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 Super chargers across most major routes and long journeys are relatively simple, but there's still the need to charge at your destination for those shorter trips around where you stay.

Europe, like the UK, has a range of chargers other than Super chargers, including type 2 and Chademo, these may require you to have a membership car etc 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's charging from their equivalent domestic sockets, an option especially if you're in a villa or gite for your holiday.

WARNING: THIS GUIDE IS ONLY FOR THOSE COMPETENT AT WIRING A PLUG

Using the Tesla UMC abroad.

Tesla provide owners with a UMC, a portal 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 reason why there are two different adapters for the EU is because there have been two standards, CEE7/4 where the plug 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 (the system ground), and a safety ground. However, it gets further complicated as wiring practices differ in the polarisation. Typically, Europeans do not maintain consistent identification of live and neutral throughout their power system as is the practice in, say, 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. Confused yet? To make matters worse, the Tesla UMC does care which is the live pin, and which is neutral, as neutral can be checked against the safety ground, and as you've probably guessed, if neutral is really live and floating at 240v above safety ground the UMC will not work. And as it generally doesn't matter which way round its wired, European sparkies have been known to not care which way round they wire a socket. So even if you have the right plug, the socket might be wrong.

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

Making your own extension cable.

What you ideally need is a 10M 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 won't charge, open the plug, flip the Live and Neutral, and try again. It's a 2 min fix.

You need the following bits and an electrical screwdriver: