How to Precondition Your Tesla Battery for Charging: 3 Distinct Ways

By Zac Ludicrous •  Updated: 04/09/22 •  9 min read

Don’t want to spend more time charging than necessary? 

If so, it’s time you consider preconditioning. 

Preconditioning your battery minimizes the amount of time you need to charge and maximizes the efficiency of your electric vehicle.

If you’re one of the many new or longtime Tesla owners who don’t know how to precondition your Tesla battery for charging, there’s more than one way to do it.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about how to precondition your battery, including your most common questions on the topic.

Let’s begin.

What Is Preconditioning?

Preconditioning is a step that must be done before getting a subsequent result. In your Tesla, it means raising the temperature of the battery for optimum charging. 

Batteries that are too cold can’t charge at maximum speed. They can’t fully regenerate energy while driving either.

That’s why preconditioning is necessary—to prepare your Tesla battery for Supercharging or charging in extremely cold weather.

People spend an average of 15 to 30 minutes at the Supercharger to power up their Tesla. And by preconditioning your car, you can lower your time at the plug and hit that 15-minute mark.

But Do You Always Need to Warm Up Your Tesla?

There’s no actual need for your Tesla to get warmed up before you can charge or drive it. We’re leaning more on the benefits your EV will get by doing so.

Tesla doesn’t even advise owners to preheat their cars all the time before driving. If your daily rides aren’t that far and you live somewhere that doesn’t get too cold, you can skip on preconditioning.

It’s best to precondition your electric car to reduce waiting time when you charge or to allow for regenerative braking and improved range.

This Tesla owner did an actual test to compare the charging speed and range with preconditioning and without. Watch how he did it below:

The difference is huge! Skip ahead to 4:31 to see the actual results tabulated.

Battery cells just don’t like the cold. It inhibits the electrochemical reactions necessary for energy transfer, which inevitably leads to a lack of power – and you have to stay charging for longer.

On the other hand, the downside of preconditioning is battery consumption and having to plan preconditioning hours before charging (we’ll discuss this more in a bit).

3 Ways to Precondition Your Tesla Battery

Basically, you can precondition your Tesla battery by following the 101 for owners of electric vehicles: conserve the battery. 

Namely, drive at reasonable speeds and limiting rapid and frequent braking and acceleration.

Also, limit the heater whenever possible and use seat heaters for additional warmth.

Those essentials aside, there are three main ways to precondition your battery:

1. Through the Tesla App

Did you know that you can also access Climate Control from the Tesla app? Credit to The Master Brothers / YouTube.

If your car is freezing, and you notice that regenerative braking and battery power are limited, you can turn on Climate Control to warm up the car and its battery.

When you select “Climate” from your Tesla app, you’ll be able to see your EV’s internal temperature. You can even set it to your desired temperature, heat the seats, and turn on the front defroster to melt ice and snow.

For preconditioning purposes, turning on Climate Control will show a battery icon with a snowflake. This means the battery is heating up so you can get the optimal efficiency and performance out of it.

You can turn on Climate Control from your touch screen by pressing the “fan icon.” If you want to turn it off, just press the fan icon again and press the power button that will show up in the Climate Control settings.

2. Selecting a Nearby Supercharger as a Stop

Get your Tesla battery ready for faster and more optimized charging at the Supercharging station.

In March 2019, Tesla rolled out a new feature called On-Route Battery Warmup, which allows your vehicle to automatically start heating the battery whenever you’re driving to a Supercharger station.

You’ll see “Preconditioning battery for fast charging” on your screen when you’re about 10 to 25 miles out from the SC station you selected from your touchscreen.

This will ensure that once you’re there, your electric car’s battery is at the optimal temperature so you can make the most out of the supercharging session. It will reduce the average time to charge by 25% to 50% (depending on your individual circumstances).

Once you reach the charging station, there’s no need to wait for the prompt or message to go away. Just plug in your car and it will eventually be gone from your screen.

3. Using Scheduled Departure

The Scheduled Departure feature will help your car intelligently prepare itself on what’s the best time to start charging before you travel and precondition.

