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.
WARNING: THIS GUIDE IS ONLY FOR THOSE COMPETENT AT WIRING A PLUG
This guide only applies to European cars.
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. There have been two versions of the UMC in Europe, the original UMC1 supplied until early 2019 with MS and MX cars which supported both single and 3 phase charging, and the later UMC2 supplied with the Model 3 and MS and MX since 2019.
The UMC has interchangeable connectors to match the power socket and options include UK 3 pin plug, Schuko plug, 16A Blue commando, 32A blue Commando and for UMC1 a Red 16A commando. There are other variants specific to some countries and what each country supplies with cars can vary.
For UMC1 owners, the plug choice is further complicated because in some countries, notably France, the UMC1 is sensitive to the neutral to earth voltage caused by the polarity of live and neutral wiring and as a result you can buy 2 different polarity adapters. UMC2 is not sensitive to the wiring.
The first option is therefore to buy the Tesla adapters. The adapters for the UMC2 are relatively cheap, however the UMC1 adapters are around £100 and due to the polarity issue you may need 2.
In practice, you will also need to find a nearby electric socket and as this may not be easy it entirely likely that an extension cable will be required. This will need to be of the local plug type and of a high capacity, something not necessarily easy to buy off the shelf. The alternative is to make your own extension cable that also acts as a plug converter.
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 can plug directly into a EU wall socket. To do so is as simple as buying a UK extension reel, and replace the 3 pin plug on the extension cable with a Schuko plug. If you have a UMC1 charger and the car will not charge, open the plug, flip the Live and Neutral, and try again. It should be a 2 min fix.
You need the following bits and an electrical screwdriver:
The slowest way to charge your car is to use the 13A plug and the Tesla supplied UMC. This has a max charge rate of only 10A and little more than 6 miles added for every hour charging, but when needs must, this is the get out of jail option. The UMC cable is relatively short and the use of a good quality extension gives you extra range to a 3 pin socket. Make sure its rated for 13A, preferably 1.5mm core not 1.25mm and is fully unwound when in use. We recommend a SIMBR 5M Extension Lead Cable and while you can get other cables, the slightly larger 1.5mm core gives it extra margin of safety. Other makes exist, as do other lengths including by this make, just remember that really long leads still need to be fully unwound whereas a 5m is more manageable.
As an alternative you can buy what some people refer to as a Caravan Hook up cable and change the plug on this. These are available in many different lengths, while a PowerMaster 341082 Fly Lead Converter 16A Plug to 13A Socket is ideal, a longer length me be better if you think the plug socket is some distance from the car. The approach is the same whichever cable you decide to use, just ensure the cable is suitable for 13A (even though the UMC draws only 10A) and it is fully uncoiled in use.
There are a variety of different plugs, but we recommend one like this: This Schuko plug is an example of a robust, semi waterproof and well insulated plug. Whatever you do, do NOT think you can use a cheap 3 pin plug to EU standard adapter that you might use on a hair dryer, it will simply melt with prolonged use and be very dangerous. The negative reviews are because the previous version were delivered without the bend relief, we actually use the previous version happily.
While the cable will work fine the weather may require some extra protection. We recommend using a Dry box which will keep things dry and also act as a handy storage container for them cables, plugs and screwdriver when not in use.
If you select the extension cable above you can use a Weatherproof and Childproof ELECTROSAFE EXTENSION SEAL to act as both a strain relief and to give a degree of weather protection. This is not suitable for submerging in water or leaving in a puddle, but is fine for light rain and adding some additional protection.
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