There are many reasons to consider driving a Tesla, from the state-of-the-art automotive design to the environmentally-friendly nature of an electric vehicle. One of the most common considerations is the idea of never having to buy gas again. Yet, charging an electric vehicle does not come without costs of its own.
Charging a Tesla will increase your electricity bill anywhere between $405-$630 per year, based on 15,000 miles driven. These numbers are based on the US national average cost per kilowatt-hour. These costs will vary depending on specific Tesla models, battery ranges, and electricity costs.
While the estimate above is a good electricity cost reference for most Tesla models, it may be helpful to consider all of the costs associated with purchasing and charging an electric car. This includes the installation of your Tesla’s charging system. Read on to learn just how much a Tesla can increase your electricity bill.
Determine The Electricity Costs to Charge Your Tesla at Home
The first thing you need to do is determine the cost of electricity in your area. Electricity prices vary greatly across the United States, from as low as 9.35 cents per kilowatt-hour in Washington to as high as 34.43 cents per kilowatt-hour in Hawaii. A list of average prices for electricity by state can be found at the US Energy Information Association.
These averages are helpful for estimating your costs. To get more specific, you will need to refer to your local utility companies and the types of plans they offer. Most electricity providers offer one of the following two types of plans:
- Level of use plan
- Time of use plan
A level of use plan charges based on total energy consumption. The cost per kilowatt-hour increases as you use more electricity, meaning your costs get higher as you near the end of your billing cycle. A time of use plan charges based on the time of day you use electricity with costs increasing during afternoon to evening peak hours.
Some utility providers charge separately for electric vehicle charging. In order to do this, you will need to have the electric company install a separate meter on your home charging device. Your home charging device also has a large impact on how much charging your Tesla will increase your electricity bill.
Selecting a Home Charging Device for Your Tesla
One of the first decisions any Tesla owner will need to make is what electric vehicle charger level they will use for their car. Most models come with standard adapters designed to connect to home power supplies. However, if the Tesla is the primary vehicle used for daily commutes and long trips, this charger will not be sufficient.
Different Levels of Charging Devices
There are three standard levels of electric vehicle charging devices. The levels are based on the amount of voltage and amperage they require and the amount of charge they provide. Selecting the correct charger for your Tesla depends on the level of charge you require:
|Charger Level||Upfront Cost||Voltage||Charge Per Hour|
|Level 1||$80-$180||120V||2-5 miles|
|Level 2||$160-$2,000||240V||10-40 miles|
|Level 3||$10,000-$40,000||200-600V||100-300 miles|
The Tesla Mobile Connector that comes standard with any new Tesla is a Level 1 charger that is compatible with 120V household outlets. For Level 2 and 3 chargers, you will likely need a professional electrician to install a circuit that can handle the higher voltages.
- Level 1: Most basic option and uses standard 120V outlets. Known as “trickle charging” because of how slowly batteries refill. Suitable for those who hardly drive or can leave their vehicle plugged in for many hours.
- Level 2: Most common option and uses 240 volts which charge anywhere from four to six times faster than Level 1 chargers. Professional installation is usually recommended.
- Level 3: Known as “DC Fast Charging” and uses a different current altogether, providing much higher voltage than standard AC currents. Typically only used in commercial or public charging stations. Can charge to ~80% in under 30 minutes.
Beyond the cost of the device, installing a home charging station can create a substantial fee all on its own. The latest model Tesla wall connector costs $500 for the device, but since most homes are not equipped with the 240 voltage it requires, many buyers will need to hire a professional electrician to install it.
Depending on the complexity of the installation, this can add an additional $1000-$3000 in charges for parts and labor. The electrician will assess the current capacity and recommend any upgrades required in order to run your device. This may include wiring and installing a new electrical circuit that can support the increase in voltage.
Additional costs will also be impacted by where the charging device is to be installed. The most logical place to install the charging device is the garage, but many garages, especially those detached from the house, will require updated electrical wiring.
Still, before the electrician can even begin work, you will need to secure a permit for EV home charging. The costs of these permits vary by region, ranging from $50 to $250. Be sure to check with your local utility company, as many provide rebates to cover the costs of these permits.
