Tesla charging stations: A complete guide

Tesla continues leading electric vehicle market sales: their two best-selling electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S., the Model 3 and the Model Y, make up nearly 70 percent of all EV sales, according to Kelley Blue Book. When you're on the go in your Tesla, finding Tesla charging stations is important to help you travel for long ranges. You'll also need to plan for stops at chargers on a road trip.
Tesla currently has one of the largest charging networks, with five percent of overall charging happening at commercial chargers. In this article, we'll break down the different types of chargers, where they're located, how to find them, how long it takes to charge with them, and how much they cost.

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Key takeaways

  • Depending on the model, it costs between $9.62 to $18.30 to fully charge a Tesla.

  • Teslas have a unique charging port and charger, but you can also use a J1772 adapter to charge at most EV charging stations.

  • An extensive network of Tesla Superchargers is available for quick charging on the go or for road trips. Additionally, Tesla Destination Chargers offer slower charging that's perfect for an overnight stop.

  • There are a few easy ways to find Tesla charging stations, including Tesla's website, your Tesla app, and your car's navigation system.

  • Tesla charging costs vary depending on the charger location and type of charging station.

  • Sign up for solar quotes on the EnergySage Marketplace to charge your Tesla with free solar energy when you're at home.

As with other EV charging stations, costs vary depending on the type of charger and your location.

Tesla Supercharging pricing

Tesla notes that in most locations, Supercharging costs are determined by kWh, though some locations are priced based on the amount of time you're charging. Additionally, at some locations, pricing may vary depending on the time of day (as with some utilities' electricity rates, you may pay less to charge at night or other off-peak hours). Tesla doesn't list specific Supercharger pricing on its website, but they do lay out pricing tiers, with prices lowest at Tier 1 and increasing up to Tier 4:

Tesla Supercharger pricing tiers

Tier
Charging Level (k W)
Tier 1 SuperchargingAt or below 60 kW
Tier 2 SuperchargingAbove 60 kW to 100 kW
Tier 3 SuperchargingAbove 100 kW to 180 kW
Tier 4 SuperchargingAbove 180 kW

Sample Supercharging costs

One recent Supercharging session at a Tier 4 Supercharger (charging at 276 miles per hour) showed pricing as:

  • $0.24/kWh from 9:00 pm to 11:00 am

  • $0.48/kWh from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm

So, a Supercharging session at 9:30 pm in which you consume 13 kWh (resulting in an approximately 60 percent charge from an almost empty Tesla Model 3) costs $3.12. However, just 30 minutes earlier, the cost would've doubled to $6.24. However, it's still much cheaper to charge your Tesla at a Supercharger than it is to fuel up a comparable gas-powered vehicle!

charging your tesla at a supercharger

The Tesla Model 3 main screen shows Supercharging status and fees

What else to know about Supercharger costs

  • You won't pay via a credit card, as all fees for charging at Superchargers are billed through your Tesla account to your primary card.

  • The cost of your current charging session is available on your Tesla screen in the 'charging' section. It will also show you a summary of costs for your last charging session.

  • Most Tesla Superchargers have idle fees, meaning that if you leave your Tesla plugged in at a Supercharger after it has fully charged, you'll be charged a fee (usually $1.00 per minute). However, if you move your Tesla within five minutes of reaching a full charge, Tesla will waive the idle fee.

Tesla Destination Charging pricing

Usually, Destination Chargers are free to patrons of the businesses where they're located (e.g., if you're staying at the hotel overnight or eating at a restaurant in the parking deck where it's located). However, depending on the hotel and location, you may have a standard overnight parking or valet parking fee — which is usually the same fee as anyone paying to park a car at the hotel.

There are two main Tesla charging networks: Tesla Superchargers and Tesla Destination Chargers.

