Although often higher in California, average pricing at Tesla Superchargers is typically around $0.25 per kWh. You can expect it to cost between $20-$25 to add 250 miles of range to your Tesla at this price. The cost to charge a Tesla is usually about 33% less expensive if you charge at home using a level 2 charger.
Here’s a perk of owning a Tesla—you gain access to an extensive network of electric vehicle infrastructure. That includes Superchargers—a global electric car charging system akin to gas stations in convenience and accessibility. But what’s the real cost of using a Supercharger, and can you actually rely on them for your road trips?
Here’s a breakdown of how Superchargers work, what they’ll cost you per charging session, some alternative options for charging your Tesla for free, and what you’ll typically pay to charge at home.
At a Supercharger
Expect to pay between $20-25 for 250 miles of range
Expect to pay between $16-18.50 for 250 miles of range
What is a Tesla Supercharger?
Superchargers are a worldwide network of electric charging stations built specifically for Teslas. They can be found around rest stops, grocery stores, and other convenient stopping points.
These chargers work a little differently than standard plugs. Tesla car batteries are built with what’s known as an “onboard charger.” It converts alternating current (AC) electricity from the charging source into the direct current (DC) electricity the battery needs.
However, Superchargers bypass the onboard charger altogether to put DC energy directly into the battery. Skipping this step lets the battery get charged faster, adding up to 322 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
In this way, Superchargers act like a stop at any gas station. Drive up, plug your car in, and after a few minutes, you’ll be able to drive for many hours without stopping to re-juice. Due to their massive direct current, Superchargers are not ideal for daily use. It’s better to use them for a quick charge on the go or as a pit stops on long road trips.
Where To Find Tesla Superchargers
In 2023, there were more than 40,000 Superchargers in the United States, including at least one in every state. Many are located along major travel routes and amenities, ensuring you can tackle multiple errands as you recharge. The charging capacity is often restricted to 80% at popular Superchargers to reduce congestion, but you easily override the charge limit through the app.
You don’t have to memorize the map of Superchargers in your region. Teslas can be programmed to plan routes that optimize access to them. Enter your final destination into the touchscreen on your driver dashboard, and the car’s Trip Planner will automatically find a route that provides access to these premier charging stations. Trip Planner will even calculate the distance between Superchargers to determine how long to charge at each one.
As with gas stations, almost all Supercharger stations are open 24 hours a day, although any nearby amenities will follow standard business hours.
How To Use Tesla Superchargers
Using a Tesla Supercharger is as simple as driving up to an unoccupied one and plugging in your car. The Tesla app monitors which Superchargers in your area are available, tracks your charge status in real time, and alerts you when it’s time to disconnect. All payment happens automatically through your Tesla Account.
The actual charging speeds will vary based on your car model. Here’s how many miles you can expect after 15 minutes on a Supercharger:
- Model S: up to 200 miles
- Model 3: up to 175 miles
- Model X: up to 175 miles
- Model Y: up to 162 miles
Cost of Charging at a Tesla Supercharger
As with gas stations, Supercharger pricing will vary by location and current electricity costs. Charging stations can bill you in one of two ways: per kilowatt-hour or per minute. The Trip Planner will let you know how you’ll pay ahead of time.
The amount you pay per minute depends on which of the four tiers you are in:
- Tier 1: Below 60kW (lowest price per minute)
- Tier 2: Between 60-100 kW
- Tier 3: Between 100-180 kW
- Tier 4: Above 180 kW (highest price per minute)
After you complete a charging session, you’ll see an estimate of the final charge on your screen. As of publication in early 2023, pricing is typically around $0.25 per kWh. You can expect it to cost between $20-$25 to add 250 miles of range at this price.
Many Supercharges adjust their price based on the time of day, meaning you’ll pay more to power up during peak times. These higher prices work both to prevent people from attempting to charge simultaneously (causing congestion and longer wait times at charging stations) and to put less pressure on the energy grid.
You “lock in” a charging rate as soon as you plug in, which means you won’t pay more if it increases while you charge.
