Everything You Need to Know About Charging Your Tesla


Everything You Need to Know About Charging Your Tesla

Tesla is the most well-known manufacturer of electric cars in the world. It is easy to see why their technological advances have gained them so much popularity because how they construct their cars is unlike any other. Not having to fill up a Tesla with gas is one of its most attractive features. But, what do you need to know about charging your Tesla?

For the owner of a Tesla car, charging your vehicle is as easy as plugging the charger into the charging port and waiting. Charging at home is an option, since it can be done overnight. But there are also plenty of public charging stations that allow Tesla owners to charge while they’re out and about. 

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about charging your Tesla, from how long it takes to how exactly it works. Keep reading for everything you need to know about charging your Tesla. 

How Tesla Car Charging Works

You probably have a general idea of how an electric car is charged: get the charger, plug it in, wait for the car to be ready. But there is a lot more that goes into it than that. Reading below will simplify the complex process involved charging your Tesla.

Tesla’s Unique Battery Pack 

The first thing you need to know about the components involved in a Tesla car’s charging system is the battery pack. This power source consists of over 7,000 lithium-ion batteries, which you might commonly see in everyday life. The only difference is, these are Tesla batteries, and as is common, Tesla only works with the best materials available.

Because these lithium-ion batteries are so well-made and come in such large capacity, they can power a Tesla car both safely and efficiently. The most important job of a Tesla battery pack is, of course, to supply the means with which a Tesla car works. 

However, the battery pack is not only used for the electric function of the Tesla car. It also plays a large role in many other ways:

StabilityThe battery pack’s size is large and heavy enough to provide an immensely low center of gravity to enhance handling and stability.
StructureAnother asset to its size is that the battery pack aids in structural support and safety in the event of an impact or car crash. 
Weight DistributionThe battery packs are heavy enough to provide support and stability, but comparatively, they are lightweight against similar systems.

The battery pack underneath a Tesla car utilizes direct current (DC) power. To receive this power, it works best to be recharged by a system that provides DC power, although systems that provide alternate current (AC) power can also work at a reduced current rate. 

All Tesla Supercharger stations and at home wall chargers provide current to charge a Tesla car’s battery pack. The process works like any other battery charger, whether that be a car, a phone, or an electric toy.

When the Tesla charger is plugged into the Tesla car’s charging port, the process begins immediately. As said before, the battery charger provides DC or AC to the battery pack, depending on what type of charger it is. 

Transferring Power to your Tesla

Through the cord connecting the charger to the charger port, the electric current is passed from the charger to the port, connected in the Tesla car’s system to the battery pack. 

If the charger provides DC, the electricity will immediately transfer throughout the Tesla car’s system and into the battery pack. If it provides AC, the system has a power supply and inverter that allows the AC to be turned into DC for the powering process. As said before, AC power is still sufficient when charging a Tesla car, but the charge time will likely take a little while longer.

The passing of this electric current transports storable energy into each battery of the Tesla battery pack. Keep in mind that this battery pack consists of over 7,000 lithium-ion batteries. 

However, because of Tesla’s sophistication, charging is fast, which you will learn about later in this article. Even when using AC power, the charging process is advanced enough to drive current in the most beneficial way possible.

Storing Energy

The battery pack batteries are constantly storing energy from the transferred electric current while the Tesla vehicle is plugged up to the charger. After a charge, the batteries in the battery pack aid in powering a Tesla by releasing the previously stored energy over an extended period of time, thus transporting electric currents throughout the rest of the Tesla car’s system. 

As these batteries are extremely well-made by Tesla employees themselves, they are powerful enough to last long without the risk of something going wrong.

Similar to other forms of up-to-date rechargeable technology, Tesla battery packs cannot be overcharged. If they are still plugged in when they have reached a full charge, the electric current will refrain from providing energy to the battery pack. Thus, you do not have to worry about damage to your charger or Tesla car if you leave the charger plugged in overnight.

Particularly if you have an at-home Tesla battery charger, the options of power vary. You have the option to select certain voltage amounts depending on what type of charger you have that will decide the time it takes to charge your Tesla. 

