How The Tesla Supercharger Works? Step By Step

I recently went on a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in my Tesla Model 3 and at both locations, I used the V3 Supercharger, the current fastest EV charger in the world.

The thing that blew my mind was how quickly it was able to add miles back to my car to let me go on my way, and I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into how it works and why I think it may solve one of the biggest problems facing electric vehicle adoption today.

Tesla’s currently making three different cars that have a range of 310, 325 and 370 miles of range. This gives them an average of 335 miles of range which is tremendous. It’s getting close to what you would expect out of a gas car but it’s not quite there.

Most gas cars will get around 400 miles of range and some way above that, 6 to 700 miles of range. But really it doesn’t matter because after a certain point you’re gonna stop for the bathroom and grab a snack, and during that time you can fill up and keep going on your way.

In a gas car, maybe seven to eight minutes, depending on how big that tank is or if you have to wait, but in an electric car it is a much longer time period and one that really kind of gives a lot of hesitation to people from actually going electric for their primary car.

How Fast Does A Tesla Supercharger Charge Work?

So if you can charge faster then you can solve this problem, but how much faster and does the Tesla V3 charger really give you enough speed for this to become a non-issue for most people? Well, there’s a problem here with charging this fast and even going faster than this and that is heat.

Somehow Tesla has been able to engineer their batteries to last much longer and be just much healthier overall than all of the other types of batteries that we’re used to using.

This is likely due to the cell chemistry Tesla uses of nickel, cobalt, and aluminum versus other EV makers that use different formulations of chemistry for their battery cells.

Tesla battery packs also notably have really advanced thermal management that keeps the cells and the pack at an ideal temperature at all times.

This is why we’re not seeing much degradation at all in a Tesla, even with earlier models that had surpassed over 300,000 miles of driving.

With estimates looking like a battery pack having a life upwards of 500,000 miles before significant degradation occurs and you need to change the battery out.

Does A Tesla Supercharger Damage The Battery?

Think about that for a second, how long have you kept your cars? What’s the longest you’ve ever kept a car? What’re the most miles you’ve ever put on it and then compare that to those numbers I just gave you.

300,000 miles is an actual number that has been reported on a Tesla Model S and the estimates, looking at the data, are well above 500,000 miles. That is a tremendous amount.

That means if you drive around 13,500 thousand miles per year like most people in the United States that this car would last you about 37 years. So if you think about that, I like to say that Tesla batteries last forever.

Because unless you’re one of those people that just keep things forever, most people are gonna get rid of their car before this becomes an issue.

Think about 30 years from now, the battery tech and everything is gonna be far better than it is today, so changing them out and upgrading really isn’t something to even be concerned about.

But the challenge still remains, until we can either recharge in five or so minutes or get 5 or 600 miles out of a battery from an EV, there’s gonna be a disparity between a gas car and an electric car and some people are just gonna use that as a reason to not buy one.

So this is where the Tesla V3 charger really comes into play and doesn’t quite get there but gets really, really close to solving that. So the Tesla V3 charger has a thinner cord than version 2 because it is actually liquid-cooled.

In addition, it doesn’t share the power with any of the other stations which are good because then it can have its own separate cooling mechanisms.

You also don’t have to worry about of extremely variable rate of energy being consumed because you have it all contained in kind of a single unit instead of spread across multiple.

How Long Does It Take To Charge a Tesla Model 3 With A Supercharger?

Depending on your state of charge when you arrive at a V3 charger, it will greatly change the amount of energy that it gives you. And using TezLab, I was able to find that if you arrive at a V3 charger with 30% of your battery or less, you’ll end up getting almost 20% more range in 20 minutes, versus if your battery was at or above 35% state of charge.

If you compare a V3 to a V2 charger, you’ll see that in 20 minutes’ time, you’ll get about 45% more range. In the data, I’m seeing 115 miles for V2 to 181 miles for V3 when your state of charge is 30% or less.

How Fast Is A Tesla Supercharger V3?

And this lines up with what Tesla stated when they first announced the V3 charger, basically saying that, you’ll be able to get as much range as you need to continue your trip within about 50% of the time, so about twice as fast.

This data comes from 1,300 charging sessions we’ve seen from Tesla users at the V3 charger in Las Vegas which shows a median range of 147 miles added in a 20-minute charge.

How Long Does It Take To Charge a Tesla Model 3 At a Supercharger?

If you think about it, that’s around two hours of driving with a 20 minute stop to get back on the road and to get all that range back that you just used to get there. To me, that sounds pretty reasonable and it’s not exactly on par with the gas car but it’s pretty close.

I know there are exceptions. Of course, there are some of you that can go 87 hours straight without losing focus or attention while driving at 80 miles per hour, and you don’t have to pee or eat or anything like that.

I would venture a guess that most people, every two or three hours are gonna wanna stop, stretch their legs, use the bathroom, maybe grab a snack and then get back on the road in about 15 minutes.

So I don’t think it’s, fair to say it’s on par with a gas car but you’re getting really, really close to the point where the inconvenience or that fear should just be kind of eroding away, that you can get an EV as your everything car, not just a city car.

Can You Supercharge a Tesla Model 3?

Currently, only the Tesla Model 3 can take advantage of these V3 chargers but reportedly, what’s gonna happen very soon is there’s gonna be a massive roll outstarting in 2020 and it’s gonna focus first on these long-distance routes.

So if you go on long road trips, on these long stretches between Superchargers, that is gonna be where they put them in first. And while we don’t have confirmation of yet, it would be hard for me to imagine that the Model S and the Model X do not get V3 charging at some point in the near future.

That is essentially what’s the big difference between Model 3 and the other cars right now, and a lot of people like the Model S and Model X but without that, you really feel like you’re missing a big component here.

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So I’m guessing a lot of people are holding off on buying or upgrading the Model S and Model X until they get the V3 charging, and one of the challenges there is that they may have to upgrade the battery cells inside of the car to the 2170s from the 18650s.

This means a form factor change. It means the actual size of the cell is different which might mean there are a lot of other components that need to change inside of the vehicle in order to fit them in there.

It’s not that big of a difference. It’s only a few millimeters here and there but it is enough where they would have to change probably a dozen or more components just to accommodate the different size battery cells.

And an upgraded battery for the S and X could also mean a tremendous amount more range and possibly more performance, something that myself and many others would love to see.

So V3 charging is pretty magical and it takes us a long way to eroding any fear that you may have had about going electric because 15, 20 minutes tops on a road trip to stop is really not that big a deal.

I really think this is gonna solve one of the biggest challenges and biggest fears that a lot of people have when it comes to going electric. So I’m curious to know what you think.

Do you have one of these models? Have you actually been to one of these chargers and seen it? I’m very curious to know what your experience was ’cause to me, it was pretty profound.

And if you have someone in your life that is afraid of electric cars or going electric, please send them this article because hopefully, that will help them understand that this isn’t something to be worried about.

Really, you charge 90 plus percent of the time at home anyways and when you do go on a road trip, the Tesla Supercharger network is pretty bountiful in terms of charging stops and how good they are.

So it really isn’t something that you should be worried about right now and next year, going into two, three years from now, it’s really just gonna be a complete non-issue.

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