How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

by Iryna Viter | December 16, 2021

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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

One of the main barriers slowing down the EV adoption worldwide is the overall lack of information about electric cars, specifically around cost and expenses that are associated with them. Although the ticket price for an electric car is higher in comparison to a petrol or diesel car with similar characteristics, after taking off the financial incentives that many nations have introduced in the past few years, the cars' prices will be much closer to each other.

More importantly, keeping an electric car with a fully charged battery will almost always be cheaper than filling up a tank with petrol.

The error most people make is thinking about charging an electric car with the same terms as filling a petrol car with gas - the differences are striking. To begin with, there are many more factors for EV drivers to think about, but that gives you power over your electric car and not the other way around. Where you charge, at what time and speed, as well as in what periods will matter and affect how little you can pay to charge an electric car.

And that's not even considering the amount of options for free charging that exist these days. EV charging is inexpensive and simple with only a few new calculations and charging habits. So, how much does it cost to charge an electric car? Learn all the answers in our ultimate guide.

  • How to measure the cost per charge
  • Charger location matters
    • Charging an electric car at home
      • Additional costs for a home charging point
      • Tricky electricity tariffs
      • Best times for charging
    • Taking advantage of public charging
      • Free charging options
      • Cost to charge
    • Using charge points on the road

How to measure the cost per charge

To get an idea of how much it costs to charge an electric car, you need to look at how much energy an electric vehicle uses per mile and how much that energy costs at the time of charging.

If you are charging at a public station, whether using a public charge point in the city or at a motorway service station on the road, you will be able to see this information at the time you connect or plug to the station. The prices will be shown in a kilowatt / hour or per kWh fashion, as they always are when it comes to any kind of electricity usage.

If in contrast, you are using your own home station, then the price for electricity will be typically found on your bill in per kWh fashion.

Once you know how much the per kWh cost is, then all you need to do is multiply it by the amount of kW your electric car will take to fully charge the battery - that's the final electricity cost.

For example, if your electric car has a battery of 60 kW and your home tariff for electricity costs is of about 17.5p per kWh, which is the average in the UK, then the price to charge your electric vehicle at home is £8.58.

To keep in mind

Of course, most of the time you won't be refilling a battery completely from scratch, but the number from above is always a good starting point to get a better understanding of the cost to charge electric vehicles.

In most likelihood, you won't be spending this much many times and the price for an essentially complete charge will be of around £7 instead.

Charger location matters

Where you charge your electric vehicle will have an impact on the final price you will pay to fill up your battery. Lucky for electric car owners, there is a number of places where you can charge your electric car, each of them with a specific series of pros and cons: public charging, motorway charging and home charging are all available and now more than ever at the reach of your hand.

Most people use only their home charging stations to refill their EVs. Even then, there are many still who depend on those rapid chargers at work, or in motorway service stations during their frequent road trips, and others who even have the luxury of planning around those free public chargers and are able to save money.

That is why we will explain in depth how the cost per kWh for each different kind of charging points will vary and depend on a series of factors.

Charging an electric car at home

To charge an electric car at home will almost always be the cheapest way to get a fully charged car. Not only it is the cheapest but also the most convenient one: you will always know the cost to charge, will have control over availability and be able to manage it all in one of your smartphone apps.

This way, you plug in your car when you get back home from work, and next thing you know, you wake up to a fully charged car that is ready to go without you having to do any extra work. By being able to add your charges into the overall electricity consumed in your home, you can even pay all of it in one go.

Additional costs for a home charging point

You will have to face the cost of hiring a professional installer to set up a charge point at your home, with prices ranging from £300 to about £1000, as the home charging point you'll most likely have will be a fast charger. These can fully charge an electric car battery in 4-6 hours.

To make the cost of owning your own home charging points more affordable and attractive, the UK government has established the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. The Office of Zero Emission Vehicles, who offers this sheet, will cover up to 75% or 350£ of the running costs of buying and installing a charging point in your home. Learn more about the EVHS here.

