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How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car?

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car?

By PattyKay Lilley

Are you thinking of making the switch to an electric car? It’s a big step to make, not only because of the associated environmental benefits, but also due to the cost implications. One important point that must be considered when buying or switching vehicles is how much it will cost to charge an electric car.

This blog post will look at all aspects related to charging an electric car and provide insight on pricing, consumption rates, available charging infrastructure and more. Whether you’re already driving your own fully-electric vehicle or have been considering taking the leap – read on for real advice on what costs may come with owning one.

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Car?

The cost to charge an electric vehicle (EV) can vary widely, depending largely on where and how you charge it. The average cost of charging an EV at a commercial charger, from almost empty to almost full, is between $10 and $30. However, charging your EV on a road trip—that is, at a commercial charger—can cost significantly more than charging it at home.

Fueling costs for EVs can fluctuate more than they do for ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles due to a multitude of factors. For instance, commercial charger rates can be double or triple those of residential rates, and even within the same network, these rates can vary by more than 50%. In contrast, gas prices typically vary by about 10% or less.

Another contributing factor to cost is the type of charger used. Not all EV chargers are the same. There are three different tiers:

  • Level 1: The slowest type of charger. It can take a full 24 hours to fully charge your car.
  • Level 2: Delivers a charge of up to 28 miles per hour. The cost for level 2 ranges from $1 to $5 an hour. The cost per kilowatt hour is approximately $0.20 to $0.25. These types of charging stations are commonly found at shopping centers.
  • Level 3: Also known as direct current fast chargers (DCFC), level 3 chargers are the fastest. They can charge your battery to nearly full in as little as an hour and will cost between $10 to $30 per charge. The cost per kilowatt hour is approximately $0.40 to $0.60.

For Tesla owners, there’s a network of proprietary chargers called “Superchargers.” The cost of using these chargers varies depending on location and other factors, but the average is around $0.25 per kWh. So, a full recharge to 250 miles of range would cost approximately $22 (unless you purchased a Model S or Model X between 2012 and 2016, in which case, it’s free).

See more: What Is A Hybrid Car?

Formula for the Cost of Charging an Electric Car

When calculating the cost to charge an electric vehicle, it’s crucial to factor in a vehicle’s range (VR), the range per kWh (RPK), which can be estimated at about 3 to 4 miles, and the cost per kWh (CPK).

The formula to determine the charging cost is:

`Charging Cost = (VR/RPK) x CPK`

For example, suppose you drive 1,200 miles per month. First, divide this figure by the range of 3 miles per kWh. This calculation results in 400 kWh used in a month. Next, multiply this figure by your cost per kWh. If you’re using a Level 2 charger on the road, which costs $0.25 per kWh, then your charging cost would be $100 per month. However, keep in mind that for a road trip, the vehicle range (and thus the cost) would likely be less due to various factors such as driving conditions and frequent starts and stops.

What Are The Different Rate Plans For Electricy Consumption?

What Are The Different Rate Plans For Electricy Consumption?

There are two primary rate plans that utility companies typically offer: level-of-use and time-of-use.

Level-of-use plans operate on a “pay as you go” system, where the cost of electricity rises with your consumption. Thus, a kilowatt used at the end of the month is likely to cost more than one used at the beginning.

On the other hand, time-of-use plans charge different rates based on the time of day, day of the week, and even season in which you use electricity. Typically, the hours from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. are considered “peak hours” and cost the most. The least expensive times are off-peak hours, usually in the early mornings or late nights. Some utility companies also have mid-peak slots.

Consider PG&E, one of the largest utility companies in the U.S., which offers a time-of-use plan for its customers. During the summer months, off-peak electricity costs as low as $0.34 per kWh, but this jumps to $0.41 per kWh during peak hours. If you charged your Chevrolet Bolt EV during off-peak hours, it would cost about $22 for a full charge. Compare this to $26.65 during peak hours.

Some utility companies provide a designated baseline allotment of power, which results in the lowest rates. However, if you go over your allotment, the prices increase.

For instance, with PG&E, off-peak power for customers who have exceeded their allotment costs $0.42 per kWh, which rises to $0.49 per kWh during peak hours. This adjustment changes the charging figures for the Bolt EV mentioned earlier to approximately $27 and $32, respectively, for off-peak and peak times.


As electric vehicle adoption continues to rise, a multitude of questions surrounding the cost of charging these vehicles are often brought up. Below, we address some common inquiries regarding the expenses associated with maintaining an electric car, the influence of different rate plans on these costs, and how to estimate the cost of a full charge.

How do I calculate the cost to charge my EV at home?

To calculate the cost of charging your EV at home, you need to know your vehicle’s battery capacity and the cost of electricity in your area. For example, if your EV has a 60 kWh battery and the cost of electricity is $0.12 per kWh, then the cost to charge your EV from zero to full would be 60 kWh * $0.12/kWh = $7.20.

However, this is a simplified calculation and actual costs can be influenced by several factors, such as the efficiency of the charger, the state of the battery, and the charging speed.

What factors affect the cost of charging an EV?

Several factors can affect the cost of charging an EV. These include the capacity of the vehicle’s battery, the efficiency of the charger, the cost of electricity (which can vary depending on location and time of day), and charging speed.

Charging at a public station can also be more expensive than charging at home due to the higher prices often charged by commercial charging stations. Additionally, the state of the battery (whether it’s nearly empty or nearly full, for instance) can influence the charging speed and thus the cost.

What are time-of-use rate plans?

Time-of-use rate plans are a pricing scheme used by some utility companies where the cost of electricity varies depending on the time of day. These plans usually have peak hours (often in the late afternoon and evening) during which electricity costs more, and off-peak hours (usually late night and early morning) when electricity is cheaper.

Some utility companies also have mid-peak slots. Using a time-of-use plan, you could potentially save money by charging your EV during off-peak hours.

How can I reduce the cost of charging my EV?

To reduce the cost of charging your EV, consider the following strategies. First, charge at home whenever possible, as residential electricity rates are usually cheaper than commercial charging station rates.

Second, take advantage of off-peak times if you’re on a time-of-use electricity rate plan. Charging your EV during these off-peak hours can significantly reduce the cost per charge. Additionally, some utility companies offer special EV charging rates or incentives, so be sure to check with your local provider.

Lastly, maintaining your vehicle’s battery health by avoiding frequent fast charging and keeping the battery between 20% and 80% can also prolong the battery life and save costs in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Transitioning to an electric vehicle can be an exciting journey. It carries the promise of a more sustainable future, the thrill of new technology, and often significant savings for the owner. However, understanding the cost of charging your EV is paramount for making this switch thoroughly informed and prepared.

These costs are likely to fluctuate based on a multitude of factors, such as your location, the specific EV model you own, your charging habits, and the rate plan you’re on. It’s crucial to research and plan accordingly to maximize savings without compromising convenience and efficiency.

Remember, the cost to charge an EV can vary significantly based on whether you’re charging at home or at a public station, and during peak or off-peak times. Therefore, savvy EV owners often build their charging habits around these variables to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investment.

In conclusion, while the initial investment in an EV might be higher than a conventional car, the reduced operating costs, cheaper maintenance, and environmental benefits make it an enticing proposition. As the world moves towards more sustainable forms of transportation, understanding the ins and outs of owning and operating an EV becomes increasingly essential.

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