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Is It Expensive To Charge an EV at a Public Station?

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How much should EV drivers expect to pay when they fill up at a public charging station? Find out in our explainer for public EV charging stations!

While one of the many benefits of an electric vehicle (EV) is that owners rarely need to charge anywhere but their home, there will come a time when they must stop at a public station for a charge-up. But is it expensive to charge an EV at a public station? We answer that question and more below!

No, Public EV Charing Is Not Expensive

While the specifics of how much it’ll cost depend on numerous factors, from the car to how long you charge it for and the level of public charger, it’s much more affordable than filling up at a gas station. On average, charging an EV at a public charger ranges from $10 to $30, and often on the lower side, as it’s typically rare for someone to charge their EV’s battery completely at a public station.

So, more often than not, you’ll only pay a few bucks to top off your EV’s battery at a public charger—much less than it would cost to fill up your gas tank! So, while one of the most common myths about EV charging stations is they cost too much, it’s just that—a myth.

The Levels of Public Charging Stations

As we discussed, a few factors determine how expensive it is to charge an EV at a public station, with one of the biggest factors being the level of charging. Some drivers may be surprised to learn that not every charging station is the same as every gas station—there are charging levels, graded from level 1 to level 3.

Level 1: The slowest level of charging is a level 1 charger. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll want to avoid level 1 chargers, although they’re not very common for public chargers. A level 1 charger will only add about seven miles per hour of charging, so it can take over 24 hours to fully charge an EV.

Level 2: The most common type of public charging station is a level 2 charger. Level 2 chargers are much faster and cheaper than level 3 chargers, adding roughly 30 miles of range per hour of charge at a cost of approximately $3 an hour, depending on local electricity rates.

Level 3: Also known as direct current (DC) fast chargers, level 3 chargers are the best for those who need a quick charger, but they will cost a bit more. Level 3 chargers can charge an EV entirely in as little as an hour at roughly $0.50 per kilowatt hour.

Tips for Charging Your EV at a Public Station

When charging at a public station, only park in the reserved parking space for EV charging when you’re charging—it’s not a free parking space for all EVs. Whatever type of charger you’re using will take a while to get a quality charge, so stop somewhere you’re comfortable hanging out for however long it takes.

If you’re charging the entire battery on a level 3 station, once you hit 80 percent, switch to a level 2 charger if there’s one available so those who need a quick charge can do so.

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