The Tesla is a sensational car in its own right, but it’s the fact they are 100% electric that makes them stand out from the crowd. Like any electric vehicle (EV), the fact of being all-electric raises a number of important questions for prospective buyers, and how long they take to recharge is definitely one of them. In this article, we’ll look at the question of how long it takes to charge a Tesla and provide you with the definitive answers you need to decide if a Tesla would fit in with your driving requirements.
It can take anywhere from an hour to as much as half a day to recharge a Tesla, depending on several important variables. Factors that affect the amount of time it takes to recharge a Tesla include the amount of charge already in the battery, the size of the battery, the type of charger the car is fitted with, and the charging source being used.
Tesla battery sizes and capacities
Tesla uses several different sizes of batteries in its vehicles, but the company has become more than a little coy about publicising the actual capacities of its batteries in the last few years. This can make it difficult to do direct comparisons against rivals, but how much use such direct comparisons would be is up for debate as Tesla utilizes its batteries in different ways to the competition.
A recent Washington Post article explains how Tesla uses somewhat controversial technology to get greater range and performance from its batteries, and how the company is way ahead of the competition because it’s been developing the technology for longer. The range is easily the most important consideration for many potential EV buyers, and Tesla is keeping its place at the top of the class by continually working to offer greater ranges from a full battery charge than any of its rivals.
It’s thought that current battery sizes range from the Model 3 standard 50 kWh to a 100 kWh battery in the more expensive Teslas like the Model S. However, the 50 kWh battery in the Model 3 isn’t the same as a 50 kWh battery you might find in a non-Tesla EV. Tesla uses a lot of advanced technology to get greater performance out of its batteries, which is why direct comparisons like how long a Tesla Model X takes to recharge compared to something like a Jaguar I-Pace are hard to make.
Tesla batteries are also made using slightly different materials to those used by other manufacturers. As well as the usual nickel and cobalt, Tesla makes extensive use of aluminium in its batteries instead of the usual manganese, which could have its downsides as well as its upsides. Although these batteries offer greater range, it comes at the price of a higher risk of fire and possibly a shorter cycle life.
Cycle life is the number of times a battery can be recharged before it degrades to the point where it’s no longer viable as a car battery. Tesla has taken this route knowing that cycle life might be an issue down the line, but for the moment the company appears to believe that range and performance is more important in the short to medium term.
Instead of being fixated by the size and capacity of each battery fitted in a Tesla, we really need to concentrate on the numbers supplied by the company, but we should also listen to companies who provide charging facilities as well as the anecdotal evidence given by those who already own and drive Teslas.
|Charger Type||Tesla Model S||Tesla Model 3||Tesla Model X|
|Household||33 – 44 hours||22 – 33 hours||44 hours|
|3.7 kW||21 – 27 hours||14 – 21 hours||27 hours|
|7kW||11 – 15 hours||7 – 11 hours||15 hours|
|22 kW||5 – 6 hours||5 – 7 hours||6 hours|
|50 kW*||60 – 80 minutes*||40 – 60 minutes*||60 – 80 minutes*|
|150 kW*||30 minutes*||20 minutes*||30 minutes*|
*20% – 80% charge
Tesla Model 3
According to Pod Point – a large operator of public charging facilities in the UK – charging a Tesla Model 3 can take between 5 and 33 hours, depending on the type of charger being used. Naturally, the very longest times are when using a domestic household supply from a plug socket. Pod Point estimates this will take anywhere between 22 and 33 hours, depending on the ambient temperature and variation in the charging rate.
If a specialist charger is being used, which at home, at work or in a public location could be 3.7 kW or 7kW unit, the time drops dramatically to between 7 and 21 hours.
Chargers found at workplaces or public locations can be faster 22kW units, and one of these would be able to fully charge the battery in a Model 3 from empty in somewhere between 5 and 7 hours.
Of course, most of us would probably want to know that there are rapid charging facilities in the vicinity before going ahead and purchasing a Tesla, and these can be between 50 kW and 150 kW facilities. Pod Point offers statistics for rapid charging batteries between 20% and 80% as charging is slowed outside of that range to protect the battery and extend its life.
Using a 50 kW charger, the Model 3 will take between 40 minutes and an hour to be charged from 20% to 80% capacity. If you have access to a 150 kW supply, such as a Tesla Supercharger, then the time drops to a very attractive 20 minutes.
Tesla Model S
The Model S uses larger batteries to deliver greater range and performance than the more affordable Model 3, and it’s produced in two different versions that are either performance-focused or range focused.
Naturally, this means that it can take longer to recharge a Model S than a Model 3. Using a domestic supply, it can take between 33 and 44 hours to fully recharge a depleted Model S. A 7 kW charger at home, at work or in a public location can reduce that to a more manageable 11 hours, while it will take around 5 to 6 hours using a 212 kW supply.
A 50 kW rapid charger will take 60 to 80 minutes to go from 20% to 80% capacity, while a 150 kW supply can reduce that to just 30 minutes.
