Have you been finding inconsistency with how long it takes to charge your Tesla? Maybe varying weather conditions or different charger types have impacted your charging times in the past and left you asking yourself “how long does it take to fully charge a Tesla, anyway?” We’ve seen this question come up quite a bit. The goal of this article is not only to present the factors that affect Tesla charging, but give you actionable information that can help you get the most out of every charge.
There are many external factors that play a role in how long it takes to charge your Tesla. Without being acutely aware of these factors, you may find yourself frustrated when your Tesla doesn’t charge within that expected time frame! To address the question ‘how long does it take to fully charge a Tesla’, we’ve done some research and provided a comprehensive deep-dive article to provide an answer.
How Long Does It Take To Charge a Tesla Essentials
There are four major categories that influence Tesla charge time; the Tesla charger type, the required charge based on commute time, the impact of extreme weather conditions, and the charge efficiency of different Tesla models. In the following sections, we will outline how each of these factors plays an important role in how long it takes to charge your Tesla.
- Tesla Charger type
- Required Charge Based On Commute
- Impact of Extreme Weather
- Charge Efficiency of Tesla
Charger Breakdown Influencing Tesla Charge Time
First off, keep in mind that Tesla offers several different chargers to select from, all of which apply different voltages. Understanding your options here regarding the charger you select is very important, as it can make the difference in hours of charging!
Tesla provides three different chargers that are categorically different from one another, the 120-volt charger, the 240-volt charger, and the 480-volt DC charger, also known as the SuperCharger. Since each charger is supplying a different voltage, the resulting charge time is understandably going to vary. To better understand the influence that these chargers have on charging times, let’s take a look at each respective chargers individually and assess their influence on charging time.
Level 1 Charger
The Level 1 charger option, also known as ‘trickle charging’, is the first charging option available for your Tesla. Every Tesla comes equipped with a 110-volt adapter to connect to a standard 110 volt (NEMA 5-15) outlet.
This 110-volt adapter is going to deliver 120 volts and 15-20 amps of current to your Tesla. Although this is a great option since it comes equipped with every Tesla, this entry-level charging adapter will only provide 2 to 3 miles of range per hour, depending on the model of Tesla you are attempting to charge.
Level 2 Charger
The Level 2 charger option is going to connect to a variety of 240-volt NEMA outlets. This charging adapter is going to apply 240 volts and up to 80 amps of current to your Tesla. This provides anywhere from 9 to 52 miles of range per hour of charging, again depending on the NEMA outlet you are interfacing with.
Level 3 Charger
The Level 3 charging option represents the highest voltage charger that Tesla offers, also known as the SuperCharger. The SuperCharger, providing 480 volts and around 500 amps of direct current, is currently only available via public charging stations. The reason for this comes down to how your home is constructed. Nearly every US home is designed to provide up to 240 volts for major appliances. Unfortunately, attempting to run 480 volts of direct current into your home is most likely prohibited via building codes and electricity company regulations.
The benefit of SuperChargers is they can provide up to 170 miles of Tesla range in only 30 minutes of charging. If you’re out and about and need a quick charge, the SuperCharger is a great way to go.
Required Charge Based on Commute
Another major consideration is: "how much charge do you really require?" Take, for example, the national average daily commute of 15 miles each way. Here, your charging requirements and charging time are obviously going to be much lower in comparison to a commute of 40 or 60 miles.Of course, every Tesla owner’s commute is going to vary. To address this, we’ve put together a small table of common commutes, Tesla Models, and the associated charge time.
How Weather Conditions Affect Tesla Charge Time
Extreme weather conditions are another external factor that plays a major influence on charging time. When your Tesla battery reaches near-freezing temperatures or temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it will begin to consume energy to maintain a healthy battery temperature. This feature is commonly known as ‘Phantom Drain’, and is used to increase the overall lifespan of your battery.
When your battery reaches near freezing levels or drops below freezing, your Tesla is going to defer energy to warm the battery prior to charging to act as a safeguard for the battery. This practice is known as preconditioning. We’ve put together an entire article on the concept of preconditioning titled Tesla Extreme Weather Considerations - How To Optimize Your Tesla Driving For Winter Months if you’d like to dive into the subject.