Tesla Superchargers

Tesla Superchargers are usually easily accessible from major highways and roads, so they're ideal for road trips. These fast chargers are typically located near various food, coffee, or shopping options, though the accessibility and options vary widely depending on the Supercharger location. Tesla has done an exceptional job at building out its charging infrastructure, with over 30,000 Supercharger stations worldwide, but not surprisingly, more remote locations have minimal options.

model x supercharging

Tesla Model X charging at a Supercharger

Superchargers are named appropriately: they charge your Tesla very quickly at a maximum rate of 250 kilowatt-hours (kWh). So, what does that mean when it comes to the time spent charging your Tesla? It varies depending on a few factors like how depleted your battery is, which model Tesla you're driving, the Supercharger location's specific energy output, and how many other people are charging. You will need to add in charging time on road trips, so here's a general guide to the average mileage you'll add with 15 minutes of Supercharging:

Distance gained by Tesla model when Supercharging

Tesla Model
Maximum Supercharging Distanced Gained After 15 Minutes
Model 3175 miles
Model S200 miles
Model X175 miles
Model Y162 miles

The lower the charge on your battery when you Supercharge, the faster it will charge. Alternatively, the closer your Tesla's battery is to a full charge, the slower it will charge.

Pro tip: You can increase the speed of your charging by preconditioning the battery for Supercharging – something your Tesla will automatically do if you've entered a Supercharger as a destination in your Tesla navigation. This essentially means that 10 to 20 minutes before Supercharging, it's getting the battery prepared to be at the optimal temperature for the most efficient DC charging.

Tesla Destination Charging

Tesla Destination Chargers are ideal for overnight stops as they're often located at hotels, restaurants, and parking garages. They're not as fast as Superchargers, and there aren't as many of them (approximately 4,500 are located across North America), but they are convenient when you're breaking up a road trip over multiple days or want to keep your Tesla charged for a weekend trip.

Tesla notes that Destination Charging can add up to 44 miles of range per hour, which will vary by the model, as with Supercharging. We recommend that you use Destination Charging for overnight charges/stops, though, or if you just want to top off a charge.


Pro tip: If you're counting on a Destination charger for an overnight charge and you anticipate your Tesla's charge will be low when you arrive, you may want to call your hotel ahead of time to confirm that the Destination Charger is functioning and ensure they've blocked it off. A common issue that Tesla and other electric car owners sometimes face is called "ICE-ing," which is when an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle parks in an EV charging spot, preventing you from charging.

While Tesla charging stations are available throughout the U.S., availability does vary state by state. It's pretty easy to find Tesla chargers and plan your Tesla's charging on a road trip since both your car and app provide details on Superchargers near you, and your car shows you chargers on your route if you require a charge to reach your destination.

Locating Tesla chargers in your car

When you're in your car, you can easily see nearby Superchargers, including total and available stalls, the charging cost, and icons showing what amenities are nearby, like food, coffee, and shops.

supercharger nearby

The Tesla Model 3 main screen shows nearby Supercharger, available charging stalls, and the cost of charging.

Additionally, if you enter your destination into your Tesla in-car navigation, it'll show you any necessary charging stops to make it to the destination, the estimated percentage of charge at the time you arrive at each charger, and the estimated amount of charge time to make it to the next stop. It's important to note that several factors may change the estimates shown on the Tesla navigation, including your speed and frequency of acceleration, traffic, and elevation changes.

supercharger stops mapped on Tesla driving route

Necessary Supercharger stops mapped out on a driving route in a Tesla Model X navigation system

Locating Tesla chargers in the app

The Tesla app shows nearby chargers, the distance to them, and charging stalls available. The Tesla app also allows you to monitor your car's charging if you leave your Tesla charging to grab food or shop. So, you can see what percentage of your Tesla battery is charged and approximately how long it has left to charge. You can also adjust the percentage you want to charge the battery up to if you don't need a full charge.

Planning Tesla charging ahead of time

Tesla's online trip planner lets you plan a route, including stops along the way, if necessary. It's really helpful for a road trip to estimate your trip time along with the charging time needed. You can select your specific Tesla model to get the most accurate estimates as well as an estimated cost savings of what you'll save compared to driving a gas-powered vehicle on the same trip.

