Tesla Superchargers are incredibly fast electric vehicle (EV) chargers to help you quickly charge away from home, including on road trips. Specifically, a Tesla Supercharger is a Level 3 charger (the fastest available today) that adds up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes. Currently, Tesla Superchargers are available only for Teslas in most locations – however, Tesla is piloting sites where other EVs can quickly charge using a Tesla Supercharger for an added fee. In this article, we break down everything you need to know about Tesla Superchargers, including what they are, where to find them, how to use them, and how much it costs to use one.
Tesla Superchargers are extremely fast Level 3 DC chargers available globally for Teslas (and sometimes non-Teslas) to charge on the go.
Tesla Superchargers can add up to 200 miles of range in 15 minutes, depending on which Tesla model and type you drive.
There are a few easy ways to find Tesla Supercharging stations, including your Tesla navigation system, the Tesla app, and Tesla's website.
Tesla Supercharger costs vary depending on the charger location, charging speed, and time of day.
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While EV options continue to increase, Tesla is still the market leader, with 70.1 percent of the U.S. EV market share, according to a Kelley Blue Book report from July 2022. Today, most EVs in the U.S. use a standard J1772 plug or charge port for charging, but Teslas use a unique Tesla-only plug. So, only Teslas can take advantage of most Superchargers, though Tesla is expanding Superchargers in some areas to make them available to other non-Tesla EVs (which we discuss in more detail below).
The Tesla Supercharger network is an industry leader in EV charging infrastructure: there are over 35,000 Superchargers around the world. They're often conveniently located off major highways, so you can easily access them during long-distance driving with nearby amenities like restaurants and shops.
Two common concerns with taking an EV on road trips include having an adequate range to drive and ensuring accessible charging stations are available. Tesla Superchargers make it easy to quickly charge on long drives so you can get to charging stations easily and add range. Often, in just 15 to 20 minutes, you can add enough charge to continue on your drive. Even with longer road trips requiring a maximum charge, you likely won't spend more than 30 to 40 minutes charging.
The chargers in the Supercharger network are all Level 3 direct current (DC) chargers, the fastest EV charging currently available. All EV batteries, including Teslas, store energy as DC energy. With Level 1 or Level 2 charging, the power source or EV charger charge is alternating current (AC) energy. So, to be usable, an EV's onboard charger must convert AC energy to DC energy. The conversion process and the fact that AC charging happens at a lower output means that DC charging is much faster than AC charging.
As a quick comparison, Level 1 chargers are standard outlets that will charge approximately two to five miles per hour, while Level 2 chargers usually add between 10 to 50 miles per hour. Learn more about the different EV charging levels in this article.
In addition to the Tesla Supercharger network, some other networks and ways to charge your Tesla include:
Tesla Superchargers are extremely easy to use: you simply plug in your Tesla at any Supercharger stall (also known as the actual charger) to begin charging. While Superchargers are all Level 3 chargers, your exact charging speed will vary depending on a few factors, including the Tesla model, the energy output at the Supercharger location, if there's extreme weather if other EVs are charging at the same time, and how full or empty your EV battery is when you're charging.
Tesla Supercharging speed by model
Each Tesla model and type charges at a different speed because they have different battery sizes. The larger the battery, the longer it will take you to charge it. Here's a general guide on how many miles you'll add with 15 minutes of charging at a Tesla Supercharger, depending on the model:
Maximum miles added with Tesla Superchargers
Maximum Supercharging Distanced Gained After 15 Minutes
|Model 3||175 miles|
|Model S||200 miles|
|Model X||175 miles|
|Model Y||162 miles|
Supercharging speed by Supercharger location
Some Tesla Superchargers charge faster than others because the electrical output at each location is slightly different. You can see the fastest nearby Supercharger on your Tesla screen or app based on the number of bolts shown – three bolts indicates the fastest. You'll also see the maximum kilowatt-hour (kWh) listed for each Supercharger on the screen and in the app.
Additionally, if there is extreme cold or heat, you may experience slower charging because your Tesla battery uses more energy to heat or cool the interior. Batteries also lose range more quickly with extreme weather.
Does an empty battery charge faster at a Supercharger?
Yes, the lower the charge on your battery, the faster it will Supercharge. Alternatively, the closer your Tesla's battery is to a full charge, the slower it will charge. Think of it like pouring water into a cup from a pitcher: if your cup is empty, you can pour it more quickly. But, as the cup fills with water, you have to pour more slowly so you don't cause it to overflow or spill.
A battery charging using DC energy works similarly: as you reach the battery's capacity, the Supercharger must slow down. So, charging from 10 percent to 50 percent capacity will be much faster than when charging from 80 percent to a full battery. Tesla's in-vehicle 'Supercharging Tips' indicates that a battery with 20 percent or less charge will charge at the maximum charge rate.
Are Tesla Superchargers slower when other Teslas are already charging?
Sometimes, yes. Typically, when Superchargers charge at less than 150 kilowatts (kW), they share power supplies between certain stalls – the same numbers share power between their A and B stalls. So, if you pull up to charge at Stall 1A and another Tesla is already charging at 1B, your battery will charge slower than if you were the only car charging.
Preconditioning your Tesla battery for supercharging
Preconditioning is preparing your Tesla's battery to charge by helping it be at the optimal temperature for the most efficient DC charging. You can precondition your battery for Supercharging to help it charge faster – if you use your Tesla navigation to navigate to a Supercharger, your Tesla will automatically do this 10 to 20 minutes before you reach it. You can also precondition the battery in the Tesla app.
