What Happens if You Can’t Charge Your Tesla – Here’s the Options

When you own a Tesla, certain situations need to be considered. Such as, what if you can’t charge your Tesla? There’s always a way. Don’t panic. Read on, and we’ll have you charging shortly.

Top 3 Options when you can’t charge your Tesla, include:

  1. Portable Power Pack
  2. Supercharger
  3. Roadside Assist

In this article, we’ll look at alternative ways to charge your Tesla, why you’re having charging issues, and how we can fix them.


1 Portable Power Pack Available to Use

In general, Teslas and EVs look like they are the future of motoring, but the stress that comes with range anxiety can’t be ignored.

For many, range anxiety is not such a big deal. Their daily commute is the same distance daily, and 90% of their charging is done at home. But what happens if you have a Power Outage or are thinking of taking a road trip where the charging facilities are not that prevalent? Let’s look closer at each scenario.

Power Outage at Home

Power outages are something that we are becoming more and more accustomed to. This is because more people are accessing the grid and more extreme weather conditions due to climate change.

Some grids just can’t cope with the extra demand, and many States actually shut down their grid for specified periods. With higher temperatures and more people, rolling blackouts will become more commonplace for most states going forward.

The southern states, California, and the midwest are most at risk.

California has the most Teslas, so how do we charge our Tesla if there’s no power at the wall?

The solution many Tesla owners choose is a Portable Power Pack, which they can keep fully charged at home for when a blackout occurs.

This is like a traditional generator but without gas. The trick is this obviously only works if you have it plugged in and ready to go when needed. They can be charged using a standard 120V socket, but they can also be charged at a fast charger.

If there is a power outage, the portable power pack is the ideal solution to get you back charging. So let’s look at what it will give you.

Most portable power packs are 3.5 kW to 7 kW. They come in lower kW, but if you invest in one, I recommend at least 3.5 kW.

The downside to the portable packs is the price. They are on the pricey side. They range from $2000 – $4000. The higher the kW, the more expensive the pack.

If there is an outage and your car hasn’t charged overnight as planned, you can plug in your portable power pack, which will charge your Tesla. But how long will that take? You need to go to work now!

Well, it depends on the kW that you have purchased.

kW SizeTime to Charge
Up to 3.5kWEquivalent to a standard charger – (8 -10hrs for full charge)
7kW +Equivalent to a fast charger – (4 hours to charge)

But I’m supposed to be at work in 30 minutes, I hear you say. Well, although it could take 8-10 hours for a full charge, in reality, you could be on your way in 30 minutes, but you will have to stop off at a Supercharger at some point during your day.

kW SizeCostTime to Charge
Up to 3kW$750 approxNot powerful enough to charge Tesla
3.5kW – 6kW$2000 approx8 – 10 hours
7kW +$4000 approxUp to 4 hours

Roadtrip with a Portable Power Pack

The other occasion you might need an alternative charge option is a road trip. Although the Supercharge Network is massive, with 1386 locations in 52 states, they are not evenly distributed. California, for example, has 20% of all charging locations, but Washington has less than 1%.

If you are planning a road trip, it’s nice to know that you won’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere. This is where the Portable Power Pack comes into play.

If you have a Portable Power Pack onboard, your range anxiety is significantly reduced as you’re not constantly worrying about where you can plug in. This can be a real problem when you’re in unfamiliar territory with a dubious internet connection.

The benefits of the power pack don’t stop there, as most power packs can be recharged at a Supercharger with an adaptor. So all the way along your road trip route, you have the benefit of a boost in your trunk.

The downside, and it by no means negates the benefits, is the extra weight and space in your trunk. The average weight is between 30-40 lbs (the equivalent of a 5-year-old child), and the space it takes up is approximately the size of a small suitcase.

These two units, weight, and size, will not make a huge difference, but any extra weight in the car will slightly affect your range – but now that you have that sorted, you’ve nothing to worry about.

2 Supercharging

If you have a power outage at home and no backup resource, the alternative is to bring your Tesla to a Supercharger. This is only possible if you have the range to get there. However, if you can, Superchargers are unaffected by a power outage as they have Solar backup and will work as normal when everything else has shut down.

3 Roadside Assist When You Can’t Charge

If you are at home at no charge because of a power outage, you can call Roadside Assist. If a Portable Battery Pack operator is available, they may come to your house for a boost. It’s not a guarantee, and a charge may be involved, even if you are within warranty (four years or 50000 miles).

If, on the other hand, you are out of charge on the highway, then Roadside Assist will come to your aid (again, only if you are under warranty). Still, unless there has been a battery malfunction or failure, or you are at a Supercharger location that is not working, then you will be charged for the callout.

The tow truck may have a charger onboard, but if not, they will only bring you to a charge station or your home, whichever is the nearest.

Your Tesla will always notify you that your range is low and that you must go to a charging station. The notifications get more urgent the lower the range. Although there is a slight buffer, second-guessing your computer is never a good idea.

Overcoming Power Outage Problems

We have looked at the power outage problems, and how they can be overcome with a portable power pack, but in reality, this is a short-term solution. With more grid demand and climate change problems going forward, Tesla has taken on this problem and come up with a solution.

Tesla understands the energy crisis is real and has created an alternative to relying on the grid. The solution they have is Powerwall. This is where you have Solar installed in your house that will then store power in a large battery pack at your house in the event of a power outage.

There are a few options available depending on your energy needs. Still, this solution means that you can continue to charge your Tesla in an outage and power your home (within reason).

Tesla installs the whole system – Powerwall and Solar Panels. Until recently, you could just opt for the Powerwall system, which allowed you to store energy from the grid, especially during the day when energy costs are reduced.

Tesla now insists that you buy the complete system. On the upside, this means that you could be completely energy sufficient, but on the downside, the system is quite expensive to install. It can be upwards of $15 – $18k. That’s a pretty hefty price tag. When considering the purchase, you would want to be in your forever home.

Item Number of PowerwallCost
Powerwall Battery Pack1$7500
Auxiliary Costs – Installation etc$2000 – $5000
*Information as of June 2022

Energy incentive-saving grants are available, but these vary greatly from state to state. California is most definitely the forerunner in giving out grants, but not everyone lives in California.

One Powerwall provides 13.5kW per 24hrs, which in theory is not enough to power a house at an average of 30kW per day. You can, of course, buy additional Powerwalls, but the price does increase without any discount for multiples. There are some additional grants but not anything to get excited about.

Cost$10500 +$10000 +
kW Storage13.5kW (1 Powerwall)9kW (+)
Warranty10 Years10 Years
*Information as of June 2022

If you are looking at the Powerwall system purely to power your Tesla in the event of a power outage so you’re not late for work, then it is the perfect solution to your problem.

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.

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a technical writer here at EVjuicedup.com. He's a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. He's worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers.

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