How Often Do You Have to Charge An Electric Car?

Rowan Harris 7 minutes Published: 03/02/2022

While it might be the question on everybody’s minds, asking how often you have to charge an electric car is a bit like asking “how long is a piece of string?”.

Everything from the size of battery to the weight of the car and even the ambient temperature can affect how long your electric car lasts on a single charge and, consequently, how often you have to charge. 

In this article we talk you through the various factors which determine how often you have to charge an electric car, what you can do to mitigate them, and whether ‘range anxiety’ really is something you should be concerned about.

Factors affecting charging frequency

Electric car charging is getting easier by the day, with new fast and rapid charging stations popping up in car parks, street corners and motorway service stations across the country. 

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that a full charge takes a lot longer than filling up the tank at the petrol station. 

While we can’t tell you exactly how often you’ll need to recharge, we can give you an idea of the things that will increase or decrease the time between charges:

The kind of driving you do

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but the more you drive, the more you’ll need to recharge. Perhaps less obvious is how the type of driving you do affects how often you have to recharge. 

If you’ve ever watched Formula E, you’ll know that regenerative braking is a big part of driving an EV. Rather than slamming on conventional brakes, which generate wasted heat energy in the process, regenerative braking allows you to recover some of the energy from braking and feed it back into the battery. 

This works best if you spend a lot of time driving around the city. 

Size of battery

The bigger the battery, the better, right? Generally speaking, yes. The latest Tesla Model 3 has a 75kWh battery and can get up to 360 miles by WLTP standards. The dinky Volkswagen ID.3 with its 45kWh battery, by comparison, is rated for 215 miles by WLTP. 

Things get a little more complicated when comparing vehicles of a similar size. In other words, a bigger battery doesn’t always translate to a longer range. EV manufacturers rely on very different battery technologies with different levels of optimisation. EVs have only started going mainstream in the past decade, and some manufacturers (notably Tesla), are ahead of the game when it comes to battery technology. You can hear it from the Audi CEO himself! 

Chances are, you’re more concerned about the size of the car’s battery than you should be. Most new EVs will manage upwards of 200 miles on a full charge. Because the average person drives around 20-30 miles a day, this should more than comfortably cover daily driving. It also means you won’t need to charge the battery to full every night, which may come as a relief for those who don’t have the luxury of overnight charging.

You can read more here about how many kWh it takes to charge a car, so you can learn how long it takes each time.

The weather

You know that feeling on a cold January morning when there’s nothing you’d rather do than ‘snooze’ your alarm and catch an extra half hour in bed? Electric cars are a bit like that too. 

Put simply, lithium-ion batteries rely on chemical reactions to release electricity. A low temperature will reduce the rate at which these reactions occur, which in turn reduces the battery’s performance. Not only that, but regenerative braking may be limited or disabled entirely when the battery is cold, so your battery won’t enjoy the same benefits of city driving.

Unfortunately, cold weather doesn’t just affect your range. The time it takes to charge can also be impacted by the cold. Even so-called ‘Tesla superchargers’ are no match for the cold, it seems. However, EV manufacturers do offer some tips on how to charge an electric car in the cold.

For instance, you’ll want to pre-heat your car before you drive (this isn’t just for comfort!) and try to charge when the battery is already warm. If you are charging overnight, pre-heating the car while it is still plugged in will mean that the car isn’t relying on its battery for heat, which should extend your range. 

For a faster charging experience while on the go, try to use a supercharger or rapid charger that is closer to your destination so that the battery has ample time to heat up. 

If this all sounds like a lot of faff, just remember: Norway is much colder than the UK and they’ve had one of the most successful electric car roll-outs in the world!

Battery age

This battery degradation tool from GEOTAB will give you a rough idea of how much you can expect your battery to degrade over the coming years. 

Of course, if you decide to lease an electric car, you won’t have to worry about how much the battery degrades during its lifetime. Even if your battery doesn’t perform as well as it once did, you won’t have to worry about resale values when you reach the end of your lease - you just hand it back to the leasing company.

Full charge vs top-up charging

You might have noticed that most manufacturers will tell you how long it takes to charge from 0-80%. This is because as the battery reaches near capacity, the rate of charging slows down significantly. 

But don’t worry - you don’t have to charge until 100% every time. Sure, it will mean you have to recharge more frequently - but EV manufacturers actually recommend that you stick to between 20-80% charge as much as you can, as this will help to maximise your battery’s longevity.

How to plan so you don’t run out of charge

Planning so that you don’t run out of charge might feel like an unnecessary inconvenience, particularly if you’re used to filling up in less than a few minutes with a petrol car. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Plan where to charge

Firstly, electric car charging at home is a doddle if you have a driveway. While you can do this with a standard UK three-pin plug, we’d recommend that you install a dedicated wallbox from a OZEV-approved installer, as the Government still offers generous grants. 

With a smart wallbox, you’ll not only be able to recharge faster at home, but also plan when to charge your car, so you can make big savings on your electricity bills. Electric car charging at home with no driveway is less simple. Other options might be to charge at work, or use a nearby street charger. 

For longer journeys, you will need to take a moment to make sure that there are plenty of accessible chargers along the way. It’s always good to have a few options in case the charger that you are planning on using is ‘out of order’, in use, or worse still: ICE’d. You’ll also need to make sure that the charger uses the same connector as your car (or, that you have the right adapter). You can use our handy electric car charging map to find the best route.

If you own a Tesla, planning a route couldn’t be easier - your car’s GPS route planner will do it for you. It’ll even adjust your route if the charger is occupied. That’s one more reason to check out our Tesla lease deals.

Account for charging time

Another thing to bear in mind is the length of time it will take to recharge your car. How long does it take to charge an electric car, you ask? Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to that question, a variety of factors come into play. 

There are now a variety of EV charger types, each able to provide your car with charge at different rates. On top of that, the rate at which EVs can accept charge varies considerably between cars. Currently, the fastest charging speeds offered by UK charging stations are about 350kW DC. However, few cars are equipped to take full advantage of this. At the same time, you probably won’t want to hook up to any old AC charger if you’re planning to get from one side of the country to the next, as this could add hours onto your journey time.


With petrol and diesel cars set to begin phasing out by 2030, there is now much more interest in EVs. But can an EV fit around your lifestyle? We think so!

If you agree, check out our electric car lease deals to find the best prices on electric car leases from across the UK!

For EVs that won't need charged very regularly, see this list of the electric cars with the longest range.

To make your life simpler, consider installing an electric car charger at home. With Rightcharge, you can compare home electric car charging points so you can find the best charger for the best price. This is an affiliate link where Lease Fetcher earns money if you choose to go with one of Rightcharge's providers via Rightcharge. You will not be charged extra for using this link.