Which region has the cheapest EV charging prices in America?

5 min read

Summary


·      Florida and Texas can be predicted as the cheapest charging regions across the US
·      A massive amount of DC Fast charger installation is still a long way
·      California to dominate the US EVCS market with the maximum number of private and public charging ports
·      CCS connector will support the higher adoption of EVs globally
·      Level 2 chargers to dominate the US EVCS market
·      Federal Bill to accelerate the EVCS infrastructure in the US

As evident, the US is one of the major contributors to EV sales globally and is growing linearly in the EV market since 2015. However, not all states share an equal distribution of technology. As per the data given by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (last updated June 2021), California has the maximum number of EVs, contributing to 42% of the total nationwide. While Florida has the second-highest number of EVs followed by Texas, Washington, New York City, New Jersey, and Arizona. It was noted that California has a total of 42,550 public and private EVSE ports and Florida has 7,393 charging ports. From the data available, the year 2021 showed a rapid increase in the number of charging stations which grew by 55%. Many US states have laws and incentives related to the use of electric vehicles which makes the EV adoption rate to be completely different across all the 50 states.

Figure 1: From Left to Right – Number of Level 1 Chargers, Level 2 Chargers, and DC Fast Chargers

It is well known that even though the country is governed by federal law, the states are responsible for their own governing and decisions, which also include decisions pertaining to the expansion of the charging vehicle infrastructure. It is evident that not all the states are well equipped with charging facilities. Some states like California and Florida have adopted EV technology and have set net-zero emissions goals for 2025, while the other states have not expanded in the technology as the sales for ICE vehicles have been dominant over the electric vehicles and hence taking the slower route for the EVCS deployment.

With the new EV infrastructure bill passed by the American government, the US is expected to have around 15 million electric vehicles by 2030. This huge increase is fueled by the decarbonization and net-zero emissions target of the government. Several prominent companies such as Tesla, Electrify America, and ChargePoint are also aggressively making moves to expand their charging infrastructure across American states. These initiatives involve the deployment of more Level 2 chargers as compared to the DC fast chargers along with other charging infrastructure and software upgrades. However, merely adding a large number of Level 2 chargers instead of Level 3 DC fast chargers will not be a correct pathway to achieving net-zero emissions.

Different levels of EV Charging

There are three types of charging levels, namely Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3based on the output power levels. A vast majority of the charging stations across the country are Level 2 chargers, accounting for 80% of total chargers. While Level 1 and Level 3 comprise 5% and 15% of the total chargers respectively. The primary reason for such a distribution is the low power level of Level 1 chargers and high pricing of the DC fast chargers, due to which the EV users are more deviated to using the Level 2 chargers.

As per Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are currently 43,163 Level 2 chargers and 6,286 DC fast chargers, and only 285 Level 1 chargers. Most of the EVs across the US are compatible to charge with Level 1 and Level 2 charging equipment. To address the rapid charging needs of the EVs for long runs most EV manufacturers now ensure to make it compatible with the CCS connectors which allow the EV charging to be compatible with all levels of charging. The Tesla vehicles come with a J1772 adapter, which allows them to use non-Tesla charging equipment spread across the US. It additionally provides an adapter for its users to connect with the CHAdeMO adapter. These charging levels can be explained as below:

Level 1 Chargers: This charging is typically used at homes where 120V AC outlets are available. Since most of the EVs come with a portable Level 1 cord set, therefore no additional equipment is required and can be installed easily. It usually takes 8 hours of charging at 120 V to work for about 40 miles of electric range for a mid-sized electric vehicle. These chargers have a minimum pricing structure and usually come along with the EV.

Level 2 Chargers: It is the most common type of charging observed in residential buildings. It offers charging through a 240 V or 208 V AC outlet and can operate at up to 80 amps and 19.2 kW. The level 2 chargers need a constant dedicated 40-Amp circuit to work in accordance with the National Electric Code requirements in Article 625. However, most of the residential equipment operates at lower power ratings, therefore many of these units operate at up to 30 Amps, delivering 7.2 kW of power while charging the vehicle overnight. These Level 2 chargers are easy to use and can be installed at home and have a reasonable pricing structure when compared to the DC chargers. They are also a preferred choice for workplaces, shopping malls, public charging places, etc.

