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If you are a new electric car owner, you probably still get giddy every time you drive by a gas station. With a smile on your face, you are reminded that your environmentally-friendly choice to switch to a plug-in electric car saved you from paying those ridiculous oil prices. And if you opt for a home charging system you even get the added benefit of charging from the peace and quiet of your own home. However, before you purchase your EV charging station or head to a public charging station, it is important to understand the costs associated with EV charging. This article will help to explain the electric car charging station installation cost and the different options for charging your electric vehicle.

How do public charging stations establish their rates?

To understand the cost of use at a public charging station, we must first establish how the cost is calculated. There are regulations in individual states that create the rules for how charging stations can structure their rates for electricity. The cost to use a station varies by location, and especially by state, but there are two ways that a public charging station can charge.

The first way they charge is the same way energy is priced at a home charging station, which is kilowatts per hour, or kWh. Kilowatts per hour refers to how many kilowatts are being pumped into the battery of the car per hour. On a level 2 home charging system, the normal output power (kW) is about 7.7kW for a 32 amp home charger; though this number tends to be slightly higher at public stations. Many EV drivers like a faster charge at home too, so they opt for our best-selling home charger, the JuiceBox Pro 40, which has 40-amps and can give you 32 to 35 miles of range per hour. Most electric vehicles have a capacity of 50kW meaning a full charge on a L2 charging system would take about 7 hours.

The second way that a public charging station can charge is by the minute. When charging by the minute, charging systems will have a standardized amount of electricity that is flowing into the car per minute. Again, this electric flow is regulated by state legislation, and the companies providing the electricity can then charge as they see fit. Usually, when charging by the minute, charging stations round up to the nearest 30 seconds.

Cost to use a public EV charging station

The actual cost of a public EV charging station is more expensive when compared to the cost of charging at home. Public charging systems that charge based on kWh average anywhere between $0.40 and $0.80 kWh compared to $0.14/kWh at home. That's a markup of almost 300% to charge your electric car in public. Also, these figures are based on the low-end cost of $0.40/kWh. You could find yourself paying close to $0.80/kWh. As a result, most EV drivers charge at home if they can because its cheaper and more convenient. Often, public charging stations that require you to pay in increments of time or “sessions” will have the option to pay for a "single charge session."

Are there free public charging stations?

Today, the majority of public charging stations require some form of payment, whether EV drivers are expected to be a member of a particular network and pay a nominal monthly fee for this service or if its at the charging station itself. There are some locations that offer EV charging as an amenity to attract new customers, but these stations are a fraction of the total public charging stations. Free charging is undoubtedly one of the best ways to cut charging costs if you are one of the fortunate EV drivers that has convenient access.

Cost to use a home charging station

Home charging stations are still the most viable and cost-effective option for electric vehicle owners. The best way to reduce charging costs for an electric vehicle is to charge your car at home. The cost of a home charging station comes primarily from the equipment cost and the installation cost. Buying and installing a high-quality home charging system is approximately equal to a year of typical maintenance for a gas-powered vehicle. Additionally, the minimum tax incentive provided by the IRS for purchasing a new electric car is almost double the amount of buying and installing a new home charging system.

Level 1 vs Level 2 Home Charging Station Costs

Home charging stations are separated into levels. Each EV charging system level varies by the amount of power it is able to deliver. Level 1 chargers are those which can be plugged directly into your home's standard wall socket and begin charging nearly immediately. Level 1 chargers are dumb, as in not connected to WiFi, so you can’t optimize charging schedules or times to save money with level 1 charging stations. However, a Level 1 charger will usually come free with your EV purchase so, it can help get you started at first or as needed in a pinch, as these chargers are more portable than level 2 chargers.

Level 2 home charging stations use a 240-volt connection to power your electric vehicle, quickly and efficiently. Unlike level 1 chargers, level 2 charging systems use a different kind of plug and therefore cannot be plugged directly into a standard outlet. This means there are equipment and EV installation costs associated with using a level 2 charger, but as stated earlier, these costs are often offset by the tax incentives received from the IRS when buying a new electric vehicle.

The overall average cost for a high-quality level 2 charging system ranges between $500-$2,000 depending on the house’s electrical system, This includes includes parts, labor, and installation. While this cost may seem a bit daunting, remember that it is a one time cost that will save you from overpaying for electricity at public charging stations.

How do I reduce EV charging costs at home?

First, invest in a high-quality level 2 smart charging system like our flagship product, the JuiceBox smart charger, which has also been Amazon’s top selling home EV charging station the last 5 years and counting. A high-quality smart charging system ensures that your car is conveniently getting a full charge while saving you money on your electricity bill.

More specifically, check the pricing for power in your local area. You may find that your utility charges higher Time-Of-Use (TOU) rates for consuming electricity during peak times, when more customers are demanding electricity like after work between 4 pm and 9 pm. For example, all electricity providers in California will have TOU rates by 2020 and the electricity rate design is trending upwards across the U.S. If you charge your EV at off-peak hours, the overall cost of your energy will be lower, and you can cut costs overall. By avoiding the most expensive times to charge your EV, drivers can save up to 3 times the amount WHILE still getting the charge they need. On average, drivers are plugged in at home significantly longer than the time needed to fully charge their EV, which enables our JuiceNet software to conveniently optimize charging at the cheapest times of day while still ensuring a full charge. Furthermore, with JuiceNet Green, EV drivers don’t have to worry about when they plug in to charge, because the EVSE software also optimizes the cleanest and most affordable charge available.

Another good way to cut costs is to enroll in any energy-saving programs your city may offer to electric vehicle owners. To promote cleaner energy initiatives, some cities are offering lower power rates to those households that own electric vehicles.

The Sum of the Parts

When it comes to cost per charge for your electric vehicle, charging at home is your best bet. The cost of a top tier charging system is nothing in comparison to the inflated prices of charging at a public station, and certainly better than the fuel prices associated with a non-electric vehicle. Charging your electric vehicle at home or at work for free if this available is the prudent financial choice, and the smarter your system, the less you pay long term.

For all the good that your electric car is doing, don't let it cost you more than it should if you can charge at home.Instead, invest in a high-quality home charging system that will save you money while you save the planet.