How Much Electricity Does An Electric Car Use

How Much Electricity Does An Electric Car Use?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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As the world is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to cleaner energy sources, electric vehicles (EVs) have been proven to be a promising solution. EVs are gaining popularity worldwide with zero tailpipe emissions and improved energy efficiency. One of the critical considerations for prospective EV owners is understanding the electricity consumption of these vehicles. Our article explores how much electricity an electric car uses, factors influencing energy consumption, and the overall cost implications.

Calculating Electric Car Energy Consumption

The efficiency of an electric car is primarily determined by energy consumption and the distance travelled. The energy consumption of an EV is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) per mile or kilometre. This metric represents the electricity required to propel the vehicle a certain distance.

To estimate the energy consumption of an electric car, you need to consider the vehicle’s efficiency rating, which is expressed in kWh per mile or kilometre. For example, if an EV has an efficiency rating of 0.3 kWh/mile and you plan to travel 100 miles, the estimated energy consumption would be 30 kWh (0.3 kWh/mile x 100 miles).

How Much Does It Cost To Charge an Electric Car?

Image Credits: gobankingrates.com

1. How Much Electricity Does an Electric Car Use?

The cost of fully charging an electric car depends on the electricity rate (per kilowatt-hour, kWh) in your location, the size of the car’s battery (measured in kilowatt-hours), and the state of charge (SOC) of the battery before charging.

To calculate the cost of a full charge, use the following formula:

Cost of Full Charge = Electricity Rate (per kWh) × Battery Capacity (kWh) ÷ Charging Efficiency

  1. Electricity Rate: The electricity rate varies widely depending on where you live and the time of day. Residential electricity rates typically range from $0.10 to $0.30 per kWh in many regions.
  2. Battery Capacity: The battery capacity of electric vehicles varies from model to model. It is typically listed in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and represents the total energy storage capacity of the battery.
  3. Charging Efficiency: Charging efficiency refers to the energy lost during the charging process due to heat dissipation and other inefficiencies. It is usually around 90% to 95% for most electric cars, but this can vary slightly based on the vehicle’s technology.

Electric vehicle charging

Image Credits: professional-electrician.com

Calculation Example

Given that:

  • Electricity Rate: $0.14 per kWh
  • Battery Capacity: 60 kWh
  • Charging Efficiency: 92%

Full Charge cost = $0.14/kWh × 60 kWh ÷ 0.92 ≈ $9.13

In this example, it would cost approximately $9.78 to fully charge an electric car with a 60 kWh battery using an electricity rate of $0.15 per kWh and assuming a charging efficiency of 92%.

2. How Much Electricity Does an Electric Car Use Per Month?

The monthly cost of fully charging an electric car depends on the electricity rate in your area, your driving habits, the size of the car’s battery, and the charging efficiency. To estimate the monthly charging cost, use the following formula:

Monthly Charging Cost = (Average Monthly Driving Distance / Electric Vehicle’s Efficiency) × Electricity Rate

  1. Average Monthly Driving Distance: An average American driving 13476 km a year will drive 1123 miles a month.
  2. Electric Vehicle’s Efficiency: Determine your electric vehicle’s efficiency, typically measured in miles per kilowatt-hour (miles/kWh) or kilometers per kilowatt-hour (km/kWh). The higher the efficiency, the more miles you can drive per unit of electricity.
  3. Electricity Rate: The electricity rate in your area is measured in dollars per kilowatt-hour (kWh). You can find this information on your utility electric bill or with your electricity provider.

 EV Charging Level 2 Station at home

Image Credits: qmerit.com

Calculation Example

Given that:

  • Average Monthly Driving Distance: 1123 miles
  • Electric Vehicle’s Efficiency: 4 miles/kWh
  • Electricity Rate: $0.14 per kWh

Monthly Charging Cost = (1123 miles / 4 miles/kWh) × $0.14/kWh ≈ $39.30

In this example, it would cost approximately $39.30 per month to fully charge an electric car with an average driving distance of 1123 miles, an electric vehicle efficiency of 4 miles/kWh, and an electricity rate of $0.14 per kWh.

