Electric vehicles (EVs) are steadily coming into their own on American roads. In 2017, EV’s were the 24th best selling car in the US, with 199,826 vehicles sold. With cars and transportation eating up a big chunk of your annual income, many folks want to know more about how much it costs to charge an electric car and what the costs are for a charging system. The numbers are really surprising.
How long to charge an electric car?
The amount of time it takes to charge an electric car depends on several factors like battery size (rated in kWh), power acceptance rate (the rate at which the battery can store incoming power), and the amount of power that can flow through the charging system.
There are two levels of charging systems:
- Level 1 — 110 volt household plug. These are handy because they’re inexpensive and portable. Unfortunately, they can take up to 71 hours to fully charge a car. Most hybrid cars use a 110 volt charging system due to their smaller battery capacity.
- Level 2 — 240 volt supply. Hard wired is best but more expensive. Portable systems are also available (they use a heavy duty 240 plug like an electric dryer). Power usage ranges from 24 amps (portable) to 40 amps (hard wired). Charge times are between 3 and 12 hours.
How much do electric car home charging stations cost?
The good news is that installing a hard-wired home Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSEs ) is fairly simple. Your home electric service panel should be able to handle an additional 40 amp 240 volt breaker. That’s basically like adding an another electric dryer line. You’ll also need electric conduit and the proper weather resistant 8/3 wire to run it to your garage (UF-B outdoor wire if your garage is detached or if it’s an outside hook up).
The home EVSE charger runs about $350 to $900 depending on how much power it’s designed to handle, conveniences like WiFi, and how long the charging cable is. Add in a skilled electrician and, depending on your situation, the electric car charger installation could cost another $1,000. The good news is that many electric utilities are still offering incentives that discount the installation costs if you hire a professional. These discounts vary from state to state.
How many electric car charging stations are there in the U.S.?
Some EV critics still say that you can’t drive your electric car across the U.S. because there aren’t enough charging stations. That assertion has long been left behind in the dust. Currently, there are charging stations available along every interstate highway within one hour’s distance of each other. That means you can drive your brand new electric car from Columbus to Harrisburg (even on the Pennsylvania Turnpike) and find plenty of opportunities to get a charge. Plus, there are plenty of charge station map apps available for your smart device.
How much does it cost to charge your EV?
Yet again, it depends. Not every location has the same electric rate. A recent University of Michigan study showed that northeastern states with high electricity rates have relatively lower cost ratio of gas-fueled vehicles to electric vehicles. In Connecticut, for example, the cost ratio between gas and electric vehicles was 1.5 — a gas-fueled car would need an average mpg of 37.5 to compete with an electric vehicle. In Washington State it was much different; the ratio was 3.602 and a gas fueled car would need to get 90 mpg to compete with the EV.
So, while you may need to “fill up the battery” more often than a gas powered vehicle, EVs are still cheaper to fuel.
That said, the efficiency of an EV is measured in kWh/100 miles. Multiply the amount of electricity consumed by the cost of the electricity and divide by 100 to find the cost per mile. Assuming a Nissan 2018 Leaf uses 30 kWh/100 mile and and the average price of electricity is 12¢, that means the Leaf costs 3.6¢ per mile.
Multiply that number by 25 miles and the price is 90¢. Compare that to a car that gets 25 mpg with gas now costing $2.50/gallon.
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