How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car

How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car

New electric car owners are excited about saving the planet and eliminating gas station trips. However, charging the battery requires a charge station. The cost depends on factors like charging at home versus public stations, expected miles per charge, and the use of solar panels. The cost per mile to charge an EV is a significant cost.

How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car

Understanding Electric Car Charging Costs

When you decide to go electric, one of the biggest questions is how much it will cost to charge your vehicle. The good news is charging at home is pretty affordable. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Charging Equipment

If you can charge at home overnight, a standard 120V charger comes with most electric vehicles for free and will fully recharge your car in 8-12 hours. For faster charging, you can install a 240V charger which typically ranges from $500 to $2000 including installation. The exact cost will depend on the charger type and complexity of your setup.

How much does it cost to charge a electric vehicle

Electricity Rates

The national average price for residential electricity is around 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. So charging an average electric vehicle with a 60-kWh battery would cost around $7 for a full charge on a standard charger or $14 for a faster 240V charge. Rates are often lower at night, so charging overnight is most cost effective. Check with your local utility for details on off-peak rates in your area.

Public Charging

Using public charging stations, like those found at stores, restaurants, and highway rest stops, typically costs between $0.30 to $0.40 per kWh. The exact fee varies by network and station. At those rates, a full charge for a 60-kWh EV battery would cost $18 to $24. More expensive fast-charging can cost up to $0.50 per kWh. Public charging is convenient for longer trips, but will significantly increase your costs if used regularly for daily driving.

How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car

The specific model of electric vehicle and how much you drive will also impact your total charging costs. In general, fueling an electric vehicle will cost less than a comparable gas vehicle. By charging at home and taking advantage of off-peak rates when possible, you can keep your electric “fuel” costs to a minimum. The long term savings, combined with lower maintenance costs, can really add up for EV owners.

Factors That Impact Charging Costs

The costs to charge an electric vehicle can vary depending on several factors. The main things that determine how much it costs to charge your EV are:

Your electricity rates

The biggest factor in charging costs is simply your electricity rates. Rates differ significantly across areas and providers. The national average is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), but rates in some states are less than 10 cents/kWh while in others they’re over 15 cents/kWh. Find out your local rates to estimate your costs. For example, if you pay 12 cents/kWh and your EV has a 60 kWh battery, a full charge at home would cost around $7.20.

Public vs. home charging

It costs more to use public charging stations than to charge at home. Public fast charging can cost 25 to 70 cents/kWh or have session fees of a few dollars. Charging on public Level 2 stations typically ranges from 10 to 25 cents/kWh. Home charging is almost always cheaper. If possible, charge your vehicle at home most of the time and only use public stations occasionally or for long trips.

How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car
electric car

Time of charging

For most homeowners, electricity rates are lower at night and on weekends compared to peak daytime hours during the week. If your utility offers time-of-use rates, you can save money by scheduling your EV to start charging during off-peak windows when rates are lower. Some vehicles and charging equipment allow you to set a charging schedule to automatically begin charging at specific times. Taking advantage of off-peak rates is an easy way to lower your electric bill.

Charging equipment

The type of charging equipment you use also impacts costs. Standard Level 1 charging through a regular wall outlet is the most affordable option but charges very slowly. Level 2 charging stations charge faster but installation fees can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. DC fast charging is the most expensive, with commercial stations costing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to install, hence the higher fees to use them. Whenever possible, lower-power home charging is the most budget-friendly.

In summary, you have the power to lower your EV charging costs through understanding your rates, maximizing home charging, using off-peak times, and choosing affordable equipment. With some smart decisions, fueling an electric vehicle can cost less than you might expect.

Estimating Your Electric Car Charging Costs

Charging an electric vehicle at home is typically going to be your most affordable and convenient option. How much it costs to charge will depend on a few factors, including:

The type of charger you use:

The three most common are Level 1 (standard outlet), Level 2 (240V outlet), and DC fast charging. Level 1 charging is the slowest, while DC fast charging is the quickest. Faster charging often means higher costs.

Your electric utility rates:

The national average is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), but rates vary significantly between states and utility companies. Check with your local utility provider for your specific rates.

How often and how much you drive:

The more you drive, the more you’ll spend to charge your vehicle. Most EV owners charge at home the majority of the time.

Your vehicle’s battery capacity:

Vehicles with larger battery packs, like the Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model S, will cost more to charge than those with smaller batteries.

