The Good and Bad of Supercharging A Tesla Battery


The Good and Bad of Supercharging A Tesla Battery

A Tesla supercharger battery offers drivers a chance to refuel at a much quicker rate, but drivers should be aware of the harmful effects of relying on superchargers. The long-term impacts and costs of using Tesla’s superchargers will be discussed in further detail here.

Tesla superchargers can get your vehicle ready for the road in as little as 30 minutes. They deliver 120 kW (kilowatts) of power, with V3 stations offering up to 250 kW. Unfortunately, they do cost more to use than other chargers and can impact long-term battery performance.

Tesla owners have several different types of chargers available to them. You are invited to continue to the sections below to learn more about the cost of supercharging stations, how often you should use them, and which types of chargers work best for Tesla vehicles.

Pro Tip: Ordering a Tesla? Get 1000 Free Supercharger Miles by using a Tesla referral link from another Tesla owner.

What’s Good About Supercharging a Tesla Battery?

There are many positives to supercharging a Tesla battery, such as the capability to refresh up to 200 miles worth of battery range in just 15 minutes. The good news is that Tesla is taking action to ensure that a larger share of drivers can access these benefits, as you will see below.

Supercharger Ports Attach Like Any Other Charger

Regardless of whether you are using a slow charge station or a supercharger station, the connection process is identical. To connect to a supercharger, you simply park your vehicle next to the charge port and plugin. The charge port on the vehicle flashes green to let the user know that it is charging.

Speedy Charging

There is no better way to charge your Tesla quickly than to use a supercharger. With a normal charge, it can take anywhere from 3-12 hours to charge your Tesla to an acceptable capacity. If you need to get anywhere in a hurry, it can be challenging to do so if you find that your battery is not charged. Tesla’s superchargers can bring the vehicle’s battery up to charge in as short as 30 minutes since you can gain as much as 200 miles worth of battery range in just 15 minutes.

If you find yourself away from home with a low battery, then you can connect your car to a supercharger while you grab a bite to eat or go shopping. When you are finished, your Tesla will be ready for the road.

Good for Topping Your Battery Off

EV batteries are not yet well-suited for long-distance trips, but Tesla has come up with a unique way to circumvent this limitation. Drivers can visit a supercharger station to top off their battery in the middle of a long-distance road trip.

Less Crowding at Charging Stations

Even though charging stations’ network continues to grow, there are still concerns in some areas that there are not enough stations to go around.

If vehicles could spend less time taking up a spot, then access to a charger will free up much faster. Users wouldn’t have to leave their car at a station all day because the superchargers are capable of bringing the vehicle to driving capacity in just 30 minutes.

Tesla Manages Occupancy

Tesla has brainstormed a solution for ensuring that everyone gets a chance to charge their vehicles. The company has instituted idle fees at its supercharger locations. In the future, cars may even be able to detach themselves from a charging port once they have become fully charged, thanks to autopilot software.

Until this vision becomes a reality, the best way to prevent charger-hogging is to apply an idle fee of $0.50 for every extra minute that the car continues to be connected to the charge port after being fully charged (as long as the station has reached 50% occupancy). The rate climbs to $1.00 per minute when the station has reached 100% occupancy.

Tesla owners need not worry about inadvertently racking up idle fees while they are out shopping or eating. The Tesla app allows drivers to continuously monitor their vehicle’s charge level and automatically alerts them when the charge is nearly 100% complete. This feature can be accessed in the instruments section of the app.

Rain or Shine, Any Weather

Tesla’s superchargers are designed to deliver a quick charge, anytime and in any weather. You should take note though, that weather conditions do have an impact on the speed with which your car can be charged. For those living in temperate climates, it will be best to use a home charger that is installed in the garage. More details on home charging equipment are provided in the sections below.

What Are the Negatives of Using A Supercharger?

You should not be using a supercharger for your Tesla every day due to the effects that it can have on the long-term health of your battery. It’s also noteworthy that it does cost less to just charge your vehicle at home, using one of Tesla’s chargers.

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Supercharger Every Day

It doesn’t hurt to use a supercharger now and then, but it is not good for the battery to use the supercharger all the time. This is due to the excessive heat put off by the fast-charging stations. Engineers at UC-Riverside have found that high resistance may also cause batteries to crack, leak and then lose storage capacity.

