Before we start…
Before we get into chargers and adapters, it’s important for you to understand a few things. I’ve summarized it in layman’s terms.
Volt – The potential energy. Usually referred to as 110V, 120V, and 220V. 110V and 120V is the most common voltage used in North America. However, your washer and dryer most likely use a 220V.
NEMA 14-50 – The NEMA stands for National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the following numbers are identifiers for the type of plugs. The NEMA 14-50 is the most common plug for washer/dryer outlets but is also used for mobile chargers. RV parks often have these plugs, too.
AC and DC – Alternating current (Fun fact: invented by Nikolai Tesla) changes direction periodically which allows it to be much more efficient than direct current. Direct current only flows in one direction.
Amp – Also referred to as “A,” it measures electric current. The higher the number, the more electricity is flowing. Tesla home chargers are recommended to be set at 60A.
kW – Kilowatt is a measure of electrical power. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts.
kWh – Kilowatt per hour
HPWC – Referred to only Tesla chargers, it stands for High Power Wall Connector. These are considered a Level 2 charger.
EVSE – Electric vehicle supply equipment
Types of chargers
Level 1 Chargers
I know this looks silly, but when you’re desperate for power, this is a lifesaver. Level 1 chargers are used using a standard 110V or 120V household outlets usually at 10 or 15 amps. On my Tesla Model 3, this translates to about 4 miles per hour. This level of charging only makes sense if you don’t drive a lot or if you really need those extra miles to get to a faster charger. Your Tesla should come with a mobile charger with adapters that allows you to charge using the 110V.
Level 2 Chargers
Uses an electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) like the Tesla High Power Wall Connector to provide 240 volts up to 60 amps to your electric vehicle. Drivers can add up to 30-44 miles per hour depending on the Tesla vehicle. Many owners are comfortable with installing a NEMA 14-50 (dryer outlet) and use their mobile charger that comes with the car. Since NEMA 14-50 is based on a 220-240V, you can still get 20-30 miles her hour depending on your vehicle. If you charge overnight, this option may be the most economical. If you’re on the go more frequently and care about aesthetics, get the Tesla HPWC. These chargers are also common in businesses and hotels. They often have a Tesla Destination Charger which is basically a Tesla HPWC.
Other auto makers also have their own Level 2 chargers, but they most often incorporate the J1772 which could be used with your adapter that comes with your Tesla.
Level 3 Chargers (Superchargers)
These are fast, I mean 480V fast. These are direct current (DC) which allows it to be so fast. This can supply up to 120kW to your car and can only be used for Teslas. For my Model 3, it usually takes about an hour or so to fully charge. I’ve seen it go as high as 500 miles per hour but it tapers off as it gets closer to 100%. Most chargers do this to protect the battery.
Other Level 3 chargers in the market are CHAdeMO which are even faster than Superchargers but require an additional adapter to be able to use them.
Other charging options will become more available in the near future.