Using a Level 2 charger at home and the national average utility rate, it should cost between $8 to $12 to fully charge a typical EV like the Nissan LEAF or Chevy Volt. The exact cost will depend on your local rates and how depleted the battery is. For comparison, fueling a gas vehicle that gets 25 MPG would cost around $25 for the same distance.

While public charging and fast charging are convenient when needed, home charging is by far your most budget-friendly option if you want to keep electric vehicle fueling costs low. Take time to understand your local utility rates, available rebates, and charging options to make sure you maximize your fuel savings. An EV can save you hundreds per year in fuel costs—you just have to do your research to make sure you take advantage of all the possible savings.

Ways to Reduce Your Charging Costs

To charge an electric vehicle, you’ll need access to an electric charging station. The costs to charge can vary quite a bit depending on the type of station you use and your electric utility rates. Here are some tips to help lower your EV charging costs:

Charge at Home

The most budget-friendly option is to charge your electric vehicle at home. Install a Level 2 charger in your garage and you can fully recharge your EV overnight for just a few dollars. The average cost to charge at home in the U.S. is only $0.12 per kilowatt-hour. Make sure to charge during off-peak hours when electricity demand and rates are lowest, often between 8 pm to 6 am.

Use Public Chargers During Off-Hours

If charging at home isn’t possible, look for public charging stations to juice up your EV battery. Charging networks like ChargePoint, EVgo and Greenlots all have apps to locate stations and check prices. Rates are usually lowest during off-peak and weekend hours. Some retailers like grocery stores and restaurants also offer free Level 2 charging for customers, so you can plug in while shopping and grab a bite to eat.

Compare Energy Providers

The rates you pay to charge your vehicle will depend on your local utility or energy provider. Compare rates from different companies in your area to find the most affordable plan. Many utilities offer special EV charging plans and rates for lower-cost overnight charging. Switching providers could potentially save you hundreds per year in fueling costs for your electric vehicle.

Use Rewards and Rebates

Some charging networks and energy providers offer rewards programs and rebates for EV owners. Sign up for their newsletters and promotions to receive discounts on public charging, charging equipment rebates, and other money-saving offers. Certain EV manufacturers and dealers also frequently run promotions to provide free charging credits and other perks with the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle. Take advantage of any available incentives to lower your costs.

Following these tips will help ensure you get the most bang for your buck each time you plug in your EV. While fueling an electric vehicle at home costs less than gas, reducing your charging costs even further means more money in your pocket and more miles on the road.

How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car? – FAQs

Charging an electric vehicle is more convenient and affordable than fueling a gas-powered car. Many people are pleasantly surprised by how little it costs to charge an EV. Here are some common questions about charging costs:

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?

It costs between $0.12 to $0.30 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to charge an EV at home, depending on where you live and your local utility rates. A full charge for a vehicle like the Nissan LEAF with a 30 kWh battery would cost $3.60 to $9. Let’s say you drive 15,000 miles per year. At $0.15 per kWh, it would cost around $540 per year to charge an EV at home. Compare that to $900 to $1500 per year for gas in a comparable vehicle.

How much do public EV charging stations cost?

Public charging stations also charge by the kilowatt-hour. Charging at a Level 2 public station typically costs between $0.20 to $0.50 per kWh, so a full 30 kWh charge would be $6 to $15. DC fast charging at 50 kW or more can cost $0.30 to $0.40 per kWh or have session fees of $5 to $20 for unlimited charging in a time period. The exact fees vary significantly based on the station’s charger types and location.

Are there any free charging options?

Yes, many public charging stations offer free charging. These include stations funded by local governments, non-profits and private businesses. Some retailers like shopping malls, restaurants and hotels also provide complimentary charging for customers. A few charging networks offer the first 30 to 60 minutes free. If you charge primarily at home and work, you may be able to do nearly all your charging for free.

As you can see, fueling an electric vehicle will cost you far less than a comparable gas vehicle. Charging at home and taking advantage of free public charging when possible can make EV ownership very affordable. The more you drive an EV, the more you’ll save on fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.


So at the end of the day, charging your electric vehicle isn’t free – but it’s way cheaper per mile than gas. And that cost will keep going down as electricity rates stay steady while gas prices seem to always trend upwards. Plus with tax credits and incentives, you can actually save money over the total cost of a comparable gas car. So while the upfront sticker price might scare some folks off, running the numbers shows electric vehicles make a lot of sense money-wise. And that’s not even counting the lower maintenance costs and environmental benefits. So if you’re on the fence about going electric, crunch some numbers yourself – you might be happily surprised at the savings.

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