Tesla continues leading EV market sales: their two best-selling electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S., the Model 3 and the Model Y, make up nearly 70 percent of all EV sales according to Kelly Blue Book. When you’re on the go in your Tesla, finding Tesla charging stations is important to reduce range anxiety. You’ll also need to plan for stops at chargers on a road trip.
Tesla currently has one of the largest charging networks. In this article, we’ll break down the different types of chargers, where they’re located, how to find them, how long it takes to charge with them, and how much they cost.
- Teslas have a unique charging port and charger, but you can also use a J1772 adapter to charge at most EV charging stations.
- A large network of Tesla Superchargers is available for quick charging on the go or for road trips. Additionally, Tesla Destination Chargers offer slower charging that’s perfect for an overnight stop.
- There are a few easy ways to find Tesla charging stations including Tesla’s website, your Tesla app, and your car’s navigation system.
- Tesla charging costs vary depending on the charger location and type of charging station.
- Sign up for solar quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace to charge your Tesla with free solar energy when you’re at home.
What’s in this article?
- A quick primer on Tesla charging
- Different types of Tesla charging stations
- How to find Tesla charging locations
- What it costs to charge at a Tesla charging station
- Frequently asked questions about Tesla charging
First, a quick primer on Tesla charging
Unlike most other EVs which use a J1772 charger, all Teslas (Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y) have the same Tesla-specific charging port. You can still charge your Tesla using universal EV chargers on the go – you’ll just need an adapter. It’s not something you’ll have to buy separately, though, as SAE J1772 adapters are included as a standard accessory when you purchase any Tesla. In addition to charging with Tesla chargers and standard EV chargers, some chargers leverage CHAdeMO (another fast charging method). CHAdeMO charging your Tesla will require an adapter, which costs just over $500.
Most chargers you’ll use on the go are Level 2 or Level 3, which essentially just indicates the energy used to charge and thus the speed at which you can charge your Tesla.
Common Tesla chargers
|Charging level||Charger/plug type||Average charge range in one hour|
|Level 2||Tesla home chargers, Tesla Destination chargers, or J1772||10-20 miles|
|Level 3, also known as Direct Current (DC) fast charging||Tesla Superchargers, J1772, or CHAdeMO||Usually 180-240 miles; however, Tesla’s website states Superchargers can add up to 200 miles in 15 minutes|
What are the different types of Tesla charging stations?
There are two main Tesla charging networks: Superchargers and Destination chargers.
Tesla has done an exceptional job at building out its charging infrastructure, with over 30,000 Superchargers worldwide. Superchargers are usually easily accessible from major highways and roads, so they’re ideal for road trips. You’ll also usually have various options for grabbing food or coffee, shopping, or walking around, though the accessibility and options vary widely depending on the Supercharger location. Not surprisingly, more remote locations have minimal options.
Superchargers are named appropriately: they charge your Tesla very quickly at a maximum rate of 250 kilowatt-hours (kWh). So, what does that mean when it comes to the time spent charging your Tesla? It varies depending on a few factors like how depleted your battery is, which model Tesla you’re driving, the Supercharger location’s specific energy output, and how many other people are charging. You will need to add in charging time on road trips, so here’s a general guide of the average mileage you’ll add with 15 minutes of Supercharging:
The distance gained by Tesla model when Supercharging
|Tesla Model||Maximum Supercharging distanced gained after 15 minutes|
|Model 3||175 miles|
|Model S||200 miles|
|Model X||175 miles|
|Model Y||162 miles|
The lower the charge on your battery when you Supercharge, the faster it will charge. Alternatively, the closer your Tesla’s battery is to a full charge, the slower it will charge.
Pro tip: You can increase the speed of your charging by preconditioning the battery for Supercharging – something your Tesla will automatically do if you’ve entered a Supercharger as a destination in your Tesla navigation. This essentially means that 10 to 20 minutes before Supercharging, it’s getting the battery prepared to be at the optimal temperature for the most efficient DC charging.
Tesla Destination Charging
Tesla Destination Chargers are ideal for overnight stops as they’re often located at hotels, restaurants, and parking garages. They’re not as fast as Superchargers and there aren’t as many of them (approximately 4,500 are located across North America), but they are convenient when you’re breaking up a road trip over multiple days or want to keep your Tesla charged for a weekend trip.
