EV Charging vs. Gas Prices: How Much Can You Really Save With an Electric Vehicle?

EV Charging vs. Gas Prices: How Much Can You Really Save With an Electric Vehicle?

We asked the experts and did the math to see exactly how much it costs to operate an electric vehicle compared to a gas-powered car.

It's hard not to notice the EV enthusiasts on the road -- particularly the ones with vanity license plates like "GAS LOL."

Why so braggy? Maybe its because they believe its cheaper to charge their electric vehicle then fuel a gas-powered car.

It's understandable. Lowering fuel costs is the main reason the EV-curious think about going all-electric in the first place. In June 2022, gas prices hit a record, averaging more than $5 per gallon nationwide, and though they've since fallen by 26% to around $3.70 as of May, the volatility has many drivers looking at alternatives -- such as EVs or hybrids.

The debate on which option is cheapest to run is all over Reddit, TikTok and other social media platforms. One Reddit user states they now spend $70 more on their electricity bill from at-home charging compared with $330 per month in gas previously. Some Reddit users argue against the actual savings. One naysayer, for example, says they think public supercharging is expensive and time-consuming and another said the cost of installing their home EV charger negated any savings.

So which is best? Experts say, based on averages, EV charging wins out on the cost factor.

The price of gasoline is volatile and, in some areas, expensive. While electricity also varies in price, "it's significantly cheaper" than gasoline, says Anastasia Boutziouvis, solution product manager at ChargePoint, a company that operates the world's largest network of EV charging stations in North America and Europe. That means recharging an EV likewise tends to be significantly less expensive than topping off a gas-powered car's fuel tank.

We'll show you how much cheaper, on average, charging an EV actually can be.

When considering the costs of fueling or charging an electric car versus a gas car, the differences are stark and fairly obvious. EVs are propelled by electricity and utilize batteries to store that electricity, which need to be recharged.

Gas-powered cars, or those outfitted with internal combustion engines are fueled by gasoline, and drivers need to have gas in the vehicle's fuel tank in order to drive.

Using averages from government data sources, we do the math and map out for you all the charging and fueling costs side by side in a month's time.

These calculations use US driving averages for both EVs and ICE cars in data points such as fuel economy, miles driven, cost of electricity and gasoline, power needed for the average EV and more. You could drive a lot more (or less), and accordingly, seeing your fuel costs vary as well.


Monthly cost of charging an EV

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

Boutziouvis says that "at a high level, what we're seeing is that the costs are about one-half or one-third of the costs of a gas-powered car" in terms of getting a "full tank," so to speak.

It can, she says, cost a few dollars, on average, to recharge an EV. Assuming, though, that you're charging your EV at home using your own charger, the price of doing so really boils down to what you pay for electricity. "It's totally based on local utility rates, and those vary across the US," she says.

Overall charging cost may also depend on whether you have a fixed-rate or variable electric rate or how your chosen energy plan outlines out its time-of-use rates throughout the day.

The cost of EV charging at home vs. public EV charging

Another critical thing that EV owners need to consider is the difference in costs between charging at home versus charging in public. If you don't have a charger or the ability to charge your EV at home, you'll need to do it somewhere else. There are public charging stations in many places such as retail parking lots -- here's an in-depth guide to where you can charge for free.

Yes, at-home charging tends to be cheaper, although there can be upfront costs when installing an EV charger, and possibly upgrading your home's electrical system.

Home charging costs

The costs of charging at home will, as noted, depend on what you pay for electricity, which will vary depending on where you live. Electricity tends to be more expensive in Hawaii, New England and California, and less expensive in western and Midwestern states, such as North Dakota, Utah and Washington. The nationwide average is around 16 cents per kilowatt hour.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some states with deregulated energy markets -- more commonly known as energy choice markets -- may have additional incentives available to EV drivers. Some states "offer really cool plans where they'll give you [EV] charging for free," says Boutziouvis. Or, she says, certain energy providers may offer incentives that are "almost like a cellphone plan, with unlimited charging for $20 per month" or something similar.

Those 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.

One other thing is that you may be able to use smartphone apps to schedule EV charging during off-peak hours, or when electricity rates are the cheapest (usually overnight), to save more money.

Public charging costs

As for public charging, Boutziouvis says there are "different ways to price it," as most public charging stations are independently owned and pricing is, thus, up to the owner. Tesla's a notable example. It has its own fleet of charging stations, and in addition to the cost of electricity, it charges 50 cents per minute in "idle fees" to encourage you to drive away and free up chargers for other users.

Aside from Tesla chargers, other stations typically charge either a flat rate, a fee based on consumption or a fee based on the amount of time an EV driver uses the charger, Boutziouvis says. The costs are determined by local electricity rates plus any applicable fees or markup that the charger's owner implements.

But there are also two "levels" or types of charging to know about, too, which are AC and DC, or level 2 and level 3 charging (more on this below). Effectively, DC charging is much faster, and likely more expensive at a public charging station. "DC charging could be $10 to $30 per session," Boutziouvis says, and take 20 or 30 minutes to recharge a battery from 0% to 80%. Conversely, "AC public charging could be a couple of bucks," she says.

"Two to three hours gets you enough range to get back on the road," says CNET's 16-year car and EV expert, Antuan Goodwin. "A true full charge at Level 2 could take 6 to 12 hours depending on your car and the charging station." This is why Goodwin recommends the practice of fully charging your EV overnight at home. "That's usually the cheapest, most convenient option," he said.

Put another way: The faster the charger, the more expensive it's going to be. But you could also find free public charging at some locations.

The cost of level 2 vs. level 3 charging

So the difference between level 2 (AC) and level 3 (DC) charging mostly involves speed, and how much electricity is moving through a charger and into an EV's battery.

Level 2 charging

Level 2 charging "is what you'd find in your house," says Boutziouvis, and usually delivers between 7 and 11 kilowatts to an EV's battery. That might get the typical EV 30 or 40 miles of range if they charge for a couple of hours. Given that the charging is slower, it may 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 within the same time frame. Given that 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. But given that they're faster, it may cost between $10 and $30 to charge at one, as Boutziouvis mentions.

The costs of EV home charging equipment

While charging your EV at home may be the cheapest way to refill the battery, getting a charger hooked up can be a relatively big expense.

The cost really hinges on whether your at-home electrical setup can handle the addition of a charger -- if not, you may need an electrician to replace your electrical panel (the breaker box is likely located in your basement). That can be expensive, again, depending on where you live and other factors.

Assuming you don't need an upgrade, though, Boutziouvis says a charger installation could cost around $700, and the costs may vary depending on how physically far away from your electrical panel the charger is. More distance means higher costs, as more materials are required. If you do need an upgraded electrical setup, a new electrical panel can cost a few thousand dollars.

Note, though, that there are tax credits and incentives available for home charging installation costs. For instance, there's a federal tax credit of 30% of hardware and installation costs up to $1,000, which was put into effect as a part of the Inflation Reduction Act. There may be some utility discounts and incentives, too. Duke Energy, for instance, provides a one-time credit of more than $1,100 per charger in some areas.

A good rule of thumb: If you plan on shopping around for a charger, check with multiple companies, check with your utility for credits and rebates and explore all applicable tax incentives to ensure you get the best deal.

Full article HERE

(source: CNET)

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