There are different car charger levels to choose from in the electric vehicle category. However, when it comes to Tesla, the features are even more efficient. Here is a basic explanation of Tesla electric vehicle chargers:

Level 1These chargers can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. They provide 120 volts of AC power at a slow rate (about 2-5 miles of range per hour charged) and are great for overnight charging.
Level 2These chargers are a bit more powerful than Level 1 chargers but can be used at home or in public. They send between 208-240 volts of electric current through the charging port with a power of around 10-60 miles of range per hour. Because they are more advanced, they will likely require professional installation.
DC Fast ChargerProviding 60-100 miles of range in twenty minutes, these chargers are top tier. Because they require such advanced technology, they are typically only used for public charging stations. The Tesla Supercharger is a DC fast charger to a DC fast charger that exceeds all other chargers’ abilities.

Source: EnergySage

How To Charge Your Tesla

Charging your Tesla is simple. You do plug it in and wait. Depending on where you live, there might be a charging station nearby. But, Tesla’s do some with a wall adapter, so plugging in at home is also an option. 

There are also plenty of Tesla owners that make an effort to plan and do their shopping and errand running at places that have charging stations. However, Tesla does recommend using the wall adapters provided as the main source of charging. 

Factors That Impact Charging Time

Not all Teslas charge at the same rate. Just like any rechargeable battery, there are outside factors that impact how fast or slow the battery restores energy. Although Tesla is always working on new technology to make their batteries more efficient, and to improve consistency, there are still a few things that can impact your charging time. 

Type of Charger

The type of Tesla charger you use will be the biggest deciding factor on charge time. The Supercharger, Tesla Wall Connector, and Tesla Mobile Connector all vary in charge time because of the voltage and current they provide. More specifics on the different chargers later. 

A Supercharger provides the largest voltage of current with AC power, so it charges the quickest. The wall connector and mobile connector provide DC power, each with decreasingly less voltage, thus resulting in slower charges. Additionally, the age of the charger could affect charge time.

Tesla Model

The model of Tesla charged does not necessarily affect charge time just because they are different models, but because they have different mileage ranges. Obviously, a larger mileage range will take longer to fill up. 

With a Supercharger, the time difference is irrelevant because the power is so strong, but with wall connectors or mobile connectors, the charge time might be a bit more noticeably different.

Percent of Charge

The 20%-80% range, as mentioned before, is certainly a big factor of charge speed. Between these percentages, charging will typically always charge faster than outside of these percentages. 

The reasons for this are as such: Before the Tesla percentage is at 20%, the current passed through to the battery pack transfers more slowly in order to secure as much initial energy as possible; also, for a percentage after 80% the charging process slows to prevent an excess of current passed.

You already know that a Tesla battery pack cannot be overcharged, but slowing the charging process ensures that no additional electricity is wasted.

Getting to Know Your Charging Port

When plugged into an electric charger, the Tesla charging port displays many different colors of solid and blinking lights that indicate different conditions during the charging process. Here are what the color indications mean for a Tesla Model 3:

WhiteThe charging port hatch is open, but the charger is not yet plugged in.
BlueThe Supercharger, Tesla wall connector, or Tesla mobile connector has just been plugged in.
Blinking BlueThe charger is plugged in and preparing to charge the Tesla battery pack.
Blinking GreenTesla is currently charging. The rate of blinking slows as the percent of charge increases.
GreenThe charging is complete.
AmberThe charger/connector is not fully plugged in or is not plugged in correctly.
Blinking AmberIndicates that the charger is transferring AC power, which provides a slower charge.
RedSomething has gone wrong in the charging process.

Types of Tesla Chargers

Now that you know the different electric car chargers’ variations, the information below will inform you about Tesla chargers specifically. As you will see, the charging category is yet another feature of the company that has excelled. On the Tesla website, they offer more information on charging and installation options.

Tesla Wall Connector

The Tesla wall connector is the charger that Tesla recommends most commonly for those who wish to do most of their Tesla car charging at home. It is most similar to a Level 2 electric vehicle charger. 

