Charging a Tesla FAQ

Last updated 08-Oct-2022

One of the most frequently asked questions after "how far can it go?" is "how do you charge it?", with the variation "how long does it take to charge?". And there isn't a simple answer. In this section, we cover everything you need to know about the types of chargers, the networks, how to find out what cables you need and a few other hints and tips when charging.

If you do not have a Tesla, then our Non Tesla supercharging guide provides information on how to use the Tesla supercharging network.

An electric car is just like any other car, the distance you can go on a given amount of fuel varies by how you drive and even the weather. The economy or efficiency of an EV car is also laid down by a formal testing policy just like the figures you see for petrol and diesel cars. Unlike a petrol car, for an EV they quote the range the car has on a full charge rather than how many miles it can do on a gallon or how many litres of fuel for 100 km. There have been 3 different standards used, EPA, NEDC, and its replacement, the WLTP, each giving different results. Tesla by law, has to report WLTP in Europe but otherwise prefer the EPA figures. Read our article on Tesla Range for a longer explanation of range itself, how measured and what happens in the real world.

Supercharging car


Before diving into the detail of charging options it's worth explaining the basics on what all the different terms mean:

Ways of charging

When you charge you are adding energy to the batteries and the rate at which that happens depends on the way you charge. We've included a MPH figure (multiply by about 1.5 for km/h) for each type of method as drivers tend to find it easier to think this way, however, this is only indicative and can vary between cars and driving conditions. The lower end of the figures are for the MX and the higher end of the range is for the M3 as an M3 can travel much further on a single kwh than a MX. Most users will want to charge in one of the following ways:

Car charging networks

Many EV owners charge their car overnight at home and rarely need to charge on a public network. Others travel extensively and rely heavily on them. But all owners need to be aware of what networks exist, how much they cost, and what you need to be able to use them.

A word of warning when using any charger. Most chargers are effectively in a car park, and terms and conditions apply. Please don't assume parking is free, sometimes it is so long as you register at the reception, but not always.

How much does it cost?

As we mention above it can vary from location to location. In general, if you have to pay for charging it is usually more expensive than charging at home and so we would advocate charging at home wherever possible.

There are also variations from network to network on how you are charged. Some schemes have a membership model where you get a discount. Some charge by the kwh consumed. Some by the time connected. And some also charge a connection fee. There is no easy answer to how much it costs outside the Tesla network, and you have to research the network, however there are an increasing number of websites that collate and help inform on the various networks and their locations to make life easier.

To calculate how much it costs to supercharge is fairly simple. Tesla charge a kwh rate and this is displayed on the map if you select the supercharger and look at the additional information. It is worth noting that this can vary by time of day. You get charged for the number of kwh added to the car multiplied by the price per kwh and the car will tell you the running total of how much the cost is in the bottom right of the charging screen.

Because you may charge more often than fill up a gas car, and you may not start from empty and charge until full, the question that makes more sense to us is how much does it cost per mile/km added. This is complicated by the fact that the miles reported by the car are not always obtainable and in winter you may need to use more 'Tesla miles' to cover the 'actual miles'. But to try and give a cost calculator we thing the following can be used as a rough guide.

The other common question is 'I will be charging at a friend's house overnight, how much electricity will it use?'. There are a couple of ways of working this out.

Both the above methods are a little complex and requires additional information, but the key thing to remember is electric cars are generally cheap to charge, certainly in comparison to petrol, so be generous to your friends and err on the side of over payment, they may simply refuse to take payment anyway.

Charging Etiquette

It can be a quite contentious subject amongst owners on the correct etiquette when using public chargers. Tempers can become especially frayed when people are in need of a charge and they arrive to find a plugged-in car that appears to be charged. There is no way to tell if a Tesla is charging if it is locked, the lights on the charge port stop flashing shortly after a car is locked and some owners mistaken think the car is full.

We suggest the following as a general guide to charging etiquette

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