So, you’ve just bought a Tesla and are looking to find somewhere to charge it?
Your best bet will probably be one of Tesla’s public superchargers because they are reliable, fast, and very straightforward to get your head around.
Here’s your full guide on how to use Tesla’s supercharger network.
How to use a Tesla Supercharger
As easy as plugging an Apple charger into an iPhone, the Tesla Supercharger network is a breeze for all Tesla drivers.
All you need to do is find a charging station using the car’s in-built maps system or a mobile app and drive to it.
The car will tell you how far away it is, what your battery percentage will be when you arrive, and how many chargers are vacant.
Then, once you arrive, simply pull up to a charge point, unhook the charger from the unit, bring it close to the car’s charging port and the flap will automatically open to reveal the charging port.
Once it’s all connected, a green light will show and it’ll be charging.
While it’s charging, you can either sit inside your Tesla and use the infotainment system and watch the charge increase, or you can leave and go about your day – checking up on the car’s progress via the app on your phone, of course.
Which cables do Tesla Superchargers use?
There are two different types of cable included at every supercharger station: a Type 2; and a CCS. Both of these connectors allow rapid charging.
Don’t worry if you have an older Tesla – CCS adapters are available to get fitted to your car by Tesla.
Can non-Tesla electric cars use the supercharging network?
If you don’t own a Tesla but want to make use of the brand’s supercharger network then you can, but the process isn’t quite as simple.
In the UK, we are currently limited to a few select stations that accept non-Teslas – but these can be located through the mobile app.
Once you arrive, prices will vary depending on the site, but a breakdown will appear on the app so you can keep track of your spending.
How much does it cost to use a Tesla Supercharger in the UK?
Speaking of cost, how much does it cost to charge a Tesla using the brand’s supercharger network?
Well, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always free to use these chargers. In fact, you can only charge for free at a Tesla charger if you use one of its 22kW ‘destination’ charge points that offer a slow charge – and aren’t even classed as ‘superchargers’ because they can take hours to juice up your car.
In terms of exact pricing, this varies depending on the charger but the steeper prices (at the time of writing) recently went up to around 70p per kWh.
This means that to charge from 0-100% in a 100kWh Tesla Model S, you’d be looking at a £70 bill. But bear in mind, you'd rarely be charging the battery from empty to full, so these prices will vary from person to person.
How much do non-Tesla drivers have to pay to use a supercharger?
Like Tesla owners, the price per kilowatt-hour will vary but at the time of writing it would cost a non-Tesla owner around 80p per kWh to charge their car. Currently, this is about a 10% increase over Tesla owners.
Free supercharger miles
Some users can also benefit from free charging using the brand’s ‘free supercharger miles’ scheme but this is exclusively for customers who bought their cars brand-new before 2017.
That means if you buy a used 2016 Tesla Model S, you won't benefit from this perk.
However, it's worth double-checking via your Tesla account first to see if you qualify.
Getting fined for idle charging
One thing that you should note when using a Tesla Supercharger is that if you leave your car plugged in after it’s been fully charged at a station that is over 50% capacity, you can expect an idle fee.
In the UK, Tesla will hit you with a 50p fine for every minute the vehicle is left once fully charged. So, if you leave your car for an hour once it’s done charging, you’ll be sorry.
How fast are Tesla Superchargers?
The majority of Tesla Superchargers in the UK offer 150kW charging speeds, but some of the newer ones will give you up to 250kW, which would boost your Model 3 battery from 10% to 80% in around 30 minutes.
The likelihood is that if you’re on the go and using a public charger, you won’t want to stay there much more than 30 minutes anyway, so either way, you’re going to get a decent amount of range in that time.
Where are Tesla Superchargers in the UK?
The UK currently has around 900 Tesla Superchargers, with more always on the way.
This means that finding one isn’t usually all that tricky. The majority live at motorway service stations, but there are a few dotted around elsewhere.
The best place to find them is by using the car’s Supercharger map or by using the mobile app.
Once you select one, the car will work out the fastest route to get there and will let you know what battery percentage you will arrive there with.
Also, when you start a road trip, the car’s sat-nav will automatically add in the best places to charge along your route – giving you plenty of warning before the battery dies.
However, if you don’t have a Tesla or the app, your best bet would be to check out cinchCharge to find your nearest electric car charger.
Is charging at Tesla Superchargers free?
For most people, Tesla Supercharging is not free but if you come under the select few who do, congrats!
To qualify at some chargers, you need to have bought your Tesla brand-new before 2017.
However, it is worth double-checking via your Tesla account first.
How many Superchargers does Tesla have?
Globally, Tesla has around 38,000 superchargers – with more than 900 located in the UK.
How often can I supercharge my Tesla?
Tesla does not warn against using its superchargers too often, but generally, they are used as top-ups on longer motorway journeys.
This is because of how fast they charge and how reliable they tend to be.
Can Tesla ban you from using a supercharger?
Yes. It has been known for Tesla to blacklist certain users from using its supercharging network.
This may include some salvaged vehicles and models that haven’t been fixed by an authorised Tesla dealer.