How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

The cost to charge an electric car is usually cheaper than filling your tank with gas, but where you plug in affects how much you pay.
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Written by Shannon Bradley
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The cost to charge an electric car can vary by quite a bit — from about $2.50 to $30 to add 100 miles of range.

That wide variation in cost is due to several factors including:

  • What EV you drive. Just like gas cars, some EVs are more efficient than others, which means they’ll need more or less power to travel the same distance. 

  • Where you charge. Charging at home is usually cheaper than using a public charger. 

  • Where you live. Electricity rates vary by utility provider.

  • How fast you charge. Fast public chargers cost more than slower options.

  • What company you charge with. Public charging stations have different pricing structures. Some like EVgo offer lower prices for a monthly fee.

  • When you charge. If your utility company uses dynamic pricing, your rates are determined by the time of day you charge. 

How to think about EV charging costs compared to using gas

If you drive a gas-powered car, you’re familiar with how many miles per gallon (mpg) a car gets and the cost of a gallon of gas. The concepts behind EVs are similar, but the terms are different.

Size of an EV battery = size of a gas tank

The power stored in a battery is measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh. The power needed to travel a given distance varies by vehicle, similar to how the gas mileage for a small hatchback is usually better than in a heavy pickup truck.

The total charge stored in a vehicle’s battery depends on the car. The 2024 Tesla Model S battery has a capacity of about 100 kWh, while the 2024 Nissan Leaf’s is a much smaller 40 kWh. Going from empty to 100% will cost more on a higher-capacity battery, but you’ll also fill up less frequently.

EV energy efficiency and costs

The measurement that matters the most to your wallet is an electric vehicle's efficiency, more so than its battery capacity or maximum range. Comparing how much different vehicles cost to travel the same distance is a better indication of expected fueling costs than the size of a battery or the cost to charge it to full.

A 2024 Tesla Model 3 traveling 100 miles will use about 25kWh, and a 2024 Rivian R1S All-Terrain Quad Large will require about 54 kWh over 100 miles. A small SUV with a gas engine, like a base model 2024 Ford Escape or 2024 Toyota RAV4, will use roughly 3 gallons of gas to travel those 100 miles, while a gas-engine pickup truck like a 2024 Ford F150 or 2024 Toyota Tundra uses about 5 gallons of gas to do so.

Here’s what adding 100 miles of range to each vehicle type looks like in dollars: About $4 for the small EV and $9 for a larger EV (each using a home charger), $10 for a small SUV and $17 for a truck. Electric car charging costs were calculated using $0.17/kWh, which is the national average for home charging in May 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gas car fueling costs were calculated using the U.S. average regular gas price ($3.460) for June 18, 2024, provided by AAA.

MPG and MPGe

Comparing kWh with mpg can seem clunky. One alternative is to look at an electric vehicle's MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent.

MPGe, which was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, represents electricity consumption as if it were gas. According to the formula, using 33.7 kWh of power is equivalent to using 1 gallon of gas. So, as an example, an electric vehicle that travels 100 miles on 33.7 kWh would have a 100 MPGe rating.

The rating isn't perfect — in reality, different EVs use electricity at different levels of efficiency — but the estimate is still useful, allowing a person to compare an EV's MPGe directly with a gas-powered car's mpg. This makes shopping for EVs alongside gas vehicles and hybrids more intuitive.

MPGE ratings in the 80s and 90s are typical. Among the 10 most efficient model year 2024 EVs, according to the EPA, the lowest MPGe is 122, and the top spot has a rating of 140.

Examples of EV charging costs

Comparing the cost of adding about 100 miles of range — regardless of the battery’s total storage capacity, or even its fuel source — allows you to evaluate the cost of different scenarios. These estimates are based on the lowest and highest price for electricity or gas published by the EPA and AAA.

Adding 100 miles:

Low-end estimate

High-end estimate

With a home charger

$2.50.

$24.

At a public fast charger

$5.

$30.

To a gas-powered small SUV

$8.76.

$14.49.

To a gas-powered pickup truck

$14.60.

$24.15.

The cost of charging your EV at home

For EV owners who charge at home, local electricity rates cause a wide variation in charging costs. For example, people in Utah and Oklahoma paid less than 12 cents per kWh in 2024, while those in Rhode Island and California paid more than twice that. Even within one area, prices fluctuate throughout the year.

If you’re one of the more than 10 million households that use dynamic charging — which means you pay less or more for electricity during certain hours of the day — the price you pay depends on when you charge. Keep your bill lower by charging only during off-peak times. Many home chargers let you create rules about when your EV charges, much like you program a smart thermostat.

At-home charging might require upfront hardware costs

Charging your EV at home can be as simple as plugging a car into a standard wall outlet. This method, called Level 1 charging, transfers charge slowly — about 2-5 miles of range per hour of charging, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation — but it works without installing extra equipment.

Adding a Level 2 charger to your home allows you to add 10-25 miles of range per hour. Equipment and installation can cost several thousand dollars, but it varies depending on location. Also, local, state and utility company EV incentives can help offset the cost.

Equipment and installation costs won’t show up on your electric bill when you charge since they’re upfront. But if you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle for the first time and plan to charge at home, don’t let this expense surprise you.

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EV charging station costs

EV owners in the U.S. can charge their cars at home or at more than 60,000 public charging stations with more than 170,000 ports available. Some people might have access to additional, semi-public charging stations, such as at their workplace.

Some public charging stations are free to use — a business might install a charger and offer free charges to customers, for example — but paying to charge an EV is the norm.

Expect prices to be more expensive than home charging, especially if you’re using DC fast charging, but still cheaper than using gas in most circumstances. With DC fast charging, you can add hundreds of miles of range in 30 minutes or less in some cases — helpful if you’re in a hurry or on a road trip. But this is where you see prices that can be three times what you’re paying in your garage. Like charging at home, rates might vary depending on what time of day you charge.

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