Tesla Home Charging vs Tesla Supercharging | A Complete Guide

Teslas are hip, environmentally friendly, attractive cars. Sure they’re expensive, but you’ll break even when you consider that the average American spends over $1,200 a year on gasoline. So goodbye gas station, but where do you plug a Tesla in? 

Tesla home charging is classified as Level 1 or Level 2. Level 1 doesn’t require an additional 240-volt plug, but it’s much slower. Drivers can take advantage of Superchargers and Destination Chargers on the road. Superchargers charge a fee, but destination charging can often be done for free. 

The typical American drives 13,474 miles (21,648 km) per year, according to Policy Advice, or slightly under 40 miles (64 km) a day. But too often, the discussion about Teslas and charging focuses on the need for long-distance driving. This guide will walk you through the different options for charging a Tesla to help determine which is right for you.

Is It Cheaper To Charge a Tesla at Home or a Supercharger?

It’s much cheaper to charge a Tesla at home unless you have a pre-2017 model. According to Car and Driver reports, in a year of driving, charging only on Superchargers would double the annual cost of “fueling” up their Teslas, which was estimated to be $2,500 a year. 

Americans report spending an average of $3,000 a year on gasoline, according to Value Penguin, so even a year of Supercharging would save a couple of hundred dollars. 

Compare that to the fuel costs Car and Driver reported without Supercharging—just over $1,300. 

What Is the Difference Between Home Charging and a Tesla Supercharger?

The difference between home charging and a Tesla supercharger is the power used. Homes supply AC power, so Teslas contain a built-in charger that converts the AC power into DC that’s stored in the batteries for future use. Superchargers bypass the conversion process by directly sending DC energy.

Tesla-Plugged-In-And-Getting-An-Electric-Charge-At-The-Supercharger
Think of a Supercharger as a giant AC to DC conversion charger. Because the energy doesn’t need to be converted, the charging process is faster. It takes power directly from the power grid, and converts it to DC, dramatically speeding up the charging process. Photo @AZ.BLT via Twenty20

Superchargers Vs. Destination Chargers 

Superchargers and destination chargers are different in speed of charge, user compatibility, and cost of use. Superchargers are owned by Tesla, but destination chargers can be sold to businesses that aim to keep drivers at the “destination.” 

Who can use destination chargers and how much charging will cost depends on the charger’s location, but only Tesla drivers can use a Supercharger. 

A destination charger is essentially a Level 2 charger that’s installed so Tesla drivers can charge their cars. A company typically installs a destination charger in the hopes the driver will spend money at their site. 

As an added bonus to this article, I’ve created this easy-to-use charging calculator. Simply input your model, charging wattage, and charging percentage, and you will get the estimated time it will take to charge a Tesla in terms of hours. You can play around with numbers a bit just to see how charging time changes:

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Tesla Charging Calculator (Time):

Estimated Time It Takes To Charge Your Tesla

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For example, a restaurant might have a Destination Charger to encourage the driver to stop and buy a meal. The restaurant’s charger will be listed in Tesla’s network of stations. Drivers can use their in-car navigation to locate these chargers and make purchases at the destination. 

It’s up to the destination whether they’ll charge the driver. Some provide it as a free service to Tesla drivers, while others only charge non-patrons. Workplaces providing destination chargers are less likely to charge their employees. 

The Destination Chargers are an essential component of the Tesla network. Without them, the Supercharger network would be unable to keep up with demand. 

Newer V3 Superchargers Vs. Older V3 Chargers

Tesla claims their V3 Superchargers will dramatically decrease charging time, but many drivers haven’t noticed a significant drop. Still, since V3 chargers don’t power share, your charging speed isn’t affected if another driver uses the same charging station.

Motor Trend tested a new V3 Supercharger to determine if Tesla’s claims the next generation of chargers was faster. They discovered that the V3 did charge more quickly, but the increase didn’t match Tesla’s claims of 50% faster charging time. 

This is partially due to battery limitations. Charging a battery too quickly damages the battery. As the battery is charged, incoming electrons have fewer places to go. In addition, the heat generated by this process can damage the battery. Therefore, the charging speed must slow down to protect the car’s batteries. 

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If you would like to find out more about Tesla Supercharging, feel free to give this related article a read. We covered the topic in detail.

However, a full charge isn’t necessary for most drivers. Instead, they charge enough to get to their destination—either home or the next charging station. In just 15 minutes, a V3 Supercharger adds 180 range miles (290 km). 

Tesla won’t add signage for a V3 charger, but the Tesla app indicates whether you’re pulling into a V2 or V3, and pricing remains the same. If you have lifetime free charging, Tesla will honor it. And since Tesla is constantly updating firmware, standard Model 3s vehicles might be able to charge at 250 kW at newer V3 stations by the time you read this. 

Charging Tip: A colder batter takes longer to charge. To precondition the batteries to warm up, enter your supercharger station in advance in your navigation system. 

To see the V3 Supercharger in action, check out this video:

What Is the Difference Between a Level 1 and a Level 2 Charger?

The most significant difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 charger is the electricity output. A level 1 charger runs on 110 volts, while a Level 2 runs on 240 volts. The additional voltage means a Level 2 device charges faster. 

The default EV charging option is Level 1. It operates with a standard power supply. Each Tesla includes level 1 charging equipment. 

