- High gasoline prices are prompting more and more drivers to consider switching to an electric car.
- Charging costs depend on many variables, but it’s generally much cheaper to power an electric vehicle than a gas-powered car.
- It costs less to charge at home in your garage than at an overpowered charging station.
Before spending $40,000, $50,000, or $60,000 on a shiny new electric vehicle, many consumers will need to know, “How much will it cost to charge this thing?” and “Will I save on gas?”
It all depends on the model you buy and where you decide to plug in, but charging an EV is generally much cheaper than refueling a gas-powered car. As with gasoline-powered cars, some electric vehicles are more energy efficient than others, resulting in a lower charging bill. Slower home charging tends to be cheaper than using high-power fast charging stations.
A lot of other variables can impact charging costs, but this guide gives a rough idea of what to expect.
The most popular method: home charging
In general, most electric cars can travel 3 to 4 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of power, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. In 2021, residential electricity cost an average of 13.73 cents per kWh, according to the US Energy Information Administration. At this rate, someone who drives 1,000 miles a month would spend between $34 and $46 at home.
To fully charge an electric car with a healthy range of 300 miles would require 75 to 100 kWh and cost $10 to $14.
There are also potential upfront costs associated with home charging. All EVs come with a home charging cable that plugs into a wall outlet and provides an extremely slow flow of power, around 3-6 miles of range per hour. This type of load is known as Level 1.
For faster charging, many owners choose to install a more powerful Level 2 charger, which uses an upgraded 240-volt circuit to provide a range of 20 to 40 miles per hour. Tesla’s Level 2 charger costs $550, and the company estimates an electrician will need to hook it up between an additional $750 and $1,500.
Your mileage may vary
Electricity costs vary widely across the country. In some states, you can expect to pay less than 10 cents per kWh. In others, tariffs can be as high as 25 cents per kWh. And some electric vehicles are less efficient than others. Models like the Rivian R1T pickup truck, Porsche Taycan sedan and Audi E-Tron SUV only get just over two miles per kWh.
Someone who owns an R1T and lives in Massachusetts, where electricity costs 25.28 cents per kWh, would pay their utility provider about $126 to drive 1,000 miles. By contrast, it would only cost $25 to run a highly efficient Tesla Model 3 the same distance at 10 cents per kWh.
Pay for faster charging
DC fast chargers, capable of adding significant amounts of range in 30 minutes or less, are the fastest method of recharging an electric car battery. But that added convenience means they’re more expensive than home charging or slower public chargers.
It is difficult to assign an accurate cost to fast charging, given the wide variety of providers and payment models. Some stations charge per kWh, while others charge per minute. Many companies offer membership in exchange for lower rates.
Either way, electricity is cheaper
No matter how you slice it, electric cars are cheaper to refuel than their gas-powered counterparts. As gas prices hover above $4 a gallon, the cost difference is even greater.
According to a March analysis of fuel costs per mile by consultancy ICF’s Climate Center, it now costs about three times as much to run a gas-powered vehicle as an electric car.