How to use a Tesla Supercharger

April 23, 2024 by

You’ve probably seen rows of Tesla Superchargers at several service stations, particularly on UK motorways. They provide Tesla drivers (and now some non-Tesla drivers) with a convenient way to get a quick top-up charge to enable them to reach their destination.

A Tesla Supercharger enables ultra-fast charging ranging from 150 kW to 250 kW. That’s enough to boost the range of a Tesla by up to 200 miles in just 15 minutes of charging.

But do you know how to use one? Do you know that there’s different types of Tesla Superchargers? Our step-by-step guide is here to help you…

Some of the Tesla Supercharger network is now available to non-Tesla cars

How to find a Tesla Supercharger

In the UK and Ireland, Tesla operates over 1,400 Superchargers at 140 sites and 42 of these sites are open to all EVs with CCS charging, with 477 chargers available.

There are three ways to find a Tesla Supercharger:

  1. If you’re driving a Tesla and have entered your destination in the sat nav, the car will automatically notify you if you’re going to need to top-up the battery’s charge in order to reach your destination. Clever stuff. But if you want a break before the car imposes one on you, it’s easy enough to go into the main menu to tell the navigation to find the location of the nearest Tesla Supercharger, and it will reprogramme the navigation to take you to it. 
  2. If you like to plan your journey in advance, and think you’re going to need a top-up charge en route, then search for locations on Carwow’s Tesla Supercharger map.  When you choose a location, it will tell you how many Superchargers there are at the location, plus any facilities (such as shops or toilets), the address and charging prices. 
  3. Another way of finding a Tesla Supercharger is to use the Tesla app. It has a map with a search function. Like searching on the online map, this gives you all the information about the charging location you need. This is a convenient way to find a Tesla Supercharger if you’re planning to charge a non-Tesla electric vehicle.
There are 42 Tesla Supercharging stations available to non-Tesla cars

Choosing a Tesla Supercharger

If you’re planning your route and charging in advance, it’s worth checking out a selection of Tesla Supercharger locations on your route (if you’re going to need one). The good news is that in the UK and Ireland, Tesla operates over 1,400 Superchargers at 140 sites. 42 of these sites are open to all EVs with CCS charging, with 477 chargers available. Some Tesla Supercharger sites have more chargers and facilities than others.

Remember that some locations on popular motorway routes can get busy – e.g. South Mimms near the M25/M1 interchange, the Tebay services on the M6.

Not all Tesla Superchargers are the same. There are different versions as Tesla has developed and upgraded them to be ever more powerful (and quicker).

For example, some of the older V2 or V3 Tesla Superchargers have a 150 kw charging capacity, whereas the latest V4 versions are 250 kW. Both types could still be classed as ultra-fast but, obviously, the higher-powered ones will be the quickest.

There are over 1,400 Tesla Superchargers in the UK and Ireland

The more Superchargers there are at a location, in theory, the more chance there is of one being available – unless everyone thinks the same and it becomes extra busy! Sometimes, choosing a charger off the motorway or just before or after the most popular locations can save you time.

Of course, you may choose a Supercharger location by what facilities are available, such as coffee shops and food courts, plus toilets.

What you need to use a Tesla Supercharger

To use most Tesla Superchargers, you will need to have the Tesla app downloaded to your smartphone.

With Tesla latest V4 Superchargers, there is an option to use contactless car payments via a terminal on the Supercharger.

Importantly, the Tesla app will be registered to your payment card so it can charge you for each session. 

The app shows the pricing for each Supercharger site, and also enables you to start and finish each charging session and monitor it while it’s charging. 

When your charging session is nearly finished, the Tesla app will notify you. This is important, because if you haven’t returned to it by the time the charging limit finishes, you will be charged idle time at up to £1/minute – and there is no upper limit on the amount you could be charged.

Idle fees have been created to make sure Superchargers aren’t left occupied by cars that have finished charging, so others can use it. That’s not only more efficient, but good charging etiquette. 

For ultra-fast charging, the Supercharger uses a CCA connection. Every Tesla (and nearly all of the latest European electric cars) is compatible with a CCA connection. When a Tesla knows it is heading to a Supercharger it automatically preconditions the battery.

What to do first when using a Tesla Supercharger

First of all, before you park at a Tesla Supercharger, check if there is anyone else waiting for it who arrived before you.

It’s best to reverse into the Supercharger parking space as the charge point on a Tesla is at the back of the vehicle.

It’s easier to connect the connection lead if you reverse into the charging parking location as the receiving plug is 

Plug the Supercharger cable into the car’s socket and then open the Tesla app. You’ll need to tell it the number of the Supercharger you’re using at that location. The number of each Supercharger is displayed on the front of it at the base. 

If you select the Supercharger on the app and haven’t plugged it into the car within two minutes, you will have to start a new session.

You can leave your car while it is charging. It’s a good opportunity to get out of the car for a break, but keep an eye on the app to see how long you have left until it stops charging. Remember, that if you’re late getting back to your car after it’s finished charging, you will have idle fees to add to your bill.

If you need any extra help, read the Carwow electric car connector types guide and electric car charging guide.

How to pay for using a Tesla Supercharger

Paying to use a Tesla Supercharger is easy. Each charging session is logged on the Tesla app and the payment card you used when setting up the account will automatically be charged. It’s a convenient way to pay as it’s all done automatically via the Tesla app.

Note that with Tesla latest V4 Superchargers, there is an option to use contactless car payments via a terminal on the Supercharger.

Charges for using a Tesla Supercharger vary depending on the time of day, location and type of charger.

Tesla Superchargers are ultra-fast at rates of between 150 kW and 250 kW

Ultra-rapid charging is the most expensive way to charge an EV and many say that using ultra-rapid charging regularly can degrade the battery.

Tesla has a new annual membership option priced at £90 /year, a 16% discount compared to a monthly membership. Annual membership also provides Supercharger users with access to member rates.
With this update, Tesla owners continue to enjoy a seamless Supercharging experience at lower member rates than non-membership prices, while all EV owners will have more affordable options to choose from. Supercharging without a membership will remain available at stations accessible to all EV drivers, while rates will continue to be updated regularly by Tesla to provide affordable, fast-charging for all EV drivers.

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