2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Shoppers - Don’t Let Charging Be Scary
Ford’s F-150 Lightning is an electric truck. It’s also big, capable, and powerful. Despite being an expert in the field, I assumed the Lighting would be a challenge to keep charged. Testing proved that this is not the case. The F-150 Lighting charges just as easily as a subcompact EV like the Chevy Bolt or Hyundai Kona EV.
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The 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is one of the true game-changing vehicles of our time. It is every inch a Ford truck, every bit an electric vehicle, and hands-down the most enjoyable to drive truck we have ever tested. For the record, the $23K Maverick is our number two pick! During our testing, we never struggled to charge the Lighting, and range was a non-issue. We feel a story on this topic was warranted after speaking to some Ford truck owners.
Two Ford owners we spoke with, one of whom just drove home a gas-powered F-150, both brought up charging challenges when we showed off the truck. Th first Ford owner was thinking about his truck being used to travel between two homes in two different states. I asked how far the drive was, and he replied that it was about 75 miles.
One was an electrician. He is no stranger to EVs, and is, in fact, an expert on charger installations. He was more curious than afraid of owning an electric truck. We asked how far his typical work day takes him. He replied, “I almost never go farther in a day than 100 miles.”
For both owners, a special charger aside from the 30-am Level 2 charger included with every Lightning would not be a requirement. Either could provide 15 to 20 miles of charge per hour of charging. So, recouping a typical day’s usage would only take five or six hours. Both owners could easily top-up their trucks while sleeping.
Ford F-150 Lightning Battery Sizes
The Lightning comes in two versions. The base battery has a capacity of 98 kWh which equates to a nominal range of 230 miles. The longer-range version we just tested has a 131 kWh battery, which has a nominal range of 320 miles. Based on our late-winter testing, these ranges seem close to real-world estimates assuming the driving is not all done at elevated highway speeds and it isn’t below freezing.
How Fast Does the Ford F-150 Lightning Charge?
So how many miles of charge can the F-150 Lightning recoup per hour on a charger? In our testing, we saw as high as 25 miles of range added when charging on our Lectron V-Box charger delivering 40 amps. That was in the middle of the battery's state of charge. Ford’s estimates seem pretty conservative, but let’s use the conservative numbers. We created this Ford F-150 Lightning charge rate chart to break down all the options.
As you can see, even the most basic charger will add in 130 miles pre 10-hour evening charge. The included mobile charger costs you nothing extra. A typical home charger will charge at a rate of 48 amps. In this case, you can add in 200 miles of range if you charge for ten hours. With Ford’s unusual 80-amp heavy-duty charger, you can basically fill the truck from empty to full in ten hours. Keep in mind it takes about six hours to drive the extended battery down from full to empty on the highway. Almost no truck owner drives six hours continuously per business day.
In order to charge at home, all you need is a NEMA 14-50 outlet. An outlet like this is usually supplied by a 50-amp breaker. These are not uncommon at all. If you have a whole-house AC system or heat with electricity, you probably already have a 50-amp breaker or two in our panel. If you wish to mount your home charger in our garage on a post near your home, budget about $500 to $700 for a quality unit from a trusted brand like Lectron, ChargePoint, or Emporia, plus the cost of adding the new circuit. Your electrician can help with that number. Rember, this is a one-time cost and adds value to your home.
What About Ford's Special High-Capacity Home Charger?
We won’t kid you. Adding the hard-wired Ford 80-amp charger is likely going to require a panel upgrade and possibly a service upgrade. This is not a charger intended for the everyday truck owner. It is better suited to fleet owners who plan to charge multiple trucks throughout a working day.
The DC fast charger listed is what you see on the highway. These chargers are quicker, but they vary in their power output from 50 kW to about 350 kWh. Any of them will quickly input a lot of miles to get you on to your destination or the next charger when road-tripping.
Yes, the Ford F-150 Lighting is a big, very capable, very powerful electric truck. However, charging it is no more difficult than charging any other EV. In fact, since Ford includes a Level 2 mobile charger, it is easier than most to charge the day you drive it home.
Images of Lectron V-Box charging Ford F-150 Lighting by John Goreham. Image of NEMA 14-50 outlet by John Goreham. Image of Ford Lightning charger cable by John Goreham.
John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his ten years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and TikTok @ToknCars, and view his credentials at Linkedin