Edmunds: How to calculate the costs of charging an electric vehicle

One of the challenges people have with electric vehicles is figuring out how much they cost to operate. The price of fully recharging an electric vehicle battery can vary widely depending on when and where you recharge it. To get the big picture, you should also include the amortized cost of purchasing and installing a home charging station and the rates charged by your utility company.

Here’s how to calculate what it will cost to charge your EV, as compiled by the experts at Edmunds.


When shopping for a gasoline car, you pay attention to how many miles per gallon it gets. For plug-in vehicles, the window sticker and government website fueleconomy.gov will have a large equivalent mpg figure estimated by the EPA. But this is not a useful measure in determining the cost. A battery stores energy in kilowatt hours, much like a gas tank stores fuel in gallons.

Instead, find the amount of energy consumed by an electric car, which is measured in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh / 100 miles). This value tells you how much energy in kilowatt hours a vehicle would use to travel 100 miles. Note that this is only the government’s estimate; the actual consumption of your EV may vary depending on your driving style and environment.


The cost of electricity is more stable than the cost of gasoline, but this cost varies from state to state. According to the most recent data, the residential average per kilowatt hour ranges from 9.9 cents in Idaho to 32.3 cents in Hawaii. The national average is 13.3 cents, about 2 cents more than a decade ago. To find your state’s average, see this state-by-state list of average cost per kilowatt hour.

Your state average is just that, however. What you pay is determined by your utility company and the plan you use. The cost of electricity generally increases with your consumption and varies with the time of use. A kilowatt during the day at peak hours or at the end of the month is likely to cost more than a kilowatt in off-peak hours at night or at the beginning of the month. Check your last utility bill or check your utility’s website for current rates.

To estimate your home charging cost, multiply the kWh / 100 miles of your vehicle by the electric rate for the time of day you will charge most often. This figure will tell you the cost per 100 miles.

Here’s an example: let’s say you own a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus – it gets an EPA rating of 24 kWh / 100 miles – and your utility’s price plan starts at 18 cents per kWh and goes up to a. maximum of 37 cents per kWh. As such, it would only cost $ 8.64 to top up at home after driving 200 miles or potentially $ 17.76 if you top up during your utility’s peak rates.

Electric vehicles also vary in efficiency. Let’s say you sold your Model 3 in the example above and replaced it with a 2021 Audi e-tron. The Audi uses around 43 kWh / 100 miles. Now you would pay $ 15.48 to $ 31.82 after driving 200 miles using the same fares above.


Along with understanding what it will cost to power an EV, it’s also important to know the cost of the charging equipment itself. Technically, the vehicle’s “charger” is actually built into the car.

That box with the colored lights, the long cord, and the plug-in plug that you hang on the wall of your garage or carport is properly known as “electric vehicle power equipment” or EVSE. But it doesn’t matter if you call it a car charging station or an electric vehicle charger – almost everyone does.

Most car manufacturers have a preferred charger supplier, but there are dozens of companies that sell EVSEs. Researching online will help you find the features, power output, and pricing that best suit your needs. Simply search for “EVSE” or “EV Home Chargers”. Prices for a good 240 volt level 2 home system can range from just under $ 200 to over $ 1,000 before installation. Some of these systems can tell exactly how much electricity you are using to charge your vehicle.

Installation costs for EVSEs vary by region, depending on factors such as local labor rates, materials used, and government permit costs and requirements. The most important variable is usually the cost of permits. National average costs for a wall mounted EVSE can range from $ 850 to $ 2,500.

EDMUNDS SAYS: Charging electric vehicles is uncharted territory for anyone who grew up in a gasoline car culture. But if you just spend a little time familiarizing yourself with how it works and its implications, figuring out your charging costs will ultimately be less of a job than getting to a pump. And cheaper too.


This story was provided to The Associated Press by the Edmunds automotive site.

Jonathan Elfalan is the Senior Director of Vehicle Testing at Edmunds.


Edmunds Electric Vehicle Buying Guide; Edmunds Home EV Charge 101; Edmunds Best electric vehicles for 2021.

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