Tesla notes that Destination Charging can add up to 44 miles of range per hour, which will vary by model as with Supercharging. We recommend you plan on using Destination Charging for overnight charges/stops, though, or if you just want to top off a charge.
Pro tip: If you’re counting on a Destination charger for an overnight charge and you anticipate your Tesla’s charge will be low when you’re arriving, you may want to call ahead to your hotel to confirm the Destination Charger is properly functioning and ensure they’ve blocked it off. A commonly occurring issue that Tesla and other EV owners sometimes face is called “ICE-ing,” which is when an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle parks in an EV charging spot, preventing you from charging.
How to find Tesla charging stations near you
While Tesla charging stations are available throughout the U.S., the exact availability does vary state by state. It’s pretty easy to find Tesla chargers and plan your Tesla’s charging on a road trip since both your car and app provide details on Superchargers near you and your car shows you chargers on your route if you require a charge to reach your destination.
Locating Tesla chargers in your car
When you’re in your car, you can easily see nearby Superchargers including total and available stalls, the charging cost, and icons showing what amenities are nearby like food, coffee, and shops.
Additionally, if you enter your destination into your Tesla in-car navigation, it’ll show you any necessary charging stops to make it to the destination, the estimated percentage of charge at the time you arrive at each charger, and the estimated amount of charge time to make it to the next stop. It’s important to note that several factors may change the estimates shown on the Tesla navigation, including your speed and frequency of acceleration, traffic, and elevation changes.
Locating Tesla chargers in the app
The Tesla app shows nearby chargers, the distance to them, and charging stalls available. The Tesla app also allows you to monitor your car’s charging if you leave your Tesla charging to grab food or shop. So, you can see what percentage of your Tesla battery is charged and approximately how long it has left to charge. You can also adjust the percentage you want to charge the battery up to if you don’t need a full charge.
Planning Tesla charging ahead of time
Tesla’s online trip planner lets you plan a route, including stops along the way, if necessary. It’s really helpful for a road trip to estimate your trip time along with the charging time needed. You can select your specific Tesla model to get the most accurate estimates as well as an estimated cost savings of what you’ll save compared to driving a gas-powered vehicle on the same trip.
Locating Tesla Destination Chargers
You can find Destination Charging locations on Tesla’s website. When you select a location, it’ll show you the business where you’ll find it (hotel, parking deck, etc.) as well as any additional information you’ll need such as the number of chargers available, the charging speed, and any details on cost or availability. Usually, hotels require you to be a guest staying overnight to get access to their Destination Charger and you may need to check with the valet or parking attendant to get access to the charger.
Using non-Tesla charging stations on the go for your Tesla
As previously mentioned, Teslas can use a J1772 adapter to charge at other EV chargers. If your hotel has a Level 2 charger that’s not a Tesla Destination Charger, it’s also usually a helpful way to charge overnight or during a weekend stay. To find these, use an app like Plugshare via the App Store and Google Play to find over 140,000+ charging stations in the USA and Canada, 2,000,000 station reviews, and 375,000 charging station photos. Plugshare also has an online view that shows lodging locations with EV chargers so you can plan stays ahead of time.
Want to charge your Tesla at home?
Install a Tesla home charger to quickly and affordably charge overnight. You can purchase a Tesla wall charger for your home for approximately $400, though you will likely have added installation costs for an electrician. Bonus: You may even be eligible for tax credits on your EV charger installation costs.
Tesla charging station expansion
On a Tesla earnings call in the third quarter of 2021, Tesla announced that it plans to triple the size of the network within the next two years, so it’s continuing to plan more Supercharger locations to meet the needs of increased Teslas on the road.
Tesla also announced in November 2021 that it’s piloting a program in a few European countries to enable non-Tesla EVs to charge at Superchargers. Tesla’s website notes, “It’s always been our ambition to open the Supercharger network to non-Tesla EVs, and by doing so, encourage more drivers to go electric.” Pricing for non-Teslas will be higher than Teslas, with exact pricing being available in the Tesla app. It’s not clear if and when this program could expand to the U.S.
What does it cost to charge at a Tesla charging station?
In most cases, Tesla charging isn’t free. (Caveat: If you have a Model S or Model X you purchased in 2017 or earlier, you may have free Supercharging, but most Tesla owners do have to pay a Supercharging fee.) As with other EV charging stations, costs may vary depending on the type of charger and location.
