This article lists the different places where you can charge away from home, and what you need to use them.
Your personal style
Everyday driving is covered by charging at home, leaving a relatively small amount of charging to be done elsewhere. Different people have different approaches, but of those posting on the forums three categories are apparent:
- Choose to drive the Tesla only within range of home, or routes enabled by Superchargers. For any other travel, take the household’s other car, rent a car, take a plane/train/bus etc. Perfectly reasonable, but beware that once you have driven Model S you might feel less keen to take your ‘other’ car.
- Normally drive only within range of home or regular trips that have known charging options; any other long trips will be carefully planned to identify which charging resources will be used, and the minimal set of equipment/memberships obtained before setting off. Sometimes the research will suggest not taking the car.
- Pioneers who load up the car with all possible cables and adapters and a wallet full of charge cards, then drive off with the confidence that they can go anywhere and somehow or other find a means to charge
You will need to decide which is your style, and buy/rent the necessary accessories accordingly.
Places to charge
- Superchargers. By far the best option if available on your routes: they are much faster than any other option, and also more reliable. Requires nothing to use them – the cable that you plug in is part of the Supercharging station. Cost is included in the price of the car for cars ordered before 31st January 2017 (except for the now obsolete 60kWh and 40kWh models, which need to upgrade at extra cost).
- Public charging points (AC). A wide variety of places offer dedicated charging stations to charge your car. Some are free of charge – typically offered as an incentive by hotels and other businesses to attract your custom – whilst others are provided on a commercial basis and you need to pay for them.
- What you need to physically plug in depends where in the world you are.
- In ‘type1’ markets (North America, Japan), the charging equipment always has a cable attached to it with a plug on the end. Your car has a Tesla proprietary socket and you usually need a small adapter (supplied with the car) to connect to standard ‘type1’ plugs used on most public stations, although some places have dedicated Tesla charging stations which don’t need the adapter.
- In other markets (Europe, China, etc) the ‘type2’ connector is used, both on the car and on public charging equipment so no adapter is needed, but for many public stations you need to bring your own cable (with a type2 connector on both ends). In some markets (Hong Kong), Tesla supplies a type2 cable with the car but in Europe you will need to buy or rent one as an accessory – either from Tesla or the many third-party vendors.
- Separate from the physical connection is the process of authorising the charge to start: many locations require you to swipe a dedicated smartcard against a reader to start the charge, or possibly (and unreliably) use an app on your phone. This does not just apply to locations where you need to pay for charging: some locations are ‘free’ on an introductory basis but they want to get you signed up to their membership schemes for future billing, whilst in other locations an access card is required to make use of the free facility. You will need to look at the schemes in your area and decide which are worth joining. Bear in mind that this type of charging station ranges from very slow to only moderately fast so, whilst useful for less powerful electric cars, they are rarely worth using for a Tesla unless you are going to spend an hour or more (sometimes much, much more) or find yourself in an emergency situation. Quite a few have been installed in supermarket carparks but the amount of charge you would pick up while getting your groceries is so small that it’s hardly worth the bother to plug in
- What you need to physically plug in depends where in the world you are.
- Public charging (CHAdeMO). Some of the charging networks also offer CHAdeMO chargepoints. These are significantly faster than ordinary AC chargepoints, though not as fast as Superchargers (somewhere from 1/4 to half the speed). To use them, you will need the CHAdeMO adapter (sold by Tesla as an optional accessory). Most of them require an access card to enable the charge – typically from the same network operators as ordinary chargepoints. Availability of CHAdeMO points varies hugely from area to area. Nearly all have been installed with Nissan Leaf drivers primarily in mind so they tend to be quite close together in places that have them, with great swathes of territory that have none at all. Some are installed at Nissan dealerships, which may or may not permit Teslas to use them.
- Ordinary socket outlets. While in an ideal world we would only charge from dedicated charging facilities, there are many places with none available. Standard domestic sockets do not offer very much power and so charge very slowly, but are useful simply because they are everywhere. You wouldn’t want to charge your car from empty on such a socket as it takes well over 24 hours, but it can often be enough to keep your car topped up for local driving whilst staying away from home, or to get enough charge to reach a faster charging point in an emergency. Higher power outlets of one type or another are used in some countries for appliances such as stoves or clothes dryers, and also in industrial facilities, campsites etc. These are rather better for charging but may be harder to find. To connect your car to a standard socket you need a piece of equipment known technically as a portable EVSE. This is a special cable with a plug on one end for the car, a plug on the other end for the wall socket, and a lump in the middle containing safety equipment. Tesla supply their own version called the Universal Mobile Connector (UMC), which is included with the car in many markets but offered as an optional accessory in others, and suitable products are also available from third party supplier. You need to make sure that your chosen EVSE can be plugged into the type of socket that you intend to use: the Tesla UMC has adapters for several different socket types but you have to buy each adapter type separately. Other vendors supply EVSE dedicated to a particular socket type, or more complex devices with large kits of adapters for all conceivable socket types. More information here: Mobile Charging Cable Options.
- Friends and family. Many places are easy to get to (using Superchargers, or simply within range from home), but you then need some charge for local driving while you are there or to get back to the Supercharger for the journey home. With hotels you can often choose one that has charging facilities of some sort, but you can’t choose your friends and family! If you don’t need much charge it may be enough that they have a normal domestic outlet that you can use, but they may be willing install a higher-power standard outlet or even a proper charge point. Or it may be that charging is impractical at their house and you need to check out public charging in the area.
Summary of equipment required
|CHAdeMO chargepoints||Fast||CHAdeMO adapter (from Tesla). Charging network memberships/smartcards (various)|
|Public chargepoints||Medium to slow||EU: May need type2 cable. France: May need type2-type3 cable. N.America: Will need J1772 adapter. All areas: Charging network memberships/smartcards|
|Standard domestic outlets||Very slow||Portable EVSE – either Tesla UMC with the right adapter, or third-party EVSE|
|Higher power outlets||Medium||Portable EVSE to suit the outlet – either Tesla UMC with the right adapter, or third party EVSE with adapters.|
Summary of equipment supplied with the car
Tesla delivers various equipment as standard with the car, and offers other items as options; the exact offer varies according to the country where the car is sold..
|Country||Standard equipment||Options available from Tesla|
|USA, Canada||J1772 adapter. UMC with 14-50 and standard domestic (120v) plug adapters||CHAdeMO adapter, adapters for UMC to 10-30, 5-20 plug types.|
|Europe (exc. UK)||UMC with standard domestic (schuko) and one other plug adapter||CHAdeMO adapter, adapters for UMC to blue (32A) and red (16A) ‘commando’ plugs, UK 13A plug|
Early deliveries: Type2-Type2 cable (7m long)
|CHAdeMO adapter, UMC (with adapters sold individually), dedicated UK 13A plug EVSE|