Tesla online trip planner tool

Tesla's online trip planner tool on a trip from Anaheim, California, to Denver, Colorado

Locating Tesla Destination Chargers

You can find Destination Charging locations on Tesla's website. When you select a location, it'll show you the business where you'll find it (hotel, parking deck, etc.) as well as any additional information you'll need, such as the number of chargers available, the charging speed, and any details on cost or availability. Usually, hotels require you to be a guest staying overnight to get access to their Destination Charger, and you may need to check with the valet or parking attendant to get access to the charger.

sample destination charging location
sampl destination charging on Tesla.com

Sample Destination Charging location details on Tesla.com.

Using non-Tesla charging stations on the go for your Tesla

As previously mentioned, Teslas can use a J1772 adapter to charge at other EV chargers. If your hotel has a Level 2 charger that's not a Tesla Destination Charger, it's also usually a helpful way to charge overnight or during a weekend stay. To find these, use an app like Plugshare via the App Store and Google Play to find over 140,000+ charging stations in the USA and Canada, 2,000,000 station reviews, and 375,000 charging station photos. Plugshare also has an online view that shows lodging locations with EV chargers so you can plan stays ahead of time.

map of V charger locations with lodging available

Map showing EV charger locations with lodging available on Plugshare.com

Tesla charging station expansion

On a Tesla earnings call in the third quarter of 2021, Tesla announced that it plans to triple the network size within the next two years, so it's continuing to plan more Supercharger locations to meet the needs of increased Teslas on the road. 
Tesla also announced in November 2021 that it's piloting a program in a few European countries to enable non-Tesla EVs to charge at Superchargers. Tesla's website notes, "It's always been our ambition to open the Supercharger network to EVs from other automakers., and by doing so, encourage more drivers to go electric." Pricing for non-Teslas will be higher than Teslas, with exact pricing available in the Tesla app. It's unclear if and when this program could expand to the U.S.

How much does it cost to charge a Tesla?

Depending on the model, it costs between $9.62 and $18.30 to fully charge a Tesla. In general, the cost of charging a Tesla is 3.6 times cheaper per mile than fueling a gas-powered car: 4.56 cents per mile compared to approximately 16.66 cents per mile for gas vehicles. Check out this article to learn more about the cost of charging a Tesla (as well as how it compares to fueling gas-powered vehicles).

How many different types of Tesla chargers are there?

There are two main types of Tesla chargers: Superchargers and Destination Chargers. Superchargers are the fastest charging option for Teslas, whereas Destination Chargers are most useful for overnight chargers or when you don't need a substantial amount of energy added to your battery quickly. You can find both Superchargers and Destination Chargers on Tesla's website, via your Tesla's navigation system, and on your Tesla app.

How much does it cost to install a Tesla charger at your home?

It's free to charge with a Level 1 charger – you'll just need a standard 120-volt outlet accessible to your garage, carport, or where you park your car and an adapter. If you want to charge faster, you can install a Tesla wall connector for approximately $400. Your exact cost depends on whether you also buy a pedestal for the charger and if you need any electrical work done depending on your home or garage setup. Professional installation can run between $200 – $1,200.

Are Tesla charging stations free?

In most cases, Tesla charging isn't free. The one caveat is if you have a Model S or Model X you purchased in 2017 or earlier, you may have free Supercharging, but most Tesla owners do have to pay a Supercharging fee. There were also some free Supercharging credits previously given by Tesla for referrals. If you do have any free Supercharging miles available, they'll show up in your Tesla account. Destination charging is usually free, though.

There's sometimes a misconception that home Tesla charging is expensive. Still, it's substantially less expensive in most areas than buying gasoline – especially if you're using solar panels to power your charging to save on your electric bill. Your exact comparison depends on the cost of electricity in your area and the Tesla model you own (since various models have different ranges).

One of the best long-term solutions to lower your home Tesla charging costs is to go solar, especially when you consider the various rebates and tax incentives. You can use the EnergySage Marketplace to compare several quotes from pre-screened installers, helping you find a system that fits your needs at the right price. If you're planning to charge an EV at home, share that information when getting estimates so an installer can help you build the right size system, allowing you to power your car with free, renewable energy generated at home.

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