Tesla Charging Options for Australia

By Colin Allen

Rev 2.1 16-May-2016

CHARGING BASICS

The battery basically fills the entire sub floor of the Model S. The designation in your car (eg. 70, 75, 85, 90) is the capacity in kWh of the battery. It can be charged in multiple ways, at various charging rates. The battery itself is charged with DC (Direct Current) power. It can get this DC power in one of two ways:

  • Direct via Tesla Superchargers or third party CHAdeMO chargers.
  • From an AC (Alternating Current) power source, like you have at home, via a charger inbuilt into Model S that converts the AC current input into DC current required by the battery  (see below).

Tesla Charging Options

CHARGER #1 AND CHARGER #2

All Model S cars come with a single onboard charger as standard. This is a device that takes AC connected to the charging port on your car and converts it into DC suitable for charging the battery. The on board charger(s) are fed power via the charge port on your car through a range a different EVSE devices (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) external to the car such as the Tesla HPWC or UMC, or a third party high power EVSE (all discussed below), which are in turn plugged into a power source which might be anything from a 3 phase 32A socket down to a regular 10A single phase household power point.

Options from there depend on whether you have the current Model S with the newly designed nose cone area, or the earlier version. The change took place (for Australian deliveries) in mid 2016, so cars delivered (roughly) from June onwards will be the new model.

 

Early Model S (Pre ~ June 2016) Charger options

For pre mid 2016 models (with the old style nose area) you can get an optional second onboard charger installed/added and have them work together. In Australia these are installed locally at a Service Centre either at the time of delivery of your car, or added later on. Either way, they are ordered as a Tesla “accessory”, and at the time of writing cost $3,600 inc GST installed.

Basically, two onboard chargers can supply power to the batteries twice as fast as a single onboard charger. If all the energy from them was going into the battery, dual chargers would charge about twice as quickly as a single. As some power is diverted to other systems (eg communications and cooling), that difference is usually greater. 

A single onboard charger is limited to 11kW max charge rate – this equates to approximately 55km per hour of charging time added to your range. Having the second onboard charger installed in your car doubles this to 22kW max charge rate, which equates in practice to approximately 110km/hour of range added. I say “approximately” as your actual charge rate will vary from this due to a range of factors, the most significant of which is variations in your supply voltage. 

 

New Model S (Post ~ June 2016) Charger Options  

For those with the newer 2016 Model S (with the updated nose cone area), the charger is a factory option only. You can order either the standard 11kW charger as supplied with the old model, or a larger 16.5kW charger, giving a maximum of approximately 82km/hour charge rate. There is no dual charger option and yes, this is a downgrade in charging capability from the original model.

 

Charge Port

Charge Port
This is the port that opens up on the rear passenger side of your car, and accepts what is known as a Type 2 or Mennekes connector. The connector provided on our Australian cars conforms to the European standard and is different to those on the USA Model S cars.  This connector can accept either AC (depicted on the diagram above using thinner green lines) or DC (depicted using thicker red lines). Line thickness represents how much power they are capable of transferring but this is illustrative only, and not to scale. The illustration depicts green (AC) lines going to the charger(s) as it/they have to convert this to DC for the battery. Red (DC) lines go (almost) directly to the battery, although some complexity is omitted from the diagram.

 

 

Tesla Superchargers

Supercharger
These are the "free" (included in the price of the car) chargers. Superchargers are chargers - they operate independent of the car's onboard chargers and the power from them goes direct to the battery. You cannot buy or install a Tesla Supercharger yourself. They are installed and owned exclusively by Tesla. Due to port differences, European/Australian superchargers cannot charge North American cars and vice versa.

 

Most Supercharger locations in Australia have around 6 individual charging stations (although the overall range is from 2 to 8 at each location). These are oragnised in banks of 2 and labeled 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B etc. Each A/B pair draws its power from one charger, and each of those chargers has the equivalent of 11 of the chargers that are built into the Model S. If you pull up at a Supercharger, avoid taking the second of an A/B pair if you can when the other is in use, otherwise the power available is divided between the two cars.

 

 

CHADEMO Chargers

You can think of these as non-Tesla Superchargers, standardised for a range of electric vehicles, not just Tesla. They use a different connector and speak a different language during negotiation between the car and the charger. For this reason a CHAdeMO adapter is needed to allow you to connect the different plug and to perform "translation" during the negotiation. You can buy this adapter direct from Tesla as an accessory, which at the time of writing is $740 inc GST.

