Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How Much Electricity Will An Electric Car Use?

With all the talk about electric cars lately, one thing that I keep hearing is people wondering how much electricity will an EV need? Are they simply ditching the gas pump only to pay just as much in their electric bill? I made a post on this subject last year and I think it's important enough to re-post it again for anyone that hadn't seen it last year. With gasoline prices north of the $4 mark now and electric cars in the news, I have had a lot of new followers lately and I still get emails from people that ask me just how much does it cost to charge the MINI-E; so here it is, again....

One of the questions that people frequently ask me about the MINI-E is "How much electricity does it use?" Sometimes they'll just say "I love the car, but I wouldn't want to see your electric bill!"

When I tell them the car costs between $3.00 and $6.00 in electricity to go 100-120 miles they usually smile and say "Wow, that's great". The reason the range is between $3.00 and $6.00 is because there is such a difference in electricity rates throughout the country. The MINI-E has a 35 kWh battery pack but only 80% of the pack is usable which means it has 28kWh of available power. That 28kWh can move the car between 90 and 120 miles depending on how efficiently you drive. It is less in the winter months because the heater uses a lot of energy, but for most of the year these numbers are correct as an average.

The national average cost for electricity is $.12 per kWh which means it would cost the average person $3.36 to fully charge a depleted battery on the MINI-E. However rates do vary. I pay $.11 per kWh at my restaurant in Montclair, lower than the national average, but it costs me $.18 per kWh at my home in Chester, only 30 miles from Montclair. So if I "fill up" at work it costs me $3.08 but at home it costs me $5.04! Obviously I take advantage of the lower rates and charge at work as much as possible. So basically for what it costs for a gallon of gas today, you can drive an electric car like the MINI-E or Nissan LEAF about 100 miles.

Since I have a solar PV array at my home, I sell the electricity back to the utility at the rate they sell it to me ($.18/kWh) so every kilowatt-hour that charge at work saves me $.07. The average person drives about 15,000 miles per year. If they had a MINI-E they would need to use about 4,200kWh to drive 15,000 miles. If you use the national average, you would pay $504 for fuel for the entire year. If you use my rate at my restaurant, it's $462, at my home it's $756. So figure anywhere between a $40/month and $65/month increase in your electric bill if you had a MINI-E and drove it the average of 15,000 miles per year.

One of the great things about electric cars is that you can easily reduce your electric bill by $40 to $60 per month just by being more efficient and therefore completely eliminate your transportation fuel cost! You can't use less gasoline unless you drive less, but you can reduce your electricity usage and still drive as much as you always have. Simple measures like a programmable thermostat and the use of compact florescent light bulbs can make a big difference. In fact, five 100 watt light bulbs left on continuously for a year use the same amount of energy as it takes to power the MINI-E 15,000 miles! Here's how: five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts per hour. In 24 hours they use 12,000 watts or 12kWh. In 365 days they use 4,380kWh. What does the MINI-E use to go 15,000 miles? Remember above I calculated it to be 4,200kWh? So five 100 watt light bulbs use 180 more kWh than it takes to power 3,200lb MINI-E for 15,000 miles!

If you take a good look at your home electricity use, I'm sure you can reduce your usage enough to drastically offset the cost of electricity to power an electric car, if not completely eliminate it. Then, every penny of the money you would have spent on gasoline can go right into your pocket!


  1. Nice post! I've been following this blog for a while and I don't remember reading this in the past, very informative.

    1. You all seem to know a bit about electric cars and gas alternatives, I am looking to be connected with someone who has knowledge of electrical generation, batteries, and cars to explore radical ideas, I have concepts but lack applied knowledge in this area contact me at

  2. I would have thought it would use much more than that. Five light bulbs? I know you don't leave light bulbs on all day and night, but that did put it in a bit of perspective.

  3. Excellent! I learned a lot from this, thank you!


  4. Thanks! This definitely puts it in simple terms.

  5. I completely agree with the author of this article. Now the petrol has reached costs really huge and the only way to counter this is to buy an electric car. As explained by the author of this article, these vehicles can be recharged in approximately 4-8 hours by connecting to a standard wall outlet and can travel 70-80 miles wirh a charge.. Comparing these values ​​with conventional vehicles soon becomes clear, that the savings are considerable, especially if the electricity is produced from renewable sources such as solar panels.