At a high level, preconditioning the battery in cold months is going to use energy from the battery to warm the battery for charging, prior to accepting a charge to protect the battery. Of course, this process is going to extend charging times since you are temporarily warming the battery prior to charging.
Additional charging times are going to vary depending on the temperature of the battery. Take, for example, a battery that has dipped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Your Tesla is going to divert current from the charger to actually heat the battery. This is done in different ways, depending on the model of Tesla (some models will run the motors to warm the battery, while other models are equipped with heating coils).
By our estimates, it will take an additional 30 minutes of charging to get a battery above 32 degrees Fahrenheit when attempting to charge your Tesla in below-freezing conditions. Of course, the temperature of the battery and charger used are going to influence this time.
This is where Optiwatt comes in. Optiwatt is a free third-party app that is able to optimize your charging time and can precondition your battery before you leave. When you schedule your departure time in the app, Optiwatt will automatically charge during the cheapest time, and then charge for another 30 minutes right before you leave so your battery is warmed up and your car is ready to go.
Temperatures Above 100 Degrees Fahrenheit
In the same fashion, if your Tesla reaches temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (~105F), it will automatically run the AC to cool the cabin and battery while charging. Here, the intention is to limit the battery from reaching temperatures that could harm it That being said, when charging in extreme heat conditions, it’s going to take longer to charge your Tesla battery since a portion of the energy from the battery is being diverted to cool the car. On average, running the on-board AC system while charging your Tesla is going to consume around 2kW, which will double your average charging time when using a standard 240-volt charger.
Tesla Model and Charger Efficiency
Electric vehicle efficiency, measured in Wh/mi, is one of the most scrutinized EV metrics. This measurement is used to determine how much energy (in Wh) is required to move a vehicle one mile. Depending on the model and year of your Tesla, you’ll find a different EPA-rated efficiency for your specific vehicle. Essentially, what this value is providing is how efficient your Tesla is at utilizing the energy it is provided. A lower efficiency means that a substantial amount of energy is going to be burned while operating the vehicle, while a high efficiency means that less energy will be burned in powering it. Understandably, over 17 years of Tesla production, they have continued to push the limit of efficiency, improving at a rate of about 3% per year.
The main reason it's important to mention EV efficiency is that with improved efficiency between models, you’ll be able to achieve the same target range with a decreased charging time. For those of you who are considering upgrading into a different Tesla, consider the EV efficiency metric, since it will absolutely influence charging time!
Tesla Model Efficiency
As noted above, each Tesla model is going to offer a different EV efficiency measured in kWh/100mi. To get a good understanding of how these efficiencies vary, we’ve put together a chart of the varying EV efficiency based on common 2020 Tesla Models.
As you can see, it’s going to require more energy to drive a Model X 100 miles in comparison to the Model 3. Be sure to assess your specific Tesla model’s efficiency as it will play a role in charging time, in the sense that the more energy required to drive the vehicle, the more charge required to provide the target range.
Tesla Charger Efficiency
Another consideration is the efficiency of the charger itself. Whether you’re charging with the Level 1 charger, a Level 2 charger, or the SuperCharger, each is going to have a determined charging efficiency. This charging efficiency defines how much actual current is being pushed from the charger to your Tesla. Below is a small table outlining the efficiencies of the various Tesla chargers.
As seen in the graphic above, charger efficiency rating increases with the level of the charger. This provides Tesla owners with two benefits as they move from lower-level chargers to higher-level chargers. Understandably, charging times are going to benefit with higher efficiency. For example, by moving from Level 1 to Level 2, the efficiency of charging is going to increase from 0.80133 to 0.93472. In this scenario, we will see an increase from 80% to 93% of the applied charge actually filling the battery.
Things to remember
One of the main things to take away from all of this information is that charge time varies depending on substantial amount of factors.
Want your car to charge as quickly as possible at home? Try using a Level 2 charger in a climate controlled area. In a hurry and need a charge as fast as possible? Try and track down a supercharging station in your area! And always keep in mind factors such as freezing or extreme heat.
By considering different elements such as charger type, length of commute, inclement weather conditions, and model efficiency, we’re confident you’ll be able to better understand what is influencing your Tesla charging time, and have some good actionable steps to improve it.