 

On the east coast of Australia there are very few CHAdeMO charging stations, although this number is growing, particularly in Queensland. The significant cost of the adapter is somewhat of a deterrent.  In Perth however the RAC electric highway rollout uses CHAdeMO chargers, and given the total absence of Tesla Superchargers in WA a CHAdeMO adapter might be a good investment.

 

Most people are curious about the weird name. CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of "CHArge de MOve", equivalent to "move using charge" or "move by charge". The name is also a pun drawn from O cha demo ikaga desuka in Japanese, apparently translating to English as "How about some tea?", referring to the time it would take to charge a car from one of these super fast chargers!     

 

 

HIGH POWER WALL CONNECTOR (HPWC)

This is the wall charger that is provided with your Model S and is usually sent to you a couple of weeks before the scheduled delivery of your car so you have time to get it installed. There are two versions of this device, and which one you receive will depend on whether or not you have ordered dual chargers for your car. The HPWC is typically mounted to the wall of your garage, and should be wired in by a qualified electrician. A list of Tesla recommended electricians can be found on the Tesla web site. Generally you would put it on a dedicated circuit to your switchboard due to the high power draw. 

 

Single Phase HPWC

This unit operates off single phase 240V (or 230V in some areas) power, and can be set to deliver 10A, 16A 32A or 40A. Normally you would set it to as high as you can for the power available, which your electrician can advise you on. If set to 40A, this will provide 9.6kW, which is close to the maximum charge rate of 11kW available with a single car charger. This translates to about 42km range added per hour. If you were to drop down to 16A this translates to about 16km/hr charge rate.

 

 

Three Phase HPWC

This unit operates off three phase 415V (or 400V in some areas) at 32A, but can be dialed back to as low as 6A depending on the power available from your switchboard. There is minimal benefit in having this charger over the single phase charger if you only have a single charger in your car, other than phase load balancing, which your electrician can do to distribute your various power loads across the three phases. Even though the 3 phase HPWC is capable of more, you will not be able to charge above the max 11kW rate of the single car charger. You would get a small improvement (55km/hr vs 42km/hr) by charging 3 Phase 16A over single phase 40A, however that would likely be insufficient benefit to justify buying a whole new charger. If however you have dual chargers in your car (pre June 2016 model), you will be able to charge at 22kW (2 x 11kW), which translates to about 110km/hr in range. If you have the Post June 2016 model with the 16.5kW factory charger option you can charge at around 82km/hour.

You can connect the three phase charger up to single phase only, however in that case your charging current will be limited to single phase 240V at 32A (40A not available), so if you don’t have 3 phase power available in your home, you are better off sticking to the standard single phase HPWC.

 

 

J1772 Charging Stations

These are non-Tesla equivalents of the Tesla HPWC and are quite widespread around Australia. Many of them are operated by Chargepoint (www.chargepoint.com.au). Almost all are free to use, with a few in SA charged for (billed automatically to your card).

They look different and have a different connector called, unsurprisingly, a “J1772 connector”. The Model S speaks the J1772 negotiation language so the adapter needed to allow a different plug to be connected to the charge port is very simple, and correspondingly way cheaper than the CHAdeMO adapter.

EVnomics in Australia sell a suitable adaptor for $295. One end plugs into the J1772 plug at the charging station, and the other end has a Type 2 plug suitable for the Tesla charge port. Setting up an account with Chargepoint is free, and after signing up their web site you will receive in the mail a swipe card to use at Chargepoint J1772 stations.

Some early Model S chargers would not work correctly with some of the cheaper overseas J1772 adapters, and are limited to 16A due to lack of internal 3 phase bridging, however this is not an issue with the EVnomics unit. The problem has been resolved “in car” for newer models.

 

 

UNIVERSAL MOBILE CONNECTOR (UMC)

This is the portable charging cable that comes with your Model S. It does not get installed on your wall, and is designed to be plugged into any standard 10A GPO socket, found almost everywhere in Australia. The advantage of the UMC is that it can be plugged in almost anywhere to charge your car. The disadvantage is that, out of the box, it is limited to 240V 10A, and that corresponds to a charge rate of about 10km/hr. If your car is very low on charge, that translates to around a day and a half to charge your car! That said, it can be very useful for an overnight top up while away on an extended trip.

