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How does Tesla Supercharging work?

Answers to some of the most common questions about Supercharging



By now you’ve probably seen a number of Superchargers popping up in numerous locations including shopping centres and along highways. Tesla has built an extensive Supercharger network allowing customers to conveniently charge their Tesla vehicles when they are away from home. With over 20,000 Superchargers worldwide, Tesla owns and operates the largest charging network covering more than 99% of the U.S. population.


In this post, we’ll review the basics of Supercharging and then answer some frequently asked questions including how to use a Supercharger, how much it costs and how long it takes to charge.


WHAT IS A SUPERCHARGER?


A Supercharger is a 480-volt electric vehicle charging station owned and operated by Tesla. Superchargers are the most likely mode of charging for Tesla vehicles while away from home. These powerful chargers can add several hundred miles of range to a vehicle in as little as 15 minutes allowing drivers to quickly charge and get back on the road.


Types of Superchargers


There are a couple of different types of Superchargers in Tesla’s Supercharger network. The main differences between the Superchargers are their charge power and whether or not the charge power is split between charging stalls.




V1/V2 Superchargers

  • Most common type of Supercharger

  • Delivers up to 150 kW of power

  • Power distributed between two charging stalls. This means that if a single vehicle is charging, it may receive up to the full 150 kW, but if a second vehicle plugs in, that 150 kW feed is then shared between the two vehicles. The first vehicle plugged in will receive the bulk of the power until it’s finished charging

V3 Superchargers

  • Launched in 2019, it is the fastest Supercharger currently available

  • Delivers up to 250 kW

  • Each stall has their own dedicated feed which means no splitting the power with the vehicle next to you




Urban Superchargers

  • Designed to occupy less space and located in places like grocery stores and shopping centres which makes it convenient to recharge while you go about your daily routine

  • Delivers up to 72 kW

  • Each stall has their own dedicated feed which means no splitting the power with the vehicle next to you


WHERE ARE SUPERCHARGERS LOCATED?


As of 2021, there are now over 20,000 charging stalls at over 2,100 Supercharging stations located all over the world. Superchargers are usually located along major highways to enable long distance travel and also in urban areas to allow for convenient charging. You can also find Superchargers at rest stops, shopping centres and grocery store parking lots.


Tesla makes it very easy to find the location of their Superchargers. You can locate charging stations through the Navigation feature on the car’s touchscreen and on Tesla’s interactive online Find Us map.


The Find Us map shows current Supercharger locations, as well as upcoming planned locations.




We find the Navigation feature from the centre console in the car is the most convenient tool to use. It displays the nearby Superchargers along with the number of open stalls, maximum power output, charging fees and idle fees. You can also find the nearest Superchargers in the Charging section of the Tesla App and when you click on a location, the app will automatically send the navigation information straight to your car.



HOW TO USE A SUPERCHARGER


Using a Supercharger is very easy. First, make sure you have a valid payment method set up in your online Tesla Account. When that’s done, you’re good to go. Drive to an empty spot, park your car and plug the connector into your charge port. Once plugged in, the vehicle's charge port LED will flash green to indicate that charging has started.



You can monitor charging progress and get notifications when charging is complete through the Tesla app and you can also see if you have any free Supercharger miles by tapping the Loot Box on the top right corner of the home screen.


How long does it takes to charge?


Superchargers are fast, but just how fast depends on a number of factors. The actual charge rate your vehicle can achieve depends on the type of Supercharger being used, size and age of the vehicle’s battery, how much charge the battery has, temperature of the battery and outside climate conditions. For example, vehicles charge faster when the battery is at a lower state of charge and charging slows down as it fills up. It also takes longer to charge if the battery hasn’t been warmed up.

To get a sense of how fast Supercharging can be, Tesla promotes the fact that Superchargers can add up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes. They also state that a Model 3 Long Range operating at peak efficiency can recover up to 75 miles of charge in 5 minutes and achieve charge at rates of up to 1,000 miles per hour when using a V3 Supercharger.



How do I minimize charging times?


Here are a couple of things you can do to maximize power and minimize charge time:

  • Warm up the car battery - Teslas have a feature called On-Route Battery Warmup. When you tap on a Supercharger location in the car’s Navigation, your vehicle will automatically heat up the battery so you arrive at the optimal temperature to start charging. Tesla says that using this feature will reduce the average charge times by 25%.


  • Choose an empty V1/V2 stall - Since V1/V2 Superchargers distributes power between two charging stall, park at a stall that is not currently connected to another vehicle to ensure your vehicle receives the full power. Each charging stall is labeled with a number and letter, either A or B (e.g. 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B). This means that 1A and 1B share the power from charging station number 1. When possible, select a charge post with a unique number that is not currently connected to a vehicle.


  • Share a V1/V2 stall with a car that’s almost done charging - the first car plugged into a V1/V2 stall receives the majority of the power. The charge power will gradually decreases as the battery fills up. Sharing a stall with a car that’s almost done charging will provide you with more charging power then sharing a stall will a car that just started charging.


How much does it cost?


There isn’t one standard rate charged for Supercharging. In most areas, users are billed a per kWh (kilowatt-hour) rate based on the location of the Supercharger. Certain Supercharger stations also offer on-peak and off-peak charging rates. In other areas, local laws prevent any non-utility companies from selling power by the kilowatt-hour. In these cases, Tesla bills users by the minute.

Billing per minute is a bit more complex. There are two tiers based on charging speeds, called “Tier 1” and “Tier 2”. Tier 1 applies while cars are charging at or below 60 kW and tier 2 applies while cars are charging above 60 kW. Tier 1 also applies anytime your vehicle is sharing Supercharger power with another car. The price that Tesla charges for tier 1 is half the price of tier 2.


Idle Fees


There’s also an idle fee if a station is at least 50% full and your charge session is complete. The fee’s purpose is to ensure that as many chargers are available as possible during busy periods and is about $1/minute, but waived if the car is moved within 5 minutes of charge completion.


Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember any of this as Tesla makes it easy to find the rate of each Supercharger. Specific pricing for a Supercharger is displayed when you select a location on the cars Navigation and the session total will also show up on the touchscreen.


Tesla estimates the average cost of Supercharging to be $0.26 per kilowatt hour. At this rate, charging 250 miles would cost approximately $20

How do I pay?


To pay for Supercharging, set up a valid payment method in your online Tesla Account by going to ‘Settings’ > ‘Manage Payment Method’. Any free Supercharging credits you have will be used before you get charged.



HOW DO I PLAN A ROAD TRIP?


There are a number of EV route planners available that can help you plan a long distance trip by mapping out the fastest route including where to stop to Supercharge and how long each charge session will take. These route planners make range prediction more accurate by taking into account everything from driving style to road conditions to make sure you have sufficient range to reach your destination.

Tesla’s Navigation feature has a built-in route planner called Trip Planner. Just enter a destination on the touchscreen and Trip Planner will automatically calculate the fastest route. Some other route planners you can try that have been well reviewed include A Better Route Planner and PlugShare Trip Planner. We encourage you give each one a try and see which planner provides the route that best suits your needs and preferences.