You can charge a Tesla fast (or slowly) at home, depending on what system you choose to charge it with.
You can charge a Tesla with a 120-volt home outlet for about two miles of range per hour or with a $500 Tesla Wall Connector for up to 44 miles of range per hour. Tesla home charging ranges from 120 volts at 15 amps to 240 volts at 48 amps.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about charging a Tesla at home. We’ll go over charger levels, volts and amps, extension cords, adapters, and the highly efficient optional Tesla Wall Connector. Additionally, we’ll compare home charging rates between Tesla’s most popular models.
We sourced much of the information used in this article from Tesla itself, and some of it comes from our own research and the experiences of Tesla owners.
Can You Charge a Tesla From a Wall Plug at Home?
Yes, you can charge a Tesla at home from a standard three-prong wall outlet. Pretty cool, right? Tesla cars come with a wall plug charger included, and many people charge their cars—albeit slowly—this way. But there are much more efficient ways to charge a Tesla at home.
Tesla cars will charge from a standard 120-volt AC outlet in your house or garage. This is convenient if you live in an apartment or if you don’t want to modify your wiring. This kind of charging is known as “trickle charging,” and it uses the same principles as car battery rechargers.
Also, you can charge a Tesla from one of those three-prong round 240-volt utility outlets—which is the same kind you plug an old washing machine into.
Tesla 120-volt and 240-volt charging are simple. The car comes with (or you can buy) what really amounts to a short dongle adapter with the desired plug on one end.
How Fast Does a 120-Volt Home Connection Charge a Tesla?
Charging a Tesla with a standard 120-volt home outlet is a slow process. In fact, it’s so slow that it might be worth it to drive to a local supercharger and top off the batteries that way.
However, many people still charge their Teslas at home using this method, as it’s inexpensive and easy to do. You can plug your Tesla in when you get home from work and usually add enough power to get back to work the next day.
So how much range do you get from a home outlet, and how long does it take? Let’s use the Model S as an example. With a 120-volt house connection, it’ll take around four days to fully charge a Model S.
That means you’ll get about 2 miles of range per hour—which is great if you’re a commuter who charges your car overnight and doesn’t have too far to travel each day.
How Fast Does a 240-Volt Home Connection Charge a Tesla?
A 240-volt home connection, which usually delivers about 80 amps of power, charges a Tesla much faster than the 20 amp 120-volt charger. With a 240-volt connection, you can charge a Tesla Model S completely in between 6 and 30 hours.
A 240-volt connection is ideal for commuters who drive a lot, as most homes already have this type of connector in the basement or in the garage—and it’s not particularly expensive to have it installed. The 240-volt charger adds between 9 and 52 miles of range per hour of charging.
Power Strips and Extension Cords
You’ll need to use an extension cord with the right wire gauge to charge a Tesla from the wall—don’t bother with thin cheap hardware store cords.
Extension cords aren’t really regulated much in the United States. This is interesting, as extension cords are a common source of overheating problems and electrical cords.
Tesla wants you to think of power like water, in the sense that large pipes enhance flow rates while small pipes restrict it. But here’s a big difference—small gauge cords, when subjected to excessive power load, get extremely hot.
Additionally, they cause resistance which reduces the speed at which your Tesla charges. That’s why it’s essential to read the label and find a cord with the proper wire gauge for charging your Tesla.
In the United States, the color or shape of an extension cord denotes nothing. Many ‘heavy-duty’ orange or green cords—like the ones you see at concerts and on construction sites—are actually the same as the thin white ones, and the gauge is too thin for charging a Tesla.
Wire gauge values are inverse to wire thickness. That means 18 gauge is thinner than 14 gauge, which is thinner than 12 gauge, and so on. Next, we’ll cover the wire gauge you should look for when choosing an extension cord for charging your Tesla.
If you’re charging with a 15 amp current, use a ten or 12-gauge extension cord. For more powerful 20 amp charging, use a 10-gauge cord or heavier.
Tesla Charger Levels
Tesla chargers and charging types are divided into Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Level 1 chargers are 120-volt trickle chargers, which add 2 miles of range per hour and use the NEMA 5-15 adapter.
Level 2 chargers run on 240 volts, and charge times vary based on amperage. At up to 80 amps, a Level 2 Tesla charger will add between 9 and 52 miles of range per hour and take between 6 and 30 hours to charge completely. Most public charging stations are Level 2.
Level 3 chargers are Tesla’s remarkable Supercharger stations. These charge at 480 volts and at 300 amps, making charging a breeze. The fastest superchargers add around 200 miles of range in 15 minutes, and standard superchargers add 170 miles in around 30 minutes.
What’s the Fastest Way to Charge a Tesla At Home?
Tesla’s optional “Wall Connector” unit is by far the fastest way to charge your Tesla at home, and it comes at an additional expense and requires professional installation. That said, it’s so much faster than standard charging plugs that it’s more than worth it for many people.
The Wall Connector is a compact unit with a Tesla connector hanging from it. The housing mounts on the wall and is wired into the home power, and the extension cable is of sufficient gauge for constant use.
The Tesla Wall Connector can add a maximum of 44 miles of range per hour at peak efficiency—and it’s much more efficient than standard wall charging, especially if you’re not using the right kind of cords.
The Tesla Wall Connector works for the Model S, the Model 4, the Model 3, and the Model X. The Model S can gain 34 miles of range per hour, the Model Y can gain 42 miles of range per hour, and the model 3 can gain a maximum of 44 miles of range per hour.
It’s worth noting that a Wall Connector has a maximum charge rate of 32 amps for the standard range Model 3, which is 30 miles of range per hour of charging.
Tesla Wall Connector Features
The Tesla Wall Connector isn’t just a ‘power pump’ for your garage. The Wall Connector features a maximum of 11.5 kW and 48 amps of output, and you can customize the power output with circuit breakers.
Tesla’s Wall Connector works with any home power setup, and it can be used with up to four other Wall Connectors. Additionally, the charger features WiFi connectivity.
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Tesla Wall Connector?
Tesla recommends its Wall Connector due to its speed, safety, and energy efficiency. But this is an additional product that comes at a cost—yet it frees you from adapters and hazardous extension cords.
The Tesla wall connector requires an electrician to be installed. The unit itself, apart from installation, costs $500 on Tesla’s website. You can use Tesla’s online tool to find an electrician for your installation, or you can schedule an installation time with Tesla directly.
According to Tesla owners on various forums and online electric car communities, installation costs vary widely. The cost to install a Wall Connector is between $500 on newer houses and $5,000 or more on older houses.
But why such a dramatic cost disparity? Well, Tesla Wall Connectors are efficient and draw lots of power, which requires home wiring to be up-to-date and safe to use with such a high-current device.
Old homes with knob and tube wiring behind the walls, outdated glass fuses, or ancient breaker boxes will probably require some extensive additional work before they can accommodate a Tesla Wall Connector.
But this isn’t always the case—which is why it’s imperative to get a quote from an electrician before making a decision. It’s probably a good idea to check your wiring as it is, regardless of how you want to charge your Tesla.
Are Superchargers Faster than Home Charging?
Oh yes, Tesla Supercharger stations are significantly faster than even the best home charging setups. But why? As we mentioned previously, the Tesla Supercharger charges at 480 volts and at 300 amps, which is twice the voltage of the most powerful home outlet and many times the amperage.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding