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Comparing Long Term Cost Analysis of EV Home Charging Versus Public Charging

Comparing Long Term Cost Analysis of EV Home Charging Versus Public Charging

Electrical Vehicles (EVs) can represent considerable cost savings compared to gas-powered vehicles in refueling and maintenance. However, the cost of charging an EV can vary based on your charging strategy.

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle? There are two primary considerations, so we’ll explore the difference between home charging and public charging costs below.

Home Charging Economics

With 80% of EV owners charging at home, paying residential electricity rates is proving to be a cost-effective way of charging electric vehicles.

Electricity Rates

As of July 2023, the average American is paying between $0.15 and $0.16 cents per kilowatt-hour. However, this rate can vary from $0.31 in California or Connecticut to as high as $0.41 in Hawaii or as low as $0.11 in the state of Washington.

Given the current electricity rates, adding 100 kWh to an EV battery has an average cost of $16, but it can cost as little as $11 in Washington and as much as $41 for Hawaii residents. With an average battery size of 40 kWh, a full charge could cost between $6.00 and $6.40 at home. We’ll compare this cost to public charging costs later in this article.

EV owners can expect to get three to four miles per kWh of charge, but newer EVs are better performing and can exceed the four-mile limit. Depending on the make and model of your EV, the cost per mile driven generally starts at $0.05 and decreases if you have a more effective model or live in a state with lower-than-average electricity rates. EV owners who take advantage of time-of-use rates by charging during off-peak hours are able to further reduce the cost of EV charging.

On average, Americans drive 13,489 miles a year. For EV owners, this average translates into a cost of $506 to $720 with at-home charging. Depending on fuel efficiency and local fuel prices, driving 13,489 miles a year in a gas-powered car would cost around $1,600 to $2,100 a year.

Installation Expenses

Many EV owners who rely on at-home charging have purchased a Level 2 charging station, which requires installation by a certified electrician. The cost of installing a Level 2 charging station starts at less than $1,000, but it can exceed $3,000 if an electric panel upgrade is needed. It’s possible to offset this initial cost by taking advantage of incentives, including a federal tax credit of up to $1,000 and additional programs offered at the state, municipality, and utility levels.

Public Charging Considerations

The public charging network is growing at a fast pace and now counts over 53,000 stations with more than 130,000 ports.

Public Charging Station Fees

Public charging is convenient when traveling, but the cost can be as much as three times higher compared to at-home charging. A public Level 2 charging station typically costs $1 to $5 an hour, translating to $0.20 to $0.25 per kWh. For Level 3 or DC fast charging, a full charge can cost anywhere from $10 to $30, which is the equivalent of $0.40 to $0.60 per kWh.

Based on the national average of 13,489 miles driven yearly, relying exclusively on public Level 2 charging stations would cost $770 to $963. If an EV driver were to exclusively rely on Fast DC charging, driving 13,489 miles a year would translate to approximately $1,540 to $2,300 a year. A full charge on a 40kW battery costs $8 to $10 for Level 2 charging and $16 to $24 for Fast DC charging.

Pricing can vary a lot based on location, charging network, and the type of charger used. Local energy prices and regulations are also important factors to consider. While some businesses and municipalities offer free public charging as a perk, these free stations often have long lines and frequent outages. Relying on free public charging isn’t a viable option.

Convenience vs. Cost of Charging an Electric Vehicle

At-home charging remains an affordable and efficient way to charge an EV. There is a pricing difference of at least $0.04 per kWh, and often significantly more, when compared to public Level 2 charging, and it can be as little as one-third of the cost when compared to DC fast charging. However, fast charging can offer a more convenient experience. Since Level 2 charging requires anywhere from four to ten hours to fully charge a battery, it’s only a viable option for charging your vehicle whenever you can leave your EV parked for several hours at a time.

If you can’t afford to wait for your vehicle to charge, spending a few more cents to use a public DC fast charging station may be worth it. Public stations also expand your driving radius by giving you access to more locations where you can top off your battery and extend your travels before returning home.

Long-Term Cost Analysis

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle in the long term? The answer depends on your personal driving habits and charging patterns.

Daily Usage Patterns

Compared to an ICE vehicle, driving an EV saves EV drivers an estimated $950 a year on fuel costs. These savings add up to a range of $6,000 to $10,000 EV drivers will realize over the lifespan of their EV. Your usage patterns and driving habits will determine how much you’re saving, how often you need to charge your EV, and whether public or home charging makes the most sense for your needs. You should consider how much you drive in a day, how far away from home you need to drive, and what kind of traffic you’re likely to encounter.

With the average American driving roughly 36 miles per day, prioritizing at-home charging makes sense for the majority of EV owners and it’s no surprise that 80% of EV drivers prefer the convenience of at-home EV charging. However, leveraging the public charging infrastructure can add to your range, allowing you to take trips that last several days and give you access to fast charging if you’re in a hurry.

Total Cost of Ownership

Since EVs have fewer moving parts, maintenance and repairs are typically cheaper. Over the years, saving on maintenance makes up for the slightly higher initial purchase price of these vehicles. You may only have to pay for new wipers, tire rotations, and brake pads. The total cost of maintenance is around $4,200 for five years, and repairs typically cost $1,700 over the same time frame. A gas-powered vehicle costs an average of $4,500 in maintenance over a five-year timeframe, but this pricing difference could become even more important as the cost of repairs keeps increasing.

It’s worth noting that your charging habits can make maintenance costs fluctuate. For instance, living in a warm climate or relying on Fast DC charging can accelerate battery degradation and cause a battery capacity loss of 3 to 9% over 50,000 miles driven. Replacing a battery is a major expense, which is why prioritizing Level 2 charging can contribute to a lower cost of ownership for EVs.

The total cost of ownership can also vary based on federal and local programs designed to support EV adoption. For instance, new owners can qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 on some EV models, and many states, utilities, and municipalities offer additional incentives to make EV ownership and charging more affordable.

Explore At-Home EV Charging Options

The cost of EV ownership can vary, but there are significant cost savings compared to owning a gas-powered vehicle. EV owners who rely on at-home charging tend to save even more since electricity rates can be as much as three times cheaper compared to public charging stations. If you’re looking into EV ownership, you can calculate the cost of charging your vehicle with this formula:

Charging Cost ($) = Electric Vehicle Battery Size (kWh) x Electricity Rate ($ per kWh)

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