It’s More Affordable to Charge At Home

It is more affordable to charge your Tesla at home than it is to use a supercharger station. The average rate of electricity in America is 13.19 cents per kWh, while Superchargers have been reported to cost an average of 26 cents per kWh.

You have the opportunity to install a Tesla Powerwall in your home, which allows you to store energy from the grid when electricity rates are at their lowest. You can also attach the battery to solar panels. Adequately charging your Tesla before you hit the road will ensure that you do not need to pay as much at public charging stations.

The Dangers of Undercharging & Overcharging

While there are certainly many benefits to supercharger stations, there are also some pitfalls. You should never let your battery drop below 20% or go above 90%. Otherwise, the battery’s life expectancy can be lowered.

Overcharging stations may encourage poor battery care either way. When using supercharger stations, you are encouraged to take advantage of the Tesla app. This will tell you the current charge level of your battery.

You Can’t Use A Supercharger at Home

You, unfortunately, cannot use a supercharger in a residential setting. This is because superchargers function by providing 120 kW of direct current (DC) to the car’s battery, skipping the vehicle’s onboard charger. This does allow the vehicle to be charged faster, but it requires dedicated transformers and utility connections that you don’t see in the residential setting.

It May Crash the Power Grid

It’s possible that having too many cars on superchargers could cause the power grid to crash since these fast-charging stations can be equivalent to 120 houses coming online at the same time.

One potential solution is to allow drivers a chance to swap out batteries or at least parts of the battery and connect them to a charger so that the vehicle will always have an adequately charged battery. At this point, this is nothing more than a potential solution that may or may not is implemented in the future.

How Much Does It Cost to Supercharge Your Tesla?

There are costs associated with using Tesla’s superchargers. There is no set price for each station. Rather, you can expect to pay a circumstantial rate based on a host of factors.

 Here is how the pricing works:

  • At many stations owners are billed per kWh of electricity used, at others, they are billed for service by the minute.
  • You can find the specific pricing for a station on the navigation touchscreen inside your Tesla.
  • Some stations may offer differing on-peak and off-peak rates

In the past, Tesla has allowed free access to superchargers to promote the purchase of certain vehicles within their lineup. This included free supercharging for the Model S and Model X, which are also the highest-priced models in the lineup. In the long run potential buyers still benefit, as the costs of new vehicles were knocked down a few notches in 2020.

Pro Tip: Ordering a Tesla? Get 1000 Free Supercharger Miles by using a Tesla referral link from another Tesla owner.

How Do You Pay for A Tesla Supercharger?

To pay for use, you will need to set up a payment plan with Tesla. Your Tesla account will be billed automatically as you use the charger. You will be alerted about any unpaid balances as they occur. The online account is also where you can check to see if you have any remaining free Supercharging credits left in the Loot Box section of your account page.

Is It Cheaper to Charge A Tesla Than Buy Gas?

Previous research has shown that it can be cheaper to charge an electric vehicle than fuel a gas car. Consider this: with electric vehicles you have many more ways to fuel up than you would with a gas car. You can refuel from the confines of your garage or use a public charging station.

A 2016 study left researchers at Colorado State University found that both home and workplace charging stations cost less per mile than the average gas price at the time. The cost of fueling an EV ranges from $0.03/mile – $0.22/mile, while the cost of fueling a gas vehicle ranges from $0.09/mile – $0.13/mile. Recent estimates by Car and Driver show that Superchargers tend to cost around $0.10/mile, with the new V3 stations offering even further potential to save on fuel costs.

In my personal experience, charging a Tesla at home every night and driving an average of 50 miles per day cost about $30 per month. I’ll take that everyday over paying $30 for a single tank of gasoline!

What Charger Is Recommended for A Tesla Battery?

Now that you know all the positives and negatives associated with supercharging, you should learn about which chargers are best to use with your Tesla vehicle.

Why It’s Better to Charge At Home

You can’t use a supercharger at home, but there are plenty of reasons to use either a wall connector or mobile connector, which are both discussed in further detail in the sections below. The low voltage power is healthier for your battery and on top of this, there are special government incentives associated with home charging.

