Gas prices are crazy right now. And if you're considering buying an electric car, Tesla may be the first manufacturer that comes to mind. Tesla created the bolder, modern EV with vehicles like the Model S and the Model 3. Other manufacturers are now offering compelling competition — and pickup trucks. But Tesla remains the default option with a disproportionate share of the EV market.
The main question when buying a Tesla will be how you charge it. Here's a quick breakdown of how you charge a Tesla and how much it will cost.
How do you charge a Tesla at home?
Most EV charging happens at home overnight. Tesla does offer a $200 mobile connector that can plug into a standard wall outlet. But that method adds about 2-3 miles of range per hour and is best for emergencies.
Most Tesla owners will install a $400 wall connector. It can be located indoors or outdoors and on a wall or a pedestal (installation will cost extra). Charging with a wall connector can add up to 44 miles of range per hour — so a full charge overnight. A wall connector can also distribute the power to charge multiple EVs.
How much does it cost to charge a Tesla at home?
Tesla notes that charging costs are "cheaper than gas." There isn't an exact measurement because it will depend on several factors with electricity pricing. Two of the foremost will be where you're located and what time you are charging — peak hours will be more expensive, and nighttime will be cheaper.
Energy costs vary significantly by state, from 7.51 cents per kWh in Louisiana to 27.55 cents per kWh in Hawaii. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price in the U.S. is 10.59 cents per kWh. The EPA gives efficiency numbers for EVs in kWh per 100 miles — the Model 3 Long Range AWD uses 25 kWh to get 100 miles.
With average energy pricing, it would cost about $2.65 to charge the Model 3 Long Range AWD for 100 miles. So about $6 for a full charge. A car earning 25 mpg combined would have to pay for 8 gallons of gasoline to fill up for 200 miles.
How do you use a Tesla Supercharger?
A Tesla Supercharger is a fast charger that you would typically use when you're on the road — doing it too frequently is not great for battery health. At top speed, a Supercharger can typically add between 162 and 200 miles in 15 minutes, depending on the Tesla vehicle.
Tesla has a robust Supercharger network scattered along major highways and in major metropolitan areas. Tesla notes that it has 30,000 Superchargers globally. However, the number in the United States is lower. And Tesla acknowledges a "Supercharger" as an individual stall, not the charging station itself.
Per U.S. News, there are around 1,200 Tesla Supercharger stations in the U.S. You can find available Superchargers and route to them using the in-vehicle navigation system. Payment happens online through the method saved in your Tesla account.
How much does charging at a Supercharger cost?
Like with home charging, pricing varies. But Supercharging will be more expensive than charging at home. There are added taxes and fees. Some stations charge per minute in tiers depending on the charge rate. And Tesla can charge an idle fee assessed for every minute your Tesla is hogging the cord and not charging.
Using a Cars.com estimate of about $0.30 per kWh for Supercharging, adding 100 miles of range to the Model 3 Long Range AWD would cost around $7.50. So a little over $15 for a full charge.
Some Teslas qualify for free unlimited Supercharging. Tesla can also offer free supercharging as part of referral bonus programs and promotions. Eligibility for free supercharging can be found through your Tesla account.
Are there other options besides Supercharging?
Yes. Tesla also has a network of more than 4,500 Destination Chargers in North America. These are generally located in places like hotels and restaurants. They may not be DC fast chargers, but they are Tesla-compatible. Tesla owners can also use third-party charging networks. But that may require a pricey adapter cable if the third-party charging station does not supply one.
How much should you charge a Tesla?
Like most manufacturers, Tesla does not recommend you fully charge the vehicle all the time. They recommend around a 90% charge unless you need that extra range for a long road trip. On Superchargers, the default setting may have you charge to 80%. Beyond that threshold, even "fast chargers" become a lot slower.