Tesla Supercharger Basics

Tesla Supercharger Basics: Everything You Need to Know

There are many ways to charge an electric car. For most, it occurs overnight at home. However, for the occasional long-distance trip, electric vehicle (EV) drivers look to DC Fast Charging (DCFC). In the case of Tesla owners, they look to Tesla Supercharger stations. 

What is a Tesla Supercharger? How does that differ from a DCFC station? Where are they located? How much do they cost to charge? And how fast do they charge? 

All of these important questions will be answered in this article all about Tesla Supercharger basics. Let’s begin.

What is a Tesla Supercharger?

A Tesla Supercharger is Tesla’s proprietary DCFC station. In a brief review, DCFC, sometimes known as Level 3 charging, uses DC electricity rather than Level 1 and Level 2 that uses AC electricity. As such, DCFC is capable of using much more power (kilowatts), therefore, can charge EVs much quicker than AC charging. 

Several years ago, Tesla decided to create their own charging protocol exclusively for their vehicles. This sort of walled garden allows only Tesla vehicles to use the Supercharging network. 

How Does That Differ From a Public DCFC Station?

Since Tesla owns and operates these charging stations, they have free range when and how their charging network is deployed. On the other hand, public DCFC stations, which use the universal plug CCS, are open to all other EVs. These public charging stations are owned and operated by various private companies such as EVgo, Electrify America, and Chargepoint. 

Additionally, each Tesla Supercharging station typically has around 10 plugs per site while public DCFC stations only have around 2 per site. This is one great advantage Supercharger stations have over public stations. 

Number of Chargers Per Station

Where Are They Located?

Tesla Supercharging stations are located throughout the world. Within North America, Tesla vehicles are able to complete cross country (U.S. and Canada) road trips exclusively using the Supercharging network. 

Tesla Supercharger Basics
Tesla Supercharger Map (August 2020)

The argument of lack of charging stations for EVs has long passed with the continuous development of both the Supercharger and public DCFC network. Check out the interactive map via Plugshare to find nearby Supercharging stations. 

Per AFDC, as of August 2020, there are nearly 4,800 DCFC stations, 960 of which are Superchargers and the remaining 3,800 are public stations. 

Electric Car Fast Charging Count

How Much Do They Cost to Charge?

This is a very common question from first-time/prospective EV shoppers. Tesla Superchargers general cost $0.28/kWh (a kWh, or kilowatt-hour, is a unit of electrical energy). Therefore, using the most popular Tesla, a Model 3 Long Range, a charge to 80% would cost about $17 for around 260 miles. 

In other words, charging at a Supercharger costs around $0.07/mile while a comparable gas car (such as a BMW 3 Series) would cost around $0.09/mile using national averages. Of course, Tesla owners can save even more on fuel costs by charging at home since that is generally much cheaper than a Supercharger. 

How Fast Do They Charge?

Of all the Tesla Supercharger basics, “how fast do they charge” is probably the most important of them all. This one can be answered in two ways: by power and by charge time. 

In terms of power, Superchargers are extremely powerful. With the latest updates, Superchargers are capable of charging up to 250 kW! For comparison, most public DCFC stations are limited to around 50 kW, however, lately, new stations installed by Electrify America and EVgo are capable of charging up to 150-350 kW. 

For most people this doesn’t mean much. So what about in terms of charge time? Superchargers can complete a charge from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes. In other words, Superchargers can add around 9 miles of range per minute of charging. This of course depends on a few factors such as vehicle, current state of charge, and ambient temperature.

Closing Thoughts

This covers everything to know about Tesla Supercharger basics. There are, of course, much more things to learn about Superchargers, Tesla, and EVs in general. Feel free to check out the Education category to learn more EV basics like this. 

If you are now convinced a Supercharger network, or even the public DCFC network, is sufficient for your future EV needs, check out the complete list of Available and Future Electric Cars. The table includes key metrics such as price, range, and maximum charging rate! Plus, it is available as a PDF by signing up to the email list. Subscribers also receive the monthly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest articles. 

Lastly, for those interested in new or used EVs, but a little intimidated by charging or other EV subjects, feel free to schedule a FREE consultation with us at Charged Future! We are your personal EV consultant that can help walk you through EV basics for the first-time shopper.