You’ve probably heard the buzz that electric vehicles are more cost-effective than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Yet you want more than buzz: you want numbers. We’re here to set the record straight and provide the facts so you can clearly understand how much it costs to charge an electric car.
In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to calculate your costs and open your eyes to a few other financial factors you might have missed.
Table of Contents
How Much Does It Cost To Charge an Electric Car for a Month
Tip: Grab your latest electric bill. This information will help you estimate the most accurate cost of charging your EV.
Calculating the cost of charging your electric vehicle (EV) is more manageable than it may sound.
According to Kelley Blue Book, you can expect your electric car to average three to four miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh). You can now estimate how many miles you average monthly, divide it by three, and then multiply that number by your kWh rate.
Let’s break it down like a middle school math problem:
My family is often on the road, so we average 1,800 miles monthly. Our electric bill shows we pay 14 cents per kWh. We need to figure out how much we can expect to spend on charging our car this month.
- 1,800 (monthly miles) divided by 3 equals 600 (monthly kWh usage)
- 600 multiplied by .14 (cents per kWh) equals 84
According to this math, I expect to spend $84 on charging my electric car this month.
How Much Does It Cost To Charge an Electric Car for One Full Charge?
Charging your electric vehicle at home is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your car running. Consider these factors to calculate how much charging your EV at home costs:
Step 1: Know Your Electricity Rate
The first step to calculating your EV charging cost is to know your electricity rate. This rate can vary depending on where you live and your utility provider. Check your electricity bill for your kilowatt-hour rate (kWh).
Step 2: Determine Your EV’s Battery Capacity
The second step is to determine your EV’s battery capacity. Do a quick Google search or look at your car’s owner’s manual to find this information. Once you know your battery capacity, you can calculate how many kWh your EV battery holds.
Step 3: Calculate the Cost of Charging Your EV
To calculate the EV charging cost, multiply your electricity rate by the number of kWh your EV battery holds. For example, if your electricity rate is $0.17 per kWh and your EV battery holds 60 kWh, it would cost $10.20 to fully charge your car at home.
Types of Chargers and Their Costs
Types of chargers can be confusing. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are three levels of charging: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. The type of charger you use will depend on several factors, including your home’s electrical system and the available public chargers in your area. Here’s what you need to know about each level:
Level 1 Charger
When you purchase your new electric car, the charging equipment for a Level 1 charger usually comes with your vehicle. Level 1 is convenient due to its location (your house), and you don’t need anything special to set it up. You’re set to start home charging if you have a 120V outlet and the charging equipment that came with your vehicle. According to Energy5, replacement Level 1 EV charging stations can range from $300 to $600.
Though convenient, Level 1 charges slowly. Car and Driver reports you can expect to see two to four miles added for every hour of charging.
Level 2 Charger
Level 2 chargers range from $700 to $2,000 and can operate at 240 volts, packing three to four times more power than Level 1 chargers. They charge your EV six to eight times faster, adding 12–32 miles of range per hour.
However, their charging rate varies. A standard 240-volt, 24-amp unit provides 6.0 kW, but the fastest Level 2 chargers hit 80 amps, delivering 19.2 kW—over three times quicker. Match your charger to your car’s capabilities to avoid overpaying.
Installing Level 2 at home is ideal. Ensure your EV’s charging cord is compatible, and consult an electrician if needed. Government incentives in many places can help with installation costs.
These chargers are also common in public spaces like parking lots, offering a solid range boost in a few hours. Public charging is convenient for long trips you might not have planned. When you need a quick recharging pit stop, public charging stations like ChargePoint come to the rescue, ensuring you can keep rolling with ease.
Level 3 or DC Fast-Charging
Level 3 chargers, or DC fast-chargers, are your go-to for quick pit stops on long road trips. In just 30–45 minutes, these fast chargers can supercharge your EV with around 100–250 miles of range.
These chargers use a special socket with extra pins to handle higher voltage. EV drivers can expect to spend $15,00 to as much as $50,000 for a Level 3 charging station.
While Tesla has its Supercharger network (exclusive to their vehicles), drivers of other EVs can find Level 3 chargers from providers like EVgo and Electrify America. Charge rates vary from 50 to 350 kWh, but they slow down significantly as your battery nears 80 percent capacity to prevent overheating. So, it’s often smart to unplug at around 80 percent for efficient long drives.
Cost Factors in Charging an Electric Car
When charging an electric car, the cost can vary depending on several factors. Here are some of the cost factors you should consider:
Time of Day and Electricity Rates
Electricity costs aren’t static; they shift with the time of day. Peak hours often come with higher rates, while off-peak hours are the wallet-friendly alternative. Charging your electric car during those off-peak hours can help you save money on your monthly electricity bill.