The UMC is capable of charging at higher rates if you have access to higher power outlets, such as 3 phase 20A or 32A. The “tail” of the UMC which has the standard 10A 240V GPO plug can be unplugged, and a higher rated power plug used. If you want to do this, you will need two things.  Firstly, the Euro plug adapter orderable as an accessory from Tesla (about $135), and secondly one or more “tails”, one end of which plugs into the Euro adapter, and the other having plugs suitable for the higher voltage/current outlets available in Australia. Three phase 32A is most common (eg. at Showgrounds in country towns), however there are also many three phase 20A connections available, which require a different plug. These tails can be purchased from EVnomics in Australia for $198 each, or for $374 for a set of two (20A and 32A). The UMC will only work if the 20A/32A sockets have a neutral connected. Most do, but some older ones may not.

Note though that via the UMC, you will not be able to draw more than 16A current, single or three phase, which equates to 11kW from either a 20A or a 32A three phase outlet. This is also the maximum charge rate of your Model S with a single charger installed. It equates to around 55km/hr of charge rate. If you want to take full advantage of dual chargers in a mobile charging solution, you will need a higher power third party version of the UMC, discussed next.

 

 

HIGH POWER PORTABLE EVSE

These devices are currently not offered by Tesla, however there are several offered around the world, at various price points and feature sets. The benefit of these units is they allow you to take full advantage of higher output power sources not supported by the UMC such as single phase 15A, and 3 phase 20A or 32A. I stress though that there is no benefit to getting one of these devices if your car is only equipped with a single charger – you might as well just use the UMC based solution described above as you are limited to 11kW max charge rate by the car.

 

There are three main units which have found their way into regular use in Australia, the first is the EVR3 from e-station (http://www.e-station-store.com), and the second is the Maxicharger from Automobile Propre in France (http://www.automobile-propre.com/boutique/maxicharger/67-mister-ev-maxicharger.html). Also available is the Wallbox from Lugenergy (http://www.lugenergy.com/accesorios-coches-electricos/modo-2-recarga-ocasional-coches-electricos/), which is the lowest cost of the three options.

 

All three do much the same thing, for much the same price (around 750 Euro all up, with the Wallbox at 570 Euro). The Maxicharger has the advantage that it has removable tails like the Tesla UMC that automatically ensure that you cannot draw more current than the outlet you are using allows (avoiding popped circuit breakers or worse), and can be supplied preconfigured for Australian voltage and current, with a 15A option to match our 15A outlets (16A only from the EVR3). They also offer a type 2 tail for type 2 to type 2 connection (see below). The EVR3 and Wallbox requires you to use piggy backed adapters to go from one plug type to the other, constructed by your electrician, and then to be very careful about what you plug into what power source. In both cases, you will need to get an electrician to wire the Australian plugs onto the end.

 

The EVR3 and Maxicharger have the advantage that they can be sourced locally via EVnomics, who will supply with the Australian plugs on the end ready to use.

 

 

TYPE 2 to TYPE 2

Not covered in the diagram above, this type of charging outlet is a direct type 2 output, single or three phase, into the type 2 connector on the car. These are not that common, but there are still a number of them dotted around Australia, and they will become more common as manufacturers change from J1772 to Type 2 connectors in order to take advantage of 3 phase power. To connect to one of these, you can either use a Type 2 to Type 2 cable ($324 from EVnomics in Australia), or for those that have a Maxicharger EVSE, you can get a Type 2 tail, which is more compact than carrying around another large coiled cable for what at present would only be occasional use.  See the summary below for charge rates.

SUMMARY

Following is a table that summaries the various charging options in terms of highest performance down to lowest. Note too that if in practice you achieve less than the quoted charge rates then the most likely reason is the voltage on your outlet is a bit lower. 240V is the nominal voltage, however it is often a bit lower, particularly when under load, and occasionally higher than this. Lastly, there is no right or wrong way to go about select your charging equipment, it is a matter of determining what is best for your specific circumstances and driving needs:

 

 

Charge Rate

Charge Rate

Charge

Rate

Charge Outlet

Extra Equipment Required

Single Car Charger

Dual Car Charger

16.5kW

Factory Charger

Supercharger

None

300+ km/hr (does not use car charger)

CHAdeMO

Tesla CHAdeMO Adapter

100-280 km/hr (does not use car charger)

Type 2 (3 Phase)

Type 2 - Type 2 Cable

55 km/hr

110 km/hr

82 km/hr

 

Maxicharger with type 2 tail

55 km/hr

110 km/hr

82 km/hr

Tesla 3P HPWC (32A)

None

55 km/hr

110 km/hr

82 km/hr

3 Phase 32A Socket

High Pwr EVSE with 32A Tail

55 km/hr

110 km/hr

82 km/hr

 

