What’s the greatest joy of owning an electric vehicle?
Saying goodbye to time spent out in the cold, rain, or scorching heat pumping gas.
There is no greater feeling than knowing your vehicle is charging itself up overnight, without you even having to lift a finger.
There is the flip side for those longer road trips where it might not be possible to plug in overnight.
If you’re a real road warrior, you’ll need to look into other options to have enough charge for all those highway miles.
That’s where Supercharging comes in and for all those nay-sayers who think it’s super time-consuming – it takes mere minutes if you prepare for it correctly.
Why Would I Want to Supercharge?
Not to be confused with supersizing your meal, you don’t get any more charge in your vehicle by Supercharging.
You obviously can only put so much into your battery.
But it does cut down time spent on the plug.
Tesla knew that their drivers wanted to hit the open road and not be chained to their home plugs at all times.
That’s why they created the Supercharger network, now with over 25,000 stations across the globe and counting.
Power levels are high on these machines, delivering charging rates up to 250kW, allowing drivers to add up to 75 miles of range in just 5 minutes.
Supercharging is all about convenience.
No fumbling for credit cards or opening an app, authentication is built into the car — just plug in, and charging starts.
These networks cost pennies to the dollar compared to gas and let Tesla drivers explore without any charging worries or range anxiety.
How Much Does it Cost to Supercharge?
The Tesla Supercharger network is the pinnacle when it comes to charging experiences.
Their charging stalls are slick, widely available, and cost-effective.
How much it’s going to cost you to charge up at one of these stations will vary though.
The price depends on a few different factors, including location, time, price of electricity, and the speed at which you want to charge.
Current Automotive found some pricing on the Tesla website to use as a starting point.
Prices are a bit higher than what you would pay for at-home charging but you have to factor in the network infrastructure costs as well as maintenance for the stations themselves.
When you compare current gas prices, Tesla owners are coming out ahead no matter how you slice it, even in locations with higher than average electricity costs.
But how do you ensure you come out ahead on time spent at the plug too?
Here’s a couple of big do’s and don’ts for Supercharging:
Start The Preconditioning
You might be wondering on average, how long people spend at the Supercharger?
Anywhere from 15-30 minutes is the standard for powering up your Tesla.
But there are ways to make sure you hit that 15-minute mark.
The secret to lowering your time at the plug?
It’s all about preconditioning.
You’d never want to start running a race completely cold and your vehicle is the same.
It reacts much better to the incoming charge when it’s been warmed up just right.
So how do you make sure your Tesla is primed for a Supercharge?
If you’ve entered a Supercharger destination into your navigation, Teslas have built-in notifications that will pop up when you’re getting close to the station.
Some report anywhere from 10 to 25 miles out, the Tesla will trigger something called On Route Battery Warm Up to get your vehicle ready for Supercharging.
A thermal management system inside regulates to an optimal charging temperature so you can really hit the ground running when you Supercharge.
Particularly useful in winter months, preconditioning allows the vehicle to skip the slow part at the beginning of the charging session and get right to optimal charge state, saving you time at the plug.
As Tesla users note, the preconditioning is not a warning, just a notification that your vehicle is getting itself into ready mode.
It’s not completely necessary to precondition but it’ll speed up your charging session time to hit that 15-minute mark if you do.
Tesla forum user Rocky_H “That preconditioning is just to warm the batteries up a little more before you get there, because it will help the charging speed some. But you can go ahead and plug in any time you want, even when it’s stone cold below freezing. The car knows its own systems, and it will just request power very slowly if it is starting out very cold, as it adjusts to what it can handle without damaging itself.”
If you choose not to precondition, it’s not the end of the world.
It doesn’t harm the battery in any way shape or form to have it charge from colder temperatures.
When the battery doesn’t arrive at a warm enough temperature, it simply can’t charge as fast as if it was preconditioned.
Don’t Think All Superchargers Are Built The Same
The more you supercharge, the more likely you are to impact your battery life.
It has been shown over time that frequent use of fast chargers or Supercharging can degrade the battery faster than consistent Level 2 charging in most electric vehicles.
Rapidly charging a battery means high currents resulting in high temperatures, both known to strain batteries.
However, Tesla has repeatedly stated that continuous use of their Supercharger network has shown no signs of any negative impacts on battery life or range.
But it’s when you go outside the Tesla brand that things get a little complicated.
Tesla warns against repeated use of other superchargers outside its network like Chademo because it has shown some battery degradation over time with frequent use.
All in all, it’s quite safe and effective to get your Supercharge on — so let’s dive into ways to maximize that charging event.
Tips For Making The Most of Supercharging
- Don’t charge back up to 100%: Supercharging is meant to charge your battery to the point that you have enough electricity to make it to the next Supercharger on your route until you get to your destination.
Tesla’s general rule of thumb to charge back up to 80-90% still applies here.
- Do get out of your car: While the car is on and Supercharging, you might be sitting back enjoying some A/C playing on the screen.
This is using up energy that you’re trying to put back into your vehicle while supercharging.
Turn the A/C off and get outside to enjoy a meal or use the bathroom — and you’ll maximize your charging speed.
- Do plan ahead for long road trips: Take a look at the map for Superchargers along your route so you can have them programmed in and triggering the preconditioning alert.
Check out this video on the best route planning apps out there so you can plan for as few stops as possible or limit your time spent charging.
- Don’t share stalls where possible: Avoid sharing the same number stall as another user eg. 1A and 1B are using the same stall. It will lower your overall speed for charging as you’re pulling from the same energy source.
Your app will show you how much charge is left in that particular stall as well as its electricity costs so be sure to pick a good one.
- Do take advantage of Tesla’s free supercharging offer: Up until a year or so ago, Tesla offered free Supercharging with the purchase of a new Model S or X but have since pulled the deal from its website.
But you can still earn free Supercharging with their referral program. You can get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging if you refer someone who purchases a new Tesla.
Maintaining consistency when it comes to charging your Tesla will pay dividends in the end, increasing battery life and maintaining your range over the long term.
Stick to the basics with at-home charging but when the open road comes calling, just know that Tesla’s Supercharging has got you covered, and now you’ll know how to limit plug time while optimizing charge.