Electric cars are growing in popularity. The two best-selling electric cars, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, having sold over 400,000 units to date. However, when it comes to battery-operated vehicles, there are charging and battery range concerns. One of the first questions generally asked by someone enquiring about EVs is, “how long does it take to charge a Tesla?”
After all, you would not want to find yourself stranded on the road because your car ran out of battery power, would you? Most electric vehicles are set to charge to 80 to 90%, however, you can adjust how full the battery charges from the charge settings menu. Charging the car from 10% to 50% takes less time than charging from 80% to 100%. The reason being, the car loses charge trying to top up to full capacity.
Charging a Tesla
You charge your Tesla car as you would any other electrical device. Just plug it into an electrical outlet from which it draws energy until the battery is full. It is that simple! But unlike gasoline fuel stations that are widespread, charging stations are way less common.
The Tesla model you have, be it a Model X, Model 3, or Model S, and the battery in place will determine the vehicle’s charging system. For instance, a 100 kWh battery provides a range of 370 miles (EPA) for the Model S Long Range but provides an EPA range of 325 miles for the Model X Long Range.
Tesla charging methods
You can recharge your Tesla using either of three ways. These are:
There are two types of home charging equipment available:
For the fastest charge speed when charging your Model S, Model X or Model 3 at home or the office, a Wall Connector is the most convenient option. The Tesla Wall Connector:
- Has customizable power levels, which allow installation on a range of circuit breakers
- Is compatible with 208 to 250-volt outlets
- Can be installed both indoors and outdoors by mounting it to a wall or post
- Comes with a two-year warranty
- Can share available power with up to three other Wall Connectors, which is ideal for commercial purposes or individuals that own more than one Tesla
When a Wall Connector or Mobile Connector (to be discussed in the next subtopic) is plugged into the charge port, it provides electric power in the form of an alternating current (AC) to your car. Batteries then store this electrical energy as direct current (DC). Your car’s onboard charger is the device responsible for converting AC power into DC energy.
Now, different Tesla models have different onboard charger capabilities. Therefore, for the fastest charging speeds, you should install your Wall Connector with the Tesla-recommended circuit breaker for your vehicle. Use this table provided by Tesla as a guideline.
|Model||Onboard Charger||Recommended circuit breaker for installation|
|Model S (Performance, Long Range)|
Model X (Performance, Long Range)
Model 3 (Performance, Long Range)
|60 amp circuit breaker|
|Model 3 Standard Range Plus||7.7 kW|
|40 amp circuit breaker|
|Two or more Wall Connectors|
(for power-sharing among 2+ Tesla vehicles)
|N/A||100 amp circuit breaker|
A Wall Connector can also be installed with a lower amperage circuit breaker, depending on the existing electrical system. However, where there are as many as four Tesla Wall Connectors linked together, higher amperage installations are recommended. Doing so maximizes the amount of power split between each car when charging.
When you buy a new Tesla, it comes with the Mobile Connector, a compact bundle able to charge your car from different outlets at medium to low speeds. The bundle pack includes:
- A 20-feet Mobile Connector
- Adapter for a NEMA 5-15 120-volt outlet, which is the standard household outlet
- SAE J1772 Adapter for use at universal charging stations
- Cable organizer bag
If your residence has a different outlet, you can purchase the befitting adapter from the Tesla online store. The table below shows the charge rates for various adapter options.
Miles of range per hour of charge
|Model 3||Model S||Model X|
120 volt / 15 amp breaker
240 volt / 50 amp breaker
Maximum 32 amp output
240 volt / 50 amp breaker
Maximum 32 amp output
240 volt / 30 amp breaker
240 volt / 30 amp breaker
240 volt / 20 amp breaker
240 volt / 15 amp breaker
120 volt / 20 amp breaker
While it is not mandatory to install a Wall Connector, Tesla recommends installing one at home as it provides the fastest charging speeds and the most convenience. The Mobile Connector is best left to serve as a backup charging option for when you are traveling.
Public Electric Charging Stations
A Tesla can charge anywhere, meaning you can plug it into any public charging station. All public Level 2 240 V charging stations have a standard connector (SAE J1772) that fits all current electric cars, except the Tesla. That is where the Tesla-provided SAE J1772 adapter comes in.
When charging your Tesla at a non-Tesla public charging station, you will first need to attach the adapter to the charging connector, then proceed to plug it in. Tesla made a short YouTube video showing Tesla owners how to use public chargers that are outside its charging network. Here is the link to the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh1FSFK_OfY
Note: Tesla does not regulate pricing or charging experience at third-party charging stations.
Unlike gas stations that use conspicuous gas price signs, EV charging costs are not that clear. But payment will typically depend on a particular charging station.
- Some electric vehicle charging stations will require payment by the hour, so dispense as much energy as the car can take during that period.
- Others will charge per kilowatt-hour.
- There are those charging locations that implement a per charging session fee.
- You might also come across a charging station that requires a monthly/annual subscription fee.
- And still, there are those charging stations that are free!
Level 2 chargers are the most common public chargers. You can find them in places like offices, grocery stores, and parking garages. Level 2 chargers are considerably faster than Level 1 chargers (120 V), delivering about 15-25 miles of range per hour. These chargers can fully recharge most long-range battery electric vehicles during an eight-hour charge
Tesla also offers the option for Destination Charging networks. These networks allow you to charge at thousands of convenient charging locations like local shopping centers, parking garages, hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality locations. You can locate these Tesla charging stations through your touchscreen via navigation and on the Tesla Find Us map.
Tesla Supercharger Stations
In addition to home charging and public charging, there is the super-fast charging option, Tesla Superchargers. Supercharger stations allow your car to charge to 80% in about 30 minutes. They are placed on well-traveled routes and dense urban centers plus are conveniently located near desirable amenities like restaurants, coffee shops, travel plazas, and WiFi hotspots.
Each Supercharger station contains multiple Superchargers to get you back on the road quickly. There are currently 14,497 Superchargers across 1,636 Supercharger Stations. Below are additional notable details that apply to Tesla vehicles configured with the Supercharger feature.
- Charges are usually per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is the fairest method and a far simpler option. But where this is not possible, Tesla will bill for the service per minute.
- When billing per minute, there are two tiers to account for changes in charging speeds, Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 will apply when cars are charging at or below 60 kW, while tier 2 applies when cars charging above 60 kW. Tier 1 is half the cost of tier 2.
- Tier 1 also applies when your Tesla is sharing Supercharger power with another vehicle.
- Supercharger prices vary by location, configuration, battery age and condition, driving style and operation, and environmental and climate conditions. The average pricing for the United States is $ 0.28 per kWh, $ 0.26 per minute above 60 kW, or $ 0.13 per minute at or below 60 kW.
- Some Model S and X vehicles ordered before November 2, 2018, receive 400 kWh (approximately 1,000 miles) of Supercharger credits annually. Once used up, Standard Supercharger fees will apply.
You can locate Supercharger stations through your touchscreen, via navigation and on the Tesla Find Us map. Once you are there, park and plug in your car using the connector at the Supercharger post. The vehicle’s charge port LED should flash green to indicate that charging has begun. Notice you do not need to insert the adapter to the connector before plugging in at a Tesla charging station.
How long does it take to recharge a Tesla?
Having gotten to this part of the article, you pretty much now have an idea of how long a Tesla takes to charge. But let us recap in one sentence. Charging time depends on the car and the connected power supply.