Is it true that Tesla no longer provides a mobile charging connector with new cars? How can I charge at home without one?

Before April 17, 2022, the answer is no, that is not true.

After April 17, 2022 and until now, the answer, unfortunately, is yes, that is true.

The reason given — most people weren’t using the level 1 charger — may be valid (there is some data that suggests otherwise, but it’s not complete), and you can always buy it separately from the Tesla Store assuming they get back in stock if you need it. Or, if possible, you can get a level 2 charger installed at home (reference this and this, among other FAQ entries) before you get your car.

For those rare times when you might need it, or when it’s certainly more convenient to have it, while traveling, the answer of trying to buy it from the store when it’s back in stock still holds, but also refer to this FAQ on how to find where chargers are. There are many out there and more coming every month, this mostly becomes one of convenience. It’s quite true that having to go somewhere to wait several hours for a level 2 charger is not convenient if you’re on vacation somewhere.

I live in an apartment or townhouse complex without a garage. Can I get my landlord to install a charger?

In short, yes. As of October 2021, the “Right to Charge” law (Maryland HB110); check this link for some more information and a link to the actual bill.

This does not mean it’s going to be a simple request, mind you. You will still have to ask them, and there will be other considerations (which parking spaces to put chargers on, safety concerns if there are cables on the ground, added costs to the renter or homeowner, etc.). But it is possible.

What should I know about charging my Tesla?

The first thing you should know about charging your Tesla is, be aware of Range Anxiety. It happens to everyone, and it’s usually not an actual problem as long as you follow the car’s recommendations. With that said, let’s talk about how to charge your Tesla.

There are essentially three levels of charging for electric vehicles:

  • Level 1 charging is your basic 110v outlet. It’s available almost anywhere, all Tesla Mobile Connectors that come with the car can connect to it, and it provides roughly 5 miles of extra charge per hour.
  • Level 2 charging is what most public charging stations are, and what most home charging stations beyond Level 1 are. The most common plug is the J1772 (the adapter for which should have come with your car) for public stations and perhaps a NEMA 14-50 outlet for home charging, unless you go with the Tesla Wall Charger, which of course uses the proprietary Tesla connector. Typical charge rates are anywhere from 30-50 miles of range per hour.
  • Level 3 charging is DC fast charging. For Teslas, that means a Supercharger that provides potentially up to 1,000 miles of range per hour. These are placed all over the country (and, well, globe) and are meant for quick charging stops during long distance travel. Other charging networks are coming online with Level 3 charging, typically using CCS (not yet available for Model 3/Y in US) or CHAdeMO (becoming obsolete, but there’s an adapter from Tesla available) plugs.

How much you pay for charging depends on many factors. Home charging is typically about a quarter of equivalent gas prices (which, as gas prices fluctuate wildly, is an average estimate). Level 3 charging is usually about half of what gas would cost or more, depending on what network you’re using and what local electricity rates and rules are.

When should I charge my Tesla?

Tesla recommends in the User’s Guide that you should plug your car in whenever you can, so its Battery Management System can keep the battery happy. This is the formal answer to the question, even if you don’t drive much. Put another way, A, B, C, Always Be Charging.

If you can’t plug in all the time (either due to no charging capability where you live or where you’re visiting), then charge when you can. It’s a good idea to charge if you’re approaching 20% state of charge, as that is when other features like Sentry Mode stop working.

There is no need to drain the battery and then charge it up to maintain health. Some have recommended draining the battery to below 10% and then charging to 100% to recalibrate Battery Management System so that the remaining charge percentage gets more accurately reset once every quarter or so, but there is no known direct evidence to support this. Doesn’t hurt to do it infrequently, though.

What should I set my charge limit to?

The official guidance from Tesla is to set your maximum charge somewhere in the ‘Daily’ range on the app and car (50-80%) unless you are going on a trip, where you can then go from 80-100%. Note that it is definitely bad for the (lithium ion) battery to let it sit at 100% for extended periods of time (or to frequently charge up to 100%), so if you are going on a trip, try to time the charging so that it finishes right before you leave. This helps with pre-heating the battery to make it more efficient and can also handily coincide with warming (or cooling) the cabin too.