To use this feature, bring up the charging menu, and on the bottom of the screen, you’ll see Schedule. Tap on that and choose Depart At.

You can adjust the departure time and set it for weekdays only or for the entire week. Make changes depending on your preference.

You’ll also see an option to turn it off. 

To have a clear picture of what I’m talking about, watch this demo from Cf Tesla’s YouTube Channel:

Skip to 2:13 to see how to set Scheduled Departure.

How Long Does It Take to Precondition?

Before Supercharging, preconditioning can take around 10 to 20 minutes.

Depending on the current temperature in your location, at least 45 minutes before your Scheduled Departure would be good.

Time to make the most of the preconditioning feature of your Tesla. Credits to snohman1

If you live somewhere that’s bone-chilling cold and you don’t have a garage, it can take some time for your vehicle’s battery to warm up. In these situations, Tesla recommends that you precondition for about an hour before driving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Tesla Use Up Batteries When Parked?

Tesla batteries have a smart preconditioning setting that makes the vehicle lose its charge, even while parked. It’s intended to heat the cabin while turning on the battery heater.

Good thing you can easily manage this feature through your Tesla app. Just go to Settings, then Vehicle, and then turn off Smart Preconditioning.

And rather than using your battery, keep your Tesla plugged in whenever possible so that it warms up using the charging system.

Does Cold Temperature Affect Tesla Batteries?

Tesla batteries are affected by extremely cold (-40℉) and hot (+80℉) weather conditions. 

And if you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s best to know that it may take almost twice as long to charge your EV in colder temperatures.

Whether you have a gas-powered or electric car, the cold weather will impact the efficiency of any vehicle.

One of the essential factors in maintaining the performance of your Tesla is the battery temperature. And preconditioning will help your car skip the slow part of the charging session by getting it right to the optimal charging state.

Are Tesla Cars Good in Snow?

Snow can look magical, but it can also be a nightmare. For your Tesla, snow wouldn’t be a problem. Thanks to the EV’s all-wheel-drive powertrain and dual motor, they do well on difficult roads.

When it’s too icy and chilly, you can reduce it using the defrosting feature from your Tesla app.

Ice on the door? Simply bump them with the end of your fist. 

Frozen mirrors? Click on Defrost and melt all the ice. You can restore automatic mirror folds by closing and opening them manually.

And if you’re worried about your wheels slipping out when you press on the accelerator pedal while driving in the snow, ice, or rain, Chill Mode will be very helpful to avoid that.

Rolling through snow without any problems.

What Is Tesla Chill Mode?

Not only are Teslas sustainable, but also they’re powerful. They can deliver insane acceleration and instant torque.

The electric car’s accelerometer will decrease by default whenever you step on the pedal in “Chill Mode.” It doesn’t mean that it can’t reach 0 to 60 mph anymore, but it will keep your acceleration at a moderate level.

Compared to Range Mode, Chill Mode doesn’t increase range. Still, it’s possible. If you combine this feature with hypermiling, you can increase your range while improving driving efficiency.

If you want to take your Tesla off Chill Mode, access it from the Driving section of your Tesla’s touch screen. Press Chill Mode again to turn it off.

You can also toggle between Standard Mode and other driving-related settings.

The Bottomline: Preconditioning Your Tesla Battery Is All About Efficiency

A few Tesla owners may say that preconditioning isn’t really necessary, but it’s a feature that’s been added for a reason. It helps cut off the time you spend at Superchargers, and it is very helpful for owners who often experience cold weather.

It’s a precautionary step to take to avoid the risk of damaging the battery of your EV when charging at freezing temperature.

Moreover, without any preconditioning, you’ll experience limitations on other features like top charge rate, regenerative braking, range, and full power output.

Avoid all of these by activating preconditioning using Climate Control on the Tesla app, Scheduled Departure, or simply navigating to a third-party charging station using your GPS.

Zac Ludicrous

Mechanical engineer by profession. TSLA shareholder before the hype. EV enthusiast all day long. Zac enjoys learning about the future of battery technology, autonomy, and EVs. He considers Tesla Model 3 the most important vehicle of the 21st century -- and is in a quest to improve the ownership experience of every Model 3 owner he possibly can.

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