Among the top concerns from consumers about electric cars is what they will spend to charge the vehicle.
To answer the question of cost, if comparing an electric car vs. a gas car, consumers can make an informed decision including recharging costs compared to traditional refueling by doing some basic upfront research, starting with some basic math.
What Is the Cost to Charge an EV?
To accurately estimate the cost to charge an EV, it helps to have a recent electric bill for reference. For home charging, find your electric bill, then divide the [number] of kilowatt-hours you used into the bottom-line dollar total. That’ll give you the price you paid per kWh. Divide the total miles you drive each month by 3 to get the kWh you would use monthly. Multiply that number by your cost per kWh.
To put this into perspective and make it simpler, let’s use some averages to calculate what should be the average cost of EV charging. Suppose you drive at the American average of 1,124 miles per month. If using an EV, which gets an average of 3 to 4 miles per kWh (let’s use 3 in this case), you will use about 375 kWh a month. Using the U.S. household average of about 16 cents per kWh, charging an electric car at home would cost nearly $60 per month.
This amount is most likely lower than what you pay each month to buy gasoline.
How Does the Recharge Cost Compare to a Fuel Fill-Up?
Because this area is a little difficult as cars and trucks use vastly different amounts of fuel, it is again easier to use some averages and some assumed numbers to illustrate how charging costs compare to gasoline costs.
If assuming the average price of gas at $3.60 per gallon, filling up a 12-gallon gas tank would cost about $43. If you’re driving a car that brings a combined city and highway driving average of 30 miles per gallon, using that same 12-gallon tank as a reference point, you’ll have 360 miles of driving range for each fill-up. If you’re driving the same 1,124 miles per month, you’ll need to refuel three times each month and spend about $129 ($43 x 3).
Again, this is only an estimate since fuel prices and mileage vary. But considering few vehicles come close to delivering a 30-mpg combined average, this conservative scenario makes it clear that recharging will cost less than refueling a car. The financial gap narrows with a more fuel-efficient gasoline vehicle, it never matches electric vehicle costs
Costs of Charging an EV at Home
Electricity rates are subject to many factors, including the region where you live, the time of year, and even the time of day when peak charges apply. For the most part, electricity usage and costs are at their lowest late at night when some utilities have special low rates for when their demand is lightest. That’s good news for anyone considering an EV.
Many consumers worry about access to public charging stations while out and about. But as much as 90% of electric car charging is done overnight at home, which is almost always the cheapest way to charge an electric car.
The Cost of Level 2 and Level 3 Charging - The Faster the Charging, the Higher the Rate
When talking about public Level 2 charging and Level 3 fast-charging systems, the prices are harder to narrow when compared to standard at-home costs. That’s because charging networks vary in price, not to mention availability around the country.
If you have a 240 outlet in your garage you can benefit from Level 2 charging, which is much faster than Level 1 charging. Many EV owners with a 240 outlet in their garage opt to install a Level 2 charger which offers even faster charging. The cost isn’t cheap - about $2,000 for parts and installation. Many states, local municipalities, and utility companies offer rebates and incentives for electric car owners to install home chargers, which help lower costs further.
Home charging is the best option for anyone considering an electric car. Yet, equally important is knowing where to find EV perks close to home. Unlike a typical 240-volt Level 2 home charger system, you will find Level 3 chargers in commercial settings because they’re prohibitively expensive for a private individual to install them at home.
Tesla uses its dedicated Supercharger network with more than 45,000 across the globe. But the rates can vary widely depending on region, timing, the Tesla model you’re charging, and the tier you choose for your recharge speeds. Tesla offers four charging tiers. One important caveat: Select Tesla Superchargers now work for non-Tesla vehicles.
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