Everything You Need to Know to Charge Your Tesla

When I first got my Telsa Model Y, I must confess that I really didn’t know much about charging. I had a general belief that I would need to put in a 240 volt charger at my home and that the range of my Tesla would cover my commute and trips around town, but I wasn’t quite sure about any of the details.  I didn’t know anything about charging for longer trips.

I think this attitude stems from the fact that with a gasoline car, you don’t think about filling the gas tank at all. Not with daily use, not when buying a car, nor taking a trip. Charging an electric car takes longer than filling a gas tank, and there are far fewer charging stations, so charging your Tesla for daily use and planning when to charge on a long trip takes some thought.

This blog post looks at the major topics around charging a Tesla and electric cars in general providing a high level take on the topic. If you’re interested in learning more detail, a link to a detailed blog post will be in the text.

Day to Day Charging And Equipment

Bottom line, we all want to use our car without worrying about getting stuck. To put those questions behind you, you need to get the right charging equipment and maintain the appropriate charge level of your Tesla.  Tesla provides some good information on charging options.

What kind of charging equipment you need is more important now since Tesla stopped including a mobile charger at the time of purchase. Now you must purchase either a mobile charger, a wall connector, or some other charging equipment and it’s not clear what is the best thing to buy.  Bottom line, IMHO if your driving requirements are those of the average person in the United States, the mobile charger is the best choice.  Why?  Because it will charge your car as quickly as you need, you can reduce range anxiety (fear that you will run out of charge) because you can take the charger with you on longer trips and it’s way less expensive.  You can find more information about the charging equipment and installation in the detailed blog, A Comparison of Tesla Home Charging Setups, but below is the summary.

According to the most recent census the average one way commute is 27.6 miles.  So for our purposes let’s say yours is a bit more, round trip 70 miles and let’s throw on another 30 miles just in case you want to take a side trip on your way home which adds up to 100 miles.  All cars, including Tesla’s, never operate at 100% efficiency, particularly if it is very cold or hot.   So lets say that due to current weather, how you drive, whatever, you’re get 70% efficiency.  This means to drive an actual mile you will need 1.43 miles of charge, and to get 100 miles you will need 143 miles available.  Charging speed is measured in how many miles of charge can be put on in an hour and the numbers below are based on the Model Y.   The mobile charger plugged into to a 50 amp 240v circuit, has a maximum of 30 mph charge, which is 4.8 hours to charge 143 miles.  The Wall Connector with a hard wired 60 amp 240v connection has max of 42 mph, and will take 3.4 hours.   That’s a difference of 1.4 hours, but who cares if your car is charged in 3.4 hours as long as the car has completed charging well before you wake up as that’s when most people car charge their cars.  However you should care that a wall connector will cost on average 3k in electrical installation costs assuming you don’t need to replace your electric panel to have a dedicated 60 amp circuit, plus 400 dollars for the charger itself which is attached to your wall.  The electrical cost for the mobile charger could be 0, if you have a 240v plug in your garage, or on average $300 dollars to get one installed, plus 200 dollars for the charger itself which you can put in your trunk when you take long trips.  Even if you do need a 240 v circuit installed that’s a $2,900 dollar savings, less wasteful, and more convenient as you can take it with you if you want.  BTW, unlike I thought, I didn’t initially get a 240v charger.  My commute is very short, so I just plugged the mobile charger into a standard 115v outlet in my garage.  That charges at about 4 to 5 mph but as my commute is under 10 miles and there is a destination charger at my work, it’s a piece of cake.

What About Charging for Longer Trips

Taking a longer trip in a Tesla or other electric vehicles needs a bit of route planning so you take a route that will also allow you to charge your vehicle as you go.  One of the hidden benefits of owning a Tesla is its’ charging network.   Unlike other vehicles which charge at third-party charging stations (which Teslas can also use with an adapter) Tesla built out and is continuing to expand its’ own charging network.  Because of this and Tesla technology longer trips are a breeze. Typically you charge your Tesla to 100% or very close to it just before departing.  Then you enter your destination into the Tesla navigation screen in the car and a route that gets you where you’re going with planned charge stops on the way will be created for you. The route that Tesla plans is the most efficient for getting to your destination without stopping for anything but charging. By and large people need to stop for many other reasons on a longer trip. There is great third party software that offers more planning options if that floats your boat as well finding charging stations whether or not they are a Tesla charging location.

To What Level Should I Charge My Tesla and How Long Will That Take

The short answer is that it depends on a lot of factors. Firstly the type of charging equipment you have, the average number of miles you drive daily, the average temperature where you live, how you drive your car and if the driving is mostly highway or city, whether there are charging stations at your work.

What Type of Battery Is In My Tesla and Will It Degrade or Wear Out

Tesla’s are incredibly efficient cars, with cutting edge technology. The most important part of an electric car is the battery. Because of this a huge amount of research is ongoing to improve capacity and charging speed. The type of battery in a 2022 Tesla will likely be completely different from models five years into the future. As of 2022 Tesla uses 18650 cells manufactured by Panasonic in the S and X models.  The Model 3 and Y use 21700 batteries.  Interesting to note that the name of the battery is derived from its’ dimensions.  The 18650 batter is 18mm wide and 65 mm in height.  The 21700 batteries 21mm wide and 70mm high.

In 2022, Tesla is beginning the introduction of a new battery cell the 4680.  It also offers different battery technology for the same vehicle model in different markets, and is changing the manufacturing process for the model Y and X.   In China for example, Tesla offers a Standard Range Model Y which uses LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate).

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