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How Much Does it Cost to Charge a Tesla?

Understand what it costs to charge a Tesla at home or on the go

The cost of ownership is usually a critical factor for any car shopper, but it is especially top of mind for one considering their first EV. "How much does it cost to charge a Tesla?” is one of the first questions we get, and our answer is always "It depends”.

While the local electricity rate is an obvious factor, the cost to 'fuel' an electric vehicle truly depends on several factors.

In this post, we’ll go into the things that affect the cost of charging, how much it costs to charge a Tesla, how this translates to cost per mile and how this compares to a gas car.

Factors that affect the cost to “fill up” a Tesla

Several factors affect the cost to charge a Tesla, which includes:

  • Where you are charging: Different geographical locations have different electricity rates. For example, the residential rate is 8.88 cents per kilowatt-hour in Oklahoma vs. 22.74 cents per kilowatt-hour in Connecticut

  • When you are charging: If you have time-of-use electricity rates, the cost of charging will vary during off-peak and on-peak charging times

  • Type of charger: Using a Supercharger costs more than charging at home

  • Battery size: Larger batteries will cost more for a full charge

  • Charging efficiency: This refers to the energy lost while transferring energy from your home to your devices, in this case, your car. So to charge a 100 kWh battery, with 85% charging efficiency, you’ll actually need 115 kWh of energy

Cost to Charge a Tesla

Solar Reviews calculated the average cost to charge a Tesla at home based on the following:

  • The national average cost of electricity in the U.S = $0.13 per kWh

  • Charging efficiency of 85%, which is standard for Level 2 home charging stations

  • To calculate the cost per mile, divide the “fill up” cost by the Model’s stated miles of range

Keep in mind that the cost per mile will fluctuate based on factors including:

  • Driving conditions: driving uphill or in weather such as rain, snow and headwinds decrease range

  • How you drive: driving at high speeds, stop-and-go driving, and frequent short trips decrease range

  • Features you use: Using the AC a lot or using features such as Camp Mode decrease range

Tesla estimates the average cost of Supercharging to be $0.26 per kilowatt-hour, which means charging at a Supercharger is about 2x the cost of charging at home.

Cost of fuelling Electric vs. Gas vehicles

When comparing the fuel cost of charging a Tesla compared to a similar gas car, the cost is significantly lower. Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles, and current fuel prices in California, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates the annual fuel cost to be:

2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD: $500 per year

2021 BMW 330i - $1,900 per year

2021 Honda Accord - $1,400 per year

*Costs estimated at time of writing

The U.S. Department of Energy calculated the average cost to fuel a vehicle that runs on gasoline to be 2.45x higher than the cost of fueling a similar vehicle with electricity based on state residential electricity prices.

Not only have we experienced a decrease in fuel costs since we went electric, but our maintenance costs have also decreased significantly bringing down our total cost of ownership. If you’re interested in getting deeper into the total cost of ownership, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Cost Calculator. It provides an estimate of the total cost of ownership by model and state by taking into account factors such as fuel, tires, maintenance, registration, license, insurance, and loan payment.

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