Charging Your Tesla
Charging your Tesla is basically as simple as plugging in where there is electricity
– which is just about everywhere.
Of course, electricity comes from lots of different types of socket – from a normal domestic power point, to high-speed dedicated chargers.
PART 1 - HOW FAST CAN I CHARGE?
How fast you charge depends essentially on 3 factors:
- Battery Charge State – When you charge, your battery will charge faster when it has less stored charge and slower as it gets full. This is more noticeable at Superchargers, but as a rule, regardless of how fast you charge, once you get towards 100%, your rate of charge will slow dramatically. For this reason, it’s often better to charge up to 80 or 90% and keep driving unless you really need that extra range – also your battery will last much longer if you don’t charge to 100% all the time anyway.
- Alternating Current – If you’re charging on AC, which is most places, your charging rate is limited by:
- The size of the onboard charger in your car – this sets a maximum rate-of-charge. Many Teslas have a maximum AC rate of 11kW, but on older Model Ss, this can be doubled to 22kW, or on newer S and X models, to 17kw
- and also
- What you’re plugged into – depending on what you’re plugged into, you may charge as slow as 2kW from a domestic socket up to the full rate of your car’s onboard charger on 3-phase chargers and sockets – we’ll cover this in more detail below.
- Direct Current – If you’re charging on DC, which means you’re using a Supercharger, a CCS-Combo2 (CCS2) or a CHAdeMO charger, the rate is governed by the charger. Superchargers and CCS2 max out at about 150-250kW and CHAdeMO adapters at about 50kW.
PART 2: WHAT CABLES DO I NEED?
Your Australian Tesla (unless you have a first-generation roadster) has a charge port with a “Type 2” connector which we share with much of the world – sometimes called a “Mennekes” connector. This is not the same connector as used in America (or some other markets). Model 3’s also have a CCS Combo 2 extension to this socket:
A Model S charge port with cable inserted (left) and a Model 3 charge port showing the additional pins below (right)
Depending on your car, your charge port will have either a motorised flap or a manual one, and a single status light, or a set of smaller lights.
Tesla-supplied cables have a button for both opening the flap, and unlocking the charger before removal. Third-party cables don’t have this button, but you can just push on the flap to open the motorised ones once you’ve unlocked the car (or you can open it from the charging screen in the car).
This single connector is able to connect to single or 3-phase AC from standard sockets or various types of dedicated charger, to a Tesla Supercharger, a CCS2 connector (natively for Model 3, or via an adapter for S/X). Model S and X can connect to a CHAdeMO DC charger with an adapter. We’ll cover the differences later.
If you only plan to charge at home, from household plugs and from Superchargers, you don’t need to buy anything, as you get cables for those with your Tesla. If you plan to travel further afield, or would like to be able to use the full range of charging infrastructure, you may wish to buy some extras.
Your Tesla comes with a Universal Mobile Connector (UMC)
This cable is actually a chargepoint that you can carry around. It comes with a standard 10A, 240V plug in Australia, and this will give you 2kW – it’s great for overnight stays where there is no other infrastructure, and will roughly give you 1/3 of your battery back overnight.
There are two versions of the mobile charger, depending on when you purchased your car. The older version (Gen1) is capable of charging up to 11kW and the newer version (Gen2) is capable of charging up to 7kW. Both adapters are compatible with any Tesla (or other EV that uses Type 2!).
Gen1 UMC (left) with supplied 10A Australian tail
Regardless of the version you have, the UMC can be fitted with different ends, or “tails” – the Gen1 comes with a 10A (2kW) tail only, but the Gen2 comes with both a 10A (2kW) and 15A (3kW) tail. Both of these can be supplemented with additional tails that allow you to connect to Australian 3-phase connectors allowing for up to 7kW on Gen2 (32A/single phase) or 11kW on Gen1 (16A/3-phase).