Tesla Supercharging pricing
Tesla notes that in most locations, Supercharging costs are determined by kWh, though some locations are priced based on the amount of time you’re charging. Additionally, at some locations, pricing may vary depending on the time of day (as with some utilities’ electricity costs, you may pay less to charge at night). Tesla doesn’t list specific Supercharger pricing on its website, but they do lay out pricing tiers, with prices lowest at Tier 1 and increasing up to Tier 4:
Tesla Supercharger pricing tiers
|Tier||Charging level (kW)|
|Tier 1 Supercharging||At or below 60 kW|
|Tier 2 Supercharging||Above 60 kW to 100 kW|
|Tier 3 Supercharging||Above 100 kW to 180 kW|
|Tier 4 Supercharging||Above 180 kW|
Sample Supercharging costs
One recent Supercharging session at a Tier 4 Supercharger (charging at 276 miles per hour) showed pricing as:
- $0.24/kWh from 9 pm to 11 am
- $0.48/kWh from 11 am to 9 pm
So, a Supercharging session at 9:30 pm in which you consume 13 kWh (resulting in an approximately 60 percent charge from an almost empty Tesla Model 3) costs $3.12. However, just 30 minutes earlier, the cost would’ve doubled to $6.24. However, it’s still much cheaper to charge your Tesla at a Supercharger than it is to fuel up a comparable gas-powered vehicle!
What else should you know about Supercharging costs?
- You won’t pay via a credit card as all fees for charging at Superchargers are billed through your Tesla account to your primary card.
- The cost of your current charging session is available on your Tesla screen in the ‘charging’ section. It will also show you a summary of costs for your last charging session.
- Most Tesla Superchargers have idle fees, which means that if you leave your Tesla plugged in at a Supercharger after it is fully charging, you’ll be charged a fee each minute (usually $1.00 per minute). However, if you move your Tesla within five minutes of reaching a full charge, Tesla will waive the idle fee.
Are Tesla charging stations free?
In most cases, no (at least when it comes to Supercharging). Earlier Model S and Model X purchases had free supercharging grandfathered in, but that ended around 2017. There were also some free Supercharging credits previously given by Tesla for referrals. If you do have any free Supercharging miles available, they’ll show up in your Tesla account. Destination charging is usually free, though, as we explain below with some stipulations.
Tesla Destination Charging pricing
Usually Destination Chargers are free to patrons of the businesses where they’re located (e.g. if you’re staying at the hotel overnight or eating at a restaurant in the parking deck where it’s located). However, depending on the hotel and location, you may have a standard overnight parking or valet parking fee — which is usually the same fee as anyone paying to park a car at the hotel.
Frequently asked questions about Tesla charging
Depending on the model, it costs between $9.62 to $18.30 to fully charge a Tesla. In general, the cost of charging a Tesla is 3.6 times cheaper per mile than the cost of fueling a gas-powered car: 4.56 cents per mile compared to approximately 16.66 cents per mile for gas vehicles. Check out this article to learn more about the cost of charging a Tesla (as well as how it compares to fueling gas-powered vehicles).
There are two main types of Tesla chargers: Superchargers and Destination Chargers. Superchargers are the fastest charging option for Teslas, whereas Destination Chargers are most useful for overnight chargers or when you don’t need a substantial amount of energy added to your battery quickly. You can find both Superchargers and Destination Chargers on Tesla’s website, via your Tesla’s navigation system, and on your Tesla app.
It’s free to charge with a Level 1 charger – you’ll just need a standard 120-volt outlet accessible to your garage, carport, or where you park your car and an adapter. If you want to charge faster you can install a Tesla wall connector for approximately $400. Your exact cost depends on if you also buy a pedestal for the charger and if you need any electrical work done depending on your home or garage setup. Professional installation can run between $200 – $1,200.
Charging your Tesla with solar at home
There’s sometimes a misconception that home Tesla charging is expensive. Still, it’s substantially less expensive in most areas than buying gasoline – especially if you’re using solar to power your charging. Your exact comparison depends on the cost of electricity in your area and the model Tesla you own (since various models have different ranges).
One of the best long-term solutions to lower your home Tesla charging costs is to go solar. You can use the EnergySage Marketplace to compare several quotes from pre-screened installers, helping you find a system that fits your needs at the right price. If you’re planning to charge an EV at home, share that information when getting estimates so an installer can help you build the right size system, allowing you to power your car with free, renewable energy generated at home.