5 Crucial Things to Do Before Supercharging Your Tesla

By Nicki Schill •  Updated: 08/27/21 •  8 min read

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.

But 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 naysayers who think it’s super time-consuming, it takes mere minutes if you prepare for it correctly.

But First—Why Would I Want to Supercharge?

Not to be confused with supersizing your meal, Supercharging does not give you more charge in your vehicle.

Obviously, you 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. They deliver charging rates up to 250 kW, allowing drivers to add up to 75 miles of range in just 5 minutes.

Supercharging is all about convenience.

No more fumbling for credit cards or opening an app. Authentication is built into the car—just plug in and the charging starts.

These networks cost pennies on the dollar compared with gas and let Tesla drivers explore without any charging worries or range anxiety.

How Much Does It Cost to Supercharge?

Tesla’s Supercharger network is the pinnacle when it comes to charging experiences. 

Their charging stalls are slick, widely available, and cost-effective.

But the cost to charge up at one of these stations will vary.

The price depends on a few factors, including location, time, price of electricity, and the speed at which you want to charge.

If you tap on any Supercharger location on your navigation touchscreen, you should be able to see its fees and the estimated waiting time.

Tesla’s supercharger information. Credit to PlugInSites.

Some Superchargers charge per minute; others per unit of energy (kWh). 

Tesla’s website answers other payment questions on their site.

Prices are a bit higher than what you would pay for at-home charging, but you have to factor in the network infrastructure costs and the maintenance for the stations.

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?

Making the Most Out of Supercharging

1. Start the Preconditioning

You might be wondering how long people spend at the Supercharger on average.

Anywhere from 1530 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 so is your vehicle.

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 that anywhere from 10 to 25 miles out, the Tesla will trigger something called On-Route Battery Warmup 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.

It doesn’t harm the battery in any way to charge it 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.

2. Don’t Think All Superchargers Are Built the Same

Frequent use of fast chargers or Supercharging has been shown to degrade the battery faster than consistent Level 2 charging in most electric vehicles over time.

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.

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 it.

3. Plan Your Route

Take a look at the map for Superchargers along your route so you can have them programmed in and trigger the preconditioning alert.

There are great apps available that can help you plan for as few stops as possible or limit your time spent charging.

Most Tesla owners prefer A Better Route Planner (ABRP) because it gives very accurate estimates, is very configurable, and allows you to add more waypoints.

YouTuber Tesla Tom of Ludicrous Feed also pointed out that ABRP recommends arriving at a Supercharger with a lower state of charge to maximize charging speed, hence reducing your overall charging time.

It is particularly helpful if you’re in a hurry and need to quickly get to your destination.

Watch his review @ 0:36.

Remember not to 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.

4. Don’t Share Stalls Where Possible

Sharing the same stall as another user will lower your overall speed for charging as you’re pulling from the same energy source.

To prove this, Tesla Tom made a side-by-comparison of two Model 3s in paired stalls and see what happens:

Comparison Test starts @1:44. Test Result starts @ 4:07.

The first car started with a pretty good rate of charge, and when the second car was plugged in, the rate of charge of the first one went down for a while, and the second started to increase.

Both reached almost the same rate of charge at almost 75%.

John Smith commented on the video, also sharing his experience:

It definitely does. I parked up at the same charger which happened to be full with hire cars. Usually at about 40%SoC I’ll get about 100kw and I could only get around 50-60 kw as the other car was also quite flat.

Another commenter, Nobody Famous, suggests to “best employ urinal etiquette and keep your distance just in case” when Supercharging.

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.

5. Get Out of Your Car

While the car is on and Supercharging, you might be sitting back, enjoying some A/C. 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.

Final Thoughts: Things to Do Before Supercharging Your Tesla

Maintaining consistency when it comes to charging your Tesla will pay off in the end, increasing your 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, Tesla’s Supercharging has got you covered, and with these tips, you’ll know how to optimize your charge to limit plug time.

Nicki Schill

Nicki Schill is a writer and content marketer out of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. As the former Geotab Marketing Manager, she’s got loads of experience in electric vehicles and fleet electrification. She’s a tech blogger and marketing guru who enjoys all things Canadian like hockey and poutine.

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