Tesla electric vehicles make it fast and easy to charge almost anywhere. However, many people new to electric cars often wonder how much it costs to charge a Tesla, whether a Tesla Model 3, S or X. While everyone is familiar with gas vehicles and roughly how much it costs fill up a tank, with an electric vehicle like a Tesla, however, the terms and numbers may seem a bit foreign. In this article will help you understand how much it costs to charge a Tesla in the US, or any electric vehicle for that matter.
There’s also a Tesla Charging Cost calculator below if you’d like to see what your costs might be.
Electric Vehicle Units of Energy
Let’s start with the terms and units first. With a gas car, energy is expressed in gallons (of gas). With an electric vehicle, energy is expressed in watts (just a like a light bulb). However, since a car uses so much energy it’s expressed in “kilowatts” or 1,000 watts. Here are the definitions:
- kW = Kilowatt, or 1,000 watts of power (speed of energy). This is the speed of which energy is used or made, just like a light bulb may use 100 watts of power at any instant. This is used when talking about how quickly a charging station can charge your car, for example.
- kWh = Kilowatt hour and is used to express energy amount (e.g. stored energy). This is often used to express a discrete unit of energy. So in the same way gas is expressed in volume, i.e. gallons, energy is expressed in time. This is used for storage (e.g. battery capacity) or energy efficiency (e.g. kWh per mile), same as gas with gallons.
So, How Much Does it Cost to Charge a Tesla?
In brief, it depends on the cost of electricity where you live (just like the fuel costs for gas), but in general, electric costs $0.13 per kWh for most homes, but can vary by state or county. So, for example, if you have a Tesla Model S that has 370 miles of range and a 100 kWh battery (the largest battery Tesla makes), it would cost $13 or less to fill up at home. Of course, for different models, like the Tesla Model X or Model 3, the cost of charging will vary. Use the calculator below to see how much those would cost for a full charge.
On the road, it’s more expensive (unless you have free Supercharging credits, of course). At most Tesla Supercharging stations in the US, the rate is $0.28 per kWh, or about double the average home rate, so about $28 or less to fill up on the road. Note that Tesla does not make a profit on this, it only covers electricity rates and infrastructure costs.
There are lots of nuances here which we’ll dig into below.
Home Charging Costs
Charging at home can be one of the least expensive ways to charge, but it really depends on where you live and when you charge. The cost of electricity vary widely across the United States. The national average cost for electricity is around $0.13 per kWh to charge at home, however, it can be as low as $0.09 in Washington, North Dakota, and Arkansas, while over $0.20 per kWh in places like California, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, and even as high as $0.34 in Hawaii!
Be sure to look at your electricity bill to find out how much you pay.
Tiers and Peak Hours
Keep in mind that many states and counties have tiered electricity rates (meaning you pay more or less over certain threshold amounts) and some also have peak hours where the costs may be higher. In those cases, you can take advantage of Tesla’s scheduled charging feature that allow you to charge at home when it’s least expensive.
In addition, some utilities and states may offer EV discounts and tax credits to help offset costs and be sure to check into those, if they exist.
For EV home owners, many often consider solar panels to offset electricity costs even further. If you live in a state like California where electricity costs are high, this could make a big difference and allow any upfront solar costs to pay for itself relatively quickly.
Charging Costs on the Road
How Much Does it Cost to Charge at a Supercharger?
One of the great advantages to owning a Tesla is the large Supercharger network available to owners. Tesla has built over 1,400 SuperChargers that allow owners to pull up and start charging without having to enter credit card information since it recognizes the car automatically.
You’ll notice, in general, with charging that some areas allow charging by kWh (the most fair way) verus charging by time. This is because regulations vary by location and some regions do not allow entities other than utilities to charge by kWh, so Tesla and other charging stations are required to charge by time (less ideal since each car may be able to take more or less power).
Supercharging rates vary depending on the location, but here’s the general breakdown:
- Per kWh Charging – Most Supercharging locations charge per kWh.
- Flat Rate: $0.28
- Time-Based Charging – In some cases, Tesla is required to charge by time and in these cases based on how long you charge and the speed.
- $ 0.26 per minute above 60 kW
- $ 0.13 per minute at or below 60 kW
Of course many owners also take advantage of free Supercharging upon the purchase of a new Tesla, which offsets some of these costs.
How Much Does it Cost to Charge at a Destination Charger?
Tesla encourages businesses such as hotels, Airbnbs and wineries to install “destination” chargers at their business to attract Tesla owners and provide a convenient EV service to their clients. These chargers are similar to home chargers but typically provide a bit more power.
Usually the Destination Chargers are free to use for patrons, but sometimes charges apply, so be sure to ask the host.
How Much Does Charging at Other Chargers Cost?
While most of the time Tesla owners charge at home or at Tesla-specific chargers on the road, there are occasions where a Tesla owner may need to charge at a public charging station, such as Chargepoint. They’ll quickly find out it’s not as simple or fast as the Tesla Supercharger network, unfortunately.
To find other chargers, download the Chargepoint or Plugshare apps. You’ll also need an account with Chargepoint, for example, to charge at those stations. Costs vary widely at these stations as many of the prices are set by the property owner and are sometimes a mix of per-minute charging, per-kWh charging, and flat-fees, etc. Be sure to check the apps ahead of time.
Tesla Charging Cost Calculator
Curious to know how much it would cost, on average, to charge in your state at home versus a gas car? Use the Tesla charging cost calculator below.
Select a state to prefill your electric rate. Note that all fields are editable so you can adjust them as needed.