UMC + Euro Ad + 32A Tail

55 km/hr

55 km/hr

55 km/hr

3 Phase 20A Socket

High Pwr EVSE with 20A Tail

55 km/hr

70 km/hr

70 km/hr

 

UMC + Euro Ad + 20A Tail

55 km/hr

55 km/hr

55 km/hr

Tesla 1P HPWC (40A)

None

42 km/hr

42 km/hr

42 km/hr

J1772

J1772 Adapter

30 km/hr

30 km/hr

30 km/hr

Type 2 (Single Phase)

Type 2 - Type 2 Cable

30 km/hr

30 km/hr

30 km/hr

 

Maxicharger with type 2 tail

30 km/hr

30 km/hr

30 km/hr

Single Phase 15A

High Pwr EVSE with 15A Tail

15 km/hr

15 km/hr

15 km/hr

 

Clipper Creek EVSE

15 km/hr

15 km/hr

15 km/hr

Single Phase 10A

Tesla UMC

10 km/hr

10 km/hr

10 km/hr

 

 

WHAT’S BEST FOR ME?

 

The operative words here are “for me”, as there is no “must have” set of additional accessories beyond the HPWC and UMC provided with your Model S. It all depends on where you live and the type of driving you will be doing. Here are a few scenarios:

 

1.  I generally don’t stray all that far from my home, and when I do it almost always be in line with the Tesla supercharger stations.

In this scenario, you will be charging up each night from your HPWC, so effectively starting each day with a “full tank of petrol”. So as long as you don’t plan to do more than 300km to 400km in a day, you will need nothing more. Long trips between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane (by end of 2016) you will have access to superchargers, which offer the fastest form of charging. Occasional overnight stays at places with a regular GPO powerpoint available will allow you to “top up” with your UMC, adding around 80km of range if plugged in for 8 hours overnight.

 

2.  I want to have the flexibility to occasionally travel to out of the way places off the supercharger routes and want to be able to charge faster than the 10km/hr offered by the Tesla UMC when I do. I don’t mind waiting a few hours to get a full charge, but am not too keen on having to wait a day and a half for the UMC to do it’s thing.

In this case, it is worth getting the Tesla Euro adapter for your UMC, and at a minimum the 3 phase 32A tail offered by EVnomics, and probably the 20A tail as well. The single 11kW car charger built in will be sufficient for you, and you will be able to charge from near empty to full off a 3 phase powerpoint in about 6-8 hours. You will also find the J1772 adapter from EVnomics very useful too.

 

3.  I want to do a fair bit of touring, including places off the supercharger routes. When I stop for a charge, I want to be able to recharge as fast as possible so I can get on my way.

In this scenario you will probably want to get the dual charger option for your car (or 16.5kW factory option for post June 2016 models), and to purchase a good EVSE like the EVR3 or Maxicharger, along with the tails for 20A 3 Phase, 32A 3 phase, and possibly even 15A single phase. You wont need the Euro adapter for the UMC or the extra UMC tails described above as the EVSE will do all that the beefed up UMC will do and more.

 

 4.  I am in Perth

With the rollout of the RAC electric highway in Perth, which uses CHAdeMO chargers, the CHAdeMO adapter will be worth getting, as you wont want to hold your breath for Tesla superchargers to be installed in WA. The electric highway also offers Type 2 (Mennekes) connection straight into your model S, although the charge range will be slower than using CHAdeMO. You might want to supplement this with the gear described in scenario (2) or (3) for trips off the beaten track.

There are several CHAdeMO chargers now popping on in Queensland too (including Gatton on the route out west to Toowoomba).

 

5.  Anything else?

These scenarios are not exhaustive, but will give you a good starting point. Like many people, I like to have the ultimate to cover all scenarios, and I fit scenario (3) above. I have dual chargers in my car, two Maxichargers (one is a spare… long story) with 1P 15A, 3P 20A, 3P 32A and Type 2 tails. I also have the CHAdeMO adapter (there are several CHAdeMO chargers in Brisbane with free access), the J1772 adapter, and an assortment of extension leads for single and three phase, as often where you have to park to charge is not immediately next to the charging outlet.

 

 

CONCLUSION

The above does not cover every possible charging option, just the main ones. It is the kind of information I wished I could have found in one place when I was buying my car. Whilst I have mentioned a number of suppliers in the notes, I have no financial interest in any of them – I am a Model S owner just like you. Please feel free to contact me if you need any independent help or advice, or if you feel any of the above needs to be corrected or added to. I will be updating it from time to time.

 

Colin Allen

colin@colinallen.com.au  TMC: ColinA