Utility companies are getting in on the EV action, too. Many offer special electric vehicle (EV) charging rates that dip below their regular rates. These discounted rates are typically accessible during off-peak hours and can significantly reduce your charging expenses.
To tap into these budget-friendly rates, consider using a smart charger. This nifty device allows you to schedule charging sessions to align with those cost-effective off-peak hours. Not only will this strategy save you money, but it’ll also supercharge the efficiency of your EV charging routine.
The price for charging your electric car isn’t set in stone; it varies depending on your charging location. Charging at home is usually the most convenient and budget-friendly option. Electricity costs at home tend to be lower than the price of gasoline, and you can simply plug in overnight while sleeping.
Public electric vehicle charging stations can be pricier, especially in high-traffic areas. Some might even throw in extra fees like parking or membership charges. When planning a cross-country adventure, it’s wise to scout out the charging stations along your route and compare their rates. Some might offer free charging, while others could dent your budget.
As mentioned earlier, the type of charging station also plays a role. Level 1 charging is the slowest and most budget-friendly option, utilizing a standard 120-volt household outlet. Level 2 charging speeds things up with a 240-volt outlet but can be a bit costlier to set up. If you’re in a hurry, DC fast charging is the quickest option, but it comes at a premium price and might require some detective work to find.
If you frequently drive long distances or have a heavy foot, you may need to charge your vehicle more often, increasing your charging costs.
On the other hand, if you have a short commute or drive infrequently, you may get away with charging your vehicle less often, which can save you money. Another factor you should consider is how long your electric vehicle idles.
Time of Use Rates
Many utility companies offer time-of-use (TOU) rates for EV owners. These rates allow you to pay less for electricity during off-peak hours, which can help you save money on your charging costs. If your utility company offers TOU rates, take advantage of them.
Tesla Owner Perks
If you own a Tesla, you can access the company’s Supercharger network, allowing you to charge your vehicle quickly and conveniently. However, using the Supercharger network can be more expensive than charging your vehicle at home.
Be sure to compare the cost of using the Supercharger network to charging your car at home to determine which option is more cost-effective.
Cost of Charging Specific EV Models
The cost of charging an electric vehicle varies depending on your model. Here’s a breakdown of some popular EV models, according to the EV Database:
- Nissan Leaf: The Nissan Leaf has a battery capacity of 40 kWh, which means it costs around $6.80 to fully charge the vehicle based on the national average electricity rate of 17 cents per kWh.
- Chevrolet Bolt: The Chevrolet Bolt has a larger battery capacity of 66 kWh, which means it costs around $11.22 to fully charge the vehicle based on the average cost of 17 cents per kWh.
- Tesla Model S: The Tesla Model S has a range of up to 412 miles and a battery capacity of up to 100 kWh. Depending on the battery size and your location, it can cost anywhere from $17 to $27 to fully charge the vehicle.
- Bolt EV: The Bolt EV has a battery capacity of 60 kWh, which means it costs around $10.02 to fully charge the vehicle based on the average electricity rate of 17 cents per kWh.
- Volkswagen ID.4: The Volkswagen ID has a battery capacity of 77 kWh, which means it costs around $13.09 to fully charge the vehicle based on 17 cents per kWh.
How Your Utility Company May Help With Charging Your EV
In some cases, your utility company may also be responsible for installing and maintaining charging stations for electric vehicles. This is especially true in areas with many electric cars on the road. Some utility companies even offer special rates for electric vehicle owners who charge their cars during off-peak hours.
It’s important to note that not all utility companies are the same. Some may offer better rates or more incentives for electric vehicle owners than others. If you’re considering buying an electric car, it’s a good idea to research the utility companies in your area to see what they offer.
Another thing to remember is some utility companies may require you to install a special meter for your electric vehicle charging. This meter will allow the utility company to accurately track how much electricity you use to charge your car, which can help them determine your billing rate.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
About the Author: Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch. Abbie loves helping people, whether that be with an encouraging word for fellow mamas or sharing diy tips for car restoration.
I’m John Schmoll, a former stockbroker, MBA-grad, published finance writer, and founder of Frugal Rules.
As a veteran of the financial services industry, I’ve worked as a mutual fund administrator, banker, and stockbroker and was Series 7 and 63-licensed, but I left all that behind in 2012 to help people learn how to manage their money.
My goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to become financially independent with personally-tested financial tools and money-saving solutions.