Any Tesla that comes with an LFP (lithium ion phosphate) battery can actually be charged to 100% as that type of battery chemistry does not suffer from 100% charges. As of December 2021, these are pretty rare in this neck of the woods though.

Note that during peak times, select Superchargers will actually not let you charge above 80%, and the “idle time” charges will kick in once you reach 80%.

Does the battery keep its charge if I don’t use the car?

According to Tesla, you should expect to lose about 1% of range per day at minimum just for basic housekeeping tasks the car does, specifically around managing the battery condition. It is possible you will see higher battery drain (commonly known as “phantom drain”) depending on the environment and what else you have configured, knowingly or otherwise.

Common things to look out for are:

  • Sentry Mode can drain up to 10-20% per day depending on how many times the sensors detect something to report.
  • Keeping the cabin temperature at a set point (Dog Mode, Camper Mode, just keeping the climate control on) will be a significant source of drain, depending on how different the interior temperature is to the outside temperature.
  • Having Summon on Standby has been known to cause significant (1-2% per hour?) drain.
  • Third party apps that keep the car awake will by definition drain the battery a little bit faster, because the car is always awake.

This does mean you should prepare for this if you have to leave the car unplugged for days at a time (such as when traveling). If there is no way to leave the car plugged in even to a Level 1 charger, it’s a good idea to turn off features that aren’t needed, refrain from checking on the car every hour to see how it’s doing, and maybe arrange to have someone plug it in if possible.

How do I go about getting a charger installed at home?

Assuming a Level 1 charger is not good enough for you (e.g. you drive more than 50 or 60 miles a day or otherwise just want to be able to charge faster), there are basically three options. One, get the Tesla Wall Charger. Two, get some other Level 2 charger. Three, install an adequate 240v (e.g. NEMA 14-50), probably 50 amp, outlet and either use the included Tesla Mobile Charger or even buy another one with the appropriate adapter to leave at home. Refer to this FAQ for who can install it.

The Tesla Wall Charger is the most expensive choice, but it looks better and gives you slightly faster charging (up to 50 miles of range per hour). The wall connector comes with an 18’ cord with easy storage so it’s always ready. A third party Level 2 charger would essentially be very similar to what you could get at a public charging station, and, like the third option, will give you about 30 miles of range per hour of charging.

Placement of the charger should be within 18’ of where the charge point ends up when you park your Tesla. You do NOT want to have an extension cord with a cable that thick. They tend to get hot and lose efficiency the longer they are. Melting charging cables is bad.

Can I install a home charger myself? Who can?

Sure, if you’re a certified electrician, you can install one yourself. When dealing with 240 volt, 50 amp circuits, it’s best not to fool around. There are plenty of electricians who can do this for you. How much it will cost depends on many factors, including whether your existing house panel has capacity for an additional circuit, how far said panel is from where the outlet is going to be, and perhaps even whether or not you mention Tesla when asking for a quote. Expect the ballpark of $1,000 plus or minus a few hundred.

The electricians that  have gotten good reviews from the community are listed below. Note that Tesla Owners Club of Maryland does not offer any endorsement by mentioning these vendors. Other members have recommended them, your experiences may vary. Be sure to check out the FAQ on member benefits, as some of these recommendations also show up there.

Also note that you may be eligible for some rebates. For PEPCO customers, check out Also refer to the FAQ about rebates.

How do I find where all the chargers are?

For Superchargers, your Tesla does that for you during navigation, and it even displays nearby Superchargers along with the number of open stalls. For maximum efficiency, it’s best to navigate to a Supercharger (either directly or as an automatically selected waypoint) as that also lets the Tesla pre-condition the battery for faster charging. While the car is pre-conditioning, you may hear a different whining sound, at least on a Model 3 AWD, as this is done by making the front motor a little less efficient to generate more heat to warm the battery. This does in fact use more battery, but if you’re going to a Supercharger, that’s not a big issue. There are also several third party websites that provide this map, including “Superchargers for Tesla” (iOS app, Android app) by Ndili Technologies.

For others, there following services are quite handy:

  • PlugShare, website and iOS app, to find a lot of public chargers with nice filter capabilities
  • EV Hotels, website and iOS app, to find hotels with EV chargers, very useful for selecting which hotels you wish to stay at now that you have an EV.