3. How Much Electricity Does an Electric Car Use in a Year?

According to the US departmentment of Transportation, an average American drives 13475 km a year. To calculate the yearly cost of fully charging an electric car, you need to consider the same factors as mentioned: the electricity rate in your area, your driving habits, the size of the car’s battery, and the charging efficiency. The formula to estimate the yearly charging cost is as follows:

Yearly Charging Cost = (Annual Driving Distance / Electric Vehicle’s Efficiency) × Electricity Rate

  1. Annual Driving Distance: Estimate the total miles you drive in a year.
  2. Electric Vehicle’s Efficiency: Determine the efficiency of your electric vehicle, typically measured in miles per kilowatt-hour (miles/kWh) or kilometers per kilowatt-hour (km/kWh).
  3. Electricity Rate:  The average electricity rate in the US is 0.14 per kWh.

How Much Does Charging an Electric Car Cost Annually

Image Credits: jaguarmissionviejo.com

Calculation Example

Given that:

  • Annual Driving Distance: 13,476 miles
  • Electric Vehicle’s Efficiency: 4 miles/kWh
  • Electricity Rate: $0.14 per kWh

Yearly Charging Cost = (13,476 miles / 4 miles/kWh) × $0.14/kWh ≈ $471.66

In this example, it would cost approximately $471.66 per year to fully charge an electric car with an annual driving distance of 13,476 miles, an electric vehicle efficiency of 4 miles/kWh, and an electricity rate of $0.14 per kWh.

4. How much electricity does an EV home charger use?

The electricity consumption of an EV home charger depends on the charger’s power rating, the battery capacity of the electric vehicle, and the charging speed selected by the user. Let’s explore these factors in more detail:

  1. Charger Power Rating: The power rating of the EV home charger is measured in kilowatts (kW). Standard home chargers come in various power ratings, such as 3.6 kW, 7.2 kW, and 11 kW. The higher the power rating, the faster the charging speed. For example, a 7.2 kW charger will charge an EV twice as quickly as a 3.6 kW charger, assuming the vehicle can accept a higher charging rate.
  2. Battery Capacity of the Electric Vehicle: The battery capacity of an electric car represents the amount of energy the battery can store. EVs have different battery capacities depending on the make and model, ranging from around 30 kWh for smaller models to over 100 kWh for larger and high-end EVs.
  3. Charging Speed and Charging Time: The user’s charging speed can significantly impact electricity consumption. Most EV home chargers offer different charging levels: Level 1 (slowest), Level 2, and Level 3 (fastest, typically found in public DC fast chargers). Level 1 chargers use a standard household outlet and have lower power ratings, while Level 2 chargers are powerful and require a dedicated circuit. Level 3 chargers are high-power DC fast chargers primarily used for quick charging on the go. You can use the best EV home charger for fast-charging all-electric vehicles.

Electric Vehicle Home Charging Station

Image Credits: racv.com

Calculation Example

Consider a scenario with a 7.2 kW Level 2 EV home charger and an electric vehicle with a 60 kWh battery. We need to determine the charging time to calculate the electricity consumption during charging.

Assuming a full charge from 0% to 100%: Charging Time = Battery Capacity (kWh) / Charger Power Rating (kW) Charging Time = 60 kWh / 7.2 kW ≈ 8.33 hours

Now, to calculate the electricity consumption, we use the formula: Electricity Consumption (kWh) = Charger Power Rating (kW) × Charging Time (hours) Electricity Consumption ≈ 7.2 kW × 8.33 hours ≈ 60 kWh

So, charging the 60 kWh battery with a 7.2 kW Level 2 EV home charger would consume approximately 60 kWh of electricity. If you want to save energy costs and have solar panels, find out how to use a solar panel to charge a Tesla at home.