Tricky electricity tariffs

Even then, keep in mind what kind of electricity tariff you have. Whether you will be highly benefited or at a disadvantage will vary depending on the type of deal you are working with. No matter what your tariff is actually like, a car like a Renault Zoe will only cost about £9.62 to get a full charge on one of the most expensive tariffs.

Best times for charging

A good rule of thumb is to pay close attention and take advantage of off-peak hours and their overall convenient pricing. Since these off peak-times are usually during the middle of the night when there is the least amount of demand, then prices are lower. With a smart charging station, you can determine that your car should charge at times when the cost per kWh is at the lowest, making this one of the most cost-effective options.

When off peak charging is not possible for you, the second best option might be to charge during heavy electricity demand. This option will have a higher price, and you must keep in mind not to go overboard with your allotted amount of energy used in the house overall.

Taking advantage of public charging

Each and every day there is more accessibility to public charging points all throughout Europe. While the United Kingdom is still working on developing its charging infrastructure consisting of both rapid charging and fast charging stations, the task of finding public points to charge an electric car are not nearly as difficult as it used to be.

The best part of it all, is that a public charger point can be found nearly anywhere these days - at shops like Tesco and Lidl, at shopping centres, in the middle of the street but also at car parks in workplaces, hotels and restaurants - just to mention a few. These charge points are also typically for fast charging.

In order to connect to these charge points you will need some sort of physical key, such as an RFID card, or a smartphone app that will work in the same way - identifying the drivers and the different cars that are trying to establish a connection to the charger.

Free charging options

Not to have to pay anything to charge your electric car seems like a dream, but it's most definitely a reality. Many supermarkets like the chains mentioned earlier, have started offering free charging while you do your shopping there. Some shopping malls offer similar services as well.

To take advantage of these you will most likely have to download a specific app and use a certain kind of charge point, but won't spend any money on electricity for your car. There's no cheaper way.

Cost to charge

Typically, this will depend on whether you are subscribed to a charge point provider or you use a pay-as-you-go method.

With a provider type of subscriptions, you'll pay some connection fees first, and then the rest per kWh. Typically the cost per kWh will range from 22p to 26p at a fast charger, and around 70p per kWh at a rapid charger although prices vary according to subscriptions, types or chargers and more.

In general and only if you have time, then it is considered that fast chargers' charging costs are more effective than rapid chargers. This is especially true when it comes to the top up of a battery, as rapid chargers charge at the same speed as a fast charger for the last 20% of a battery, but for a much higher cost.

Using charging points on the road

When EVs are on long road trips they have to be able to access charge points whenever they need. In these cases, EV charging has to happen almost no matter how much it costs to do so. So, similarly to when petrol or diesel cars are on the highway, charging points on motorways tend to have slightly higher costs. Although some fees have been removed with time, the cost per kWh is still a bit higher and public charging points are an overall cheaper option.

Motorway service stations usually sport a mix of both fast and rapid charging for similar prices as public stations do. Meaning, that electric vehicles have the same two options as with public charging stations. Lucky for most electric car owner, these filling stations tend to have many more rapid chargers to use and take advantage of.

Tesla vehicles

If you are a Tesla owner, then you should know that to charge a Tesla model made before or after 2017 will also change what you pay at their motorway superchargers. If your vehicle is from before 2017 then you can have free access to charging, and if it's from after then you might get some hours for free at Tesla superstation and get charged 26p per kWh after that, making the costs still vastly cheaper than for any other station of a similar speed.

Keep in mind that Tesla charges idle fees for staying at one of their electric chargers after your battery is complete, or if you're charging while more than 50% of their stations are occupied.

How much does it cost to charge per mile?

When you fill up a petrol or diesel car with fuel, you will be paying an average of £1.35 per litre. If the typical petrol car can drive 12.5 miles on one litre of fuel, and the average price per mile will be around 10.8p.

In comparison, electric cars with average sized batteries can drive for about 4 miles in one singe kWh. As we have said before, electric cost is close to about 17.5p per kWh. This means that each mile will cost about 4,37p.

Here, it is easy to see how electric cars are much more cost effective than those vehicles that drive on petrol. Each mile driven on an electric car costs less than half the price than those driven on fuel.

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