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The Ultimate Guide to EV Charging Pricing

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The increased popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) has raised awareness concerning pertinent issues that EV owners encounter. One critical challenge is understanding charging costs and the options available to EV owners. With some charging facilities offering pay-as-you-go and others offering structured membership, comparing all the available pricing options in the industry can be tiring. In this guide, we will break down all pricing options you will find in the industry with comprehensive explanations of factors you’ll need to consider when deciding on the best charging regime for your EV.

I. Home vs. Public Charging: Which is Cheaper?

EV drivers repeatedly face the same issue in deciding where to charge their EVs. Choosing between a public charging station and charging at home can be tricky, even though there is a consensus that home EV charging is cheaper. Nonetheless, thinking through a few factors will make the decision easier. 

Considering your electricity tariff is often the first step. Knowing how much your electric distribution company charges per kWh at different periods is critical to determining the best times to charge your EVs at home. For instance, off-peak hours, usually at night, cost less to charge EVs as the load and consumption of power are often lower, costing about $0.12 per kWh on average. 

On the other hand, public charging stations can cost you between $0.2 to $0.5 per kWh on average which is a significant increase compared to the cost of home charging.

II. Pricing for Public Charging: Effects of Timing and Location

Depending on the time of the day and your location, public charging can vary significantly. Still, public charging cost estimation can be accurately calculated by considering the following factors. 

  1. Location: Your proximity to a city center or a busy suburb can have a huge impact on how much you are charged at public charging stations, as demand often drives these prices. Facilities like malls, hotels, and tourist locations in the city significantly drive these demands. 
  2. Time of day: Some public charging stations also structure their prices to reflect peak and off-peak periods with lower prices for off-peak periods. Understanding these structures can be very beneficial. 
  3. Charger speed: How fast a public charger will charge your EV can affect your charging cost since fast chargers use more energy with more sophisticated charging facilities than other charging stations. 
  4. Network provider: With different business models available for various charging networks, it is only logical that there will be different pricing models across these networks. Knowing the pricing model of the network to a charging station will help you decide on the most suitable one as some offer price reductions based on a membership model. 
Effects of Timing and Location
source: flickr.com

III. Finding Public Charging Stations

Driving around in an EV is both enjoyable and eco-friendly. However, locating a charging station can be herculean, especially on a long-distance trip in unfamiliar territories. But not to worry, some tools and devices can significantly assist in such situations. 

The first is using smartphone apps. Several charging network operators have dedicated apps for EV owners and drivers to quickly and easily locate the nearest charging station to their position. Even better is the ability of some apps to pinpoint all their charging stations along a path or highway with information like pricing and business hours in real time. Some examples of these apps include Electrify America and EVgo. 

Another popular tool is Google Maps which drivers often use to plan their travel routes. Interestingly, it has features to identify businesses along a planned travel route including locations of EV charging stations. Furthermore, it has features for filtering charging stations according to parameters like opening hours, charging levels, and location. 

The U.S. energy department also has a directory of charging stations from which EV owners and drivers can utilize in locating charging stations. Information such as location, business hours, and payment options are also given in this directory. 

Some EV charger manufacturers also have their charging stations’ details, locations, and operational hours online. 

IV. Public Charging: Understanding Price Models

EV charging prices often depend on the price model in use by the charging stations. Here is a comprehensive look at the common price models used by many charging stations in the industry. 

  1. Flat-rate pricing: Some charging stations charge a flat rate per session regardless of the time spent charging your EV.
  2. Time-based pricing: Using this model, the time you spend charging your EV at some charging station is calculated and multiplied by a rate to arrive at your charging cost.
  3. Energy-based pricing: Your energy consumption is the deciding factor for billing you after using some charging facilities. The energy is often measured in kWh (kilowatt-hour).
  4. Membership pricing: To offer bespoke services aside from just charging your EV, some charging stations offer membership which also comes with some price reduction. 
  5. Free charging: To incentivize the transition from fossil fuel to EVs some governmental agencies partner with EV charging networks to offer free charging to EV owners.
Understanding Price Models
source: flickr.com

V. Membership Fees: Are they worth it? 

A unique pricing model some charging networks offer is the membership system, which often aims to encourage loyalty and offer discounts to EV drivers. However, the level of additional service they intend to provide and the type of membership they offer will significantly influence their fees. If you are considering signing up for a charging network membership, you might need to reflect on the benefits you might get from it, including discounts and free charging sessions. Ultimately, the frequency of contact with this charging network especially if they are closer to you than others will be the overriding reason for choosing a membership. Still, memberships for occasional public charging station users wouldn’t be the best path. 

