Here is the true cost of charging a Tesla Model Y – after 6 months of real world driving. Join me as I break down the actual electricity usage and costs for charging my Model Y.
One of the best things about driving a Tesla, is that you can always wake up to a full tank of gas — or should I say a full charge of electricity. Unlike a gas powered car, owning an all electric vehicle, means that you can simply plug your car in every night and charge it up as you would your cell phone or your laptop.
For me, this is one of the most convenient things about owning my Model Y.
And since I bought this car, 6 months ago, I’ve stopped entirely going to gas stations altogether — which means there is never any interruption in my daily driving. After I charge my car every night, I simply get up, unplug it and go a full day without ever having to worry if my car has enough range.
And that’s because my long range Model Y has a capacity of 328 miles (when fully charged), which is actually more than enough for me to drive around for 3 days without charging — as long as I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary. So on a regular basis, I only keep my Model Y charged to about 90% capacity — which again is more than what I need daily, and it helps to preserve the longevity of my battery.
But how much does it really cost to do this? Is charging a Tesla really as cheap as everyone says it is? As a Tesla owner, these are questions that I get from my friends and family on a regular basis, so in this article, I’ll break down exactly what the actual charging cost of my Model Y has been, for the past 6 months.
1. Charge Method
So let’s start off with how I charge my Tesla Model Y.
There are a few different ways you can do it. For me, I’ve got a NEMA 14–50 outlet installed in my garage and I use my corresponding mobile charging cord with the NEMA adaptor, to plug into my car. With this larger outlet, when I charge my Model Y, I get a charging speed of about 30 miles/hr and I always start my charge at 1:30am at night — to make sure I get the most off-peak electricity rates from my utility company.
By the way, this is commonly know throughout the Tesla community already, but in case you haven’t heard, it’s best not to charge your battery to the fullest, each time you plug in the car. Tesla recommends that you charge to about 90% capacity or less, each time you plug in, to ensure that you preserve the health and longevity of your battery cells.
Now, of course, occasionally charging to full when you’re planning to take a long road trip, or need that extra range is just fine, but for the majority of the time, you should try to keep your charged state to around 90%. The Tesla app makes it easy for you to do that — they already have pre-determined markers for you to set your charge capacity to, as you can see here in the image below.
For my Model Y — a 90% charge is approximately 280-290 miles of range (fluctuates during cold weather) and on a daily basis, I typically use up about 50–60 miles of capacity in the every day driving my Model Y. And except for a handful of aberrant days, I’ve also plugged in my Model Y every single night since I’ve taken delivery of the vehicle, which means, on average, I should only be using enough electricity, each night, to replenish that 50–60 miles of range on my vehicle.
2. Electricity Usage Analysis
To test this theory, I logged into my utility company’s website, and pulled my daily electricity consumption data, so that I could analyze it. And here’s what I’ve discovered.
First, at just about every night, starting at 1:30am, I noticed a gradual spike in our energy usage. Now this makes sense, since I schedule my car to charge every night starting at this time. Secondly, the rate of kWh consumption during the charging period, consistently hovers between 2.04 and 2.17.
This means, compared to my normal consumption of about 0.09 kWh during the night, when I’m not charging — the energy level that my Model Y draws when it charges is approximately between 1.95–2.08 kWh. But what’s really interesting here, is that this elevated electricity usage, typically lasts from 1:30am to about 3:45am, which is a duration of 2 hours and 15 mins.
But remember earlier when I said that I typically only use up about 50–60 miles of range each day? So if we assume that 60 miles of range need to be charged, at a rate of 30 miles of charge per hour (which is what my NEMA 14–50 outlet gives me), it should only take about 2 hours to charge.
So why is my Model Y drawing this same amount of energy — for almost an extra 15 minutes time? Well, I learned that there are two main reasons this happens.
First, as your battery range gets past 80% and closer and closer to the 100% mark, the battery management system within the Tesla vehicle starts to slow the rate charge for the safety of the battery cells. Tesla released this statement a few years ago that talks about this charging throttle in their vehicles.
The peak charging rate possible in a li-ion cell will slightly decline after a very large number of high-rate charging sessions. This is due to physical and chemical changes inside of the cells. Our fast-charge control technology is designed to keep the battery safe and to preserve the maximum amount of cell capacity (range capability) in all conditions. To maintain safety and retain maximum range, we need to slow down the charge rate when the cells are too cold, when the state of charge is nearly full, and also when the conditions of the cell change gradually with age and usage.
Now, this particular statement was in regards to why supercharging slows when the vehicle gets close to reaching 100% charge, but the same principle applies when you are home charging with a NEMA 14–50 outlet as well.
Secondly, the battery management system also starts to lowers your rate of charge, as it gets closer to your capacity limit — so that it can finalize the charge, with precision, to exactly your indicated range.
Think of it like filling up a bucket with water — in the beginning, you can just turn the hose on at full blast because you have plenty of space to fill up, but as you get closer to the top, you have to throttle back the speed and volume in which the water flows so that you can fill up the bucket precisely to the top without it over flowing.
Same concept applies when you’re charging up your tesla vehicle.
What all this means to you, the owner, is that it’s a little bit of extra time at the end of your charging cycle, resulting in a little bit of extra cost to you in energy consumption. So, having said all that, what is my charging cost for this average 2 hours and 15 minutes of charge each day?
Well, as you can see from this line chart, as the spike in kWh increases from 0.09 to over 2.0, my cost per kWh jumps from approximately $0.02 to about $0.21 on average. And that typically lasts for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, resulting in about $1.76 of cost per night. And if I were to charge every day, that’s an estimated cost of $52.80 per month, and $642.40 per year.
But as I mentioned above, I pulled the actuals of my electricity cost from my utility company. And since I didn’t charge exactly every single night (because some days I forgot or some days we were traveling, etc) and because some days I didn’t drive very much, so the car only needed to replenish like 10 or 20 miles of capacity — the actual charging cost that I incurred over the last 6 months came out to be a lot lower than the $52.80 per month.
My actual electricity cost for just charging my Model Y for these 6 months, came out to be $213.08 or $35.51 per month. If this trend continues, in the course of one year, that number would only become $426.16.
Now I don’t know about you guys, but for me, back when I was driving a gas powered car, my fuel costs per month would be in the area of $250 — which would total up to about $3,000 per year. That means every year I drive my Tesla Model Y, I am saving over $2,500.
So, there you have it — that was my true cost of charging for my 2020 Model Y, over the course of 6 months. Now, of course, your results will vary — electricity costs vary widely by where you live, when you charge your vehicle, how much you drive, etc. So please make sure you take my information with a grain of salt, and do your own cost analysis on how much your Tesla adds to your electricity bill.
But all in all, for me — I’m pretty happy with amount of money I’m spending on charging my car.
- True Cost of the Tesla Model Y – Full Breakdown of Costs
- Full Review of Tesla Autopilot – Full Self Driving Package
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