Tesla Model X
The Model X will take a similar amount of time to charge as a Model S as the Model X SUV also uses a 100 kWh battery. From a home supply, a full charge will take around 44 hours, a 3.7 kW supply will take 27 hours, a 7 kW charger will take 15 hours, and a 22 kW charger takes 6 hours to recharge a Model X.
Once again, like the Model S, a 50 kW rapid-charger will get a Model X from 20% to 80% charge in 60 to 80 minutes and a 150 kW supply takes just 30 minutes.
The new Tesla Model Y compact SUV is expected to start arriving with buyers very soon, so charging operators don’t have any statistics for this model yet. However, as it’s built on the same platform as the Model 3 and is a more affordable vehicle than the larger Model X, the charging times are likely to be almost identical to those of the Model 3.
Tesla Supercharger network
Although Tesla is easily the leading manufacturer when it comes to the range its vehicles can go before they run out of charge, the company’s philosophy isn’t based entirely on ever-increasing battery range. Tesla uses software that prevents its batteries from being completely depleted of electricity, and the software also prevents the battery from being charged to 100%.
Unlike most other EV producers, Tesla is doing quite a bit to make recharging its vehicles easier and more convenient by creating its own network of Tesla Superchargers. Tesla Superchargers are charging stations that provide electricity at up to 72-150 kW, and providing these for drivers around the world is a key component of the company’s overall philosophy.
Tesla intended to have 18,000 of these around the world by the end of 2018, but it, unfortunately, failed to hit this target and instead ended up with around 12,000. By the start of 2020, the number of Tesla Superchargers worldwide had increased to 15,911 at 1,804 charging stations, so the availability of Superchargers isn’t growing as fast as Tesla vehicle production.
Most of the Tesla Superchargers you can use at the moment are still Version 2 (V2). Each of these can split its charge between two vehicles, so although fast, they’re not as fast as the new Tesla V3 Superchargers the company is now starting to roll out.
V3 Superchargers don’t split their current, which means they can offer the full 250 kW charge to a vehicle connected to them. To give you a rough idea of what the implementation of these new V3 Superchargers will mean, current Tesla models should be able to get enough charge from a V3 Supercharger for 75 miles of range in as little as 5 minutes.
Although this is still not quite as quick as filling up with petrol or diesel, it’s certainly a massive improvement on what we’re used to and really will make EVs a much more practical option for the masses than they are at the moment.
To give an idea of just how rapid these V3 chargers are, Tesla says that the new V3 Superchargers can recharge a Tesla at a rate of up to 1,000 miles of range in an hour. Of course, no Tesla has a 1,000-mile range at the moment, but it is a statistic that illustrates just how much more practical recharging a Tesla is becoming.
Tesla recharging philosophy
Looking further forward, it appears Tesla has a quite understandable philosophy that might be different from how the general public views the issue of recharging their electric vehicles. While most people are largely concerned with the maximum range an EV can go on a full charge before it needs to be recharged, Tesla sees regular small top-ups as the way EVs will be used, rather than less-frequent full charges.
This makes sense on a number of levels. If Tesla can get frequent small recharges to be the way most people “refuel” their electric vehicle, it would mean each charging station would be occupied by each vehicle for shorter periods and more vehicles could be recharged by each Supercharger.
Regular, short recharges are also potentially much better for the lifecycle of a battery, which would help to alleviate long-term concerns some have about how soon a battery would have to be replaced and the inevitable cost involved.
Finally, if Tesla can convince drivers to adopt its philosophy of regular small recharges, it could then encourage a whole raft of people who don’t have off-road parking to recharge their vehicles at home to consider buying a Tesla. Let’s face it, none of us has a petrol or diesel pump at our house, so why should we assume we have to have a dedicated charging point of our own to be able to run an electric car?
How much range do actually you need?
When we look at the available data relating to how much people actually drive, Tesla does have a point. For various reasons, we’re all driving less and less as the years go by.
In the UK (don’t worry, I’ll get onto the US later), the most recent anonymised MOT test data available from the Department of Transport revealed cars travelled an average 7,134 miles in 2017, which was down from 7,250 miles the previous year. If we then take a look at the official National Travel Survey (NTS), which was published just last year, that shows the average person in England makes around 594 trips by car over the course of a year.
If we then divide the average annual mileage from the MOT results by the average amount of car journeys, it turns out the average car journey is little more than 12 miles! If you can recharge your Tesla with 75 miles of range in just five minutes at a V3 Tesla Supercharger you wouldn’t have to recharge much more than once per week.
In the US, the United States Department of Transportation has concluded that the average driver does just 29 miles per day and spends an average of 55 minutes behind the wheel.
If you can recharge your Tesla with 150 miles of range in little more than 10 minutes, it really would start to put to bed the idea that electric cars are not practical for everyday use by the majority of drivers. It also brings into question just how important it is to have charging facilities at our homes.