Electric Vehicles provide an environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional gasoline-powered cars. As you consider the benefits of buying an EV, you might ask yourself “How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?”.
A quick answer to this question is that the cost of fully charging your EV can range from $2.56 to $16.54, depending on the size of your electric car battery, and where you live. To break this down, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to answer any questions you might have about charging an Electric Vehicle at home.
Let’s start by talking about the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). EVSE is a special charging dock for your electric vehicle meant to provide safety to you, your vehicle, and the power grid.
There are three primary types of EVSE: AC Level 1, AC Level 2, and DC Fast Charging; each with different characteristics:
- AC Level 1 EVSE provides charging through 120V plugs. Provide 2 to 5 miles of range per 1 hour of charging; eight hours of charging can provide approximately 40 miles of range for a mid-sized Electric Vehicle.
- AC Level 2 EVSE provides charging through 240V plugs in residential applications, and 208V plugs in commercial applications. These chargers require a dedicated 40 amp circuit. Provide 10 to 20 miles of range per 1 hour of charging. **AC Level 1 and AC Level 2 charging docks have the same ports and connectors, and all commercially available EV’s have the ability to charge through either type of charging unit.
- DC Fast Charging EVSE typically take 208/480V AC three-phase input, and they enable rapid charging along heavy traffic corridors at installed stations. Provide 60 to 80 miles of range per 20 minutes of charging.
Many Electric Cars and Hybrid Vehicle owners will be able to meet their daily driving requirements using AC Level 1 equipment. Since almost all Electric Vehicles come with an AC Level 1 cord set, no additional charging equipment is needed, provided there is a power outlet within reach of your car.
If you’re a driver with an irregular schedule, or longer commute, the installation of an AC Level 2 charging station can provide an alternative solution. AC Level 2 EVSE’s can charge a typical Electric Vehicle battery overnight, but they incur additional installation costs as they require an electrician to wall-mount the charging equipment on a bracket. This cost may be offset by state incentives, depending on where you live. The national average cost of installing an AC Level 2 charging station is $638, but the cost can vary in range from $220 to $1500. You can use this tool to check the cost of installing an AC Level 2 charger in your area.
The time it takes to charge your electric vehicle depends on two things: the size of the battery in your electric vehicle, and the type of charger you have.
The following table summarises the time it takes to charge some of the most popular Electric Vehicles on the market:
|Battery Capacity (kWh)||Charging Level||Charging Time (hours)|
|BMW i3||22 - 33||AC Level 1||5 - 17|
|AC Level 2||1 - 4|
|Chevrolet Bolt||60||AC Level 1||12 - 30|
|AC Level 2||3 - 6|
|Ford Focus Electric||33.5||AC Level 1||7 - 17|
|AC Level 2||2 - 4|
|Kia Soul EV||27||AC Level 1||6 - 14|
|AC Level 2||2 - 3|
|Nissan Leaf II||40||AC Level 1||8 - 20|
|AC Level 2||2 - 4|
|Mitsubishi i-MIEV||16||AC Level 1||3 - 8|
|AC Level 2||1 - 2|
|Tesla Model S||60 - 100||AC Level 1||12 - 50|
|AC Level 2||3 - 5|
|Tesla Model X||60 - 100||AC Level 1||12 - 50|
|AC Level 2||3 - 5|
|Tesla Model 3||50 - 70||AC Level 1||10 - 35|
|AC Level 2||3 - 7|
|Toyota RAV4 EV||41.8||AC Level 1||9 - 21|
|AC Level 2||2 - 4|
|Volkswagen e-Golf||24 - 36||AC Level 1||5 - 12|
|AC Level 2||1 - 2|
As you can see, AC Level 1 charging times are relatively slow, and may not be suitable for drivers with long commutes, or large capacity batteries that need to be fully charged.
The exact cost of charging an Electric Vehicle at home varies, depending on the size of the battery, and the cost of electricity in your area.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Utility rate database, the cost of electricity in the United States ranges between 9.28c/kWh in Louisiana, to 29.23c/kWh in Hawaii, while the average cost of electricity is 13.5288c/kWh. Using the national average, we calculate the cost of fully charging an Electric Vehicle at home for popular options on the market:
|Car||Cost of Charging ($)|
|BMW i3||2.98 - 4.46|
|Ford Focus Electric||4.53|
|Kia Soul EV||3.65|
|Nissan Leaf II||5.41|
|Tesla Model S||8.11 - 13.53|
|Tesla Model X||8.11 - 13.53|
|Tesla Model 3||6.76 - 9.47|
|Toyota RAV4 EV||5.65|
|Volkswagen e-Golf||3.24 - 4.87|
You can use this tool from the Alternative Fuels Data Center to calculate the different costs associated with your Electric Vehicle
Evidently, the cost of recharging an Electric Vehicle is relatively low, but how does this compare to the cost of refueling a Gas-Powered Vehicle? In the next section, we show you the comparative savings from driving an EV.
While the exact cost of charging an Electric Vehicle at home varies, research shows that you can gain significant savings by recharging Electric Vehicles rather than refueling traditional Gas-Powered Vehicles (GPV’s), especially with alternative electricity plans.
Under a standard electricity plan, Electric Vehicle drivers pay less for fuel than drivers of Gasoline-Powered Vehicles, but you can also gain substantial savings in charging an Electric Vehicle under a Time-of-Use plan. Below we describe the various plans for you, then explain why a TIme-of-Use plan is suitable for most Electric Vehicle owners, and the costs associated with such a plan:
Flat Rate Plans: under these plans, the cost of electricity stays constant regardless of the time of day. Since the time of day affects the cost of electricity production, providers often mark up these rates to account for inefficient power provision. These plans are often more expensive for charging Electric Vehicles.
Tiered Flat Rate Plans: under these plans, the price of electricity is constant until a certain consumption threshold is crossed, after which a higher pricing level begins. Charging an EV at home makes it likely that an owner would be on a high-pricing tier.
Critical Peak Pricing Plans: under these plans users pay a low price during most of the day, but during peak times users pay a high price. Since peak hours do not usually occur overnight, when cars are charging, these plans can reduce the cost of charging EV’s.
Time-of-Use: under these plans electricity providers offer lower rates during off-peak hours because they can draw on comparatively cheaper methods of electricity generation. By coinciding EV charging cycles with periods during which lower rates are offered, these plans offer the most significant savings for charging EV’s.
Please note that some utilities offer electric vehicle rates, not all, depending on your state or utility.
Since most Electric Vehicles are parked at home overnight, Time-of-Use plans are easy to implement and offer significant cost-savings. According to the NREL Utility Rate Database, off-peak TOU rates vary from $0.03 per kWh to $0.21 per kWh, depending on the state and plan.
Using these electricity rates, and the average miles per kilowatt-hour for Electric Vehicles (0.325 miles per kilowatt), the Union of Concerned Scientists calculated that charging an Electric Vehicle costs a gasoline equivalent between $0.25 per gallon to $1.78 per gallon. Their calculation shows that a full charge costs between $2.56 and $16.54 depending on where you live.
A comprehensive examination of the cost of recharging vs. refueling in each state showed that there were savings equivalent to at least $1 per gallon compared to gasoline, regardless of the state in which the Electric Car was being charged. For every city in the UCS report, the final figures showed that annual savings for driving an electric vehicle exceeded $440 and went up to $1,077, while median savings were $770 per year; a firm indication that there are significant cost savings in recharging vs. refueling.