If you’re considering buying an electric vehicle (EV), you probably have a lot of questions, and that includes wondering, “how much does it cost to charge an electric car?” While it’s easy to look up fuel economy numbers on a gas-powered vehicle, things are a little different when it comes to EVs.
Gasoline prices are all over the place, going up constantly, and vary depending on the region. However, the cost to charge an electric vehicle can also vary. This is especially true if you’re charging at home or a public charging station.
In most cases, charging an EV at home is significantly less expensive than fueling up with gasoline or diesel. However, those savings could quickly diminish at a public charging station with fast charging. Here are a few scenarios and an outline of how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle.
Instead of paying per gallon of gasoline, you’ll get charged per kilowatt-hour to charge your electric car. And just like the price of gasoline is different at each gas station, the price of a kWh can differ depending on where you live and even the time of day thanks to peak hours. This makes finding out how much it costs to charge an EV difficult, but some national averages help buyers make an informed decision.
According to KBB, most of the EVs currently available get between three and four miles out of each kWh. So to figure out the cost, simply divide the total miles driven by three, or 3.5, and you’ll get the amount of kWh you’d use each month. Then, multiply that by the cost of each kWh at your home. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average US household pays nearly 14 cents per kWh.
As an example, if you drive 300 miles and get around 3.5 miles out of each kWh, that’s 85.7 kWh used. Multiply 85.7 by $0.14, and you just spent $12 to drive 300 miles in an electric vehicle.
I don’t know about you or your gas car, but it’ll cost me a lot more than $12 to drive 300 miles in my gas-powered Toyota Tacoma. Keep in mind that some states charge a delivery fee for home electricity usage, on top of the usage fee, so that may raise the price even more.
Figuring out how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle gets a little tricky when it comes to charging at home vs. at a public charging station. As we said earlier, charging an EV at home is significantly less expensive than fueling up with gasoline, and it’s also cheaper than using a public station.
The price of each kWh varies by city, state, or even the time of day. Luckily, most people charge their EVs at home, sitting on a charger overnight. And considering most regions offer discounts on electricity at night when usage is at a low point, that’s the cheapest time to recharge your electric car at home.
The same math as stated above applies here. The average US household pays nearly 14 cents per kWh, but that price can double during peak hours or in California and New York. Still, the average cost is $0.14 per kWh, which ends up being far cheaper than gas. Just keep in mind that some locations will cost more.
If you drive 1,000 miles per month and charge your EV at home, just do the math. Take 1,000 divided by 3.5, which is 285 kWh. Then, multiply 285 by $0.14 and you’ll get $40. You just spent $40 on electricity to drive 1,000 miles.
While that’s cheaper than gas, you’ll have to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $3,000 to put a charger in your home, depending on speed and charging level. However, installing a home charger may be impossible at some rental homes and apartments. If so, you’ll have to rely on public charging stations.
How long it takes to charge your EV will also factor into the price, as faster chargers typically cost more per kWh. Most public charging stations throughout the United States deliver fast-charging speeds, but that means they’re more expensive.
As an example, Tesla has over 30,000 Superchargers located throughout the globe, which will charge your Tesla much faster than a slow home charger. However, you’ll pay a premium for faster charging. Luckily, Tesla has a lot of deals and incentives, and some owners even get free Supercharging.
Most Tesla’s purchased after January of 2017 no longer get these benefits, and the typical cost at a Tesla Supercharger is about $0.27 per kWh, so nearly double what you’d pay at home. However, Tesla some Model Y buyers may have received it near the end of 2020. That said, no other new Tesla’s get free charging as of 2022.
Tesla isn’t the only one making electric vehicles these days, so that’s just one part of the equation. Unfortunately, some public charging stations in the U.S. charge upwards of $0.43 per kWh, which is three times more expensive than you’d pay by charging at home. That higher price is due to faster charging, time of day, and where you live. The website MyEV has a detailed breakdown of different charging network locations, pricing, and subscription fees for those interested.
To ease the transition from gas to electric vehicles, many manufacturers like Nissan and Volkswagen have been including incentives like two years of free public charging with the purchase of an electric car. We see similar freebies from Hyundai and KIA, who partnered with Electrify America on free (but limited) EV charging.
Your best bet is to install a charging station at home and recharge your electric car overnight, then only use public charging stations when absolutely necessary. And, in those situations, hopefully the manufacturer offers free charging, or you have a subscription membership to get a discount.
So to answer the real question: It’s cheaper to charge an electric vehicle than it is to fill up with gasoline, but it’s all a bit complicated.