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Tesla charging stations: What to know on the go
It’s no secret that Tesla is the most popular electric vehicle manufacturer in the world. Tesla offers four electric vehicle models: the Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y. With so many vehicle options, it’s easy to find an option that works for you.
But there is a lot of hesitation around buying electric vehicles, and one of the reasons for that is range anxiety. Many people fear that their electric vehicle won’t be able to get them to their destination without the battery running out of charge.
As a response, Tesla has been able to settle some troubled minds by including long range batteries in their vehicles, as well as their extensive network of Tesla charging stations.
Tesla Superchargers are located along well-traveled routes for convenient charging. Image source: Tesla
You’ll be able to stay charged anywhere you go with access to Tesla’s charging stations since they are located in convenient locations along well-traveled routes throughout the country.
In this blog we’ll review everything you need to know about Tesla charging stations: the different types of charging stations available, how fast they charge your electric vehicle, and how much Tesla charging stations cost.
Types of Tesla charging stations
Tesla has an extensive network of electric vehicle chargers. There are two types of public Tesla charging stations: Superchargers and Destination Chargers. Between the two types, there are over 19,000 in North America.
The primary network of Tesla charging stations are made up of Tesla Superchargers. Superchargers aren’t called super for nothing; these ultra-powerful 480-volt charging stations allow Tesla owners to charge their car in under an hour.
Tesla is continuously adding to their charging station network to make charging your vehicle fit into your daily life seamlessly. Image source: Engadget
This lightning-fast charging is designed to be used when traveling long distances. In just 40 minutes, a Supercharger will charge your Tesla to 80%. Once the battery reaches 80%, the rate of charging slows in order to protect the battery’s health.
It’s important to note that it would take around 75 minutes to reach a full 100% charge with a Supercharger. While Superchargers are fast compared to other electric vehicle chargers, it still takes more time than filling a tank of gas. So, factoring extra time for charging into your trips is important to consider.
The charging rate of Tesla Superchargers is different for each Tesla model:
Tesla Supercharger Rates Per Model
Miles of range per 15 minutes of Supercharging
Because Teslas have long battery ranges, most people won’t have to charge their vehicle over 80% anyway. On an 80% charge, a Tesla Model S can drive about 321 miles. That means you could drive from New York City to Philadelphia, and then back to New York City again without having to stop to charge.
Superchargers are able to charge Teslas so quickly because of how they charge the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. A typical charger provides AC power to the car’s onboard charger. The onboard charger then converts the AC current to DC current, which then charges the battery.
Superchargers provide DC power directly to the battery, bypassing the onboard charger which speeds up the charging process.
Besides Tesla Superchargers, Tesla owners can also take advantage of the company’s network of Destination Chargers. Destination Chargers are installed by Tesla’s ‘Charging Partners.’
Charging Partners are usually business or land owners who choose to install a Tesla Wall Connector on their property for public use.
Destination Chargers are installed in places where you might spend a few hours, like hotels and restaurants. Image source: Tesla
Destination Chargers have a slower charging speed than Superchargers. Depending on how much charge is left on your Tesla’s battery, a Destination Charge can take anywhere from one to 12 hours to fully charge your vehicle.
The best time to use a Destination Charger is when you are going to be in one spot for an extended period of time, like during dinner at a restaurant or overnight at a hotel. Destination charges will not be of much use if you’re just making a quick stop - a 30 minute lunch pit stop will only give you an extra 15 miles of charge.
Charge rates for Destination Chargers vary depending on what Tesla model you own:
Tesla Destination Charger Rates Per Model
Destination Charger maximum charge rate (Miles of range per hour)
44 miles / hour
Model 3 Standard
30 miles / hour
34 miles / hour
30 miles / hour
42 miles / hour
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Tesla charging station locations are all over the US. Tesla installed Superchargers specifically on popular travel routes to ensure that those driving long distances will have easy access to chargers.
When you look at a Tesla charging station map, you will see that there are many located along the entire distance of major interstate highways in the parking lots of hotels, rest stops, and shopping centers.
Tesla is also installing Superchargers within urban areas. These urban Superchargers are installed in places like grocery stores and downtown areas. With these convenient locations, you can shop or grab a cup of coffee while you wait for your Tesla to finish charging.
Currently, 49 states have Superchargers. Alaska, the only state without Superchargers, is set to have it’s first one installed in 2021. Image source: Tesla
Destination Chargers aren’t always in the same convenient locations. This is because Tesla's Charging Partners aren’t located just in large cities or along highly trafficked highways. Destination Chargers are useful when you are travelling along local routes, where there might not be Superchargers installed.
For instance, North Dakota doesn’t have any Superchargers currently installed (although there are some planned to open in 2020). That means your only Tesla charging station locations in North Dakota are Destination Chargers!
Find Tesla charging station locations using their trip planner
Tesla has focused on trying to make the charging of your vehicle as easy as possible. Besides putting extremely fast Tesla charging stations in convenient locations, they also have their Go Anywhere tool, which plans your road trip based around Supercharger locations and essentially functions as a Tesla charging station map.
The tool generates a route from your starting point to your destination with Supercharging stations along the way. It also tells you how long you should charge at each station, as well as including the location of Destination Chargers near your destination.
