How Much Cheaper Is EV Charging Than Gasoline? We Show You The Winner With Math

It’s hard not to notice a proud EV driver on the road, especially those with vain license plates like “GAS LOL.” Why the bragging? Are EV drivers actually helping to save the planet while saving money?

This story is part of CNET Zeroa series that maps the impact of climate change and examines what is being done about the problem.

We searched popular social media platforms such as Reddit And TikTok and found the cost of charging electric vehicles versus gasoline to be a hot topic.

A Reddit user said They now spend $70 more on their electric bill for home charging compared to $330 a month on gas before. Some Reddit users took issue with the actual savings. For example, one opponent said he thinks public supercharging is expensive and time-consuming, and another said the cost of installing their home electric vehicle charger negated any savings.

Lowering their fuel costs is perhaps the single biggest reason EV-curious are considering going all-electric. In June 2022, gas prices reached a record high, averaging more than $5 a gallon across the country, and while gasoline prices have fallen 26%, to about $3.70 in May, the volatility is causing many drivers to seek alternatives, such as electric cars or hybrids.

Is it cheaper to charge your electric vehicle than to fill up a gas tank? Experts say, based on averages, EV charging wins on cost.

The price of gasoline is unpredictable and expensive in some areas. Electricity also varies in price but “is significantly cheaper” than gasoline, he said Anastasia Boutziouvissolution product manager at Charging stationa company that operates the world’s largest network of EV charging stations in North America and Europe. This means that charging an EV is typically significantly cheaper than filling up the tank of a gasoline-powered car.

We show you in a visual diagram how much cheaper charging an electric car actually is compared to charging a car with a combustion engine.

We are doing the math badge We are doing the math badge

We do the math: Compare charging an electric car with filling a petrol tank

When we look at the cost of fueling or charging an electric car versus a gasoline car, the differences are stark and quite clear. EVs are propelled by electricity and use batteries to store that electricity, which then needs to be recharged.

Cars that run on gas, or cars with an internal combustion engine, run on gasoline. In order to drive, the driver must have gasoline in the vehicle’s fuel tank.

We use averages from government data sources and calculate for you what the costs for charging and refueling are in a month.

These calculations use U.S. driving averages for both EVs and ICE cars in data points like fuel economy, miles driven, cost of electricity and gasoline, energy required for the average EV, and more. You could drive a lot more (or less) and see your fuel costs vary accordingly.

Electric Vehicle Charging Costs vs. Fuel Costs (US Averages)

A visual illustration showing the cost differences between charging electric vehicles and gasoline cars A visual illustration showing the cost differences between charging electric vehicles and gasoline cars

Data sources for infographic:

Image Credit: Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET

Monthly costs for charging an EV

The cost to fuel or charge an EV depends on a variety of factors, but the cheapest way to do this is to charge your EV at home, during off-peak hours. In other words, charging your EV overnight with a home charger is likely to be the least expensive way to charge, and in some areas it may only cost a dollar or two — a fraction of the price of a gallon of gas.

Boutziouvis said that “what we see on a global level is that the costs are about half or a third of the cost of a gasoline car” when it comes to “filling up the tank,” so to speak.

It can cost, she said, a few dollars on average to charge an EV. Assuming you charge your EV at home with your own charger, the price of this really comes down to what you pay for electricity. “It’s completely based on local utility rates, and those vary across the U.S.,” she said.

The total charging cost may also depend on whether you have a fixed or variable electricity rate, or how your chosen energy plan sets rates for usage throughout the day.

The cost of charging electric vehicles at home versus charging public electric vehicles

Another important thing EV owners need to consider is the cost difference between charging at home and charging in public. If you don’t have a charger or the ability to charge your EV at home, you’ll need to charge elsewhere. There are public charging stations in many places, such as store parking lots. Here’s a comprehensive guide to where to charge for free.

Yes, charging at home is generally cheaper, but there may be costs involved if you install an electric car charging station and possibly also want to upgrade your home’s electrical grid.

