December 27, 2023

How much does it cost to charge a Tesla? Overview of private and public charging costs

Tesla Model 3 being charged by JuiceBox Pro in an underground parking garage

Tesla kicked the electric vehicle (EV) race into high gear in 2008 when it launched its Roadster sports car. Since then, the company has set the pace for EV innovation, pricing, charging protocols, and more. Even now, Tesla cars have some of the longest battery ranges and fastest charging speeds of any car on the market.


Gone are the early days of free Supercharging for all Tesla owners, though. While there are still some ways to earn free charging time, most new Tesla drivers will have to pay to charge.


So, just how much does it cost to charge a Tesla? We’ll take a look at private and public charging station costs, along with some other factors that can influen30ce what you’ll spend to recharge.


The origin of free Tesla charging

In 2008, Tesla announced its all-electric sedan, originally codenamed “WhiteStar,” which is now known by consumers as the Model S. At the time, most experts welcomed and praised Tesla’s innovative new electric car technology, and many also asked probing questions like: How would it be charged? How long does it take to charge? Where would it be charged? How much would Tesla charging cost?


Initially, Tesla provided some surprising answers. In a 2012 press release, Tesla first unveiled its Supercharger network to the world. Boasting low costs and renewable energy sources, the company pledged to offer free Supercharger time to its Model S drivers indefinitely.


Unfortunately, those days of free Tesla charging didn’t last forever. The policy has evolved over the years, but Tesla’s current model is based around referral and loyalty credits. Depending on which car or other Tesla product you or someone you refer purchases, you can earn points that are redeemable for free Supercharging miles or other Tesla products.


For current details on the referral and loyalty program, see Tesla’s website. The essential thing to know is that you can earn some free charging miles for purchasing certain Tesla models or solar panels or referring a friend who does. Some drivers who purchased Model S or Model X vehicles in 2017  or earlier may still have lifetime free charging.


Breaking down Tesla charging stations cost

For the most part, however, Tesla drivers now have to pay for charging just as other EV drivers do. To understand how much it costs to charge a Tesla, it’s helpful to break down the costs into two categories: public EV charging stations and home EV charging stations.


Tesla public charging

The Tesla Superchargers located along the electric vehicle network resemble futuristic gas pumps and are capable of supplying electrical power at up to 350 kilowatts (kW). Per Tesla, pricing will happen in one of two ways: per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and per minute.


Per kilowatt-hour

This is Tesla’s default payment method and charges customers based on the amount of electricity they use. Rates vary based on location and energy pricing in the market where you’re charging. Currently, the national average for public EV charging in July 2023 was 13.11 cents per kWh.


To understand what you’d pay to recharge your Tesla at that rate, you’d need to consider your Tesla model. Tesla battery capacities range from 57 kWh to 95 kWh,  which means a full charge could cost anywhere from $7.47 to $12.45 at the national average rate.


Compared to the cost of refueling a car, that represents a considerable savings. Most cars hold between 12 and 15 gallons of gas , and today's average gasoline price is $3.86 per gallon, for a total refuel cost between $46.32 and $57.90.



At a Tesla charging station where billing at kW per hour is impossible, Tesla applies a billing-per-minute model that uses four tiers to account for changes in charging speed:


  • Tier 1: Charging at or below 60 kW, the lowest charging speed and per-minute rate
  • Tier 2: Charging between 60 kW and 100 kW
  • Tier 3: Charging between 100 kW and 180 kW
  • Tier 4: Charging above 180 kW, the highest charging speed and per-minute rate


Pricing for each tier varies by location and may change based on charging demand.


In addition to the direct charging fees, Tesla may also impose an Idle Fee should your vehicle linger in its station after being fully charged. In the U.S., Tesla charges 50 cents per minute for cars that idle when the station is more than 50% full. This doubles to $1 per minute then the station is completely full. For a full list of Idle Fees by country, see Tesla’s website.


Tesla home charging costs

Tesla recommends that owners do the majority of their charging at home, seeing as this will save them money while also keeping the Tesla charging station free for drivers who are in urgent need of a charge. For this option, the cost of charging a Tesla comes down to the cost of electricity in your area.


Residential electricity rates vary from state to state. Based on the above-mentioned Tesla battery capacity range of 57 kWh to 95 kWh and the national average home electricity rate of 15.91 cents per kWh, you’d pay between $9.07 and $15.11 to fully recharge at home.


Here’s what you’d pay to charge a Tesla at home in a few sample states (as of June 2023):


  • California: 29.58¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $16.86–$28.10
  • Colorado: 14.22¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $8.12–$13.51
  • Hawaii: 40.22¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $22.93–$38.21
  • Massachusetts: 27.46¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $15.65–$26.09
  • Nevada: 16.35¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $9.32–$15.53
  • New York: 22.27¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $12.69–$21.16
  • Oregon: 13.12¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $7.48–$12.46
  • Washington – 11.16¢/kW which leads to a full charge of $6.36–$10.60


Depending on your electricity utility and location, you may also have access to time-of-use (TOU) rates and special incentives for EV charging. For instance, many utilities offer rate plans with cheaper or even free electricity overnight. If you take advantage of this type of incentive, you may be able to charge your Tesla at home for free or at a steep discount.


Minimize Tesla charging costs with JuiceBox

Of course, electricity isn’t the only cost consideration when you charge at home. You also must consider the cost of purchasing and installing a charger. Here, you have options.


JuiceBox smart home EV charging stations work seamlessly with Teslas (and all other EVs) and will soon support the Tesla North American Charging Standard (NACS). Additionally, JuiceBox boasts great features that will help you manage your Tesla charging costs. These include:


  • Optimized charging sessions to reduce your energy bill
  • A sleek, compact design with LED lights
  • Option to install indoors or outdoors
  • Intuitive Enel X Way App that allows you to schedule and monitor charging sessions with your Tesla vehicle
  • Optional JuiceNet Green add-on to help you charge during times when solar and wind power are abundant


Many Tesla drivers also live in areas that qualify for utility rebates, which can significantly reduce the cost of a new smart home charger. Individuals who live in a low income or non-urban area are also eligible for a 30% tax credit for a home charging station and installation, up to a total of $1,000.


There will always be costs associated with operating any car, but Tesla owners can minimize operating expenses and save on the cost of charging a Tesla with a JuiceBox smart EV charger.

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