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About Idle Fees
Recently, Superchargers have begun charging an idle fee to keep things moving for all users. This fee starts when a Tesla remains plugged in after reaching a full charge and increases by the minute. If you move the vehicle within five minutes, the entire fee is waived.
When Teslas first reached the market, the company incentivized their purchase with perks like unlimited access to Superchargers for life. There have been a variety of similar deals since then that provide free or discounted charging for a set number of miles. As one example, Tesla offered up to 10k miles of free Supercharging on Model y and Model 3 cars delivered before the end of 2022.
Any deals you qualify for will likely be disclosed when you purchase your vehicle. It’s also possible to check for any unclaimed miles and their expiration date through the Tesla app. Finally, you can contact Tesla directly to determine what (if any) eligibility you have for a discount.
At publication, Superchargers have charging connectors that are compatible only with Teslas. However, the company has shared plans to open up charging to other brands of electric vehicles in the coming years.
Tesla launched a pilot project in 2021 throughout parts of Europe to open Superchargers up to other EVs—granted, at a higher rate per kWh. All that’s necessary is to download the Tesla app to handle rates and billing.
Mid-summer 2022, Tesla confirmed that it would continue to produce Supercharger equipment that works with non-Teslas throughout the United States. So stay tuned!
The Cost of Charging a Tesla at Home
What you’ll pay for EV charging at home depends in part on the charging style you invest in:
Level One AC Charging: Known as the universal charging option, level one charging is possible with any standard wall socket. However, this method is slow enough that it might take days to reach a full charge.
Level Two AC Charging: As the most common charging system for home users, level two chargers are also found in third-party public stations. Most 220-240V plugs provide 40-50 amps, making it possible to charge a Tesla in 8-12 hours.
While these two methods vary considerably in time, they should cost approximately the same per charging session. That’s because the overall price depends on your cost per kilowatt-hour.
Charging Cost Per kWh
As of January 2023, US prices averaged $0.1609/ kWh. Assuming a 100kWh battery pack (as is standard on the Long Range and Plaid Model S) and about 15% additional energy required for inefficiency, you’ll pay approximately $18.40 to go from empty to full on your Tesla.
Other Tesla batteries range from 50 to 82 kWh. This means your overall price will be significantly lower per charge, but you may need to charge more frequently based on distance or speed traveled.
Cost for Installation
Tesla reports that the average cost of installing a home charging system ranges from $750-$1,500. The price varies based on the current state of your electrical system and the caliber of home charging hardware you use. While this base price typically includes a permit, inspection, and professional installation service and materials, it doesn’t factor in additional costs like a long wire run, a trench for underground wires, or equipment to hide the cables.
Note: As of publication, some EV manufacturers are comping the cost of installing a charging system at home. Be sure to shop around to see if you can secure a deal like this.
Where to Charge a Tesla for Free
Superchargers are just one option for getting juice back in your Tesla. It’s possible to charge electric vehicles in various ways—sometimes, even for free.
It’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to offer free or heavily discounted EV charging for patrons through the Tesla destination charging network. There are over 35,000 wall connectors worldwide, located at hotels, restaurants, resorts, and other locations where people spend a few hours. Most are designed for overnight use or quick top-offs, as they add about 20-30 miles of range per hour of charge time.
You can also charge your EV from outside the Tesla network through a third-party charging station. PlugShare is a stellar resource for locating them, and other options include Charge Hub, Open Charge, and EV Go. You can filter by plug type to determine which stations will accommodate your charger and whether you need an adapter. Many of these will charge, but it’s possible also to find some that are free for public use, often near community resources like libraries or hospitals.
Owning a Tesla requires some changing of thinking regarding keeping it drivable. Unlike regular cars, you can’t assume that opportunities to refuel are always a few miles away. But even so, taking advantage of charging options like Superchargers and other community locations soon becomes second nature for most owners. Take time to learn the options near you, and you’ll find charging your EV is a stress-free, low-cost endeavor.