Tesla EU charging using a Schuko plug

One of the many things that Tesla owners do is drive on the continent. There are plenty of Superchargers across most major routes and long journeys are relatively simple, but there is still the need to charge at your destination for those shorter trips around where you stay.

Europe, like the UK, has a range of charger options other than Superchargers, including type 2, Chademo and CCS, these may require you to have a membership card and this article is not trying to address these scenarios.

There is a scenario, just like charging with a 3 pin plug back in the UK, which you may want to consider while abroad, and that is charging from their equivalent domestic sockets, an option especially relevant if you are staying in a villa or gite for your holiday.

While these instructions cover using a UK UMC in Europe, variations on this approach may be suitable for Europeans travelling across Europe as there are 2 different adapters sold by Tesla depending on the region, just make sure any extension lead that you use is of a very good quality and rated accordingly as the european UMC draws slightly more current than the UK version when using a domestic socket.


Using the Tesla UMC abroad.

Tesla provide owners with a UMC, a portable cable that allows for charging from a variety of power sources depending on the interchangeable plug on the end. In the UK they supply two; a Blue, 32A, Commando plug, and a 10A 3 pin plug. You can also buy a Red, 16A, 3 phase commando plug and 2 different Schuko plugs for different parts of Europe. These cost approx £100 each. The newer cars from mid 2019 and model 3 have a slightly different UMC which is less capable but this guide works equally well with these.

The reason why there are two different adapters for the EU is because there have been two standards, CEE7/4 where the plug has an earth on the edge and CEE7/7 used in France and Belgium where there is a grounding pin. The European system also has one live leg carrying 230V with reference to ground, a neutral (also called the system ground), and a safety ground. However, it gets further complicated as wiring practices differ on the polarisation of the sockets. Typically, Europeans do not maintain consistent identification of live and neutral throughout their power system as is the practice in, say, the UK or North America. Consistent with this practice, the Continental European plug can be rotated to either of two positions and plugged into the socket, but not the CEE7/7 standard which has a earth pin. This would not be an issue in most cases however the Tesla UMC does care which is the live pin, and which is neutral, as neutral can be checked against the safety ground, and consequently if neutral and live are swapped, the Neutral is at 240v against the safety ground and the UMC will not work. As it generally does not matter which way round sockets are wired, European sparkies often do not care and consequently even if you have the right plug, the socket might be wrong and you can not charge.

The safest option is therefore to buy both Tesla adapters and find a socket that is only a few meters from your car. Or... do as we do.

Making your own extension cable.

What you ideally need is an extension cable that you can use abroad, and something that takes your existing 3 pin plugged UMC, as provided by Tesla, and that can plug into a EU socket. To do so its really as simple as buying a UK extension real, and replace the 3 pin plug on the extension cable with a Schuko plug. If the car will not charge, open the plug, flip the Live and Neutral, and try again. It is a 2 min fix.

You need the following bits and an electrical screwdriver:

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