Level 3 Chargers: DC fast chargers also called Level 3 chargers operate at high power values such as 250 kW and above. These chargers are mostly found in the heavy traffic corridors at installed stations. There are three types of DC fast charging systems based on the type of charging port on the vehicle namely, SAE Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO, and Tesla. The CCS connectors used are unique in the application as they can be used for all three types of charging levels, the only difference is DC fast charging connectors have two additional bottom pins. The only setback with the DC fast chargers is the high installation and maintenance costs, which hinders its expansion.

Miles per hour of charging time

The charging time for an EV can be as long as 8 to 12 hours and as short as 15 to 30 mins only depending on the type of charger used. A typical electric car has a 60-kWh battery that can be charged from zero to 100% within a duration of 8 hours using the 6.6 kW charging power or can be charged under 30 mins by using a rapid DC fast charger. These DC fast chargers are the fastest way to add up to 60 to 200 miles of range by mere charging the EV for 30 mins or less.

The Level 1 chargers are very slow, adding nearly 5 miles of range per hour as compared to the Level 2 chargers which can add up to 25 miles of range per hour, therefore the EV drivers tend more towards using the Level 2 charging. For the DC fast charging, although it can speed up the charging process and can add up several miles, not all the EVs are compatible with such high-power values and therefore the chargers are less in number, comprising only 15% of the total public charging ports across the US.

Type of Charger

Miles per Hour

Infrastructure Needs

Feasible Location

Connectors Compatible

Level 1 (>2% of total public chargers across the US)

Approximately 5 miles of range per 1 hour of charging*

120-volt AC outlet

Home
Workplace

J1772

Level 2 (80% of total public chargers across the US)

Approximately 25 miles of range per 1 hour of charging†

240 volts and 40 amps continuous load

Home
Workplace
Public Charging Stations

J1772
Tesla connector

Level 3 (15% of total public chargers across the US)

Approximately 100 to 200+ miles of range per 30 minutes of charging‡

Voltage and current rating vary according to the CPOs

Public Charging Stations

CCS
CHAdeMO
Tesla connector

*- Assumes 1.9 kW charging power
†-Assumes 6.6 kW charging power
‡-Charging power varies by vehicle and battery state of charge

Table 1: Comparison Table of Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 chargers

Which region is the cheapest for EV charging across the US?

“What will be the charging cost for the electric car?” – This is the most asked question by EV users and new adopters of the technology and can only be answered by a thorough evaluation of the geography and the policies adopted by the region. The charging cost for electric cars in America depends on various factors such as geography, connectors, power consumed, charging time, type of battery, and many other such factors. In order to understand which US region has the cheapest EV charging price, it can be understood by the monthly electricity rates and the number of charging points in the vicinity.

Based on the number of charging ports, it is evident that California and Florida have the maximum number of charging ports. However, the cost of electricity varies in different states of the US. For instance, In the residential areas of California and New York have rates as high as 26.71 and 19.74 cents per kWh respectively, while states like Florida, Utah, Washington Oregon, and Montana have low electricity rates (Cents per Kilowatt-hour) like 13.50, 10.55, 10.14, 11.01, and 10.76 cents per kWh respectively as per the EIA electric Power Monthly. These costs vary for the transportation sector region-wise. Further, the home charging prices are usually lower than the public charging stations as the home charging prices do not include installation, infrastructure development, maintenance, host fees, etc.

Through the above analysis, it can be evaluated that a lower electricity consumption rate of 13.50 cents per kWh and the number of charging ports across the region at regular miles make Florida the cheapest region for EV charging as of now for the home EV charging. While based on the US state electricity rates for the transportation sector and the number of charging stations, Texas’s electricity rate for the transportation sector is 7.27 cents per kWh and 5,372 public charging ports which is the third-largest number of charging ports available across the US. Therefore, Texas can be considered the cheapest region for EV charging.

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