Tesla’s Go Anywhere tool is a great way to plan a long road trip. Image source: Tesla
For example, we entered a sample trip from New York City to Atlanta in a Model S Long Range into the Go Anywhere tool. The Tesla charging station map route includes six stops at Superchargers, with recommended charging times of 40 minutes or less. Stopping to charge adds an additional three hours to the trip, but we would save $118 on gas.
This feature is also available on your Tesla’s touchscreen. The Navigation function will locate the fastest route with Tesla charging stations along the way. The car’s Navigation application gives the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the best route to take. Tesla allows you to adjust the route they suggest if you need. So, if the route they suggest isn’t ideal for you, you are able to customize it to meet your exact needs.
Although the built-in Tesla charging station map was designed with your convenience in mind, it does not come without hangups. Some Tesla owners have reported issues with the navigation system when there are system updates. Others have noted that the system needs to be rebooted from time to time to perform correctly.
The in-car touchscreen allows you to always know how far away you are from a Tesla charging station. Image source: TechCrunch
You can also use the touchscreen to find the closest Supercharger to you, no matter where you are, telling you the number of open stalls and maximum charging rates available. Tesla’s Navigation feature allows you to rest assured that you’ll be able to make it to your destination without running out of charge.
Are Tesla charging stations free?
There is some confusion surrounding whether Superchargers are free or not.
Tesla used to offer free unlimited Supercharging with new Model S or Model X purchases. However, Tesla no longer offers free Supercharging with new purchases.
While free Supercharging would be an awesome deal, especially for those who frequently drive long distances, it’s not the end of the world that Tesla cut this incentive, especially because it helped the company decrease the upfront cost of their cars.
Also, charging your Tesla via Superchargers too often can actually be harmful to your vehicle. The high-powered charger puts stress on your Tesla’s battery, thus decreasing the battery life if used too often.
Find out how much you can save by charging your Tesla at home with rooftop solar panels
New Model S and Model X purchases come with free Supercharging for as long as you own the car. Image source: The Verge
Destination Chargers, on the other hand, are usually free to use as long as you are a patron of the facility in which the charger is installed. This is a pretty fair trade, especially if you are using a Destination Charger at a hotel you are staying at.
How much do Tesla charging stations cost?
Tesla models that do not qualify for free charging have to pay to use Superchargers. The question of how much do Tesla charging stations cost varies, depending on your location. It also depends on if the Supercharger bills per kilowatt hour (kWh) your battery is charging or per minute that the vehicle is charging.
There are two tiers of charging when a vehicle is billed per minute:
Tier 1 - While cars are charging at or below 60 kilowatts
Tier 2 - While cars are charging above 60 kilowatts
The current average costs for charging at a Supercharger in the US are:
Current Average Supercharger Charging Costs
Supercharger billing type
$0.12 per minute
$0.24 per minute
$0.28 per kWh
Be careful not to idle
Tesla has tried to prevent Supercharging stations from getting too full by instituting idle fees. Tesla will bill you an idle fee if your vehicle is fully charged while parked at a Tesla charging station where more than 50% of the parking spots are taken.
In the US, you will be billed $0.50 per minute if your car remains connected to a Supercharger after it is completely charged. When a Tesla charging station is 100% full, the idle fee jumps to $1.00 per minute.
Tesla’s app lets you keep an eye on your battery’s charging progress while you’re grabbing lunch or window shopping. Image source: InsideEVs
Worrying about idle fees can be a bit stressful. But, keeping an eye on your Tesla app can help you avoid the fee. If you move your vehicle within five minutes of being notified that your charging is complete, you will not incur an idle charge.
Can Teslas charge at non-Tesla charging stations?
Tesla owners can also use electric vehicle stations that are not part of Tesla’s charging network. To do this, you will need a J1772 charging adapter. J1772 adapters come with all Teslas. Simply attach the adapter to the charger and plug in!
These chargers won’t charge as fast as a Supercharger, but they’ll still get the job done.
Tesla charging stations cure range anxiety
With Tesla’s extensive network of charging stations - and extremely fast ones at that - Tesla owners can drive long distances knowing that their car’s battery will get them to their destination.
Tesla owners can take long road trips without worry because of Tesla’s charging stations. Image source: Tesla
Because Superchargers are strategically placed along highly frequented routes, it allows for convenient, fast charging. Plus, the cost to charge your vehicle at a Tesla charging station is less than it is to fill up a traditional vehicle with gas.
Plus, with Tesla’s Destination Chargers, Tesla owners can charge their cars even when they aren’t in the vicinity of a Supercharger. As Tesla’s charging station network continues to grow, Tesla owners can be more confident than ever that their battery will always get them where they need to go.
See how much it would cost to charge your home and a Tesla with solar panels
Tesla Superchargers are extremely powerful, 480-volt chargers that can charge a Tesla in under an hour, making them perfect for charging up on long-distance road trips.
A Supercharger can add between 142 and 175 miles of range to your battery in just 15 minutes, depending on which model you have.
Destination Chargers are installed by businesses and land owners for public use, but have a slower charging speed than Superchargers. A Destination Charger will add between 30 and 44 miles of range per hour of charging, depending on the Tesla model.
Tesla no longer offers free Supercharging with the purchase of their vehicles.
Tesla’s Trip Planner allows you to easily plan trips based around the locations of Superchargers and Destination Chargers.
Catherine is a researcher and content specialist at SolarReviews. She has strong interests in issues related to climate and sustainability which led her to pursue a degree in environmental science at Ramapo College of New Jersey.