How much does it cost to charge a battery-powered car?

How much does it cost to charge a battery-powered car?

Few people know how much a kilowatt-hour costs, so they don’t know how much cheaper it is to charge an EV at home than with gasoline. It’s harder to do on the road. We help you make sense of it.

It can be hard to figure out how much it will cost to charge an electric car at home or on the road. For the four out of five people who buy new cars and can charge them at home, usually overnight, the cost per mile is almost always less than the cost of gas for a similar car. It’s harder for people who live in apartments because companies that run charging points in shared parking areas may charge different prices. Prices vary for DC fast-charging, which a driver will probably want to use on road trips longer than an EV’s range, but are usually about the same as gasoline prices.

The price of a full charge can change a lot because of these things. Depending on whether you charge your Tesla Model Y at home or at a much more expensive Level 3 fast-charger, it could cost as little as $9 or as much as $40. The Model Y is currently the most popular EV.

We chose 3 EVs that cover a wide range of sizes, efficiency, and power needs so we could compare the best and worst ones. We also looked at the best and lowest rates for charging at home, which can be almost four times different from one state to the next. The last thing we did was figure out how much DC fast-charging would cost for a road trip.

Figuring out the real cost is hard.

Here’s a question to think about: Do you know how much a kilowatt-hour of power costs at home? Not many people can answer that question without doing some study. (In the U.S., the average price per kilowatt-hour is now about 16 cents, and one kWh can move most electric vehicles two to three miles.) EV drivers can often get lower rates on electricity from their utility company if they charge their cars when demand is low, like from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

When it comes to DC fast-charging for car trips, the prices are hard to understand. It changes between networks, may be lower at night, and may or may not require a session fee for each charging connection. Most networks also offer participation plans that cost a fee each month but have lower rates per kWh.

Cost per 100 miles is a good place to start.

We looked at how much it would cost to drive 100 miles in each EV. This made the math easier and let us compare them directly to similar gasoline cars. We used the EPA-rated range for home charging, which was based on a mix of neighborhood and highway use. For DC fast-charging, we thought that all of those miles were on the highway and did our own highway-range checks.

Overall, charging at home was always much cheaper than buying gas for 100 miles in a similar car—as little as one-quarter of the price. On the other hand, DC fast-charging was usually more expensive than gasoline when used for car trips. But if you drive a very inefficient car in a place where gas is very expensive, you may still come out a little bit ahead with highway fees.

Most EVs today charge at home or at work for most of their miles, so the weighted average gives EVs a clear edge. However, this may not be true for apartment dwellers who can’t install their own charging equipment.

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