The Cost of Charging an Electric Car: Home Charging vs Public Charging
The cost of charging an electric car is decreasing, but this is only true for those who have the convenience of charging their vehicles at home. According to Money Mail, charging at home can cost as little as 2p per mile, thanks to new lower tariffs and falling domestic electricity prices. On the other hand, electric car owners who are forced to rely on public charging points face costs that can be as high as 24p per mile. This makes public charging 12 times more expensive than the cheapest home charging methods.
Electric car owners who have the capability to charge their vehicles at home now pay less to “fill up” their cars compared to those who own petrol or diesel vehicles, as the cost of domestic electricity tariffs continues to decline. This is a significant reversal from a year ago when petrol was more expensive than electricity for charging electric vehicles.
However, for those who solely rely on public chargers, a 200-mile journey in an electric car could cost £10 more compared to a petrol car. This increase in cost for public charging is due to the fact that the price of public charging points has risen by 16 to 20 percent over the past year, according to electric charging point map supplier, Zapmap.
Using public chargers also presents electric car owners with a confusing array of charging costs and hidden fees, which vary depending on the time of day and the specific charging network. Consumer champion Martyn James highlights that the cost of charging an electric car now depends on where it is being charged.
To put the costs into perspective, driving one mile in a petrol car costs around 20p in fuel, while with diesel it is about 17p. The average petrol car can cover 36 miles per gallon, whereas the average diesel car can cover 43 miles, according to data collector NimbleFins. Currently, petrol costs an average of 155p per liter (£7.05 per gallon), and diesel costs 162p per liter (£7.36 per gallon), as reported by the RAC.
An electric car, on the other hand, can cover approximately 3.5 miles on 1kWh of battery power. Charging an electric car at a public charging point can cost up to 24p per mile. However, it is important to note that the cost of charging at a public charger can vary significantly depending on the chosen network, as there are 60 different charging networks across Britain offering various prices. Subscribing to a network and using its app can sometimes result in lower costs, while non-subscribers often face higher fees. For example, BP Pulse charges 69p per kWh if using their “ultra rapid” equipment through their app, while non-subscribers face charges of 85p per kWh or 24p per mile.
Comparatively, charging an electric car at home is much more cost-effective and can be as low as 2p per mile. The price for a unit of electricity at home has fallen from 30p to 27p per kWh and is capped by the government for direct debit payments. This decrease in home charging costs has resulted in the expense dropping from around 9p to 8p per mile for households on a standard variable tariff.
Some energy companies have even launched special deals for electric vehicle drivers, offering even lower costs for charging at home. These offers are exclusively available to those with smart meters. For instance, Ovo has recently introduced a plan that charges motorists just 7p per kWh, equivalent to less than 3p per mile. Octopus Energy is also providing a competitive tariff for electric car owners, with a rate of 7.5p per kWh.
The price discrepancy between charging at home and charging elsewhere is further amplified by the difference in tax rates. Domestic electricity is subject to a 5 percent tax, whereas public charging points charge the standard VAT rate of 20 percent. The tax calculation at public charging points is often hidden within the e-receipt issued after charging the car. For example, Ubitricity charges 79p per kWh (including VAT) during peak times and 46p per kWh off-peak, with an additional 35p “connection fee”.
Fast charging options, like the “ultra rapid” charge points, are limited in the UK, with only about 3,500 available. However, these tend to be the most expensive. Tesla, for instance, charges 77p per kWh (equivalent to 22p per mile) to use its “super chargers” for cars that can take its chargers but are not Teslas. For Tesla owners, the cost is 67p per kWh (19p per mile). Other high-speed chargers, such as those offered by InstaVolt, Shell Recharge, Osprey, GeniePoint, Pod Point, Ionity, Gridserve, and Fastned, have varying rates from 69p to 85p per kWh.
To avoid these high costs and the confusion of public charging points, Consumer expert Martyn James suggests considering installing a proper charger at home. However, this option can be costly, with installation expenses potentially exceeding £400. An alternative is to use a standard three-pin socket at home with an adapter, which costs under £200. However, using a three-pin socket is time-consuming, as it can take at least 24 hours to fully charge a car. For a faster home charging option, a standard 7kW home fast charger is recommended, which costs around £400 and requires approximately eight hours to fully charge an electric car.
Alternatively, some electric car owners may choose a 22kW home charger, which can fully charge a car in three to four hours. However, this option requires a three-phase power supply, which is not standard in most homes. Upgrading the existing system and installing a 22kW charger can cost at least £4,000. The Pod Point Solo 3, priced at £1,749, is a popular choice for this option.
In conclusion, the convenience and affordability of charging an electric car depend on whether the owner can charge the vehicle at home or must rely on public charging points. While the cost of home charging has significantly decreased, making it cheaper than using petrol or diesel vehicles, public charging remains substantially more expensive. The price discrepancy is further complicated by varying charging costs, hidden fees, and different charging networks. Choosing the right charging method is crucial for electric car owners to ensure cost-effectiveness and convenience.