How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Environmental friendliness is not the only reason drivers buy electric cars – the opportunity to spend less on gasoline, or stop spending money on it altogether, remains one of the biggest selling points. 

Electric car owners charge their vehicles at home or at public charging stations and can spend less or even no money on gas. So how much electricity does an electric car use, and are the charging costs really less than filling up a tank with gas?

How Much Electricity Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

The answer to this question depends on two key variables: the number of miles an electric car is driven and the efficiency rating of the car itself. There are many electric vehicles on the market today, and everyone’s driving habits are a little different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Let’s look at an example of how to calculate the amount of electricity needed to charge an electric car. Assume you drive during the day and charge your electric car overnight, as most drivers do. You only need to replace the electrical charge you consumed that day, which depends on how many miles you drove. Let’s say you drove 39 miles, the national daily average according to the Kelley Blue Book.

But the mileage doesn’t tell us everything we need to know – we must also check the car’s efficiency. Imagine that the car is a 2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range, which has an efficiency rating of 26 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 miles. Electric vehicles use this kWh/100 miles standard in place of miles per gallon (mpg), the standard used to express how far a conventional vehicle can travel on a single gallon of gas.

To calculate how much electricity this car will consume while charging, you must divide your daily mileage (39) by 100, and then multiply the resulting quotient by the car’s efficiency rating:

39 ÷ 100 = 0.39

0.39 x 26 = 10.14

So in this example, the Tesla Model 3 will consume 10.14 kWh of electricity while recharging after driving 39 miles.

How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Now that we know how many kWh our hypothetical electric car will consume, let’s get to the question we really want answered: How much will it cost? This calculation is even easier; simply multiply the number of kWh you’re putting into your car by the kWh rate charged by your electrical utility.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national average kWh rate in March 2022 was 14.47 cents, so we’ll use that for this example.

10.14 x 14.47 = 146.7258

The product of this calculation is expressed in cents, so 146.7258 cents rounds up to $1.47. Not bad for a full day’s travel! For comparison, the average cost of a gallon of gas during the first week of March 2022 was $4.10, which means you could recharge this car nearly three times for the cost of a single gallon of gas.

What About Public Charging Stations?

If you’re taking a road trip or have an especially long commute, you may need to recharge your battery at a public charging station. The cost of public charging can vary based on geography, the local cost of electricity, charging speed and the way charging costs are calculated, but most public charging sessions cost somewhere between $10 and $30, according to Investopedia.

Public charging stations may offer “level 2” charging, comparatively faster “level 3” charging or both types. In general, “level 3” charging is priced higher than “level 2.” Many public charging stations charge by the kWh, but others charge by the minute and some even charge by the session. And the actual rates for these services may fluctuate based on the variable rate of electricity, just like gas prices fluctuate. 

If you’re preparing for a long drive in an electric car, it’s smart to plan your recharging strategy before you depart. You can use the U.S. Department of Energy’s interactive map to plot out charging stations along your route, or you can rely on GPS-based apps like PlugShare or A Better Routeplanner to choose charging stations on-the-go. 

Shopping for an Electric Car

If you’re thinking about switching to an electric car and you’re concerned about energy use and charging costs, be sure to pay attention to the kWh/100 miles rating when looking at vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy provides online resources to make this easy: You can use their vehicle cost calculator to compare vehicles and estimate your energy consumption, or you can look up the efficiency rating of specific vehicles using fueleconomy.gov.

You should also pay attention to your own daily mileage for at least a week to get a good idea of how many miles you drive on an average day. You can use this estimate and your current kWh rate to calculate approximately how much it will cost to charge your electric vehicle at home.

Keep in mind that there are other costs associated with charging your electric car. You may need to have an electrician install a dedicated circuit in your garage if you don’t already have one, and if you want faster charging, an electrician will have to install a “level 2” charging station. You’ll probably also need to recharge your electric car on the go from time to time, which means stopping at a public charging station. Some of these are free, but most charge a fee – and you should be prepared for the rate to be higher than what you pay at home.

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How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Environmental friendliness is not the only reason drivers buy electric cars – the opportunity to spend less on gasoline, or stop spending money on it altogether, remains one of the biggest selling points. 

Electric car owners charge their vehicles at home or at public charging stations and can spend less or even no money on gas. So how much electricity does an electric car use, and are the charging costs really less than filling up a tank with gas?