Home charging incentives may include a 30% Federal tax credit for customers in the United States and many additional local energy incentives, which can be found here. You have better access to such incentives if you can primarily charge at home.

Home Charger Installation

The most effective way to charge your Tesla is to plug it in at home overnight into a home charger station. To install home charging equipment, you will need to find an electrician and request service for installing a wall connector for your Tesla vehicle.

The best location for a home charger is a parking space adjacent to the existing electric infrastructure. You should avoid placing the charger at an outlet that is difficult to access. A single wall connector is capable of charging multiple cars simultaneously, so most customers can get by with just one charger.

  • Tesla recommends that you install the wall connector on a 60-amp circuit.
  • You can order your wall connector here.
  • The wall connector can be installed both indoors and outdoors.

The wall connector is capable of charging at a rate of 44 miles battery range/hour. If you notice a dip in the performance of your wall connector, don’t dispose of it just yet. The fix may be as simple as a malfunctioning part that needs to be fixed. Replacement parts can be purchased here.

Standard Tesla Mobile Connector

Tesla vehicles come with a standard mobile connector that allows you to plug into a standard electrical outlet as a backup option. This is not the fastest way to charge your car, but it does vastly increase the number of locations where you can plugin.

The wall connector referenced above is preferable to the mobile connector for home charging, but the mobile connector can be used with any standard 120v household outlet and public charging station.

Charging speeds are a bit slower than what is seen with the superchargers or even the wall connectors used for home charging stations. The best you can hope for is 2-3 miles of range added for every hour of charging.

The mobile charger acts much like a security blanket. If you are visiting a family member or friend, you may not have access to one of the faster chargers. At the very least, you will be able to add 20-30 miles of battery range overnight, which should be enough to top off your battery reserve.

Destination Charging Stations

These days you are starting to see more and more community charging stations popping up in parking lots, at gas stations, at hotels, and downtown metro areas. The alternative to superchargers is the network of destination chargers.

There are more than 4,500 destination chargers located in North America alone. They can be found at hotels, restaurants, and parking garages, just like superchargers. As long as you don’t need to be on the road quickly, you should try to use these chargers as much as you can. Destination chargers are not much different from the wall connectors that Tesla owners have at home.

The destination chargers differ from superchargers in the following ways:

  • They charge your vehicle using low voltage power, which is better for the battery.
  • Destination chargers do perform at a slower rate, adding 30-44 miles of battery range for every hour of charging.

How Much Do Destination Chargers Cost?

The cost of use ultimately depends on the policy of the property owner. If the charger is located at a hotel, then you may need to be a guest of that hotel to access the charger. You may also anticipate paying an access fee or fee based on the duration of usage.

Where Do I Charge My Tesla If I Live in An Apartment?

If you live in an apartment complex or condo, you should still avoid using the supercharger on your car every time. The peak charging rate of the battery can be reduced over time if a supercharger is always used to refresh the battery.

If you live in an apartment building/condo, then Tesla recommends that you speak to your landlord or property manager about the possibility of adding a charger to your multi-family building. Applying for a charger at your location is a simple process that can be jump-started with an online request form.

How Do You Find Supercharger Stations?

Locating A Supercharger Station

To find a supercharger station, you can visit the interactive map shown here. The nearest charge station can be located on the center-mounted tablet of your Tesla vehicle. You can also find both superchargers and destination chargers on this map.

When Are Supercharger Stations Open?

Supercharger stations are almost universally open for charging 24 hours a day. The limiting factors are the hours of operation at local businesses allowing you to shop and eat while you let your car sit and charge. If you cannot locate a supercharger or destination charger station nearby, at least the mobile connector will allow you to utilize any 120-v outlet, albeit at a much slower charging speed.

Will There Be More Supercharger Stations?

Tesla continues to expand its network of charging stations, including its superchargers. Candidates for new locations depend upon a host of factors. Business owners are always encouraged to become charging partners, as this is a great way to mutually benefit both weary travelers and the business owners themselves.

Tesla prioritizes hospitals, restaurants, and shopping centers for new charging stations. The company is also in the process of developing long-distance travel plans so that Tesla drivers can seamlessly travel cross country, which can be challenging in an electric vehicle.

