One of the first questions potential electric car owners want to know is how long it will take to charge their vehicle. Unlike a gas car where you can quickly fill up a tank in a moment’s notice, with an electric vehicle, it takes a bit more planning, not only to find a charger, but also taking into consideration the length of time it takes to charge.
Luckily, Tesla owners have one of the largest and fastest charging networks available. Tesla has spent a good amount of time building out its charging network over the years that consists of Superchargers and Destination chargers, making charging relatively convenient and easy, particularly compared to other electric cars.
Since Tesla vehicles have excellent range and since owners typically charge their Teslas at home, most people don’t worry about charging at all until they go on a road trip. Even then, the sophisticated Tesla navigation software calculates the estimated consumption for the route and will automatically incorporate charging station stops along the way.
How long it takes to charge a Tesla depends on where you’re charging, since there are many charging options, and to a lesser extent, your Tesla model (as some, like the Model 3, have higher charging rates).
In Brief: Home Chargers vs. Superchargers
Here are some quick rules-of-thumb when it comes to Tesla charging times:
- Home Charging – Fully charging at a residential home where power output is low usually takes overnight from an empty battery to a full charge (or a couple hours if you’re just topping-off from a daily commute).
- Charging at Superchargers – Charging at a Tesla Supercharger while on the road usually takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on the charger and the vehicle (see below).
We’ll explain all the details below, in addition to charging costs for a Tesla versus other vehicles.
Electricity and Charging Basics
The first thing to understand is how charging rates and capacity are expressed for electricity.
kW and kWh (and amps)
The two primary terms you’ll come across in the electric car world are kW (kilowatts) and kWh (kilowatt hours). Kilo is 1,000, so kW 1,000 watts, for example. You’ll also, of course, come across amps which are useful to know when connecting to your home. Here are the definitions:
- kWh = kilowatt hour and is measurement of energy. This can be used to express how much stored energy something has, like a battery. For example if you have a battery with 1 kWh capacity, you could run a 100 watt bulb for an hour.
- kW = kilowatts and is a measurement of speed of power. This expresses the speed at which energy is used or made. So a 100 watt bulb burns more power more quickly than a 40 watt bulb. Likewise a 100 watt charger for a battery would charge a battery faster than a 40 watt one.
- Amps = measure of current and is related to volts. You only need to know this when connecting a charger to your home to figure how how much power (kW) you can produce to charge your vehicle. The formula is:
- watts = amps x volts
Range and Battery Capacities for Electric Cars
As you know, gas cars have a tank of gas that holds “gallons” of gas and have a range based on MPG. For electric cars is somewhat similar. In electric cars, the battery capacity (the “tank”) is expressed in kWh. Most Tesla cars have a battery capacity of around 50 kWh to 100 kWh.
Tesla typically doesn’t mention the battery capacity and instead just lists the range of each option. So, for example, the Model X SUV “Long Range” with a 100 kWh battery pack currently has a range of 325 miles (an efficiency of 3.25 miles/kWh) whereas the Model 3 “Standard Range” with a 50 kWh battery pack has a range of 240 miles, or 4.8 miles/kWh.
Electric Car Charging
For charging, electricity is expressed in kW (kilowatts). Remember this is the speed at which your call will charge. Typical Tesla Superchargers range from 75 kW to 150 kW (or even higher for new V3 ones). Charging at home is much slower, around 5 to 10 kW.
How Much Does it Cost to Charge a Tesla?
It depends on your location and electricity rate, but it generally costs around $0.28 per kWh to charge at a Supercharger (some charge by minute), unless you have free Supercharging credits, of course. At home, the average rate is around $0.13 per kWh in the US, but can vary quite a bit by state. As an aside, Tesla has stated that they make no profit from Supercharging and the rate is only meant to reflect local electricity rates plus the infrastructure costs.
Ok, so let’s assume you have a 2019 Model S with a 100 kWh battery pack that has a range of 370 miles. To fill it up at home with a rate of $0.13 per kWh would cost $13. Roughly double that if you filled up at a Supercharger.
See more about Tesla charging costs, plus our Tesla Charging Cost Calculator.
Tesla Charging Costs Compared to Gas and Other EVs
So how does this compare to other EVs and gas vehicles? The best way to compare it on a cost-per-mile basis (or better yet, cost-per-100 mile so it’s not in cents). Here’s a quick comparison of popular vehicles. The assumptions are $2.80 / gallon of gas and $0.18 / kWh (assuming charging outside of home at times). MPGe is MPG equivalent, provided by EPA.
|Car||MPG or MPGe||Cost / 100 Miles|
|2019 Tesla Model 3 (LR)||130||$4.35|
|2019 Chevy Bolt||119||$4.54|
|2019 Honda Accord Hybrid||48||$5.83|
Charging Rate Capacity by Tesla Vehicle
While all Tesla vehicles generally charge fairly quickly, the newer vehicles, like the Model 3 or the S and X introduced in April 2019 have significantly faster charging rates. So even if you take an old 75 kWh Model X 75 to a fast V3 Supercharger that can charge up to 250 kW, your old Model X will be limited to 105 kW. Here are some examples how Tesla vehicles and how their charging rates differ:
|Car or Battery Pack||Max Charging Rate|
|Model S/X: 40, 60, 70 75 kWh packs||105 kW|
|Model S/X: 85, 90 kWh packs||120 kW|
|Model S/X: 100 kWh packs||145 kW|
|Model S/X: 100 kWh packs (Q2 2019)||200 kW|
|Model 3 Standard / Standard Plus||120 kW|
|Model 3 Medium Range||150 kW|
|Model 3 Long Range||250 kW|
Tesla Home Charging Time
When you charge at home with a Tesla Wall Connector, how long it takes depends on what amperage is connected to the charger / connector. Tesla home charging connectors use 240V connectors and will typically connect to a 20 amp or higher circuit in your house. These chargers are usually installed by electricians. Note that even though you connect to a 20 amp circuit, the maximum charge the Tesla Wall Connector will draw will be lower than that (e.g. 16 amps).