Electricity Costs to Charge a Tesla by Model
Not every Tesla has the same internal battery, so charging costs will vary depending on the specific model you own. More specifically, charging costs will vary on your Tesla model’s battery capacity.
For simplicity, the average cost of electricity in the US is $0.13 per kilowatt-hour. Assume you are charging to 95 percent capacity (it is recommended that you never fill up to 100 percent in order to avoid degrading the battery).
A standard Level 2 charger works at about 85 percent efficiency, meaning only 85 percent of the electricity you use and pay for actually makes it to the battery. This is common with most charging technology and an important note to understand costs.
|Model 3 Standard||50 kWh||263 miles||$7.10||$0.027|
|Model 3 Long Range||82 kWh||315 miles||$11.65||$0.037|
|Model 3 Performance||82 kWh||353 miles||$11.65||$0.033|
|Model Y||75 kWh||314 miles||$10.65||$0.034|
|Model X Plaid||100 kWh||340 miles||$14.20||$0.042|
|Model X Long Range||100 kWh||360 miles||$14.20||$0.039|
|Model S Long Range||100 kWh||412 miles||$14.20||$0.034|
|Model S Plaid/Plaid+||100 kWh||520 miles||$14.20||$0.027|
Costs Compared to Gas-Powered Vehicles
Compare all of the above to the standard gas-powered car, and it is not hard to see the draw in purchasing an electric vehicle. According to the EPA, the average gas vehicle provides a fuel economy of 25.7 miles per gallon. With an average US cost per gallon of $2.85, that comes out to about $0.11 per mile.
Contrast that cost to the most expensive Tesla to charge, the Model X Plaid, and a standard gas car is still more than two and a half times more expensive per mile. Spread out across an annual usage of 15,000 miles, and the impact on your electricity bill is only $630, compared to an estimated $1,650 paid at the gas pump.
Depending on which model Tesla you own, these costs can run even lower. Using the industry-standard benchmark of 15,000 miles driven per year, expect to see an increase of $405 to $630 per year on your electricity bill, depending on your model.
Tesla Model 3
Not only is the Model 3 the most popular Tesla by the number of sales, but it is the top-selling plug-in electric car in the world.
- Deliveries of the Model 3 increased 90 percent from 2019 to 2020.
- The Tesla Models X and Y accounted for more than 60 percent of Tesla’s total sales volume last year.
The standard base Model 3 utilizes a 50-kilowatt-hour battery that provides an approximate range of 263 miles. Moving up to either the Model 3 Performance or Model 3 Long Range will get you an 82-kilowatt-hour battery. The Performance can deliver a range of 315 miles, while the Long Range can reach up to 353 miles.
With the Standard Range Model 3, expect to pay roughly $7.10 for a nearly full charge. For the Long Range and Performance models, that number inches up to $11.65 per charge.
Tesla Model Y
The newest Tesla model quickly became one of the most popular Tesla Models on the market, just behind the entry-level Model 3. While the Model Y offers three versions, they all use the same 75-kilowatt-hour battery with a 314-mile range.
Charging a Model Y will cost roughly $10.65 and deliver an efficient $0.034 cost per mile.
Tesla Model X
The Model X Long Range and the Model X Plaid each come equipped with 100-kilowatt-hour batteries. Utilizing the details above, the cost to complete a single charge is roughly $14.20.
With its range of 360 miles, the Model X Long Range has a cost per mile of roughly $0.039, while the Model X Plaid’s range of 340 miles works out to $0.042 per mile.
Tesla Model S
Perhaps the most well-known Tesla, the Model S now offers three different versions to choose from: Long Range, Plaid, and Plaid+. Despite differences in performance, each version comes with the same 100-kilowatt-hour battery, which costs about $14.20 per charge.
- The Long Range can cover an impressive distance of 412 miles on a single charge at the cost of $0.034 per mile.
- The recently unveiled high-performance Plaid and Plaid+ feature updated battery architecture that can deliver a record-setting range of 520 miles per charge.