This wall charger works with all basic models of Tesla cars currently on the market, with a power output of 240 volts (11.5 kW / 48 amps). Depending on your circuit breaker’s strength, you can select your desired power level, as these chargers work with any home electrical system.

The Tesla Wall Connector is great for installation inside or outside your home and can supply up to 44 miles of range per hour charged. The installation process is simple, though Tesla gives tips on how to find assistance. The Tesla Wall Charger’s efficient energy transfer is great for an overnight charge but may not be the best choice for a quick charge in a hurry.

The Tesla wall connector is heavily advertised by Tesla for the sake of convenience. Yes, there are thousands of Supercharger stations, probably a good number of which are just a short drive away from you, but having an at-home charger is great for any instance in which you are not driving your Tesla car.

Tesla Mobile Connector

The Tesla Mobile Connector is Tesla’s Level 1 version of an electric vehicle charger. How a Tesla mobile connector works are similar to a portable charger for your phone. It is convenient when you need a small but quick boost of power for your battery pack. 

It only provides 120 volts of power, so Tesla suggests not reserving it as your at-home charger but instead keeping it in your Tesla for emergencies or quick stops.

The mobile connector comes with the purchase of a Tesla car. It comes with a twenty-foot cable that can be easily stored in its bag. With several adapters to choose from, the Tesla mobile connector can easily plug into any outlet you might have in your house or might find while out on the road.

This charger can be used at home, but it will not give you the result that a wall connector will. A full charge from a mobile connector will require many days to recharge your battery pack fully.

Tesla Supercharger

The Tesla Supercharger is one of the most well-known products made by Tesla. With over 2,000 locations reaching more than 18,000 individual Superchargers across heavily trafficked roads worldwide, Tesla has revolutionized the industry of electric charging. 

These Superchargers provide extremely powerful electric currents that can charge your Tesla in no time.

Tesla installs software in their cars that allow your navigation system to locate Supercharger stations on your designated route. Additionally, suppose you plug in your Tesla car to a Supercharger when you stop for food or a quick shopping trip on the way to your destination. 

In that case, a mobile app can be installed on your phone that will notify you when your car is sufficiently charged.

Tesla is constantly working on the construction of new Supercharger stations around the world as well as adding Superchargers in urban areas like grocery stores, downtown spots, and other sites where the public densely populates the area.

How Long Does It Take A Tesla To Charge

The time it takes to charge a Tesla varies depending upon the type of charger you are using. As shown before, the Tesla wall connector, Tesla mobile connector, and Supercharger all charge at different rates because of their power output capability. 

Here’s a quick and very basic rundown of how long it takes a Tesla to charge. This is without outside factors that can impact the charging time:

Supercharger30 minutes = 50% to 80% ~1 hour = 100%
Tesla Wall Connector4 hours = 50% 8 hours = 100%
Tesla Mobile Connector2.5 days = 50% 5 days = 100%

Other minor factors that may affect charge time include the Tesla model you have and what percentage of battery your battery pack still has.

There is supposedly a Tesla sweet spot when it comes to charging. This means that your Tesla car will charge faster at certain percentages of battery than at other percentages. On average, Tesla charges the fastest between 20% and 80%. 

The reason this works in such a way is to preserve the power going through the charger. It is similar to how some smartphones work. If you plug in your smartphone at night, it will slow down the charging process to preserve as much electricity as possible once it reaches a certain percentage. 

This is yet another factor that adds to the focus on efficiency when it comes to Tesla production.

Supercharger

To start with the Supercharger, this will be the quickest way to charge your battery pack. With a battery pack close to nothing left in its percentage of charge, a Supercharger can resupply energy between 50% and 80% capacity in as little as thirty minutes. 

Thus, it takes a little over an hour for a Supercharger to supply a 100% charge. Yes, this is a lot longer than stopping for gas on the way to a destination, but you must remember the money you will save. You pay for a Supercharger stop costs much less than gas, even when supplying the fuel for the same amount of mileage.

Wall Connector

For an at-home Tesla wall connector, the process takes a bit longer but is just as efficient. Tesla wall connectors are convenient both for an overnight charge or a short term charge with great results. 