While many EV charging networks are being added and expanding around the US and globally, Tesla provides one of the most accessible options for finding and charging while away from home. There are a few ways to find or locate Tesla Superchargers, including on your Tesla's main screen, the Tesla app, and Tesla's website.
Your Tesla's main screen
When driving your Tesla Model 3, S, X, or Y, you can quickly see nearby Superchargers on your Tesla's main screen (also known as the Tesla media control unit or MCU). You'll find the following information included on the screen:
Supercharger location: You can see and navigate to it with your Tesla navigation system.
Supercharger speed: You'll see one, two, or three bolts to indicate the speed of this specific Supercharger station (with three bolts being the fastest). You'll also see the speed in kW.
Supercharger stalls: the Supercharger stalls are the number of individual chargers at that location; you'll see the total number there and the number currently available or open to use.
Fees: Supercharger pricing is available so you know the cost per kWh you'll pay at that location to charge or idle; we'll cover more about pricing below.
Nearby amenities: You'll see icons showcasing if there are restrooms, restaurants, coffee, or other retail shops near the Supercharger. Remember that some of these may only be open during certain hours, depending on the business.
Nearby Supercharger on a Tesla Model 3 main screen
Sometimes, Superchargers may be in parking decks or shopping malls, so it might not be immediately clear exactly where they are located at a specific location on the map. If that's the case, your Tesla navigation will route you to the nearest entrance, and you can zoom in on the map to find the exact location of the Supercharger station. The Supercharger station's red pin on the map shows additional information such as the parking level location, any access code needed, or peak hours.
Tesla's navigation system
Enter a destination into your Tesla navigation system, and it'll automatically show you any necessary charging stops and the specific Supercharger location to make it to your destination. You'll also see the estimated percentage of charge at your time of arrival at each charger and the estimated amount of charge time to make it to the next stop. While Tesla is constantly refining the estimates, it's essential to note that these aren't exact: several factors may cause your distance to vary, including how fast you're driving and changes in acceleration, traffic, and elevation.
The Tesla app
Like your Tesla's main screen, the Tesla app shows nearby chargers, the distance to them, Supercharging fees, and charging stalls available.
You can enter an address, city, or zip code into the map on Tesla's website to find a Supercharger closest to you or any location. The same map lets you find Tesla Destination chargers, service centers, collision centers, and stores as well.
Image source: Tesla
Tesla's online trip planner lets you plan a route ahead of time based on your Tesla model. You'll input your model and type (e.g., Performance or Long Range), and it'll show you the estimated Supercharger locations and time needed to charge to make it to your destination. It also calculates estimated savings when driving your Tesla compared to buying gas for the same trip.
Image credit: Tesla
Typically, it will cost you money to use Tesla Superchargers – the amount is determined based on a few factors, including the Supercharger's charging speed, the time of day, and if you're idling. Tesla will bill you for these fees through your Tesla account to your primary card on file. You can also see the cost of your current charging session and a summary of costs for your last charging session in the 'charging' section on your Tesla screen.
Supercharger station charging speed
In most cases, your cost to Supercharge depends on the kW of charge available at that location, so you're paying more for a faster charge. This is also known as energy-based billing. In some areas like Canada, you may pay according to time-based billing to Supercharge. Most Tesla drivers prefer energy-based billing because the alternative to time-based billing means you pay to charge for a set amount of time regardless of the charge added to your battery.
Tesla lays out different pricing tiers for their Supercharger stations based on the charging level, with prices lowest at Tier 1 and increasing up to Tier 4:
Tesla Supercharger pricing tiers
Charging Level (k W)
|Tier 1 Supercharging||At or below 60 kW|
|Tier 2 Supercharging||Above 60 kW to 100 kW|
|Tier 3 Supercharging||Above 100 kW to 180 kW|
|Tier 4 Supercharging||Above 180 kW|
Time of day
In most cases, you'll pay more to Supercharge at peak times of the day. Like charging your Tesla or EV at home, you can often get cheaper rates when using electricity at off-peak times. At home, you may be able to get time-of-use (TOU) rates, depending on your utility company and location. Most of the cost difference depends on daytime versus overnight charging, so you'll usually pay less to charge from 9 p.m. to 11 a.m.
The Tesla Supercharger network has idle fees to discourage leaving your EV plugged in after fully charging it. (Keep in mind that it's common EV driver courtesy to move your EV after you finish charging so others can use the charger if needed.) Idle fees may run up to $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 Supercharging cost example
To give you an idea how of these factors come together, one 2022 Supercharging session at a Tier 4 Supercharger (charging at 276 miles per hour) showed pricing as:
$0.24/kWh from 9 pm to 11 am
$0.48/kWh from 11 am to 9 pm
So, a Supercharging session at 10:30 am 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 later, the cost would've doubled to $6.24. Regardless of this difference, it's still much cheaper to charge your Tesla at a Supercharger than it is to fill up the tank of a gas-powered vehicle.
Historically, Superchargers were only available for Teslas. However, in November 2021, Tesla announced a pilot program in certain European countries, opening Superchargers up to other non-Tesla EVs. The pricing structure is such that non-Tesla EVs pay a higher rate to charge than Teslas. Additionally, there's an option of purchasing a charging membership to lower the per kWh price to charge. Non-Tesla EV owners download the Tesla app and use it to manage charging and pay fees, just as Tesla owners do.
In June 2022, as part of other EV infrastructure expansion announcements, the White House confirmed that Tesla will begin production in late 2022 of new Supercharger equipment that will enable non-Tesla EV drivers in North America to use Tesla Superchargers.
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