How Much Does It Really Cost to Charge an Electric Car?
Charging an electric car isn’t as straightforward as refilling a gas car at the pump. Is it really chaeper to recharge EV batteries than filling a gas tank?
People live in various places and have different environments, which makes the answer to charging costs variable and based on those factors. EV owners with garage or driveway access can have an at-home charger installed to recharge their vehicles, but apartment dwellers don’t have this same option. Some apartment complexes have installed EV chargers for residents, but these chargers typically cost more to use than at-home chargers for owners with garages.
Why is the cost such a strange equation?
In order to understand the wide range of charging costs, we need an example. Let’s consider the cost of charging the Tesla Model Y, currently the most popular electric car in the market. Owners that utilize an at-home charger to bring the batteries to 100% might pay as little as $9 for the overnight charging, while plugging into a public DC fast-charging station could cost as much as $40. That’s a pretty big difference. Also, the public charger can only bring the batteries to 80% of the full charging capacity, which means less driving range is available than charging at home.
Electricity costs drop overnight
Unlike gas at the pump, electricity rates fluctuate throughout the day. Typically, the most expensive time to use electricity is in the afternoon, between 4 pm and 7 pm. Many homeowners have learned that electricity is cheapest overnight and will use their clothes dryer at night. With reduced rates from 11 pm to 6 am, this is the best and cheapest time to charge an electric car. The average cost for electricity in the US is 16 cents per kWh, which is enough energy to move an EV two or three miles.
Using public chargers can get complicated
Charging electric cars at DC fast-charging stations can become complicated quickly. Most networks require membership plans with a monthly fee, and these chargers also charge session fees for each charging connection. These fees, coupled with the faster rate of power being transferred to your EV batteries, create a much more expensive scenario than charging at home.
How much does it cost to drive 100 miles in an EV?
If you want to learn about which electric cars cost the least to charge, we’ll use the 100-mile test conducted by Car and Driver. Regardless of the vehicle, at-home charging is the most affordable when compared to paying for gasoline at the pump. In fact, you could pay as little as one-quarter the price.
Here are the 100-mile test results:
2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The Bolt EV is the most affordable electric car in the market, but it’s not being continued into 2024. Still, the charging costs and rates for this little EV tell a story. When charging the Chevy Bolt EV at home, the batteries received 25.5 kWh of power, which costs about $2.81 for the 100 miles.
Turning to the cost of DC fast-charging we see a much greater cost on the road. Using the EVgo Pay as You Go Plan, the cost is $0.36 per kWh and a $1 session fee. This equates to $11.82 to pay for the 100 miles of driving range.
The cost to refuel enough gas in a small SUV to drive 100 miles is about $10 if that SUV can achieve 33 mpg and the price of gas is $3.36. This means the price to refuel a gas-powered small EV is less than using a DC fast-charger for the Bolt EV.
In conclusion, at-home charging is much cheaper, but DC fast-charging is not.
Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y is the most popular EV in the market today, and it’s larger than the Bolt EV. Charging the Tesla Model Y using a regular 240-volt at-home charger costs $3.82 to reach 100 miles of driving range.
When you head out on the road, this is an electric car that accepts charging at the Tesla Supercharging network. The cost to use this network can range from $10 to $19 to add 100 miles of range.
If we look at the cost to charge a small SUV that achieves 28 mpg, the overall cost to add 100 miles of driving range is about $13.70.
Depending upon the charging price, the Tesla Supercharger can add power to the Tesla Model Y cheaper than refilling a gas-powered SUV, but at-home charging is still the most affordable option.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you should utilize at-home charging for your EV as often as possible. This is the most affordable electric car charging system. Utilizing DC fast-charging systems can become more costly than refueling a gas-powered vehicle.
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