For Gen1 UMC, you can purchase an adapter from Tesla that converts it to 3-phase:
Gen1 UMC with “Euro” 3-phase adapter fitted (left) and a 32A (centre) and 20A (right) Euro to Australian tail.
Because we share our Tesla specifications with Europe, the connector is a standard European 3-Phase one – if you’re in Europe, you can just plug this into the wall, but Australia has a different plug standard. There are two different common sizes of plug - 32A capable and 20A capable - although the 32A version is much more common, so to use these, you need an additional piece or two as pictured. Remember, though, that the Gen1 UMC can only do 11kW - a maximum of 16A draw on 3-phase.
For Gen2 UMC, can charge at up to 32A, single-phase for 7kW. The most likely connector you’ll find for this in Australia is a 32A 3-phase plug, from which you can pull from one of the phases with a special tail which is made from a 32A official Tesla tail from another market, with the plug replaced with an Australian plug.
Tesla can also supply a High-Power Wall Connector (HPWC) – sometimes also called a destination charger.
The HPWC is designed to be permanently installed in your house or workplace. It’s installed by an electrician and depending on your supply, it can deliver up to the maximum rate that your onboard charger can take.
Often, this is limited to around 7-11kW by building wiring, but it is still the perfect charger for using when you’re parked. This is by far the most common way you’re likely to charge. The one pictured above is installed in an outdoor carport, and they are happy in just about any environment. Tesla also give these chargers to “destinations” such as hotels and restaurants and these show up on your car’s charging map automatically. They are available for purchase from Tesla for $780.
There are four other connectors you might come across:
CCS2 is an extension of the standard Type-2 socket that allows from DC Charging. As noted above, Model 3’s have this connector as standard, and can therefore use these chargers without adapters:
For Model S and X owners, if your car was built after May 2019, you can use an adapter supplied by Tesla to connect a CCS2 charger to your car’s socket:
Cars built before May 2019 can have this option “retro-fitted” to their internal charger for approximately $800.
CHAdeMO is a clever French/Japanese portmanteau that means both “Charge de move” and “(o)cha de mo ikaga desuka” (“do you want some tea?”). it is also an international standard for DC charging of electric vehicles. Tesla sell an adapter which works on Model S and X, but not on 3:
This adapter allows the bulky CHAdeMO connector to interface with the Tesla connector and supports high-speed charging at up to 50kW.
Many chargers, such as the Tesla HPWC and third-party chargers have a tethered cable with a Type-2 connector that you can use without needing anything else, but in many locations, there are chargers with a Type-2 socket.
At these locations, you need a Type-2 to Type-2 cable with you:
There are a number of suppliers that carry this cable for $200-300. You can also buy one from Tesla for $310.
In some locations, you will also find older “Type-1” (or J1772) connectors. These are electrically compatible with Type 2, but they only supply single-phase. You can get an adapter:
The adapter takes the Type-1 tethered plug and adapts it to the Type-2 charge port.
So – What cables do you really need?
It really depends on your use. For most owners, the standard cables from Tesla will be all you ever need – especially once Tesla add more Superchargers. With the standard cables, you can charge:
- at home
- at Superchargers
- at chargers with tethered Type-2 connectors (such as Tesla’s destination chargers)
- at any location with a household power socket
You may well want to get a Type-2 to Type-2 cable, as these are becoming more common, especially as all new EVs coming onto the market also use Type-2 connectors.
There are few sites that still have Type-1 connectors, and they are often quite slow, so unless you routinely park somewhere that has one of these, it’s unlikely you’ll need a Type-1 to Type-2.
If you want to be able to charge at high-speed from third-party rapid chargers, and you own a Model S or X, you may want to get either a CCS2-adapter (and possibly retro-fit), or a CHAdeMO adapter, or you can choose to borrow club adapters when you go on trips.
If you plan to travel longer distances further out of town, then a set of 3-phase tails are worth investing in – there are many locations that have available 3-phase connectors, and the Round-Australia route is mostly made up of these sockets.