It takes 1.9 seconds for the Tesla Model S to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour, and putting this to the test might use up the battery more quickly than driving it during a standard commute. However, the stunning range means it will only cost about $0.027 per mile.
Additional Costs to Consider
While charging your Tesla nightly will be the most regular expense, it is not the only one to consider. Despite their impressive technology and performance, electric vehicles and, in particular, Teslas are a relatively premium car to buy.
The current lineup from Tesla ranges in cost from as low as $35,000 to as high as $124,000, depending on the model, version, and trim options. Add to that the additional expenses to set up the charging systems at home, and the upfront costs can sometimes become prohibitive.
However, tax credits and rebates can reduce many costs associated with purchasing an electric vehicle. Many states will offer discounted titling and licensing fees to incentivize consumers to purchase environmentally-friendly electric vehicles. The US Federal Government also offers an annual tax credit of up to $7,500 per year.
When it comes to charging, many utility companies will offer rebates of up to 50 percent for the installation of home charging systems if they are metered or WiFi-connected. These systems provide the utility company with valuable data on electricity usage.
While Teslas may seem like incredibly complex vehicles, they actually have only a fraction of the number of moving parts vehicles with standard combustion engines have. While the parts they use may be rarer and harder to service, they tend to be fairly reliable and require little maintenance.
The cars require no oil changes or belt swaps standard gas-powered vehicles do. Tesla still recommends semi-regular maintenance such as tire rotations and brake fluid evaluations, but the onboard computer will inform the owner when this maintenance is required.
Servicing a Tesla requires specialized mechanics, but the company is famous for its service in this regard. Additionally, having fewer engine components to work around reduces labor time and cost.
Public Charging Stations
While you will not see the impact on your home electricity bill, it is likely at some point during your ownership of an electric vehicle that you will use a public charging station. Whether it is recharging while parked at work or getting some extra range during a road trip, your home charging option will not always be available to you.
This is perhaps the area where the gas-powered vehicle still offers an obvious advantage, as finding one of the 168,000 gas stations in the US is much easier than locating an electric vehicle charging station among only 30,000 that currently exist.
However, many public electric vehicle charging stations use Level 3 charging systems. While they will not charge your Tesla as quickly as you can fill a tank of gas, they can still provide sufficient charge in as little as 15 to 30 minutes.
Most of these stations charge on a cost per hour. Depending on the cost of electricity in the area and the amount of charge you need, it can range anywhere from $7 to $36 for a complete charge.
Free Charging Stations
As the world continues to incentivize the purchase and use of electric vehicles, it is becoming easier to find free charging options. Free charging stations are sometimes offered at
- Parking garages
- Company lots
Some places also provide priority parking spaces. Should you be lucky enough to have one of these spots readily available to you, such as at your place of work, you can do most of your charging there. You may end up seeing a negligible impact on your personal electricity bill each month.
Electric vs. Gas-Powered Vehicles
Although charging cost is not the only factor to consider when purchasing a Tesla, it is helpful to understand how these costs will impact your ownership. Fortunately, given the relatively low price of electricity in the US, along with the increasingly efficient batteries in these cars, these costs continue to go down.
Still, not everyone is comfortable with going electric. Despite ranges that beat most standard gas-powered cars, the infamous “range anxiety” remains a common criticism of the electric vehicle. Uncertainty about when and where the car can be charged is enough to stop some from leaving their gas-powered car behind.
Upfront costs are another area where electric vehicles may lose out to gas-powered cars. It is not hard to find a quality gas vehicle for less than half the cost of the cheapest Tesla model. While manufacturers continue to work towards improving affordability, there is still some time until a Tesla becomes an affordable option for all car buyers.
There is also the experience of driving to consider. Teslas offer an otherworldly driving experience with incredible performance coupled with a nearly silent motor, along with impressive technology, autopilot features, and much more. Still, some owners prefer a more traditional drive, especially those who love a manual transmission.
Regardless of your preferences, there is no denying that owning an electric vehicle is becoming more and more affordable, and these costs are likely to only go down as technology continues to improve.