A built-in trip planner on the Tesla app automatically routes you through the network of charging stations throughout the journey. The trip planner plots out both destination chargers and superchargers. This is a nice touch for the EV industry since Tesla does manufacture proprietary charge connectors.

How Do You Use Supercharger Stations?

Not every charging station will deliver the same charge speed. The current battery level of your vehicle and the current weather conditions determine how quickly you will be able to charge your Tesla. In the sections below, you will learn more about how to make charge sessions more productive.

Choose Your Charge Post Wisely

If it’s possible, aim to select a charge post that is not connected to any other vehicles. If you do have to park opposite another vehicle, look for one that is nearly fully charged. This will help ensure that you can reach the maximum charge rate available at any given station at any time.

Note: If you are charging at an urban charge station, you will likely be able to disregard the above guidelines. Many such facilities have individual charge ports where customers do not have to share available power with a car parked opposite them.

Increase The Battery Range Of Your Tesla

There are strategies you can employ to increase the battery range of your vehicle, thereby reducing the number of times that you have to visit a charging station, including the costlier superchargers. You’ll also be able to make long-distance trips without worrying so much about stopping at every charge station along the way.

The energy app on your touchscreen provides tips for maximizing energy efficiency. The app analyzes your specific driving patterns and forecasts how often you will need to charge your car throughout your trip.

Here are some tips for extending your battery range:

  • Avoid frequent stop-and-go driving.
  • Avoid excessive driving speeds.
  • Be aware of the weather you are driving through.
  • Precondition your battery using the Tesla app during cold weather.
  • Limit the use of heat and air conditioning.

Look For V3 Charging Stations

V3 stations deliver peak charge rates of up to 250 kW. The first V3 charge station was opened at the Tesla Fremont, CA in 2019. Tesla claims that these rates will allow a Model 3 car to recover up to 75 miles of charge in 5 minutes and achieve a charge rate of 1,000 miles per hour.

Tesla plans on globally expanding its network of V3 stations in the coming years so that customers will be able to unlock the benefits of this enhanced charging experience.

How Often Should You Use A Tesla Supercharger?

Tesla does not put specific limits on how often customers can use Supercharger stations, but they do recommend that you limit use to times of absolute necessity. The high voltage stations can deplete the battery range further, thereby only increasing dependency on the speedy charging stations.

Instead, you should look to use the low voltage chargers, such as your home charger, as often as possible. The touch screen will display your daily recommended charging limit. Although it’s generally not recommended to exceed a 90% charge status, it can be safe to do so whenever you are planning a long-range trip.

Can You Use A Tesla Charger For Other Cars?

The EV industry continues to expand, with many other manufacturers entering the fray. This begs the question: can you use a Tesla charger for other cars? The answer is yes, but you will probably need to get an adapter. Also, you cannot use a supercharger on vehicles not manufactured by Tesla.

Tesla’s proprietary connector technology is most widely used in North America, so customers in other countries may have different experiences. The adapter you need to connect to Tesla’s unique chargers is the SAE J1772 Charging Adapter.

Do Other Cars Have Their Own Charging Stations?

Tesla’s competitors are building their networks of charging stations, in addition to packaging home charging equipment for owners, just like Tesla does. As an example, Ford claims to offer more than 13,500 charging stations for their EV lineup.

The Ford chargers deliver 150 kW of power versus the 120 kW offered by Tesla’s current supercharges and the 250 kW of power delivered by Tesla’s new and upcoming V3 charging stations. Newcomer Rivian is planning to install 600 charging stations in North America by 2023.

You should generally look for charging stations associated with your specific manufacturer, although this may not always be realistic if you own a vehicle made by one of the up and comers in the EV industry.  In this case, you will need the special adapter referenced in the sections above to charge your vehicle at a Tesla Destination Charger.

Final Thoughts

Tesla’s network of superchargers is capable of adding 200 miles worth of battery range in just 15-30 minutes, thanks to 120 kilowatts (kW) of power. The new V3 stations will be capable of delivering up to 250 kW of power.

You are still encouraged to use the provided home charging equipment and public destination charging stations whenever reasonable since these low voltage stations will help ensure peak battery performance. The supercharger stations are an excellent resource for drivers on a long road trip.

Pro Tip: Ordering a Tesla? Get 1000 Free Supercharger Miles by using a Tesla referral link from another Tesla owner.

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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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