Volkswagen ID.5 plugged in a home charger by an elegant wooden building

Cheapest place to charge an EV: Home or Public?

Electric vehicles (EVs) have taken the automotive world by storm, offering eco-friendly transportation and reduced dependency on fossil fuels. As more and more people make the shift to EVs, questions about the most cost-effective way to charge these vehicles arise.

The average costs of charging an electric vehicle through public charging stations and charging at home aren’t always straightforward. They vary based on a few factors and depend on your charging habits. These factors could include your charging location, your unique electricity rates, and your EV charging system.

While convenience and accessibility play a significant role, the cost of charging remains an important factor for many EV owners. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the comparison between charging an EV at home and utilising public charging stations to determine which option is the cheapest.

Volkswagen ID.4 plugged in a home wallbox charger by a modern home

Home charging

There are some free public charging options around New Zealand, and while they do provide a number of advantages, the most convenient and cheapest place to charge your EV in the long term is at home.

This is because residential electricity rates are generally lower than public charging rates, especially if you charge during off-peak hours. Additionally, you have the flexibility to choose your electricity provider, allowing you to find the best rates available. The average cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) can vary based on your location and utility provider. To calculate the costs of charging, multiply the battery’s capacity (in kWh) by your electricity rate.

Home charging also offers the ultimate convenience. You can plug in your vehicle overnight or whenever it’s parked at home, ensuring a full battery in the morning. This can eliminate the need for special trips to charging stations and reduce the chances of running out of battery during your daily commute.

If you plan on charging at home, it may be worth investing in installing a home charging station, as it will offer faster charging times and more power than a traditional home socket. While home charging is more cost-effective in the long run, installing a home charging station comes with an upfront cost. This includes the cost of the charging unit and professional installation. However, this cost can be offset over time as the convenience and cost savings can outweigh the initial investment.

You can read more about the costs of charging your EV at home and discover the best electricity rates for EV home charging on this page.

Volkswagen ID.5 plugged in a charging station with woman in a yellow suit walking towards it

Public charging

Public charging stations provide an alternative to home charging, especially for those without access to private parking spaces. You can find stations in various locations, from shopping malls to parking garages, making them a convenient option for charging while you’re out and about.

Public charging stations offer different charging speeds, ranging from Level 2 chargers to DC fast chargers. Faster charging often comes at a higher cost per kWh. Prices can vary widely based on several factors such as location and network provider. Some public charging networks operate on a subscription or membership basis, offering users access to discounted charging rates, which can also provide cost savings. Public charging rates can vary widely, with some stations offering competitive rates, while others might be more expensive.

Public stations don’t require any upfront cost, unlike home charging stations, which require an initial investment. You simply pay for the electricity you use during each session. They’re also essential for longer trips that go beyond your EV’s single charge range, thus eliminating range anxiety. Fortunately, public charging stations are becoming more widespread, especially in urban areas. This means you have charging options when you’re away from home, increasing the overall convenience of owning an EV.

charging plug

Comparing the costs

Ultimately, the decision between charging at home and using public stations depends on your lifestyle and specific circumstances. Some factors to consider include:

  1. Your usage patterns: Evaluate how often you drive and the distance you cover. If you have a short daily commute, home charging might be the best option for you. Longer journeys may require stops at public charging stations.
  2. Charging speed: Public charging offers various charging speeds. Level 2 chargers are slower but are more cost-effective compared to DC fast chargers, which offer faster charging but can be more expensive.
  3. Initial investment: Home charging requires an upfront investment in a charging unit but is more cost-effective in the long run.
  4. Electricity rates vs. Public charging costs: Compare your home electricity rates to the cost per kWh at public charging stations. Public stations sometimes offer competitive rates, especially if you find good subscription plans.

Final verdict

When it comes to the cheapest place to charge an EV, home charging is generally cheaper compared to using public charging stations. However, there are other factors to consider besides costs, such as convenience, charging speed, your usage patterns, etc. Som if cost savings, convenience, and control are your main concerns, home charging is likely the way to go. On the other hand, if you frequently travel long distances or don’t have access to home charging station, public stations can be a reliable alternative. In many cases, a hybrid option might be the most practical choice, utilising a home charger for daily charging needs and using public charging when necessary. But if you’re looking for the most cost-effective way to charge your EV and save money, then home charging is the best option.

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For your information

^Electric vehicle/mode ranges are shown using WLTP (real world driving test). This variable is based on driving conditions, style, situation and terrain. The average New Zealander drives approx. 40 km per day.

International models might be shown for illustrative purposes only, and New Zealand specifications may vary.

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Please note that imagery and specifications may be of overseas vehicles and include optional extras. Pricing is subject to change. Speak to our team for current pricing and specs.