Tesla electric vehicles make it fast and easy to charge almost anywhere. If you’re not familiar, here’s how to charge a Tesla. Many people new to electric cars often wonder how much it costs to charge a Tesla, whether a Tesla Model 3, Model Y, 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, the terms and numbers may seem a bit foreign. In this article, we’ll help you understand how much it costs to charge a Tesla at home or on the road. You can also apply this to most other electric vehicles as well!
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 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.
How Much to Charge a Tesla in General?
In brief, it depends on the cost of electricity where you live (just like the fuel costs for gas), particularly when you’re talking about home charging costs, but is much more standardized on the road when charging with the Tesla Supercharger network or third-party chargers.
When charging at home, it really depends on your location, but if you assume average electricity costs $0.13 per kWh for most homes and that you’re charging a Tesla Model 3 Long Range (50 kWh battery), it would cost around $6.50 to fully charge a totally empty battery at home. Double that if you are charging a Tesla with a 100 kWh battery, the largest battery Tesla makes that is available on the Model X and S. In most cases, your battery won’t be totally empty so it will be less than that to reach a full charge. You can test your Tesla model with the charging calculator below
On the road, it’s generally more expensive than charging at home, depending on your home rate, 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 around $14 or at a Supercharger, using the same assumptions as above. 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 and you can play with the Tesla charging calculator for specific scenarios.
How Much Does It Cost to Charge a Tesla at Home?
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 varies 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 and then use the Tesla Charging Calculator below to see what your costs would look like (we also include state averages).
While you can simply plug in your Tesla at home with the included 110-volt adapter, that will take far too long to charge, you’ll likely want to use a fast charging 240-volt outlet or have an electrician install a wall connector (see How Long to Charge a Tesla for tips).
Tesla Home Charging Cost Example:
Let’s say you live in California and your average cost per kWh is $0.20. Then filling up a Model 3 or Model Y Long Range with a 75 kWh battery pack from 10 kWh to 70 kWh (you usually don’t fill up to 100% as that degrades the battery more quickly), would cost $12.00 (60 kWh x $0.20/kWh).
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 pricing may be higher. In those cases, you can take advantage of Tesla’s scheduled charging feature that allows 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 homeowners, 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.
Tesla Supercharger Costs While on the Road
How Much Does it Cost to Charge at a Tesla Supercharger?
One of the great advantages to owning a Tesla is the large Supercharger network available to owners who travel long distances.
Tesla has built over 2,000 Supercharger locations 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 have pricing by kWh (the most fair way) versus pricing 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).
Supercharger station 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
Example Tesla Supercharger cost:
Let’s say you have a Tesla vehicle with a 75 kWh battery pack (e.g. Model 3 or Model Y Long Range), and you have 10 kWh left when arriving at a standard flat-rate Supercharger and charge it up to 70 kWh. That 60 kWh charge will cost $16.80 (60 kWh x $0.28/kWh).
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 Tesla 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.
Cost of Charging a Tesla at Public Chargers
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, Electrify America, or EVgo. They’ll quickly find out it’s not as simple or fast as the Tesla Supercharger network, as they have different connectors, charge different amounts and don’t usually have as many available charge ports per station as Tesla has.
Tesla includes a J1772 adapter for slower (AC) charging and sells a CHAdeMO adapter for faster (DC) charging, but does not currently have a CCS adapter, so you’ll need to be aware of that when searching for public charging stations (most of the time it’s not an issue).
To find public charging stations, download the ChargePoint or Plugshare apps (see below). You’ll also need an account with ChargePoint, for example, to charge at those stations (ChargePoint has roaming agreements with EVgo and Electrify America, some of the largest charging networks).
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.
Download Third Party Charging Apps for Public Charging Stations
If you plan on charging on the road for a road trip, it’s handy to have an app pre-installed to find public charging stations. Plugshare is a fantastic app that has a massive database of charging stations, including Tesla Superchargers. You’ll also want to download ChargePoint and set up an account so you’re ready to go, as needed.
Tesla Charging Cost Calculator
Curious to know how much it costs, 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.
As of January 10, 2019, Tesla updated its Supercharging policy to count excess energy used while parking. For example, turning on the climate controls in an extremely hot or cold environment may add additional kWh to the energy billed for charging (e.g. 10 to 25 kWh).
Buying a Tesla? Get Free Supercharging!
If you’re in the market for a Tesla, be sure to take advantage of the current Free Supercharging program while it lasts.