How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

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How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?
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If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle, one of the first things you probably want to know is how much it costs to charge it.

There’s more to it than just comparing it to the money it takes to fill up a tank on a gas-engine car. You can make a more informed decision if you know the true costs associated with an EV (electric vehicle) ahead of time.

I’ve driven an electric car for years and have installed an at-home charger. So, I’m pretty familiar with the savings — and expenses — associated with owning an electric car.

In this article, I’m going to explain the true costs related to charging an EV to help you decide if it’s worth it for you.

What It Really Costs to Charge an Electric Vehicle

Aside from actually buying the car, perhaps the biggest impact on your wallet if you buy an electric vehicle will be whether you charge it at home or at public charging stations around your city. If you’re thinking about an EV, you’ll want to make sure your city has charging stations, especially near where you live or work.

The good thing is that some public charging stations are free, especially those at or near colleges and universities. You’ll want to find those and use them as much as you can.

Some of the major public EV charging stations you’ll likely use are provided by companies like Chargepoint, EVGo and Blink, and they will typically come with a cost.

Cost of Using a Public Charging Station

Every time you charge at one of these, you’ll pay a fee. Because the charging stations are independently owned and operated by retailers, hotels and parking services, the prices will vary.

Around a city like Atlanta, you’re likely to pay between $2 to $5 just to unlock the nozzle. You may also usually be charged 10 to 15 cents a minute for as long as you’re plugged in.

The good thing is that you can usually track your charging activity using mobile apps that work with the chargers.

For many though, it will likely make sense to invest in a home charger. Let’s get into the costs associated with that.

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Costs Associated With an Electric Car Charger for Your Home

With a home charger, there are three main costs that you have to consider:

  • The cost of the EV charger itself
  • Installation
  • Your monthly electricity bill

Let’s go through them one by one to understand their impact on your bottom line:

The Cost of the EV Charger Itself

The price of a home EV charger, which the industry calls electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), will depend on what brand you purchase and whether it’s a Level 1, Level 2 or another type.

Although new technology is in the works, the most popular options are:

  • Alternating Current (AC) Level 1: This has a regular three-pronged 120-volt plug standard in U.S. households. Most EVs come with these cordsets.
  • Alternating Current (AC) Level 2: This equipment uses 240 volt circuits in households and 208 volts in businesses.
    • Range: You can get 10 to 20 miles of range per hour that you charge, according to the Energy Department.
  • Direct Current (DC) Fast Charging: This equipment, sometimes called DC Level 2, utilizes 208/480 volts, which allows for very rapid charging.
    • Range: Gives you 60 to 80 miles of range per 20 minutes of charging.

Here are some of the most popular home chargers and how much they cost:

EV ChargerFeaturesCost
Chargepoint Home FlexLevel 2, Wi-Fi enabled, 23-ft cable, indoor/outdoor$699
Juicebox Pro 40Level 2, hardwired or plug-in; Wi-Fi enabled, 25-ft cable, security lock$599
Siemens VersiChargerLevel 2, hardwired, 14-ft cable, J1772 plug works with Tesla adapter$437
Bosch EV210 ChargerLevel 2, indoor & outdoor, on/off switch, LED indicator$449
Zencar Portable ChargerLevel 2, NEMA 14-50 plug, water proof and lightning proof$199

Installation

Another cost to factor in is installation of your charging station. Obviously where you live can play a huge role in what it will cost for a local electrician to install an EV charger in your garage, carport or somewhere else outside your home.

Typically installation costs will range anywhere from $450 to $1,200.

For my EV, I hired a licensed electrician to install a Level 2 charger under my carport. Here’s a photo of my EV Juicenet charger:

Home EV charger

Of course, adding a home EV charger will affect your monthly electric bill to some degree…

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Monthly Electric Bill

Many people told me they thought that installing a charging station at home would significantly raise my energy bill — but that’s not what exactly happened.

Here is the cost of my average home energy bill for the 12 months before installing an EV charger and the 12 months after:

Average Home Energy Bill (12-Month Period)

Before Charger After Charger
$220 $240

As you can see, installing an at-home charger has only added $20 a month to my bill. That’s well less than the amount I’d pay for using public charging stations that charge $5 a pop every day, five times a week.

It’s also way less than the $20 a week I was spending on fuel when I had a gas-engine car.

But there are more costs we have to keep in mind.

Other Costs to Consider

Here are some more primary things that will affect your costs:

  • Your utility company’s rate plan
  • Time of day and month that you charge
  • Various other factors

Let’s go over all of these other costs one by one:

Your Utility Company’s Rate Plan

If you’re on your power company’s fixed rate electricity plan, do your homework to see if it makes financial sense for you to go on a variable rate.

Also, some states offer special EV rates. Check with your power company to see if it’s applicable where you live.

Time of Day and Month

Another thing that will determine your costs is when you actually charge your EV.

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Most EV owners with at-home chargers plug in at night, which is considered off-peak hours. Because the cost of electricity is cheaper than at peak times — especially in the warmer months — you can save money.

Various Other Factors

Some other factors that impact your costs are things you can’t really control, like how depleted your battery is, the type of battery you have and how cold the weather gets, among other things.

Kilowatt per Hour vs. Miles per Gallon

If you’re one of those people who wants to use math to compare electric vs. gas-powered efficiency, you also need to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Let me explain…

As you well know, fuel economy in a gas-powered vehicle is measured in miles per gallon (MPG). With an electric vehicle, it’s kilowatt-hours {kWh} per 100 miles.

A kilowatt is 1,000 watts of electric power. If you use a 1,000-watt motor for one hour, you’ve used 1 kilowatt.

Here’s how the U.S. Department of Energy illustrates the cost of a kilowatt hour as it relates to an EV:

“If electricity costs $0.11 per kWh and the vehicle consumes 34 kWh to travel 100 miles, the cost per mile is about $0.04.

If electricity costs $0.11 per kilowatt-hour, charging an all-electric vehicle with a 70-mile range (assuming a fully depleted 24 kWh battery) will cost about $2.64 to reach a full charge. This cost is about the same as operating an average central air conditioner for about six hours.”

Here’s a graphic that compares kWh vs. MPG based on the information from the Department of Energy:

electric car vs. gas engine miles comparison

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Conclusion

Although those numbers from the government are helpful, the main thing you should take away is that there are many factors that determine what you’ll actually pay to charge your electric vehicle.

The good thing is that you’ll more than make up for those costs if you keep your EV for just a few years.

And remember: To really save money over the long haul, you might want to invest in a home EV charger. You really can’t beat the convenience and savings.

If a home charger doesn’t fit your circumstances, use public charging stations — but make sure they’re located along your most traveled routes and you don’t have to go out of your way.

And if you’re thinking about getting one of the latest EV makes and models, here is all you need to know about buying a new car.

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