A Tesla battery is the most important part of the car. If it’s not in tip-top condition, it will begin to degrade. What’s the best way to maintain your battery? Is it leaving it plugged in? Let’s look at how often you should charge your Tesla for longevity.
Your Tesla should be plugged in daily to a Tesla Wall Charger to maintain your battery life. To optimize your battery:
- Set a charge limit
- Turn certain options off
- Utilize cheaper electricity
- Follow these tips for long-term charging
In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of leaving your Tesla plugged in and how to manage your charging if it’s going to be long-term.
Set Tesla Charge Limit
Each Tesla model has different charging requirements and limits. Tesla recommends no matter what your model, the best management of your battery is to charge daily and at home with a Tesla Wall Charger (level 2). The percentage that you charge each day is also an important factor. For nearly all models, the recommended limit is to be set at 90% or just below. But for any Rear Wheel Drive model, it’s recommended to set the charge limit to 100%.
To set this up on your Tesla
- Select Charging Screen
- Set Limit
- to either 90% or 100%
The limit amount depends on what it says onscreen. If it says:
- Battery Displays 50% – 100%; then you need to set it to 100%
- Daily and trips need to be set to 90%.
So how is this affecting my Tesla being plugged in all the time? Surely if I want to care for my battery, then I should only charge it when I need to. The answer to this is no. Your Lithium-Ion battery works best and lasts longer when it is charged regularly and kept at a consistent temperature.
If you are only charging when you have depleted or significantly reduced your battery, then your batteries are working much harder to maintain the life in the cells.
So should we just use a Supercharger? The answer to this is also no. Although the Supercharger network is fantastic and developed by Tesla, Tesla recommends that you only Supercharge if you are taking a long journey. This is because Superchargers use a completely different system to charge your battery. Supercharging is DC power. The batteries are charged much quicker but at a much higher temperature. Continued use of higher-temperature charging is not good for the longevity of your high-voltage battery.
I wrote a post about exactly that which you may find helpful – Is Supercharging bad for your Tesla?
Your Li-Ion batteries will degrade much quicker over time. Continued use will kill off some of the cells, and eventually, your Tesla will no longer be able to accept a full 100% charge.
Which, for some Tela owners, is a constant source of frustration; I wrote a post about it – Tesla won’t charge 100%
Turning Off Certain Options
When we want to get the most from our charging, it’s not always necessary to have everything activated. Certain aspects of your Tesla use more power than others.
For example, if you leave your Tesla unplugged for some time, say for a vacation (or your Tesla is a second vehicle), the battery will eventually deplete to 0%. This can take up to 60 days or more. This is due to vampire drain, the use of your battery to monitor your vehicle.
If you have your Tesla plugged in, the charge may just be maintaining a charge. With extra options toggled on, you can find that the charge is depleting quicker than it’s growing, and you can run into difficulty with loss of charge.
Let’s examine what uses more power and how to maintain the highest charge level.
Sentry Mode is part of your Tesla security system. When activated, it monitors any external activity near or around your car. If there is a threat of theft, the alarm will sound, and the recording will begin. This is a fantastic resource to have, but at the same time, if your car is safe in your driveway or, even better, in your garage, it is using battery life that is unnecessary. You can quickly turn it off and back on again when required.
- Select Controls
- Select Safety and Security
- Select / Deselect Sentry Mode
Cabin Overheat Protection
Cabin Overheat Protection prevents the interior of the car from exceeding 40C. Again this option is running on the car battery. However, if you are not using your car and live in the desert, it will be worth keeping activated.
It can be turned on with no A/C as an option, which uses less battery life.
- Select Controls
- Select Safety
- Select Cabin Overheat Protection
- Here there are three options to choose
- Off – This deactivates it completely
- No A/C – this activates it but disables the A/C
- On – this turns it on fully
If the battery drops below 20%, then the car will automatically deactivate the Cabin Overheat Protection. If your car is plugged in, the power should be coming from the TWC, not the battery itself. But regardless of being plugged in, there will always be a certain amount of vampire drain on the high-voltage battery.
Using Cheap(er) Electricity
It’s all very well saying the best option for your Tesla is to be plugged in all the time, but this might not be the best option for your wallet.
This is where Scheduled Charging comes into play. Most energy companies offer the customer the option of cheap(er) electricity at some point through the day, usually at night or in the afternoon. (Before the evening peak). Nighttime suits most owners best as we rarely (for the majority) use our cars at night. You can set up your car to start charging when your cheap electricity begins and ends.
- Select Controls
- Scheduled Charging
- Here you can select specific days and times you wish charging to happen.
This won’t affect whether your car is plugged in all the time, as charging will only begin when the Schedule says to.
Tips for Vacation and Long Term Charging
We have established the best way to maintain longevity in your battery life is to charge daily using a TWC. But what to do if you are going on vacation or not going to use your Tesla for a while? Tesla batteries don’t like to be continuously charged to a high percentage and don’t like the charge to be below 20%.
If you are going on vacation for a couple of days, it won’t harm your battery to either be plugged in or not plugged in if the charge is sufficient to begin with.
If your vacation is going to be longer, then it is recommended that you leave your Tesla plugged in and set a charge limit. The charge limit should be set to 50% – 60%. Any power that may be required should automatically use the power from your TWC and not the high-voltage battery.
All going well; your Tesla will be in tip-top shape on your return. But there are some situations that we need to consider before our journey.
- Power failure
- Extreme Weather
Unfortunately, power failure is becoming increasingly frequent in our lives because of climate change and grid control. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of power outages and are going on vacation for an extended period, it would be worth putting some safeguards in place.
By this, I mean ask a neighbor or family member to check on your car to ensure the power is still available for charging.
If the power goes down, your Tesla will resume charging once it returns online, but this could be a few days. Your Tesla could deplete 50% to 0% from the set charge in that time. This is especially true if you have been trying to check your car remotely.
Every time you check your Tesla with your app, your Tesla wakes up for approximately 15 minutes.
This consumes power that may be in short supply if your power at the house is down.
Tesla doesn’t like extreme weather, either very hot or very cold. If you spend extended amounts of time away from your Tesla and where you live has extreme weather, you most definitely need a garage or enclosed area.
Exposure to cold temperatures – below zero – can lead to a drain on your battery. If your Tesla depletes completely and is further exposed to freezing weather, this can destroy your battery cells. This type of damage can be fixed but can be very costly and not always covered by a warranty.
If you live where it’s hot or cold, you need your car plugged in to maintain a constant temperature, reducing or increasing the ambient temperature. But as said, extreme weather can lead to storms and power outages. You must be prepared for all eventualities when leaving your Tesla for a prolonged time.
Here are a few common questions folks ask about Teslas:
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 troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.
Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.
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.
If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category right here.
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