You just made the switch from gas to electric and got a Tesla. Congrats! But what’s next? The most common question I get is “How do you charge??” and although it may seem overwhelming and confusing at first, we’ll break it all down for you.
Let’s start with what Tesla gives you with your car purchase
- Carry bag
- Universal Mobile Connector UMC (aka mobile charger)
- Nema 5-15 adapter
- J1772 adapter
You can always buy this kit if you need more adapters, which can be helpful for RV parks and other road trip situations, or purchase adapters individually. The most common of these additional adapters is the NEMA 14-50, which actually used to come with the car purchase.
NOTE: The last number of the adapters will give you the amount of amps (power). For example, the NEMA 14-50 has 50 amps.
You’ll see the levels 1 2 & 3 on some chargers, and this simply means:
- Level 1: 120v
- super slow at 2-4 miles per hour
- used when charging over night and probably into the day too
- useful when in a pinch
- Level 2: 240v
- Used for everyday charging at your home, such as a Tesla Wall Connector
- Charges 15-65 mph
- Level 3: 480v
- DC Fast Charging/Supercharger
- This level can’t be installed in your home as it uses too much energy
- 600-1,000 mph
- Typically takes about 15 min for a full charge
AT HOME CHARGING
A NEMA 5-15 adapter attached to your Mobile Connector will charge at 2-4 miles of range per hour. This would go in a standard 3-prong, 110v outlet. This is the same outlet that you would charge your phone or laptop with. This is what I use when traveling to see family, because I know I’m not going to be using my car that much while I’m there. I know it’s not much charge, but it’s something at least! Especially useful when going to family houses that don’t have any 240V or Tesla wall connectors.
Note: When using the outlet, you want to make sure you don’t have anything else plugged in. If you do, it might possibly trip the breaker.
More commonly used is the NEMA 14-50 and also has 240 volts, yet charges at 20-30 mph since it has a larger amperage. This is likely what you’ll come across at a campground if you were to charge there.
You don’t NEED the Tesla Wall Connector we’ll talk about next, and you can actually install a 14-50 or 10-30 outlet which will be much cheaper to install than installing the Tesla Wall Connector *usually*. Since they are 240v, charging isn’t bad, especially if you charge overnight and don’t travel far during the day. If you choose this option, you can also get a Mobile Connector wall mount so it’s neat and easy to remove and take with you for travel.
TESLA WALL CONNECTOR
So, now let’s take it a step further with the Tesla Wall Connector. It is on a 60 amp breaker, and if you’re interested in how it’s installed, check out our previous video. It’s a little more expensive than our previous home charging options, but if you’re like me, I will pay more for convenience. It charges roughly 40 mph, and if you’re a 2-Tesla household like me, this may be much better. The new Gen 3 charger also has wifi access and firmware updates, which allow you to control it remotely. This could be helpful if you are a business owner allowing customers to use the charger. It comes with 8 and 20 foot cable lengths. And if you want to make it look good, we got you covered with these faceplate wraps.
NOTE: If you’re out and about and you see these wall connectors at hotels or other high volume places, this is what tesla calls “destination charging” and it’s used the exact same way these are.
Apps you absolutely need that will help you find chargers:
- A Better Routeplanner (ABRP)
- For planning ahead
- Great for long road trips
- Tells you where all different types of chargers are and at what level
- Useful when traveling or in a new city
- Has comments and reviews on chargers
- Helpful when in a pinch and Superchargers aren’t near
- charging company – pay on app
- Level 2 – Usually charges 18 mph
- They use the J1772 adapter
- Very common in cities
- Can be free a lot of the times
- Convenient and app works well. Uses NFC so it’s not much of a hassle once you have an account.
- Make sure you get a lock so you don’t get unplugged (Option 1 and Option 2)
- Electrify America & EVgo
- More charging companies – pay in apps
- CHAdeMO adapters
- Level 3
- Pricey where I am – $30-40
- Only useful when in a pinch and can’t get to a Supercharger
NOTE: For Non-Tesla electric vehicle chargers, the J1772 adapter will come in handy most of the time. These are typically 240 volts/30 amps and charge 15-30 mph. After 3 years of owning Teslas, I’ve never had to use the CHAdeMO adapter.
There are a few different types: Urban, gen 2 and gen 3. They all look pretty much the same, but some will charge a little faster than others.
Tesla Superchargers are by far the fastest charger out there and most common one for Teslas. 410 volts and 330 amps, they can charge you up 200 miles in 15 minutes. Click on the red supercharger icon on the map to get supercharger station information. You can see the charging speed, amenities, etc. Just as convenient, there are over 30,000 superchargers and counting (worldwide), so you should be able to find them pretty easily when traveling. You don’t need an adapter either. Simply plug in, charge, and go! However, you can’t leave your car at the Supercharger when it’s charged up or you’ll get charged expensive idle fees. Everything is charged right to your Tesla account, so that makes it easy. Price can change depending on the area. Mine ranges from $3-16, and I know that’s a wide range, but it really depends on how long you stay, the area you’re in, and what time of day it is.
A few last tips:
- Your battery percentage will differ based on weather and terrain, so try to keep it 20-80% charged, and definitely not below 5%.
- Charge under 20% and above 80% will be slower, while everything in the middle will be really fast.
- High headwinds greatly reduce efficiency. Check the wind forecast before road trips and add charging buffers accordingly.
- Recommended to charge to only 80% for 2021 and earlier years, but 100% for 2022 with the LFP battery made in China.
- You can set it to charge up to a certain percentage, so you don’t have to worry about watching it.
- Don’t be intimidated by having to back into the charging stall and feeling a little uncomfortable about it. We’ve all been there.
- Trust the route the vehicle plans for you on road trips; it’ll give you a good idea of what percentage you’ll have left when you reach your destination. You can see your performance and adjust driving to save more charge.