30 July 2020

How to charge your Tesla

Tesla model S banner

Want to go green, but scared of making the switch from fossil fuel to electric? If you are keen to get yourself a Tesla and start reducing your carbon footprint, the following covers many of the questions that you will need answered before you are comfortable moving away from familiar old technology to embrace the new and planet friendly.

How do you charge a Tesla?

Electric cars can be charged almost anywhere there is an electricity supply. This is their huge advantage, somewhat offset by their somewhat limited range. Somewhat as the range is increasing all the time. From less than 100 miles in the first electric cars, the latest Tesla vehicles can now offer up to 300 miles on a single charge, which is getting close to being comparable to a smallish petrol car, and easily enough for most daily commutes.

The charging port for a Tesla is hidden under a flap that looks very much like the petrol cap cover on a traditional fuel-driven vehicle, but instead of a place for fuel to be put in, there are a range of sockets. Select the correct one for your needs (see below for a description of the types of sockets), plug your vehicle in and go and relax until the vehicle is charged!

Where do you charge a Tesla?

There are broadly speaking two options: at home or away from home, but ‘at work’ can be added as a third option as some workplaces are beginning to have charging stations for electric vehicles installed in their parking areas.

Many service stations offer electric charging stations as standard, both along the motorway networks and in towns and suburbs, while many of the larger supermarkets and retail parks were also early providers for the needs of electric vehicle drivers: after all, if customers have to wait up to an hour for a full charge, why should they not do it in tempting reach of shops where they can spend even more money? Car dealerships too, needing them for their showroom wares, often offer charging availability to the public. Car parks, hotels and public transport car parks (such as train station parking or park-and-ride car parks) are also beginning to install electric vehicle charging stations to tempt green customers to choose their services over those of the competition.

Deciding to install Tesla charging station at home (or even at work) is step towards immense convenience. Now, you can use your home electricity supply from your standard plug sockets (with the appropriate adaptor/ transformer, of course) but this is a relatively slow process offering between 19 and 27 miles worth of charge per hour. Even at its slowest, it will generally ensure that you can travel over a hundred miles on five or six hours charge, which might suit those whose travel needs are very modest – a couple of miles to school, then work, and back again. With a purpose built charging station, installed relatively easily by a qualified electrician, you can charge your vehicle very much quicker – up to 44 miles worth of charge per hour, ensuring that your movements are not restricted by needing to wait for the charger to do its work. It is generally recommended that Teslas are charged overnight, so as to be ready and waiting with a full charge in the morning, when they are needed. If your workplace has a charging station, you can top off the charge while you work, to ensure maximum convenience.

What to do when charging away from home

When using a charging station, especially a third-party one (one installed for general ‘electric cars’ rather than specific Tesla charging stations) always check the voltage offerings. Tesla vehicles come with either 110v or 240v cables depending on where they are sold (some have both cable included) and they also come with J-1772 connectors. The latter are industry standard electric vehicle charging ports, and Teslas come with an adaptor so that any Tesla driver can use just about any electric charging station they can find.

While out and about on longer trips, Tesla drivers might come across purpose-built Tesla supercharging stations. These offer ‘supercharging’ capabilities which can see a vehicle topped up to at least 80% of a full charge in just thirty minutes – idea for businessmen and sales people with tight deadlines and a string of appointments ahead of them.

When should a Tesla be charged? How often?

Tesla on the road

Tesla recommends charging vehicles daily, usually overnight or during a working day to ensure a full charge is available when the vehicle is needed.

In the USA, charging from a home supply can be excruciatingly slow, trickling in at a mere 3 miles worth of charge per hour of charging time. This means a full charge on an empty battery could take as much as four days! In the UK, where 240v is the norm, speed of charging is much quicker, with an overnight charge usually enough to fully charge even a mostly empty battery. Getting into the habit of charging the vehicle whenever a connection is available is a sensible one, even though finding somewhere to car a vehicle is no longer the difficult task it was at first.

Should a Tesla driver be leaving their vehicle while they go away for a business trip or holiday, it is perfectly safe to leave the Tesla charging for the whole time. This ensures a full charge and a ready vehicle upon the driver’s return, and the internal smart technology will ensure that no harm comes to the vehicle from being overcharged.

Smart technology is also used to keep drivers aware of how far they can drive until they will need a charge, and can also alert them to the proximity of charging stations via the SATNAV.

Who can charge a Tesla?

Almost anyone, is the short answer. Teslas are designed to be user friendly, with ports that will only accept the right cable which makes it very difficult for a plug-in to go wrong.

Tesla interior

There are even a set of coded colourful lights that let the driver know what is going on at every stage in the charging process. For example:

  • Green blinking – the vehicle is charging
  • Green solid – the vehicle is charged
  • Amber – something is not connected properly
  • Red – there is a fault somewhere in the system and charging has stopped
  • Blue – a connector has been inserted
  • Blinking blue – the system is getting ready to charge. There is communication between the charging station and the car
  • White – there is no connector inserted, but the charging port cover has been opened

Now you know everything you need to know about charging a Tesla vehicle. It is a simple and intuitive process, and once you have made the commitment to going green, you will never regret opting for an electric vehicle over a fuel-burning traditional car.

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