Factors Influencing Electric Car Energy Consumption

Several factors influence the electricity usage of electric cars:

1. Vehicle Efficiency

The efficiency of an electric car refers to how effectively it converts electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy to move the vehicle.

EV Charging Efficiency

Image Credits: businessgrowthhub.com

Higher efficiency is achieved through advancements in motor technology, drivetrain design, and overall system optimization. Efficient electric cars waste less energy during conversion, resulting in lower energy consumption.

2. Battery Capacity

The capacity of an electric car’s battery determines how much energy it can store. A larger battery capacity allows for more energy storage, giving the car a more extended driving range. However, larger batteries are heavier, which can increase energy consumption due to the additional weight the vehicle needs to move.

3. Driving Style

The driving style of the vehicle operator significantly impacts energy consumption. Aggressive acceleration, sudden braking, and frequent speed changes consume more energy due to increased power demands. Smooth and gradual driving, on the other hand, allows the electric car to maintain a consistent speed and optimize energy usage.

4. Speed and Terrain

Higher speeds increase aerodynamic drag, which requires more energy to overcome. Electric cars experience greater energy consumption at higher speeds compared to lower speeds. Additionally, driving on hilly or uphill terrain increases the power needed to overcome the force of gravity, leading to higher energy consumption. Conversely, driving on flat roads or downhill allows for more energy-efficient travel.

5. Environmental Conditions

Extreme temperatures can affect the efficiency of the electric car’s battery and other systems. The battery’s performance may be reduced in cold weather, requiring more energy to maintain the desired range. In hot weather, the cooling system may need to work harder, consuming additional energy. Optimal temperature management is crucial for maximizing energy efficiency.

6. Auxiliary Systems

EV Charging

Image Credits: evconnect.com

Electric cars incorporate various auxiliary systems, such as air conditioning, heating, headlights, and entertainment. The usage of these systems can contribute to energy consumption. For example, running the air conditioning or heating at maximum power can consume significant energy. Using these systems judiciously and considering energy-saving settings can help reduce overall energy consumption.

7. Vehicle Weight

The weight of an electric car affects its energy consumption. Heavier vehicles need more energy to accelerate and maintain speed due to increased inertia. Optimizing the vehicle’s weight using lightweight materials and components can help improve energy efficiency.

8. Tire Pressure and Type

Proper tire inflation is essential for reducing rolling resistance. Underinflated tires increase friction and rolling resistance, leading to higher energy consumption. Additionally, low-rolling resistance tires, specifically designed to reduce friction with the road, can further enhance energy efficiency.

9. Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking is a feature that allows the electric car to recover and store some of the kinetic energy generated during braking. When the brakes are applied, the motor acts as a generator, thus converting the kinetic energy into electrical energy and storing it in the battery. This energy can then be used to power the vehicle, reducing the overall energy consumption.

10. Aerodynamics

The aerodynamic design of an electric car plays a significant role in energy consumption. Vehicles with streamlined and aerodynamic shapes experience less air resistance as they move, reducing the energy required to overcome drag. Design features such as sleek body contours, optimized grille designs, and aerodynamic side mirrors help improve energy efficiency.

11. Vehicle Type

Different types of electric vehicles, such as all-electric cars and plug-in cars (PHEVs), have varying energy consumption levels. All-electric cars rely solely on electricity for propulsion, whereas PHEVs combine electric motors with an internal combustion engine. Generally, all-electric cars tend to be more energy-efficient due to their exclusive reliance on electric power.

Conclusion

Electric cars are a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to conventional vehicles, but understanding their electricity consumption is crucial for prospective owners. Various factors influence electric cars’ energy consumption, including vehicle type, electric vehicle supply equipment, battery capacity, driving conditions, climate control, driving style, and weight. Potential EV owners can estimate electricity consumption and associated costs more accurately by considering these factors. As the global shift toward electric mobility continues, advancements in battery technology and charging infrastructure will further improve the efficiency and affordability of electric vehicles. To save more on EV charging costs, you can use solar panels and maximize renewable energy.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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