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Charging a Battery Electric Vehicle

Oct 24, 2022

Charging a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is simple. Just plug it in. At home. At work. Or at any of the more than 5,000 public charging stations across the country. However, if you are seriously considering a BEV of your own, you probably have a number of other questions, like:

  • How long does it take to charge a Battery Electric Vehicle?
  • How far can I go on a full charge?
  • What’s the best time to charge?
  • Where can I find a charger?

Charging a bZ4X EV

There is nothing complicated about the answers to any of these questions. But there are a number of things to keep in mind when shopping for a BEV that best suits your needs. Let’s start with the basics: how long it takes to charge, and what kind of range you can expect.

Three Levels of Charging

The first thing to know is that there are three levels of charging, or three types of charging points, each offering a different speed of charge measured in kilowatts per hour (kWh).

Level 1 Charging: Standard 120-volt AC outlet

Level 1 is the slowest way to charge, though in some ways, the most convenient. All you need is a standard 120-volt AC (Alternating Current) household outlet. On average, Level 1 charging can deliver between 3-6 kW of charge per hour. Or, measured another way, enough electricity to provide about 6-8 kilometers of driving range per hour of charging. However, this can also be dependent on the size of the battery. For example, with the bZ4X, it can take 50 hours or even more to reach the recommended charge. No additional special equipment is required.

Level 2 Charging: Dedicated 240-volt AC Outlet

Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt AC outlet, the same amount of power used by bigger appliances in your home like a stove or HVAC equipment, and can charge a BEV up to 5-times faster than a Level 1 charger. On average, Level 2 chargers deliver between 7-22 kW of charge per hour, or between 45-60 kilometers of driving range per hour of charging. Again, depending on battery size and other factors, it can take anywhere between 4-6 hours for a typical BEV to reach the recommended charge with a Level 2 charger. You can find Level 2 chargers at most public charging stations. Many BEV owners also choose to have one installed at home for faster charging. (More on this in just a bit.)

Level 3 Charging: 480-volt DC 

Level 3 chargers, known as Fast or Rapid Chargers, use DC (Direct Current) at 480-volts. These are the fastest charging options on the go, letting capable BEVs like the bZ4X charge in as little as 30 minutes. Level 3 chargers can be found at some public charging stations. It is also important to bear in mind, that not every BEV can accept Level 3 charging.

Other Influences on Charging Times

Other factors that can influence charging times include battery size, how empty or full the battery is at the start of charging, HVAC & accessory usage, the vehicle’s maximum charging rate, and even outside temperatures.

Electric Battery Size

In general, the bigger your BEV’s battery capacity (measured in kWh), the longer it will take to charge. If you are charging from empty, it will also take longer to charge than if you are topping up from, say, 50%.

Maximum Charging Rate of the Battery

Electric vehicle batteries have a maximum charging rate (which is, once again, measured in kWh). This is just like it sounds: the maximum rate at which the battery can accept a charge. This also helps determine the best charging point to use. For example, if the maximum charging rate is 5 kWh, then a Level 2 charger would be the most appropriate. Even if you were to use a Level 3 charger, your BEV would not charge any faster than 5 kWh.

Maximum Charging Rate of the Station

Just like the battery, charging stations also have a maximum charging rate. So, even if your BEV can charge at a higher rate, it will only charge as fast as the charging point will allow.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also influence how quickly your BEV charges. Colder temperatures, for example, can lengthen charging times, especially when using a Level 3 rapid charger. Hot temperatures, in turn, can affect a BEVs thermal management system and impact charging efficiency.

Your Car’s Charging Capabilities

You can calculate the optimal charge time for your vehicle by dividing battery capacity by the power rating of your BEV’s onboard charger. For example, the Toyota bZ4X has a 6.6-kW onboard charger, and a 72 kWh battery. If the battery was extremely low, it would take approximately 11 hours to fully charge with a Level 2 charger. (72 divided by 6.6).

Level 2 Charging at Home

Many BEV owners choose to install a Level 2 Charger at their residence. There are a number of factors you should consider before installation, such as: the best location, the type of connector, the length of cord, permanent or portable installation, and appropriate amperage.

Level 2 EV Charging at Home

Depending on the age of your home, the wiring may need to be upgraded. It’s even possible that the electrical panel may need to be replaced. For these reasons and more, it is highly recommended that you consult with a certified installer about requirements ­and costs.

And speaking of costs, many provinces and municipalities offer rebates or incentives for the purchase and installation of a home charger and installation.

The Best Time to Charge Your BEV

If you are charging at home, it also pays to charge when electricity rates are lowest during off-peak hours.

How Far to Go on a Single Charge

How far you can travel on a full charge depends on the vehicle. Each model has a different range, battery size and efficiency. The perfect electric car for you will be the one you can use for your normal journeys.

Modern battery electric cars and SUVs offer a significant range between charges. Toyota’s bZ4X, for example, has an estimated range of up to 406km for front wheel drive models on a full charge and under ideal conditions[¹]. With more than 5,000 public charging stations across the country, it is pretty easy to re-charge along the way.

Public EV Charging Station Canada

Finding a Charging Station Near You

There are more than 5,000 public charging stations in Canada, and that network continues to expand. More than 500 of them support Level 3 charging. You can find the closest public charging station through the Transport Canada or ChargePoint websites.

These are some of the key pieces of information you may need and want to know to start charging ahead. Remember, if you are not yet ready to commit to a full battery electric vehicle and the lifestyle changes it can require, Toyota also offers a range of Hybrid Electric (HEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEV) and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric (FCEV) vehicles, that help reduce fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Check them all out here.


[¹] NRCan-estimated 406 km total driving range for bZ4X FWD when vehicle is fully charged and operated under ideal driving conditions. Use for comparison purposes only. Actual range may decrease significantly depending on speed, outside temperature, accessory use, how/where you drive, charging habits, and other factors.  Battery capacity also decreases with time and use which will reduce range.  See and Owner’s Manual for details.