All you do is connect your Tesla to a 120-volt regular AC outlet. This is the same outlet you plug most appliances into. If using Level 1 charging, you don’t need to change the wiring in your house. 

However, Level 1 is an extremely slow way of charging your vehicle. Typically, they’re powered at 12 or 16 amps and each hour of charging provides around 4 miles (6.43 km) range. Therefore, level 1 is the slowest charging option, commonly called “trickle charging.”

An overnight, eight-hour charge will get around 32 miles (51.4 km) range, depending on weather and other variables. If your commute is 15 miles (24 km) or less one way, an overnight charge will get you to work and back (with a grocery stop along the way).

But drivers typically charge up a long time over the weekend or head out to a Destination or Supercharger during the week, so the trickle charging is enough for most Tesla owners. 

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Homeowners who have longer commutes can upgrade to Level 2 chargers. These chargers require a 240-volt outlet, like the ones a dryer or oven uses. If your house or apartment doesn’t have enough 240-volt outlets, an electrician is required to install one. They’ll verify if your home can handle an additional 240-volt outlet before proceeding. Photo @erimar via Twenty20

Charging Level 2 is much speedier than Level 1. For example, an hour of charging provides a 14 to 35 miles (22.5 to 56.3 km) range. Although it seems like you should opt for a Level 2, consider the following: 

  • Installation costs can be steep, often a thousand dollars or more. 
  • The charger itself isn’t free. 
  • An overnight charge provides plenty of range for around town and work trips. 
  • Your workplace might provide a charger. 

Whether you opt for a Level 2 charger will depend on your budget and whether your driving habits necessitate it. 

Do I Need a Home Charging Station for a Tesla?

You may need a home charging station for a Tesla if you drive longer commutes. Shorter commutes and the availability of Superchargers may significantly negate the need for a charging station. You must also factor in whether you want or can upgrade to a 240-volt outlet. 

If you plan to stick with Level 1, you do not need to buy a connector since they’re standard with all vehicles. The bundle includes the conductor, an adapter to plug into an outlet, and an adapter for public charging stations. Tesla encourages the purchase of a wall connector, but the advantage of a mobile connector is you can take it with you if you move. 

Tesla touts several reasons to upgrade to a Level 2 Wall Connector: 

  • Speed. Tesla claims charging speed can increase range up to times, depending on the breaker amperage. 
  • Convenience. A Wall Connector can be linked to a home Wi-Fi network, enabling firmware updates, remote diagnostics, and control over which cars hooked up to the connector should be charged. In addition, up to 4 Wall Connectors can be linked from one circuit, which is excellent for people who have more than one Tesla.
  • Indoor or Outdoor. The Wall Connectors are designed so they can be mounted outdoors without damaging the connector or vehicle. 

Remember, however, you’ll need an electrician to add the connector to your wiring, as the electrical panel might not be able to handle a 50- or 60-amp breaker. 

Miles (Km) of range per hour of charge
Voltage/AmpsModel 3Model 5Model X
120/153 (4.8)3 (4.8)2 (3.2)
120/204 (6.4)4 (6.4)3 (4.8)
240/1511 (17.7)7 (11.3)5 (8)
240/2015 (24)11 (17.7)8 (13)
240/3022 (35.4)17 (27.3)14 (22.5)
240/5030 (48.2)23 (37)20 (32)
240/6044 (71)34 (55)30 (48.3)
Before making any decision, you need to know what your electrical system can handle, which is best done by an electrician.

Can I Install a Tesla Supercharger at My Home?

You can’t install a Tesla Supercharger at home, mostly because Tesla won’t sell them. Still, even if they were available for purchase, the financial downsides and installation process would likely deter you from doing so. 

Even if you could convince Tesla to sell you a Supercharger, the cost would be prohibitive. According to Electrek, a business owner in Sweden convinced Tesla to sell him a Supercharger due to the poor supercharger coverage in the region. Electrek estimated he paid a little less than the price of a new Model S. Which would you want—a Supercharger or a new Tesla? 

Another hurdle to jump would be installation. You may live in a county or city that doesn’t allow homeowners to install the electricity requirements for a Level 3 charger. Even if the jurisdiction does allow the installation of a 480-volt charger, the extra installation costs would be over $10,000 at a minimum. 

Finally, and most important, regular charging of a Tesla with Superchargers will degrade the batteries to the point they won’t be able to hold their charge as long. The battery management system of a Tesla limits charging speed if the vehicle is charged too frequently at Superchargers. 

Luckily for Tesla owners, most use a combination of at-home and occasional Supercharging. 

How Much Does Your Electricity Bill Go Up With a Tesla?

How much your electricity bill goes up with a Tesla is negated by the costs saved in gasoline. For instance, the average American spends around $250 a month on gasoline, and an increase of $50 a month on your bill because of a Tesla means a savings of $200 a month by no longer paying for gasoline. 

The estimates for how much you can potentially save vary from source to source. For example, Forbes estimated a 2020 Tesla Model 3 to have annual fuel costs of $500 while costs for a 2020 Honda Accord hover around $1,050. And Solar Reviews estimates that gasoline in a typical car comes out to $1,117 per year, while a Tesla would cost $485. 

Bottom Line

The only way you won’t save money driving a Tesla is by solely relying on Superchargers. However, doing so degrades the battery and isn’t recommended.

Most Tesla owners depend on home charging and Destination charging for most of their driving and reserve Superchargers for emergencies or long trips.


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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.