Costs for charging at home

The cost of charging at home, as mentioned, depends on what you pay for electricity, which varies depending on where you live. Electricity is generally more expensive in Hawaii, New England and California, and cheaper in western and midwestern states such as North Dakota, Utah and Washington. The national average is around 16 cents per kilowatt hour.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some states with deregulated energy markets — better known as energy choice markets — may have additional incentives available for EV drivers. Some states “offer really cool plans where they’ll give you [EV] free charging,” Boutziouvis said. Or, she said, certain energy providers offer incentives that are “almost like a mobile plan, with unlimited charging for $20 a month” or something similar.

read more: You can choose your electricity supplier in these states with liberalized markets

These plans or incentives vary from state to state. In Texas, for example, TXU energy And Gexa offer energy plans designed to entice EV drivers with free charging periods.

You can also use smartphone apps to schedule your electric car charging during off-peak hours or when electricity rates are lowest (usually at night), helping you save more money.

Public charging costs

As for public charging, Boutziouvis said there are “different ways to set the price,” since most public charging stations are independently owned and the price is therefore up to the owner. Tesla is a notable example. The company has its own fleet of charging stations and in addition to the cost of electricity, charges 50 cents per minute in ‘idle costs’ to encourage you to drive away and free up charging points for other users.

Aside from Tesla chargers, other stations typically charge a flat fee, a usage-based fee or a fee based on the amount of time an EV driver uses the charger, Boutziouvis said. The cost is determined by local electricity rates plus any applicable fees or surcharges that the charger owner implements.

But there are also two “levels” or types of charging you should know about, namely AC and DC, or Level 2 and Level 3 charging (more on that below). DC charging is effectively much faster and likely to be more expensive at a public charging station. “DC charging can cost $10 to $30 per session,” Boutziouvis said, and takes 20 or 30 minutes to charge a battery from 0% to 80%. Conversely, “AC public charging can cost a few bucks,” she said.

“Two to three hours will give you enough range to get back on the road,” said Antuan Goodwin, a 16-year auto and EV expert at CNET. “A true full charge at Level 2 can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, depending on your car and the charging station.” That’s why Goodwin recommends fully charging your EV at home overnight. “That’s usually the cheapest and most convenient option,” he said.

In other words, the faster the charger, the more expensive it will be. You can also find free public charging stations in some locations.

The cost of level 2 vs level 3 charging

The difference between Level 2 (AC) and Level 3 (DC) charging mainly has to do with the speed and amount of electricity flowing through a charger to an electric car’s battery.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 charging “is what you would find in your home,” Boutziouvis said, and typically delivers between 7 and 11 kilowatts to an EV’s battery. That can give the typical EV 30 or 40 miles of range after a few hours of charging. Since charging is slower, it can cost a few dollars to charge your EV at a Level 2 public charging station. Some public EV charging stations are even free.

Level 3 Charging

Level 3 or DC fast charging, on the other hand, delivers between 50 and 350 kilowatts in the same amount of time. Since many, if not most, EV homeowners charge at home and overnight, it’s typically not practical to have a Level 3 charging setup at home, so these chargers are generally found in public locations. Since they’re faster, it can cost between $10 and $30 to charge one, as Boutziouvis mentions.

The cost of home charging equipment for electric vehicles

Charging your electric car at home may be the cheapest way to top up the battery, but connecting a charger can be relatively expensive.

The cost really depends on whether your home electrical setup can handle the addition of a charger. If not, you may need an electrician to replace your electrical panel (the fuse box is probably in your basement). That can be expensive, again depending on where you live and other factors.

Assuming you don’t need an upgrade, Boutziouvis said a charger installation can cost around $700, and the cost can vary depending on how far the charger is physically from your electrical panel. More distance means higher costs, since more materials are needed. If you do need an upgraded electrical system, a new electrical panel can cost a few thousand dollars.

Please note that there are tax breaks and incentives available for home charging installation costs. For example, a federal tax deduction of 30% of the hardware and installation cost up to $1,000, which was put in place as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. There may also be some rebates and incentives for utilities. For example, Duke Energy offers a one-time credit in some areas over $1,100 per charger.

A good rule of thumb: If you’re planning to buy a charger, shop with multiple companies, check with your utility for rebates and tax breaks, and explore all applicable tax incentives to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

read more: Best Home Chargers for Electric Vehicles

Look at this: Expert vs. AI: Is Now the Time to Buy an Electric Car?

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