Nothing defines Tesla’s dominance of the EV market as its supercharger network. The company’s fast-charging network includes 40,000 charging points strategically placed across the world.
Depending on the car model, you can add up to 200 miles of range in 15 minutes with a Tesla supercharger. This has been a godsend for drivers who love road-tripping and don’t fancy stopping for 3-4 hours just to charge.
Read on to discover some of the pros and cons of using the supercharging network.
How Does Supercharging Work?
Tesla superchargers inject 480V direct current (DC) into batteries. In contrast, other chargers output alternating current (AC), which the car’s charging system has to convert to DC. The direct current is then injected into batteries.
This process can take time, which explains why normal tesla chargers take several hours to fill up batteries.
There are four types of Tesla superchargers, namely V1, V2, V3, and V4. The latter is the latest and most advanced type and has a charging speed of 1000 kW while the V3 delivers 250 kW.
V1 and V2 chargers are a bit older and offer maximum outputs of about 120 kW and 150 kW respectively.
Does Supercharging Affect Tesla Battery?
Technically, yes. Supercharging leads to marginal degradation in battery capacity over time.
When an EV’s battery is charged and discharged rapidly, it undergoes a process called “cycling.” A cycle occurs when a battery starts at 100%, gets discharged to 0%, and then recharged again up to 100%.
The more cycles a battery goes through, the larger the reductions in capacity and performance. It is for this reason that Tesla superchargers are programmed to reduce the charging speed once the battery reaches 80% charge.
Still, you do not want to completely discharge the battery. If possible, keep the battery’s charge above 50% at all times. At this level, the battery cells have enough “juice” to stay active. Tesla even recommends charging your battery pack every day to keep it active.
Note: You do not need to use a supercharger unless you are going on a long trip. Instead, use a regular 240 V charger on a daily basis, and don’t let the battery go below 20%.
What to consider before supercharging your Tesla
Type of supercharger
While the non-Tesla superchargers may sometimes be cheaper and easier to access, they are not safe for your Tesla.
Tesla superchargers have built-in battery protection mechanisms tailored specifically for Tesla cars.
Non-Tesla chargers may not have these features. As a result, your battery cells are susceptible to damage with repeated exposure. You should only use them if you can’t access Tesla chargers.
On colder days (below-freezing temperatures), you may experience slowed charging speeds even when using a supercharger.
This is because the battery needs time to warm up well enough to receive the charge.
Conversely, higher temperatures (above 43°C) will hasten the speed at which chemical changes occur inside the battery. The changes may be more rapid than what the battery is designed to handle, which can lead to degradation.
As such, you should avoid supercharging your Tesla in hot weather. On cold days, you can pre-warm the battery by driving it a bit before plugging in the charger.
Warming the battery will also help improve the range and the performance of your EV.
Superchargers are a great innovation in the EV industry. However, they aren’t really necessary.
Ideally, you should use them if you are in a hurry or can’t access other chargers. If you supercharge your Tesla regularly, the batteries may degrade with time.