How much does it cost to charge an electric car? We’re going to run some numbers and find out.
There are three different categories of electric car charging: home charging, DC fast charging and Supercharging.
In reality, you won’t charge at any single of these exclusively, and it’ll probably be a mix of these depending on where you are able to plug in, how efficient you drive, what kind of EV you’re driving, the efficiency of your EV, so how much you spend on charging can vary a lot.
This article will tell you how much it costs to charge an electric car on average in the United States, electric car savings comparied with gasolined-powered vehicle in fuel costs, factors affecting the cost to charge an EV and also some tips to reduce the cost.
Of course, you can play with our EV charging cost calculator for your specific electric car to see what your costs might be directly.
How Much to Charge an Electric Car in General?
In general, the average charging efficiency is 90%, which means if you take 10 kWh from the grid, your electric car is only able to use about 9 kWh.
This is just due to energy losses while charging. Things like heat, light and just internal charging losses are wasted and don’t end up making their way into the battery.
Therefore, if you want to fill up the entire battery, the battery capacity is what your car needs, but the actual amount of energy you get from the grid, which is battery capacity divided by 90%, is more than the figure of the battery capacity.
Cost to Charge an Electric Car from 10% to 80% of State of Charge
Let’s run some numbers as a general rule of thumb.
For example, if we charge a Tesla Model 3 Long Range (2021) from 10% to 80% of charge level, the battery capacity is 82 kWh, so the actual amount of the energy from the grid comes out to be 91 kWh (82 kWh x (0.8-0.1) / 0.9 = 63.78 kWh).
According to eia, for home charging, the national electricity cost is about 13 cents per kWh of electricity in the United States as of February 2021.
It might be a little bit more or a little bit less depending on where you live.
So it would cost around $8.29 to charge a battery from 10% to 80% ( 63.78 kWh x $ 0.13/kWh = $11.84).
For public DC fast charging, it gets a little more difficult to estimate. Because some are completely free, some charge per hour, some charge per kWh so it can get a little confusing depending on what kind of charger you are using.
Typically, it’s more expensive than charging at home unless you use free charging stations, of course. If you do a little bit more hunting, you can charge your electric car completely for free because there are a ton of free ones out there.
Generally, most chargers average between 15 cents per kWh and 30 cents per kWh. Let’s use the average 22 cents per kWh to do the calculation.
The cost would be $14.03 for a full charge ( 63.78 kWh x $ 0.22/kWh = $14.03), more expensive than charging with home EV chargers.
Generally, what you use for Tesla fast charging is probably Supercharging.
In the United States, the average cost of supercharging is about 28 cents per kWh, so it would cost you $17.86 to charge your car fully (63.78 kWh x $ 0.28/kWh = $17.86).
In comparison, home charging is the cheapest way, which is fortunate because that is where a majority of EV charging actually takes place.
Most people just come home from work or whatever they are doing throughout the day, plug in their car and let it charge overnights, and it’s all charged up when they’re ready to go in the morning.
Cost to Charge an Electric Car Based on Desired Distance
The average person drives around 30 miles/day, so we use 30 miles as the desired driving distance.
A lot of electric cars will go about 4 miles per kWh of electricity.
So it costs about 3 and 1/4 cents to operate a car per mile (13 cents/kWh ÷ 4miles/kWh = 3 and 1/4 cents/mile) and around 97.5 cents to charge to get 30 miles of driving distance.
Those are the costs for charging at home, and the costs would be almost doubled if you used a public DC fast charging station.
Electric Car Savings in General
Charging your electric car at home is more affordable than filling up on gas, so switching from conventional gasoline-powered vehicles to electric cars will save you money on fuel costs.
Let’s compare the cost of gasoline versus electricity.
Cost for a Gallon of Electricity
In the United States, the average passenger drives 25 miles/gallon and let’s run this number up and use 30 mile/gallon to do the comparison.
So if we can go 30 miles on one gallon of gasoline, then what would it take to go with the same distance in an electric car.
Typically, we would need about 7.5 kWh (30 miles ÷ 4 miles/kWh = 7.5 kWh) to go that same distance and if we multiply that 7.5 kWh times 13 cents per kWh, we get 97.5 cents or basically a dollar per gallon equivalent.
Therefore, the electricity costs a buck per gallon, which is super cheaper than the price of gasoline.
It’s really a great way to go electric over gasoline when you’re just purely looking at the fuel costs.
We’re using average numbers, which may be higher or lower in your area, of course.
Electric Car Savings in Fuel Costs
According to US Department of Transportation, the average person drives around 13,000 miles yearly.
To make the comparison consistent, we still use the 30 miles per gallon as the average efficiency.
According AAA, the average national gasoline price is $2.51 as of Feb.16, 2021.
The gas cost would be $1087.67 yearly (13,000 miles per year / 30 miles per gallon x $ 2.51 per gallon = $1087.67/year).
For simplicity and easy understanding, the estimates below are obtained based on an electric car charging at home exclusively.
On average, electric cars go around 4 miles per kWh of electricity.
The electricity price averages 13 cents a kWh in the US, so the electricity cost would reach $469.44 per year (13,000 miles per year / 4 miles per kWh x $0.13 per kWh = $469.44 per year).
The savings in fuel costs of running an electric car would be $618.23 yearly ($1087.67/year-$469.44/year= $618.23/year), which is a big saving by switching to an electric car.
Factors Influencing Cost to Charge an Electric Car
How much you spend on charging an electric car can vary a lot, depending on the electricity cost in your area, the car you are driving, how big the battery pack is on it, your driving style, how efficient your car is and even the weather, etc.
In winter, an electric car will be a little less efficient because the battery system needs the energy to keep warm, so it will cost you a little more to “fuel” your car, but still a lot less than a gasoline-powered car.
Tips to Reduce Cost to Charge an Electric Car
Utility Demand Response Programs
When you use electricity to power your car, most electricity utilities offer Utility Demand Response Programs.
The way it works is that it costs you different amounts of money when you charge your car during different parts of the day.
It’s typically divided into two parts of the day: on-peak and off-peak periods.
Generally, on-peak rates being during the day are more expensive than off-peak rates being during nights and weekends as well.
Sometimes, the electricity price at off-peak times could be half as much as that at on-peak periods, which means that you can essentially charge your car using 50 cents per gallon of electricity.
These demand response programs make electric car drivers take advantage of lower rates because most EV drivers charge their cars at night.
Most electric cars or smart home EV chargers have a feature of time scheduling.
Through this feature, you can schedule the time to charge your electric car and save you with off-peak rates.
You could set it to 10 o’clock or midnight or whatever you’d like it to be.
By comparison, it doesn’t work for gasoline-powered vehicle drivers.
Another way to reduce the cost of charging an electric car is to set up some solar panels.
Even though you need to pay for the upfront fee, including the original capital outlay for paying for equipment and the installation cost, sometimes it could be three or four thousand dollars which is a lot, you don’t have to pay for the electricity, and all your electricity would be legitimately free.