How to Charge a Tesla

A Tesla connected to a charging cableThere’s more to charging a Tesla than just plugging it in. Before purchasing this electric vehicle, you’ll want to understand the different charging options available at home or on the road. If you plan to “fuel up” regularly at a public charging station, consider logistics such as the time, cost, and ease of access.

Keep reading to learn more about charging a Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y.

Charging a Tesla at Home

The Tesla charger port is located on the rear driver’s side, discretely hidden near the taillight. Consider this placement when installing a new charging station at home, so the cable will easily reach the connection point.

Level 1: 120-Volt Charging

You can use a NEMA 5-15 cable adapter to plug the vehicle into your standard electrical outlet, but this will only offer a very slow “trickle” charge. A Level 1 charge with this cable will provide roughly 3 miles of range per hour connected. This means it could take a full day or more to reach full battery capacity if you leave it plugged with this type of charger.

Level 2: Wall Chargers

The Tesla wall connector is sold separately, and you must have a licensed electrician install the device. Tesla advises this is the most efficient way to charge your vehicle daily. It has a 24-foot cable and customizable power levels to accommodate your circuit breaker.

Plug the connector into the car at home each evening, and leave it attached overnight to recover the daily miles driven. It maximizes your existing electrical grid and adds up to 44 miles of range per hour.

Charging a Tesla on the Road

A map of the 48 contiguous United States showing hundreds of Tesla Supercharger locations.

If you cannot install a Tesla home charger or you’re taking a road trip, there are a few options for charging your vehicle on the go. Depending on where you live, it can be relatively easy to find a Tesla Supercharger when you’re out and about. Tesla will add charging fees to your account for using its stations.

You’ll need to purchase a mobile connector to stay charged on extended trips when a Tesla charging station isn’t nearby. The adapter is required when connecting to a charger outside the company’s charging network.

Level 2: Destination Charging

Tesla has established over 35,000 Destination Charging sites around the globe. You’ll spot them easily in busy areas like resorts, hotels, restaurants, city parking garages, and interstate corridors. Still, many can are found in suburban and rural areas. These units can deliver up to 44 miles of range per hour charged.

An SAE J1772 charging adapter is also available for purchase through the Tesla shop. These are compatible with connectors at most public Level 2 charging stations and can support charging speeds up to 19.2 kilowatts per hour.

Level 3 Supercharging

Tesla’s Supercharger network has more than 1,200 locations in the United States. Larger stations in areas where EVs are popular may have 50 stalls. Stations in other areas will have fewer stalls. Superchargers are your best option for long-distance travel. Just park at the Supercharger station and plug the connector into the vehicle for a significant boost in a short time.

  • Model S: Up to 200 range miles in 15 minutes
  • Model 3 and Model X: Up to 175 in 15 minutes
  • Model Y: Up to 162 miles in 15 minutes

To locate a Supercharger near you, enable the interactive Trip Planner on your Tesla dashboard. This will also display specific pricing at each location. Supercharger rates vary by region, time of day, and peak vs. off-peak hours. You’ll usually pay per kilowatt-hour, but certain areas may charge by the minute.

Most superchargers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Idle fees may apply if you stay at the location for an extended time after the vehicle is done charging. At this time, non-Tesla electric vehicles aren’t compatible with Tesla Superchargers in the U.S.

Charging Settings

In the controls section of the dashboard, you can see the estimated driving distance available and adjust your settings. You can put a limit on the charging level, change the charge current, or establish a charging schedule to fit your routine.


You can use “Scheduled Charging” to tell your Tesla when you want it to start charging. Use “Scheduled Departure” to tell the vehicle what time it needs to be charged and ready to drive. These settings can work with the “Off-Peak Charging” setting to make sure the battery does not primarily charge during busier times, helping keep costs down.

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