Take the Tesla Model 3 as an example. With a maximum estimated range of 353 miles and a wall connector supplying about 44 miles of range per hour, a Tesla Model 3 battery pack at or close to 0% can be fully recharged in about 8 hours. 

This means that if you are not charging overnight and want to charge for a few hours during the day before you drive, you can have a 50% battery pack charge in just four hours.

Mobile Connector

The Tesla mobile connector is the Tesla charger that provides the slowest charging rate but can also be used overnight or in an emergency. With an average of about 3 miles of range per hour charge, it would take a couple of days for a 100% charge, but as stated before, 

Tesla recommends keeping the mobile connector on hand in case of an emergency. The plus side to the mobile connector is that it comes with numerous adapters that can plug into all sorts of standard outlets. Its small size also makes it quite mobile, allowing for easy, compact storage.

Cost of Charging A Tesla

The cost of charging a Tesla car is bafflingly less than filling a traditional car with gas. This is another aspect that makes Tesla cars so appealing. 

Sure, they might be a bit more expensive upfront, but your investment will be well benefited from the money you will save by going electric. Tesla prides itself on providing safe and affordable cars at a fraction of the cost you might be expecting.

According to the Tesla website, “Charging costs are approximate. Charging cost estimate assumes Supercharger cost of $0.26 per kilowatt-hour. Gasoline cost assumes 21 MPG for Model X and Model S and 28 MPG for Model 3 at $2.85 per gallon. 

Cost may vary depending on the vehicle location, configuration, battery age and condition, driving style and operation, and environmental and climate conditions.” 

Comparatively, it is insane how much less it costs to charge your Tesla car than it would be to fill a car with gas.

Tesla offers an approximate scale that shows how much money you will spend on charging with a Supercharger in a certain amount of miles as opposed to the cost of paying for gas in the same range:

 TeslaGas-Powered
300 miles$23$41
1,500 miles$116$204
3,000 miles$233$407

Saving nearly double the amount of money you would spend on gas will quickly compensate for your purchase of a Tesla car, continuing to save more money after the equilibrium has been reached.

It is also valuable to note that these statistics apply to pay for a charge with a Supercharger. If you have an at-home Tesla wall connector or choose to use a Tesla mobile connector, the only cost you have to worry about – besides the initial payment – is a small charge to your monthly electric bill. It seems like investing in a Tesla car is a cheat code for saving money in the long run.

Charging a Tesla vs. Other Electric Cars

Besides aspects that have already been covered, such as saving money in the long run, better mileage for less cost, and convenient charging stations at home and across the world, the electric charging technology of Tesla cars has many other advantages, particularly when compared to other electric cars.

  • Eco-friendly: Electric charging allows Tesla cars not to utilize gas for power, so they do not emit harmful toxins into the air, which could endanger both people and the environment.
  • Advanced attributes: Electric charging enhances the technological advancements that support the success of Tesla. Teslas have some of the fastest acceleration rates globally while also providing extreme handling and stability, all aided by the amount of electric charge in the battery pack.
  • Safety: Tesla’s battery pack provides additional safety. As it uses electricity, it requires less moving parts, thus less risk of problems. The charging systems of other electric cars maybe not be capable of protecting as well as Tesla.
  • Charging efficiency: The charging process of a Tesla car compared to other electric cars takes much less time and money. The fastest charging electric car in the world is the Tesla Model 3. 

It is clear to see why Tesla has achieved the success you see it most well-known for today. Tesla manufactures the most sophisticated, most efficient, safest, and most maneuverable cars globally, and it does not seem like that might be changing any time soon. The charging system of Tesla cars is one of the main reasons for its extensive capabilities.

Takeaway

That should wrap up everything you need to know about charging your Tesla. The process of plugging in and charging isn’t too complex, but what goes on behind the plug sure is.  Many think that the complexity of electric cars is almost toy technology, a misnomer that comes with the idea of plugging in. Clearly, Tesla has gone to great lengths to prove that this is not true. 

Tesla is not planning on stopping its progress soon. They are constantly improving their vehicles and working on ways to branch their business out to all types of vehicle users, including those who drive leisurely, those who drive for necessity, and commercial drivers.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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