back to articles | May 06, 2024 | Moses Mwangi

Categories: Lifestyle

Where Is It Cheaper to Charge Your Electric Car: Home Vs Public

With a new type of car comes a new set of considerations, and a crucial one for EV owners is: where's the most economical place to charge?


Electric vehicles (EVs) have become very popular recently, and this trend has been attributed to their environmental friendliness and lower maintenance costs. In fact, the sale of electric vehicles in the USA increased from 0.2% of all total vehicle sales in 2011 to 7.6% in 2023.

However, with a new type of car comes a new set of considerations, and a crucial one for EV owners is: where's the most economical place to charge? Home or public. If this is the question on your mind right now, here is a breakdown of everything you need to know.

Charging an electric car at home

Home charging is the most convenient and cost-effective option for charging an electric car. Data from the US Department of Energy indicate that most EV owners charge their vehicles overnight at home.

To start charging your EV at home, you need to install a home charging station, which can vary depending on factors such as the type of charger and installation requirements. However, once the charger is in place, the ongoing cost of electricity is usually lower than public charging rates.

How fast can you charge an electric car at home?

No one wants to wait all day to charge a car, especially when going somewhere. However, this can happen depending on how you charge your vehicle. How fast you charge your EV will depend on your home charger power and car battery capacity.

Home power charger

Even if a vehicle can charge at a higher rate, your charger will determine the charging speed. There are two options for EV owners who want to charge at home: a level 1 charger and a level 2 charger.

  • Level 1 charger: This is essentially a heavy-duty extension cord that plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet. It's the slowest option, typically adding only 5 miles of range per hour. That means it might take about 24 hours to bring a nearly empty 60 kWh battery to full charge. While this option is cheaper because you don't need to install a charging station, most manufacturers only recommend using a level 1 charger for emergencies such as roadside troubleshooting. Most electric cars come with a level 1 charger.
  • Level 2 charger: The practical option for EV owners looking to charge faster at home is a level 2 charger. This wall-mounted unit requires professional installation and can be installed in a garage, private parking lot, or on the side of your house. It's connected directly to the electrical panel or a special outlet. A level 2 charging station operates on a 240-volt circuit and can charge a 60 kWh battery from empty to full in around 3 to 8 hours. A 7kW level 2 charger will take about 8 hours, while a 19kW charger will take 3 hours. Keep in mind that chargers with higher charging speeds cost more.

The car's battery capacity

The size and design of your car's battery also influence charging speed. Larger batteries take longer to charge than smaller ones, even with the same power source.

How to get an electric car charging station installed at home

To install an electric vehicle charging station in your home, you need to research what will work for you. You need to consider features like charging speed (kW output), weatherproof design, smartphone connectivity for monitoring, and compatibility with your car's charging port. Moreover, check if your region offers rebates or incentives for EV charger installations, which can significantly reduce the upfront cost. Once you have what you want, find certified installers specializing in EV charger installations in your area.

Pros of charging at home

Here are a few major benefits of installing an EV charger at home. 

  • Convenience: Although public charging stations have significantly increased, charging an EV at home is more convenient. You only need to plug in your car overnight and wake up to a full battery every morning. No more searching for stations or waiting in line, especially during peak hours.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Charging at home is cheaper because you will utilize your existing electricity plan, which can be significantly more economical than the per-kWh rates often charged at public stations. You can further maximize savings by taking advantage of off-peak charging rates offered by some utilities.
  • Potential environmental benefits: If your home electricity comes from renewable sources like solar or wind power, charging your EV at home minimizes your environmental footprint.
  • Control and security: A home charger gives you complete control over the charging process. You can monitor charging status and schedule charging during off-peak hours for maximum efficiency. Additionally, your car is plugged in overnight in a familiar location, reducing concerns about vandalism or theft.
  • Increases your home value: A home with an EV charging station installed will be worth more, and more buyers will be interested in buying. An EV charger can boost your home's value by a whopping $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Customization: With the help of an app, you have control over the charging speed and scheduling. This can help you tailor the charging process to your specific needs and preferences.

Cons of charging at home

Here are two major cons of charging your EV at home.

  • Upfront costs: Installing a home charger requires an upfront investment. While the cost varies depending on the charger type and installation complexity, it can be expensive for some car owners.
  • Slower charging speeds: Home chargers typically offer Level 2 charging, which is faster than a standard outlet but slower than some public DC fast-charging stations. This may not be ideal if you need a quick top-up before going for a spring break road trip.

Charging an electric car at a public charging station

Public charging stations are a vital part of the EV infrastructure. They provide an effective way to refuel your electric car while away from home. Most importantly, they are the only option for electric owners who don't own home charging stations. To find EV charging stations near you, use apps like PlugShare. You can also compare rates and see charger availability at a specific location.

Pros of charging at a public charging station

Here are the major perks of charging your EV at a public station.

  • No upfront cost: You don't need any initial cost to start charging at a public station. All you need is a usage fee.
  • Faster charging time: Chargers used at public charging stations are much faster than level 2 chargers. It can take less than 30 minutes to charge a 60 kWh battery.

Cons of charging at a public charging station

Here are some disadvantages of charging your EV at a public charging station.

  • Higher charging costs: Public charging stations usually charge more per kWh than your home electricity rate.
  • Availability and wait times: Finding an available public charging station can be challenging, depending on location and time of day. You might encounter wait times, especially at popular stations or peak hours.
  • Less convenience: Public charging requires planning and may disrupt your trip. You need to locate stations and factor in wait times.

Which is cheaper: Charging your electric car at home or a public station?

Charging your electric car at home is definitely cheaper than using a public charging station. In fact, most utilities offer off-peak charging rates, enabling you to save even more by plugging in during designated off-hours, typically late at night or early in the morning. Although it is slow, the low cost is worth it. However, you need to factor in the cost of installation. You can check if your state offers rebates to lower installation costs.

Summing it up

Home charging is a clear winner in terms of cost-effectiveness and convenience. However, public charging stations offer crucial accessibility for road trips and situations where home charging isn't available. Therefore, the type of charging station you choose to power up your electric vehicle will depend on your situation and preferences. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each and decide what works best for you.

Are you looking to finance your next electric car? Click here to get pre-approved for an auto loan before you start shopping for your new ride.