricity. BEVs store electricity on high-capacity battery packs carried onboard. The electricity generated by the battery runs the main-drive electric motor as well as the other electronic devices of the car. They draw power from an external source, either from a dedicated charging station or an electrical outlet.
2. Conventional Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) - An HEV runs on both fuel and electricity. It comes with a two-part drive system; a traditional fuel engine and an electric motor powered by a battery. It has all the parts of both an internal combustion engine and an EV. Its components include the internal combustion engine, transmission, fuel tank together with an electric motor and battery pack.
Several HEVs have smaller fuel engines and larger electric motors, while others are of the reverse, a more powerful fuel engine but a smaller electric motor that is used at low speed. In HEVs, the sole energy source is either gasoline or diesel. The electricity for the electric motor is generated when the vehicle breaks or through the alternator.
3. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (pHEV) - Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle is similar to a conventional hybrid in the sense that it runs both on fuel and electricity except that, to charge the battery of the electric motor, it is plugged into an external source of power. Also, pHEVs. Use more electric power than fuel power to drive the vehicle since this type has comparatively larger electric motors and battery storage but a smaller internal combustion engine than the conventional HEV.
pHEV is designed in such a way where the fuel engine only engages when the electric motor is running low. The fuel engine is also used when more power is needed. Since Plug-in HEVs are rechargeable from an electrical outlet, driving them entirely on electric power is achievable. For a simpler discussion, we will use a battery electric vehicle (BEV) when we refer to an electric car or vehicle.
How Does An Electric Vehicle Work?
An electric vehicle has an electric motor and an onboard battery that draws power or electricity from an external electrical source. The electricity is stored in the battery and is used to power the electric motor and get the vehicle moving. Your EV will not have a gearbox, a clutch or an exhaust pipe. This is what makes driving an EV smoother and quieter.
On a full charge, an ordinary electric vehicle can run up to 400 kms. Before it will have to be recharged. Maybe it is not as far as you can get on a full fuel tank, but nearly all car travels can be accomplished easily in an electric car. According to a study, 10% of all car trips in the UK were shorter than a mile or 16 kms, and 95% of trips are shorter than 30 miles (48.28 kms).
Advantages of an electric car:
● Environment-friendly - Electric cars, though not entirely emission-free or entirely green since they are only as green or clean as their power supply, yet they are still a lot better than the conventional fossil-fueled car for the environment.
● Efficiency - They not only produce fewer emissions but also are more energy efficient. An electric car uses 95% of its power to put the vehicle in motion, while a fuel engine is merely 30% efficient. Most of the power the generator generates is lost on noise or heat.
The engine is not the only one that accounts for electric cars’ efficiency. Because of the regenerative brakes, you are not wasting energy everytime you brake and stop. The electric motor of the car doubles as a generator that converts kinetic energy into electricity that charges the battery when the brakes are employed and the car slows down.
● Lower operating cost - A full charge of a battery pack is much cheaper than a full tank of gasoline or even diesel. Electric cars also have less movable parts that will need maintenance.
One glaring disadvantage of an electric car as compared to a conventional fuel car is the upfront cost. At present, it is more expensive. Although, in the UK and across Europe governments are giving some grants and incentives to people who are interested in buying electric cars.
How To Charge An Electric Car
It does not need a degree in rocket science to charge an electric car. In fact, it is fairly easy and can be done anywhere there is a charging station or an electrical outlet, the same outlet you use to plug in your television or bread toaster. It is like charging your mobile phone or any electrical device and can be done at work or at home.
There are also public charging stations available at parking lots, gas stations and even some grocery stores. All the things you need to charge an electric car comes with the unit….. An electric cord that you plug into the car and to the electrical outlet.
How long Will It Take To Charge Your Electric Vehicle?
The speed of the charge is based on your type of car and the type of power source you are connected to. As a general rule, however, there are three kinds of charging rate;
● Slow charging or level 1 charging usually takes around 8 hrs to charge a totally depleted battery fully. You get a slow charge when you are charging from a 120-volt outlet which is usually done at home.
● Fast charging or level 2 charging is charging at 220 or 240 volts at around 30 amps. These are usually found at some public charging sites and at workplaces. Although, if you want a faster charge than what your 120-volt outlet offers, you can always opt to install a 220 or 240-volt outlet at home. It will take half the time (4 hrs) to charge your car.
● Rapid or level 3 charging where a full charge can take only 30 minutes with 480 volts. Rapid charging stations are usually found at service stations, charging centers along major roads or for commercial applications.
However, most electric car users do not wait for the battery of their car to be totally depleted before they recharge it. Usually, they will regularly recharge and won’t wait for the charge to dip below ⅓ before they do it. That is why how long it takes to charge an electric car for different EVs vary considerably. It is not only the charge needed that has to be considered. There is also the capacity of the battery and charger speed/level to be taken into account. Thus it has been established that the average time charging an EV per charger speed/level are; Level 1 – 290 minutes; Level 2 – 115 minutes; Level 3 – 23 minutes.
ConclusionA decision to buy an electric car is a no-brainer. Except for the initial cost, which is being countered with grants and incentives in some European countries, the advantages are quite significant - environment-friendly, efficient and low maintenance. The cost and time to charge an electric car are also good considerations.
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