Is it Cheaper to Charge an Electric Car at Home?
The Cost Benefits of Home Charging
There are many benefits to charging your car at home, including convenience and cost savings. With home charging, you’ll never have to go to the gas station again. You can “fill up” your car while you’re doing other things at home, like cooking dinner or watching TV. And since electricity is typically cheaper at night, you can charge your car while you sleep and wake up to a “full tank” in the morning. Home charging is also more efficient than public charging, so you’ll get more miles per kWh. And since electric cars have fewer moving parts than gas cars, they require less maintenance. Home charging is also better for the environment because it reduces emissions. Unlike gas cars, electric cars don’t produce air pollution. So, if you’re concerned about the environment, an EV and home charging are the way to go. By upgrading your home to accommodate EV charging, you can take advantage of many benefits. A home charger can be installed in just a few hours, and it’s much cheaper than installing a public charger. Home charging is also more convenient because you can charge your car whenever you want, without having to find a public charger or wait in line. In addition to saving you money in the now, home chargers can increase the market value of your home, especially if you live in an area with high demand for electric vehicles.
There are more than 150,000 gas stations in the United States, compared to about 43,000 charging stations across the country. Although this may seem like a large discrepancy at first glance, it's important to note that this number is growing steadily. There are nearly twice as many charging stations as there used to be. So, it isn't as difficult to find a charging station for your electric vehicle as you might think. However, the price tag for charging your electric car at a public charging station will run you anywhere between $0.30 - $0.66 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Compared to home charging, where the average price is $0.10 - $0.21 per kWh depending on your state, it's easy to see why many people choose to charge their cars at home whenever possible. We spoke with Stuart Gardner of Generation180 to learn more about the benefits of charging a car at home vs at a station.
"Typically, yes, it is cheaper to charge your electric vehicle at home," Gardner said, "and if you happen to power your home by solar your savings are even more dramatic. However, many public charging stations are offered for free depending on the site host. Additionally, some electric vehicle manufacturers offer special deals (i.e., three years of free public charging on select infrastructure networks). In any case, recharging an electric vehicle is usually cheaper than refueling your old gas guzzler."
The Three Levels of EV Charging
Electricity flows in one direction and is measured in volts. The amount of electricity, or power, is measured in watts. One watt is equal to one volt multiplied by one ampere (amp). An amp is a unit of measure for the rate at which electrons flow through a conductor. This flow of electrons is what we call an electrical current. The standard household outlet in the United States is 120 volts, which means it can deliver up to 15 amps of current. This is why most electric car home chargers are Level 1, or 120-volt, chargers. "While it is the slowest way to recharge your electric vehicle, it is also one of the most accessible as no special equipment is required. Depending on your daily driving, L1 works well for many electric vehicle owners," Gardner said.
A Level 2 charger uses 240 volts and can deliver up to 30 or 40 amps, depending on the model. This means it can charge an electric car much faster than a Level 1 charger. For a faster charge, you can install a Level 2 charger, which will require its own circuit such as a 240-volt, 30-amp circuit. "Level 2 (L2 or AC charging) uses the same power source as your clothes dryer (~220 volts). L2 can typically charge an electric vehicle in eight hours and is the most common charging option for homeowners. However, L2 does typically requires a dedicated charger and an electrician to install."
A level 3 charger is a DC fast charger that can charge an electric car in minutes rather than hours. These are usually found at public charging stations and not typically used for home charging, but if you want one for your home, an electrician can install it. Although the price will be considerably higher compared to a level 1 or level 2 charger, all three levels of EV charging can be installed in your home. "Level 3 (L3 or DC fast charging) is the fastest way to charge your electric vehicle (about 80% charge in 30 minutes), but these chargers are often the most expensive and only found in commercial areas due to the high power required."
Most people choose to charge their EVs at home with a level 1 or level 2 charger because it is more convenient and less expensive than using a public charging station. This is because public stations are often located in parking garages or other commercial areas, which can be difficult to access or far from home. In addition, public charging stations may have fees associated with their use, while home chargers do not. The type of charger you choose will depend on your needs and budget. If you plan to charge your EV frequently, a Level 2 charger may be a good choice. However, if you only charge your EV occasionally, a Level 1 charger may be sufficient. When considering which type of charger to purchase, it is important to consult with an electrician to ensure that the charger you select is compatible with your home’s electrical system.