Home Charging Times with Wall Connector
Here’s a chart of typical home charging times based on your 240V circuit amps:
|Circuit||kW||Miles of range per hour of charging time|
|60 amps||11.5||30 to 44 miles (Model X to Model 3)|
|40 amps||7.7||20 to 30 miles|
|20 amps||3.8||8 to 15 miles|
So, if you are charging from a drained battery, it will typically fully charge overnight. If you are charging from a daily commute (say 50 miles or less), it will usually charge back up in a couple hours.
Tesla also includes a portable charger called a “Mobile Connector” that can be used as a backup in a pinch to charge from regular 110V outlets. However, charging time using the Mobile Connector is extremely slow and should only be used in emergencies. For example on a 15 amp circuit, you’d only get around 3 miles of range per hour of charge.
Tesla Supercharging Time
When you’re on the road and need to charge quickly, the Tesla Supercharger network is your answer. Tesla has built over 1,400 Supercharger stations and has strategically located them throughout the country to ensure you can drive coast-to-coast and always have a spot to charge along the way. Elon Musk and Tesla want to remove any potential “range anxiety” for those travelling with Tesla electric vehicles. In addition, the Tesla navigation software will automatically route to Superchargers, as required, for your trip.
Factors That Determine Charge Rate
There are different types of Superchargers and how quickly they charge depends on a number of factors, including the Supercharger type, your vehicle, the battery State of Charge (SoC) – how full it is, the temperature, and how many other cars are charging in the case of V2 Superchargers.
Tesla Supercharging Curve (Tapered Charging)
It’s important to note that as the charging power increases, Tesla will automatically reduce the amount of charge to the battery as the battery fills up to avoid damaging the cells. This is called tapered charging and generally happens when you are charging quickly on-the-go (i.e. roughly over 20 kW).
This means it will charge faster in the beginning, when your battery is low and then slow down gradually as the battery becomes more full, after about 50% at high charge rates, to avoid damaging the battery. When charging more slowly at an Urban Charger, for example, the tapering is less pronounced.
Additionally, most of the time of the time you’ll never reach 100%, but rather 80% to avoid wear and tear on the battery (you can tell it to charge to near 100%, but that only recommended for long trips).
Charge Splitting on V2 Superchargers
The Superchargers found at most charging stations are typically V2 Superchargers that split the charge among two stalls usually labeled something like 3A and 3B.
If there are two cars charging, the first car to arrive will get most of the power and then it will switch over to the second car. Always try to find a stall number that has both A and B open to get the fastest charge. Urban and V3 Superchargers do not split charges.
Urban Superchargers were created by Tesla to help those urban Tesla owners charge that might not have the ability to charge at home (e.g. those who live in apartments, etc.) and have a unique post design that allows faster deployment in urban areas. The downside is they have a slower charge rate than classic Superchargers.
Charge Rate: 72 kW (~ 215 mi/hr)
Charge Time: Usually 45 minutes to a little over an hour to full.
Charge Splitting? No
V2 Superchargers are the most common Superchargers around the country. As mentioned above, they have power splitting between two stalls. This can be the most frustrating thing about V2 Superchargers, particularly in busy areas (always try to pick stall pairs that have both A and B open).
Charge Rate: 120 or 145 kW max (depending on station and vehicle)
Charge Time: Usually 30 minutes to an hour or more (heavily dependant on other vehicles being there or not)
Charge Splitting? Yes (A/B pairs)
V3 Superchargers are the latest-and-greatest Superchargers from Tesla. They look exactly the same as V2 Supercharger, but have a thinner, water-cooled cable. V3 Superchargers charge newer vehicles very quickly and don’t split power like the older V2 Superchargers. The downside is that they are very few of them around the country at this point and are rolling out slowly.
Charge Rate: 250 kW max (depending on vehicle)
Charge Time: Usually 15 to 40 minutes
Charge Splitting? No
In addition to home chargers and Superchargers, Tesla owners have another type of charger available to them called Destination Chargers. These are essentially beefed-up home chargers provided to business that want to attract Tesla owners to their properties (think hotels, Airbnbs, wineries, etc.).
They are usually free to use as long as you are a customer of the business, but check to be sure. Your Tesla vehicle will show Destination Chargers along with Superchargers on your map and also show the charging rate.
In terms of charge rate, they typically range from 8 to 16 kW hours and may take several hours or even overnight to charge your battery, depending on the level of depletion.
Currently Tesla has one of the most robust charging networks for any EV with easy access to a large Supercharger network plus the flexibility to charge at home or at destinations. Plus with the new fast-charging Model 3 and V3 Supercharging stations beginning to roll out Tesla also has some of the fastest charging times of any production electric car.
Curious about Tesla charging costs? Check out our charging costs page that also includes a Tesla Charging Cost Calculator.
Buying a Tesla? Get Free Supercharging!
If you’re in the market for a Tesla, be sure to take advantage of the current Free Supercharging program while it lasts.