How Much Electricity Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

The answer to this question depends on two key variables: the number of miles an electric car is driven and the efficiency rating of the car itself. There are many electric vehicles on the market today, and everyone’s driving habits are a little different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Let’s look at an example of how to calculate the amount of electricity needed to charge an electric car. Assume you drive during the day and charge your electric car overnight, as most drivers do. You only need to replace the electrical charge you consumed that day, which depends on how many miles you drove. Let’s say you drove 39 miles, the national daily average according to the Kelley Blue Book.

But the mileage doesn’t tell us everything we need to know – we must also check the car’s efficiency. Imagine that the car is a 2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range, which has an efficiency rating of 26 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 miles. Electric vehicles use this kWh/100 miles standard in place of miles per gallon (mpg), the standard used to express how far a conventional vehicle can travel on a single gallon of gas.

To calculate how much electricity this car will consume while charging, you must divide your daily mileage (39) by 100, and then multiply the resulting quotient by the car’s efficiency rating:

39 ÷ 100 = 0.39

0.39 x 26 = 10.14

So in this example, the Tesla Model 3 will consume 10.14 kWh of electricity while recharging after driving 39 miles.

How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Now that we know how many kWh our hypothetical electric car will consume, let’s get to the question we really want answered: How much will it cost? This calculation is even easier; simply multiply the number of kWh you’re putting into your car by the kWh rate charged by your electrical utility.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national average kWh rate in March 2022 was 14.47 cents, so we’ll use that for this example.

10.14 x 14.47 = 146.7258

The product of this calculation is expressed in cents, so 146.7258 cents rounds up to $1.47. Not bad for a full day’s travel! For comparison, the average cost of a gallon of gas during the first week of March 2022 was $4.10, which means you could recharge this car nearly three times for the cost of a single gallon of gas.

What About Public Charging Stations?

If you’re taking a road trip or have an especially long commute, you may need to recharge your battery at a public charging station. The cost of public charging can vary based on geography, the local cost of electricity, charging speed and the way charging costs are calculated, but most public charging sessions cost somewhere between $10 and $30, according to Investopedia.

Public charging stations may offer “level 2” charging, comparatively faster “level 3” charging or both types. In general, “level 3” charging is priced higher than “level 2.” Many public charging stations charge by the kWh, but others charge by the minute and some even charge by the session. And the actual rates for these services may fluctuate based on the variable rate of electricity, just like gas prices fluctuate. 

If you’re preparing for a long drive in an electric car, it’s smart to plan your recharging strategy before you depart. You can use the U.S. Department of Energy’s interactive map to plot out charging stations along your route, or you can rely on GPS-based apps like PlugShare or A Better Routeplanner to choose charging stations on-the-go. 

Shopping for an Electric Car

If you’re thinking about switching to an electric car and you’re concerned about energy use and charging costs, be sure to pay attention to the kWh/100 miles rating when looking at vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy provides online resources to make this easy: You can use their vehicle cost calculator to compare vehicles and estimate your energy consumption, or you can look up the efficiency rating of specific vehicles using fueleconomy.gov.

You should also pay attention to your own daily mileage for at least a week to get a good idea of how many miles you drive on an average day. You can use this estimate and your current kWh rate to calculate approximately how much it will cost to charge your electric vehicle at home.

Keep in mind that there are other costs associated with charging your electric car. You may need to have an electrician install a dedicated circuit in your garage if you don’t already have one, and if you want faster charging, an electrician will have to install a “level 2” charging station. You’ll probably also need to recharge your electric car on the go from time to time, which means stopping at a public charging station. Some of these are free, but most charge a fee – and you should be prepared for the rate to be higher than what you pay at home.

Looking for Something Specific?

Select a category to find resources for topics that interest you.

Related Articles:
 Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?
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Electric cars produce virtually zero emissions while they’re being driven, but charging car batteries and the materials used to make these batteries have their own environmental impact. See how these effects balance out.

Read Article
Are Electric Cars Worth It?
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Electric cars are becoming more popular among consumers and car makers for their impressive technology and positive environmental impact. When deciding whether an electric car is right for you, consider these benefits as well as the trade-offs.

Read Article
Are Electric Cars Cheaper in the Long Run?
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The popularity of electric cars is growing as manufacturers introduce affordable models that can drive farther on a single charge. While great for the environment, are they great for your wallet?

Read Article

Electric Vehicle Guide

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