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What Are Tesla Superchargers? The Basics Covered

The Supercharger was Tesla’s knockout punch, thanks to the rapid charging stations that juice up an electric car within minutes. But is that all there is to know?

Tesla introduced Superchargers in 2012, expanding the project as more users switched to electric power. At 250 kW, the Supercharger gives users a range of up to 75 miles (120km) in five minutes. When that moves to 300 kW, users will gain almost 100 miles (160km) of range in the same amount of time. 

The Supercharger is a fascinating technological development that has revolutionized Tesla’s practicality. This piece will answer some frequently asked questions about the Tesla Supercharger to improve your understanding of this simple yet effective tool. 

What Are Tesla Superchargers?

Tesla Superchargers are unique electric car chargers that charge Tesla batteries faster than home chargers. Tesla Superchargers use DC rapid-charging to top up car batteries, and they come in V1, V2, or V3 models, with the V3 Supercharger being the latest and most powerful of the three. 

Currently, Tesla runs more than 25,000 Supercharger stations globally. In the table below, you’ll see how the different models compare in terms of power output:

Supercharger typeV1V2V3
Power Output Limited to 150 kWLimited to 150 kWLimited to 250 kW

As of writing this, there are still V1 and V2 stations still out there, but Tesla plans to upgrade all charging stations to V3 very soon. Thankfully, Tesla’s Supercharger map informs you of the speeds available at different stations. 

Unfortunately, some older model Teslas are incompatible with the V3’s CCS plug. However, worry not, as Tesla will (for a fee) update your car’s software and hardware to fit with a V3 Supercharger. 

Using a Tesla Supercharger is relatively easy. Just park next to the charger, plug the cable in and wait a couple of seconds for the car to start charging. The car’s onboard computer will inform you how fast your car’s charging and how long it will take for it to fill up. 

Enjoy a drink or a light meal as you wait for your car to charge while keeping track of the progress via Tesla’s phone application. 

This YouTube video will show you how insanely fast a Tesla V3 Supercharger fills up a Tesla battery:

Do Tesla Supercharger Miles Expire?

Tesla Supercharger miles expire after six months, and if you fail to use them, Tesla takes them away. Then, you’ll resume paying for the supercharge service. Tesla deducts 2.5 miles (4 km) for every kWh you get. Therefore, 1000 Supercharger miles (1,609 km) are worth 400 kWh of Supercharger energy.

As an incentive to attract new customers, Tesla occasionally gives Tesla owners free Supercharger miles for referring new customers. Tesla offers you and the new customer free miles if the customer uses your referral code during purchase. 

Do Tesla Superchargers Have a Time Limit?

A typical stop at a supercharging station will take longer than it would take you to fill a tank of gas. However, waiting a few extra minutes for the Tesla batteries to fill up won’t mess up your travel plans. 

Tesla Superchargers do not have a time limit. The time it takes to fill the battery or fill to a certain point depends on the Supercharger’s output and the charge remaining in the batteries.

Note: Tesla charges a fee for failing to move your car after the batteries fill. The idle fee starts accumulating when supercharging ends and the charging station is at 50% capacity or more. 

The idle fee per minute doubles if the charging station is at 100% capacity. 

The Tesla application is your best friend if you leave the charging station with your Tesla plugged in. It will alert you when the battery fills, saving you the cost of paying the idle charge. 

Tesla hasn’t set an upper limit for the idle charge. So, the longer your car remains plugged in, the deeper you’ll have to sink into your pocket. 

The Bakersfield 40-Stall Tesla Supercharger

How Long Does Free Supercharging Last?

Free supercharging is another incentive that Tesla offers to new customers. It allows the customer to enjoy free supercharging for a certain period. 

Free supercharging lasts for the duration provided by Tesla. The best you can get is free unlimited supercharging, but the terms vary depending on the vehicle. It’s available on some Model S and Model X vehicles and some Model 3 performance vehicles.

The Model Y didn’t get the free supercharging treatment from Tesla. 

To find out whether your Tesla qualifies for free supercharging, contact Tesla

The Tesla Supercharger represents one of the company’s greatest successes, as with this one innovation, they were able to solve a nagging concern among prospective buyers: range.

Is Supercharging Bad for Tesla Batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries do not enjoy rapid charging as the heat it produces degrades the system. Naturally, therefore, you’d expect supercharging to be bad for Tesla Batteries. But, luckily, that’s not the case. 

Supercharging is not bad for Tesla batteries, thanks to an algorithm created by Tesla. With their technology, using a Supercharger doesn’t increase the wear rate of your battery. However, the algorithm only works if you use a Tesla Supercharger. 

Using another Supercharger increases the chance of damaging the car’s battery faster than usual. 

If Tesla detects the overuse of a non-Tesla Supercharger, it can limit the charging rate of a particular vehicle. It does this to ensure the longevity of its vehicles. 

Pro Tip: Can you find additional shop information when clicking on Supercharger stalls?

If you’re in your car, looking at the map and touching one of the red supercharger icons, it will provide you with an additional menu telling you about the supercharger and how many stalls are available etc. You will also see some greyed out icons there like Wi-Fi, Shopping and Coffee etc. If you touch one of those greyed out icons, it will bring up the related information regarding that supercharger. For example, if you click on the coffee icon, it will show you all the coffee shops in that area around the supercharger.

Why Does Tesla Supercharging Slow Down?

Tesla batteries rarely charge consistently when using a Supercharger. Instead, the charging rate fluctuates depending on factors such as temperature and battery charge level. 

Tesla supercharging slows down to protect the battery from wear and as the battery fills up. In addition, when it is too cold, the charging rate slows. Lastly, the charging rate slows as cars increase at the charging station. The slowing happens automatically, so there’s no way to bypass it. 

On a similar note, I wrote a related article that might interest you called: “Why Your Tesla Is Charging Slow“. I also shared some tips on how to resolve every issue mentioned.


How Are Tesla Superchargers Powered?

Part of the allure of electric vehicles is that they are much friendlier to the environment than their internal combustion alternatives. However, the production of electricity leaves a considerable carbon footprint. 

Tesla Superchargers are powered by local utilities. Some supercharging stations utilize solar energy, but Tesla primarily uses locally sourced electricity. However, they plan to adopt renewable energy for all their charging stations by the end of 2021.

The company is unlikely to reach that goal, but with time, Tesla will achieve its renewable energy goal. 

You can download third-party apps that inform you how clean the electricity charging your Tesla is. 

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:

Two columns

Tesla Charging Calculator (Time):

Estimated Time It Takes To Charge Your Tesla

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EV Speedy’s Take

Superchargers changed the game for Tesla owners. Instead of being glued to a charging station for hours or worrying about running out of juice in the middle of the highway, users can boost their car for another 75 miles (120km) in just five minutes. 

And once they move up to 300kW, we’ll see that number reach close to 100 miles (160km).

For people using their Teslas for daily commutes, that’s more than enough to get home in time for dinner. 

Infographic: The Growth Of Tesla'S Supercharger Network | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

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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.