Tesla recommends that you charge daily at home. But they have the largest Supercharge Network in the US. So many people ask the question – Is Supercharging bad for my battery? In this article, we’ll look at the best options available.
Supercharging marginally degrades Tesla batteries, but this is normal. Tesla’s onboard Active Thermal Management system carefully manages and optimizes battery health to minimize degradation.
Tesla and EVs are becoming increasingly popular, but they only account for 1.5% of US sales in 2021. People have the biggest questions when considering the EV around range anxiety and charging. Let’s look at the best option for different scenarios.
What is Supercharging?
Firstly, let’s look at what exactly Supercharging is. Tesla Supercharging uses a powerful 480V DC fast charge technology. They first introduced the network in 2012, with just six chargers available. In 2022, they will have an enormous 30,000+ chargers worldwide, with most of them in the US.
A Supercharger allows you to charge your car for up to 200 miles in approximately 15 minutes.
Because the Supercharger Network is dotted throughout the US, it means that your journey can be limitless, and you no longer have the expense of gas (which currently is off the scale in price -Mar 22).
But what happens if you are solely using a Supercharger to charge your Tesla? Are you damaging the battery in any way?
Damage to Your Tesla Battery
When we’re talking about damage to our battery, we’re really talking about degradation or the ability of your battery to hold a charge or charge to full capacity. Tesla recommends that you charge your car daily – at home – preferably using a Tesla Wall Connector (TWC) using 240V.
They also suggest that you don’t allow your charge to go below 5% or above 90%.
So if Tesla recommends home charging, why do they have such a prolific Supercharger Network? Well, they don’t want any owner limited to their local surroundings, and they want you to travel freely without worrying about range anxiety.
If you are going on a trip, then the Supercharging Network is excellent.
No Charger At Home
But what if you can’t access a TWC charger at home? There are lots of Tesla owners who live in rental accommodations or in an apartment where they don’t have access to a TWC or any kind of plug-in charging. And the only option is a Supercharger or a Destination Charger. Depending on their location, they will use the one that’s most practical and closest.
If you have to use a Supercharger every time, you can adjust your app only to charge 80%, protecting your battery. Tesla has recently adjusted their Superchargers in busy locations are set to 80% to prevent large queues from forming.
The reality is that most times, you won’t need to queue.
You may find that your Supercharge takes longer the older your Tesla becomes. This is because the onboard computers are constantly monitoring the batteries. Every Supercharge cycle degrades your battery; it’s just the way it is. And for every 10,000 miles driven, your battery may degrade by 1.9%.
However, Tesla has recently introduced an addition to their warranty stating that the battery will retain 70% capacity over the 8-year warranty, or they will replace any cells that have died. So you’re never going to have less than 70% capacity.
Like any battery, its capacity will reduce over time. Some of the cells will become depleted and will no longer be able to receive a charge or not a full charge each time. Because a Supercharger uses a much higher voltage, your Li-Ion is charged at a higher temperature. Tesla cars have monitoring in a place called Active Thermal Management to ensure that your cells don’t overheat, as this causes premature battery capacity loss. However, certain conditions cannot be helped but can be controlled.
When to Avoid using Supercharger
Two conditions are bad for your Tesla to Supercharge:
- Extreme Climate
- Non-Tesla Supercharger
Li-ion batteries are not designed for very hot or very cold climates. Hot climates make your Tesla automatically use the AC when charging if the temperature is over 100F. Because it runs the AC, it will take longer to charge as it has to maintain the Li-ion at a specific temperature.
Using a Supercharger in intense heat will not benefit your battery as the 480V DC charger already generates higher heat, and running the AC to counter this can strain the batteries.
Charging in extreme cold can also be damaging. Tesla has a preconditioning facility that warms the car before charging. If you are trying to charge in freezing temperatures, the onboard computer will limit or prohibit charging to prevent damage. Li-ion batteries contain ionizing liquids that can freeze.
I wrote a post that covers problems with cold charging and Tesla, which you may find helpful – Tesla won’t charge in the cold
If it does and you apply a current, especially a 480V current, you can kill the battery. So preconditioning is an absolute must in cold climates and even more so if you are Supercharging.
Tesla is the dominant force in the EV industry, but more and more brands are coming on stream. Although Tesla has a huge Supercharge Network, there are other Superchargers available.
Blink Charging, and Electrify America offer to charge to CCS and CHAdeMO. CHAdeMO charging is geared towards the Japanese market, such as Nissan and Mitsubishi. The majority of all other brands use CCS.
Battery degradation has been known to happen with the continued use of non-Tesla Superchargers when charging your Tesla, such as Electrify America. There’s nothing to say that you can’t charge your car at any charging station that uses CCS, but Tesla recommends if you are going to Supercharge that, you choose a Tesla Supercharger. You can also buy an adaptor for a CHAdeMO, but to be honest, I wouldn’t bother for a few reasons.
- There are plenty of Tesla Superchargers
- It’s not good for your Tesla battery
- There’s talk that the CHAdeMO will be phased out in the future
The reason non-Tesla chargers are not suitable for your battery is the Active Thermal Management may not kick in as it’s not a Tesla charger. So prolonged use will overheat your li-ion and cause degradation and battery capacity to drop.
Free Tesla Supercharging
Everyone loves a deal, and everyone loves something Free. Over the years since Tesla launched, some models have had the option of Free Supercharging.
|S||2012 – 2020||Possibly FREE|
|X||2016 – 2020||FREE|
|3||2018 – 2019||First Owner Only|
|Y||~||No FREE Supercharging|
Most models have had some variation of Free Supercharging, and from time to time, Tesla offers Free days or time-specific slots for Free Charging. If you have recently purchased a Tesla, either new or used, the idea of free supercharging is a huge bonus. You can check your Tesla account for Supercharging information. On your app, go to:
- View Details
Your Supercharge account will be listed as either Pay per Use, Free Supercharge, or Timebound Supercharge.
A code may also be listed that will tell you whether your Free Supercharge has transferred as a second owner.
|SC 00||No Supercharging|
|SC 01||Unlimited Free Supercharging (no restrictions)|
|SC 04||Paid Supercharging|
|SC 05||Unlimited Free Supercharging (first owner only)|
|SC 06||Unlimited Free Supercharging (time-bound)|
If you have bought a used Tesla through Tesla, chances are higher that the Free Supercharging will transfer but not always. Most new Teslas now only have Free Supercharging for the first owner, but if you’re lucky, you could pick up an older model with the Free Supercharging attached for life.
The obvious point I’m trying to make is if you have a Tesla that has Free Supercharging, you will avail of it. You just need to be sensible about it and consider the weather conditions and the maximum charge capacity that you select.
The biggest selling point of an EV is saving on gas costs, but the biggest concern of EV drivers when thinking about a purchase is the charging and the range anxiety. There is a lot of talk about the careful management of your Tesla battery, but the reality is if you use a Tesla Supercharger, then your onboard computers will take care of your battery.
All batteries will degrade somewhat over their lifetime, but the percentage of degradation due to Supercharging is so small that most owners won’t even realize it. Do what Tesla recommends as much as possible. Charge at home predominantly, but if it’s not an option, then use a Tesla Supercharger, and as a bonus, it may even be free.
I’ve written a ton on common Tesla issues, which hopefully you won’t ever experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:
Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.
Check out the Tesla troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.
Check out the Tesla category page for a list of popular Tesla posts.
If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.
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