The Cost of Charging at Home
Like gas vehicles, energy costs per mile will vary for vehicles and a comparison chart of how much each costs to fill can be found here. The cost of home charging will depend on your electricity rates. In California, for example, the average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) was $0.19 in 2022 with prices varying in each state. Of course, the cost of charging will also depend on how much you drive. If you only use your car for short trips, you may not need to charge as often. And if you have solar panels, you may be able to charge your car for free during the daytime. While this is not possible for everyone and kWh prices vary, a kWh price of $0.15 an hour would cost around $56 a month to keep your EV vehicle charged, and having a home charging system cuts down on this cost even more as well as adding convenience by just having an at home EV charger.
"A commonly quoted statistic is approximately 80% of EV owners charge at home, Gardner says. "Increasingly, however, multi-unit dwellings (often abbreviated to MUD) like apartment buildings offer electric vehicle charging infrastructure as an amenity. Not only does this help attract and retain residents while building a clean energy-conscious community, but it also makes electric vehicles an option for more people. Given every car owner does not live in a single-family home, have off-street parking, or a garage, the availability of charging at multi-unit dwellings is vital to making electric vehicles more accessible and speeding up adoption."
A Level 1 charger can recover 4-5 miles of range per hour, while a Level 2 can recover 25-30 miles of range per hour. The cost of installation for an electric car charger varies depending on several factors, such as the age of your home, your electrical panel capacity, and the type of installation. For a Level 1 charger, the cost of the station ranges from $300 to $600, while parts and labor can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,700. For a Level 2 charger, the cost of the station increases slightly to between $500 and $700, and parts and labor can cost between $1,200 and $2,000. Keep in mind that some states require homeowners to get a permit when installing charging stations. Overall, installing an electric car charger at home is a relatively affordable investment that can save drivers time and money in the long run. For example, if you have a Nissan Leaf, it would take 16 hours to charge using a Level 1 charger. With a Level 2 charger, you can fully charge most electric vehicles in four hours. This can be a lifesaver if you're running low on battery and need to get somewhere fast.
When installing a charging station in your home, it is important to comply with all local, state, and national codes and regulations. This may include permits from the local building and permitting authorities. In general, EV charging infrastructure is considered a continuous load by the National Electrical Code (NEC). Your electrical contractor should understand and use the appropriate NEC for a safe and code-compliant installation. NEC Article 625 contains most of the information applicable to charging equipment. If possible, consult vehicle manufacturer guidance for information about the required charging equipment and learn the specifications before purchasing equipment or electrical services. If you are looking to have a home charging station installed, be sure to find a qualified and reputable contractor who can help you with the process from start to finish. This will ensure that your installation is done correctly and in compliance with all applicable codes and regulations. Depending on the complexity of the installation, the cost of having a home charging station installed can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home charging station is installed safely and correctly is priceless.
Comparing the Pros and Cons of Home EV charging stations
When you are considering installing a home EV charging system, users must first consider the pros and cons of doing this. Below are some of the key pros that should be considered, such as:
- Can save time – If you have a long commute, charging your vehicle at home can save you time.
- Convenient– Home chargers are a more convenient option than public chargers, as you don’t have to worry about finding an available charger or waiting in line.
- More affordable – Home chargers are typically more affordable than public chargers, as electricity is typically less expensive or can be used during off-peak hours.
- Can increase your home’s value – If you plan on selling your home in the future, having a home EV charger can increase its value.
While there are multiple pros to having a home charging station (mainly in your wallet) there are some cons you will want to consider before investing in your home system.
- Require permits and inspections – In some cases, you may need to get a permit or have an inspection done before you can install a home charger.
- Takes up space – Home chargers can take up space in your garage or driveway that can be used for other purposes.
- Limited to one vehicle – If you have multiple vehicles, you’ll need to install multiple chargers, and depending on the size of your home, this might not be possible.
Gardner also mentioned the benefits and cons they think a new EV owner should expect.
"First of all, I would say congratulations on your new EV! The pros of charging at home are always waking up in the morning with a “full tank,” never having to go to the gas station again, and saving money on your “fuel” costs. In fact, the current nationwide average cost of an “e-gallon” is $1.16 (versus the nationwide average cost of a gallon of gas).
While there are some drawbacks to installing a home charging station, the pros typically outweigh the cons. If you’re considering installing a home charger, be sure to consult with a qualified electrician to ensure that your home can accommodate the charger and that the installation is done correctly. If you are thinking of getting an electric vehicle (EV), one of the first things you need to do is install a home EV charging station. While many public chargers are available, having a home charger is much more convenient. It can also save you time and money in the long run while you never need to worry about finding a public charger again.
For more helpful tips and information on saving money and energy, check out our website. A special thank you to Generation180 for their help with this article. If you’re ready to make your next car electric, Generation180 has a “Going Electric Pledge". If you have questions about electric vehicles, reach out to Generation180 and connect with their network of enthusiastic EV Ambassadors.
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