If you have an electric car and charge it at home, chances are you’ve seen a spike in your monthly electricity consumption. But just how much electricity do those home chargers use? In this article, we’ll break down how many watts different electric car chargers for your home pull.
Key takeaways about powering an electric car
- On average, a Level 2 EV charger uses 7,200 watts, or 7.2 kilowatts, of electricity
- Over a month, an average EV driver uses 408 kilowatt-hours on car charging.
- It costs an average of $57.90 to charge an electric car for a month, and $695 to run for a year
- The best way to save on electricity is to install solar panels. Start comparing your options on the EnergySage Marketplace today.
In this article
- How much electricity does an electric car use?
- Definitions: watts, volts, amps, and more
- How much does it cost to power an electric car?
How much electricity does an electric car use?
Generally, electric cars charged at home use about 7,200 watts (W) of electricity, which can vary depending on the mode and home charger. Most electric car chargers use between 32 and 40 amps, and connect to a 240 volt outlet in your home’s breaker box.
How much you drive your electric vehicle (EV) has the biggest impact on how much electricity it uses to charge over time. On average, Americans drive about 14,000 miles per year, and based on data from fueleconomy.gov, EVs consume an average of 0.35 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per mile driven. Given these numbers:
- 14,000 miles per year equals roughly 38.4 miles per day. With a level 2 home EV charger, that’s about 13.4 kWh of electricity daily.
- Extending that to a week’s worth of driving, that’s 93.8 kWh per week.
- Monthly, that’s an average usage of 406.5 kWh of electricity.
Different model cars use different amounts of electricity and have different kWh per mile ratings. Assuming you drive your car like an average American (14,000 miles per year), here’s how much electricity you’ll use over the course of a year in cars with different kWh/mile ratings:
How many watts do different electric cars use in a month?
|kWh per mile usage||Miles driven per year||Monthly kWh of electricity|
|0.20 kWh/mi||14,000||233 kWh|
|0.25 kWh/mi||14,000||292 kWh|
|0.30 kWh/mi||14,000||350 kWh|
|0.35 kWh/mi (average)||14,000||408 kWh|
|0.40 kWh/mi||14,000||467 kWh|
|0.45 kWh/mi||14,000||525 kWh|
|0.50 kWh/mi||14,000||583 kWh|
We’ll mostly be referring to the electricity used by electric cars in terms of kWh in this article. The reason is simple: your electric bill is measured in kWh, and you get charged based on the kWh of electricity you use per month!
Types of EV chargers
Electric vehicle chargers come in a variety of wattages, and they can be broken into three categories: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 charging. In our examples above and below, we’ve assumed you use a typical Level 2 charger to power your electric car at home, which is how most EV owners operate.
Watts, amps, voltage, and more: what do they mean?
There are a lot of terms you can use to describe how electricity flows and is used by appliances. We’ve already mentioned most of them – here are a few definitions to keep things straight:
- Volts (V): volts (short for voltage) are measures of electrical pressure differences. Put simply, voltage is the speed of electricity passing through a circuit.
- Amps (A): amps (short for amperes) are a measure of electrical current. Put simply, amps are the amount of electrons (which make up electricity) flowing through a circuit.
- Watts (W) and kilowatts (kW): multiplying volts x amps gets you watts (or wattage). Put simply, watts are the rate of electricity consumption. A kilowatt is just 1,000 watts.
- Kilowatt-hours (kWh): lastly, kilowatt-hours are how your electric bill measures your energy usage. Simply put, kilowatt-hours are electricity consumption over time.
You can think of all of these terms like water flowing through a pipe. Voltage is the water pressure, amps are the amount of water flowing past any point, and wattage is the overall rate of water flow through the pipe.
How much does it cost to power an electric car charger?
When you get your monthly electric bill, you only get to see the total amount you’re charged, not how much each appliance contributes to your final bill. Based on a wattage of 7,200 W for electric car chargers (amounting to 408 kWh/month if you drive your car like an average person does) and using state average electricity rates, here’s how the cost to run an electric car pans out over the course of a month and a year:
Monthly and yearly costs to run an electric car by state
|State||Average electricity rate||Cost per month||Cost per year|
|California||22.00 ¢ / kWh||$89.76||$1,077|
|New York||20.59 ¢ / kWh||$84.01||$1,008|
|Texas||12.56 ¢ / kWh||$51.24||$615|
|Massachusetts||22.59 ¢ / kWh||$92.17||$1,106|
|Florida||12.21 ¢ / kWh||$49.82||$598|
|Virginia||12.58 ¢ / kWh||$51.33||$616|
|New Jersey||16.20 ¢ / kWh||$66.10||$793|
|Maryland||14.48 ¢ / kWh||$59.08||$709|
|Washington||10.38 ¢ / kWh||$42.35||$508|
|US Average||14.19 ¢ / kWh||$57.90||$695|
Note: average electricity rates are based on October 2021 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
At face value, that can look like a seriously expensive investment. However, it’s vital to remember that when you own and charge an EV, you won’t have to pay for gas anymore. Considering the average American pays well over $1,500 for gas per year, electric vehicles will almost always save you money on fuel.
Looking to offset your electric bills (and the energy these appliances use) with solar? When you sign up (for free!) on the EnergySage Marketplace, you can compare solar quotes from high-quality, local solar installers. Make sure to keep in mind your current and future electricity usage, and talk about how that could change with your installer for the most accurate quotes.
Calculate how much energy your own electric car uses
All electric vehicles have kWh/100 mile ratings – this is the amount of electricity they use per 100 miles driven. To calculate how much electricity your individual car model might use, first convert that rating into a per mile number by dividing by 100. That’s how we got our 0.35 kWh per mile number above.
Once you have a per-mile electricity usage figure, all you need to do is multiply that number by your estimated monthly or yearly mileage, and then multiply the result by your local electricity rate.
See what electricity costs near you
Curious how much electricity costs near you? Click on your state to learn more:
Frequently asked questions about powering an electric car
If you’re on a time-of-use (TOU) rate plan, you are charged different amounts for electricity throughout the day. In general, it’s cheaper to charge an EV during “off-peak” hours, which are usually overnight.
Home batteries can be capable of powering an electric car, but you’ll likely need more than one: most lithium-ion batteries like the Tesla Powerwall or Generac PWRcell have a power rating of 4 to 5 kW or higher, and 10+ kWh of usable capacity. Electric cars use about 7.2 kW (0.1 kW) of power at any one time, meaning a few batteries together may be suitable for charging your electric car.
Average electric car chargers pull about 7,200 W of electricity to stay powered. On average, solar panels are rated at around 350 W, meaning you can power a Level 2 EV charger with around 20 solar panels.
How much money can solar panels save you?
Solar savings vary widely, and your unique savings depends on factors like electricity usage, your location, electric rates and plans, and more. In general, most homeowners can expect to save somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 over the lifetime of a solar panel system (and potentially much more if you have an electric car!). On average, it takes between 7 and 8 years for most homeowners who shop for solar on EnergySage to get their solar panels to pay for themselves.
Going solar is one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate your electric bill, and you should make sure you are getting several quotes from reputable installers before you decide to move forward. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to get solar quotes from installers in your area and begin comparing options.