VI. Choosing the most convenient and cost-effective Charging Site

Convenience and cost-effectiveness are the hallmarks of most buying decisions and buying energy is not exempted. Most EV owners often choose a close location to ensure that charging is done without stress. However, this does not guarantee that it will be cheap or even near being cost-effective. Luckily, applications are now available that make it easier to locate that are both convenient and cost-effective. For instance, applications like Greenlots and PlugShare are making it possible to compare charging prices of several charging stations around you, making it easy to select the cheapest and stress-free location. 

VII. Pay-As-You-Go Option for Public Charging 

If you’ve ever gone to a gas station to fill your automobile, you’ll be familiar with the pay-as-you-go pricing model. This option only bills you per session of energy consumed in charging your EV, not a ballpark monthly fee as obtainable with the membership option. Pay-as-you-go is often recommended for occasional public charging station users who typically charge their EVs at home. However, the overall cost can be more expensive than membership per session. But frankly, it is a more convenient option if you are not a frequent user of a public charging station. 

VIII. A Breakdown of Public Charging Rates

A breakdown of the different rates available for public charging stations often shows five important parameters in arriving at these rates. These factors include the location, time of the day, energy consumed, rate of charging, and the pricing model employed by a particular charging station. 

The type of charging station used in a public charging station is often between a level 2 EV charger or level 3 often determines the rate at which you can charge your EV. And the price also increases with the speed of charging. Hence, the cost of charging with a level 3 charging station is usually higher than for a level 2 charger. 

Always factor in these parameters when you are going on a long trip especially if you don’t have a portable EV charger

IX. Avoiding Public Charging Idle Fees

In the event that you fail to remove the charging connector after your EV has been fully charged, an additional cost will be added to your bill as idle fees based on the extra time you spend. This is a common feature of the pay-as-you-go pricing model. EV owners are often advised to monitor their EV charging with the charging station’s app while charging under these conditions. Though these fees vary for different locations, it’s better to be aware before plugging in your connector to the charging station. 

X. Features of budget-friendly public charging stations

Saving money with public charging is possible but requires careful consideration of certain factors you should critically observe. The first thing to look out for is the location of the charging station. The truth is areas with low-end properties usually have businesses with lower prices, including charging stations. This means that locating a charging station in low-cost regions is more likely to give you a budget-friendly EV charging experience. Again, the pricing models offered by the charging station are a significant consideration for a budget-friendly price. A membership is a pricey option if you use public charging stations as a matter of emergency rather than as a frequent necessity. Also, factoring the type of charging station into your selection of pocket-friendly charging stations can save you a great deal in costs. The reason is that different charging stations cost more, with level 1 charging costing the lowest and level 3 EV chargers costing more. In the end, each charging station has other pricing models and features, including some offering lower prices for off-peak charging sessions. Hence, based on the information provided above, you’ll have to carefully study the different charging stations around you to find the most suitable one for you. 

budget-friendly public charging stations
source: flickr.com

XI. Residential and Commercial EV Charging Solutions

Deciding to go with a residential or commercial charging solution can be a matter of circumstance, but it may also be based on convenience or your budget. Nonetheless, getting from one of the top EV charger companies is always a step in the right direction. For instance, you can choose between a plug-in residential charging solution or one requiring installing new electrical boards and additional accessories. However, if you decide to go with a commercially available charging solution, ensure it’s one that fits your driving pattern, budget, and convenience. You can even choose to start a charging station business provided you get the location and the pricing models right and you’re getting from a reputable company like EV-Tops.


In a nutshell, pricing can be a deciding factor in choosing a charging solution. Still, other factors such as location and convenience can also contribute to that decision, making it a bit confusing. However, when it comes to public or charging solution timing, idle fees and membership pricing model will impact your charging cost significantly. Yet, planning appropriately and carefully considering the factors presented in this guide should be a smooth sailing experience.