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How many watts does an electric car charger use? Quick look into EV charging

Over 80% of EV owners prefer charging an electric car at home instead of using a charging station. An EV is one energy-hungry beast though — so how does having it impact your electric bill? In this article, we’ll look at how many watts does an electric car charger use and how much charging an EV costs you.

Three types of EV chargers

Electric car chargers typically have power ratings measured in kilowatts (kW). The power consumption of an electric car charger varies primarily based on the charger model. Here are general estimates for different charger types:

  1. Level 1 Charger. It uses a standard 120V outlet which makes it easy to use anywhere. It is the slowest charge out of three. Typically Level 1 charger uses around 1.2 to 2 kW, providing a charging rate of 2 to 5 miles of range per hour. Level 1 chargers are common in carports, apartment complexes and workplaces. It can take 40-50 hours to charge a battery electric vehicle.

  2. Level 2 Charger. It uses a 240V outlet — a good residential option. The power consumption can range from 3 kW to 19 kW. The charging rate ranges from 10 to 60 miles per hour. Technically, it can charge an EV fully in 6-8 hours.

  3. DC Fast Charger. These chargers can have a power rating of 50kW, 150kW, or higher. A charger like this can charge an electric car fully in an hour or less. However, not every EV supports fast chargers, they are expensive and the installation of one is more complex. They are often installed at EV charging stations, restaurants, or stores — places where an EV owner would want to spend little time.

Overall, the average power rating of an EV home charger is around 7 kilowatts. Most electric car chargers connect to a 240-volt outlet in your house, and they typically use 32 to 40 amps.

EV consumption and distance

Ultimately, how much electricity an electric car uses depends on how you use it. Long full-exhaust trips aren’t a forte of EVs. What they are most useful at is commuting. An average American drives about 37 miles per day. Let’s figure out how much energy we need to make sure our EV goes the distance.

On average, EVs consume an average of 0.35 kilowatt-hours per mile. For example, the Tesla Model 3 should consume around 0.25 kWh per mile on paper. In reality, its energy consumption is closer to 0.38-0.35 kWh per mile. Knowing the daily distance it goes, let’s find out its daily energy needs:

13,476 miles — how much an average American drives in a year

37 miles × 0.35 kWh/mile = 12.95 kWh ≈ 13 kWh

Regardless of the type of charger we use, the average consumption stays the same: An EV requires about 13 kilowatt-hours per day to drive 37 miles. This translates to 13kWhs × 30 days = 390 kilowatt-hours per month — a third of what an average household without an EV uses per month. The EV energy consumption per year is somewhere around 4,680 kilowatt-hours.

Calculating costs


annual gasoline expenses of an average American

The expenses that go towards charging your EV every day turn out to be significant. With an average cost of kilowatt-hour at $0.17 in the US, the daily energy bill just for an EV amounts to $0.17 × 13kWhs to around $2.21. That’s $66.3 per month — about a third of an average energy bill. Over the year, the bill for charging an EV should almost reach $800. Besides, EVs are more expensive than standard cars and installing an EV charger at home also costs quite a lot.

On the other hand, an average American pays well over $1,500 for gas per year. With fossil fuels gradually getting more expensive, charging an electric car at home is much cheaper than paying for gasoline. Using solar panels in particular can help bring your electric bills down.

Solar panels and EVs

At night, you can only charge the EV with stored solar energy

When you buy an EV, solar panels are a natural addition to your house that helps to reduce the bill. A house with an EV typically demands a larger system than a house without one. The average size of a solar system in the US is about 7 kilowatts DC. For a house with an EV, we would recommend a 10-kilowatt system. You could build one with, say, twenty five 400-watt solar panels.

The issue with a solar system is that the panels are active during the day which means you save the most money by charging an EV at that time. However, it is also when you most often need your EV — most people are out during the day and charge the electric car at night. Electric rates are typically lower during the night but in this scenario having solar panels barely helps with EV charging.


average annual increase in electricity rates in the US

To solve this problem, homeowners often add batteries to a solar system. Solar panels charge batteries during the day and an EV draws it into its own battery at night. The upfront costs of this setup is quite high. However, batteries are eligible for a 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit. If we see electricity rates growing higher, the solar panels — batteries — EV system will make a lot more sense from a financial point of view.

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Andrey Gorichenski
Senior Editor

Andrey had been a news editor and freelance writer for a number of medias before joining A1SolarStore team. Climate change and its impact on people's lives has always been among his interests and it partially explains his degree in Philosophy and Ethics.

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