Tesla car charger amperage. Related articles

What Size Breaker Do I Need for a Tesla Charger?

Maybe you bought a Tesla Model S, X, or three recently and know you can charge it with a home charger, but do you know what size breaker you will need to use?

Electric cars save on fuel but must be charged with electric power. To control the charging process and protect the car’s charging system from high currents, you will need a suitable circuit breaker installed. The breaker size required will be specific to the car and your charging requirements.

This article explains the difference between the level one and two chargers, tells you what charging options you have, and gives a chart to help you install the right-sized breaker in different arrangements.

Using the supplied level one mobile connector can run on a regular 20 amp breaker, but a full charge will take days. To use a level two charger, you will need at least a 30 amp breaker, and if running on a 240VAC for even quicker charging, then a 50 amp breaker is standard. However, if you use a Tesla Wall Connector with the 240VAC supply, you will need at least a 60 amp breaker.

You will find a chart for different charging options below.

Tesla Chargers

Tesla home chargers usually come in two basic types: level one for trickle charging and level two for quicker charging.

A standard level one charger can be plugged into any power outlet without worrying about the circuit breaker. The normal 12 amps of power delivery are sufficient to charge the car. But an overnight charge will only give you enough for around 40 miles (around 4-5 miles per hour of charging).

If you need more charge than that, you will need to charge in public places or at work, use a level two charger in slow mode, or else arrange for a proper level two charger at home. A slow level two charger can operate on a 30 amp power plug, allowing you to charge at 24 amps. But a level two one will allow you to charge the Tesla for driving it more than 100 miles.

If the level two charger at home suits you better, you will need to make some changes and use a higher size breaker to manage a higher current. I will tell you exactly what you will need to do.

Arranging for a Level Two Charger

Although a level two charger is more efficient than a level one charger in an at-home charging solution, it may require installing a new main service panel if it cannot handle a 50 amps circuit.

The main circuit breaker in homes is usually for managing 100 amps. A level two Tesla charger will require a 200 amp main panel. So if you don’t have that, you will have to upgrade it first to handle more power-intensive appliances. Then, you will have to run a 50 amp (or minimum 40 amps) line to the charging spot, which is the common setup.

If you already have a 200 amp or higher panel, you only need to arrange a 50 amp dedicated circuit (which will allow you to charge at 40 amps and require a six gauge copper cable).

Breakers for Quicker Charging Options

A 240V outlet, without or with a Tesla Wall Connector, can give you even quicker charging options but will require a higher-rated circuit breaker.

If you can arrange a 240V power outlet, you can increase the charging rate significantly compared to a level 1 charger and slow level 2. You will need a 50-60 amp breaker on a dedicated circuit with a thicker 6 gauge cable.

A Tesla Wall Connector is worth getting if you can afford it for more cost-effective yet faster charging. You can use it on any size circuit from 15 to 100 amps, but it is more commonly used in a 220VAC circuit with a minimum 60 amp breaker.

Don’t Spend A Fortune Installing Charging For Your New Electric Car

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

This article is more than 3 years old.

Earlier, I wrote a guide to help you decide what range of electric car is for you, particularly with the Tesla Model 3. After you get your car, you want to install home charging for it where you park it (ie. your garage or driveway.) If you can’t install any charging at all, because you park on the street or in an apartment parking garage, then you face a challenge. If you can charge at your office (often for free) that’s great, though not without other issues. If you can’t do either, I don’t currently recommend purchase of an electric car, at least for now.

But you may find when you call an electrician and ask to install a nice Level Two charging station with a 50 amp circuit that they present a very expensive estimate — perhaps 5,000 or more — because you will need to upgrade the electric service into your home. Older homes often have only 100 amps of service, and electrical codes don’t let you exceed a given quota of devices and loads on them. Without going into the full formula, if you get 80 amps worth of 240v devices on a 100A panel you probably go over the limit. If you have things like a 30 amp dryer, a 30 amp electric oven, or an air conditioner or pool pump or other such device, you can easily go over the limit. Your electrician will tell you that you need to bring in new service from the power company (typically 200 amps) as well as whole new power panel. On top of that, they will need to run a line capable of 40 to 50 amps to your parking spot, and install a 50 amp plug (cheap) or hardwired wall EVSE (”charger”).

If you have newer service, fear not, you don’t need to change the panel, and you can just add a new circuit. If the wire is not that long, getting that plug may not cost that much. Sadly, many see a more expensive estimate. How can you get away from it? The answer is that while it’s nice to have enough power to recharge a car from zero to full in one night, you don’t actually need nearly that much.

Charging at Level One

The average car is driven only 40 miles/day. The Level One charger (which usually comes with almost any electric car) plugs into a dedicated standard house plug, and can deliver 12 amps. This means it will deliver 40 miles in an 8-hour overnight charging session. Most people have their car at home for much more than an average of 8 hours. So generally, even with this very slow charging, you will keep up. On the days you drive more, you won’t recharge fully, but as long as you don’t keep doing long days several days in a row, you will eventually make it back. (How quickly depends on whether you must limit charging only to off-peak electrical times.)

(If you are one of those people with a 100 mile commute, this is not going to work for you, and you may have to bite the bullet and get a new electrical service. But most people don’t go that far.)

Of course, adding 50 miles/night, sometimes you won’t have enough. For many, these times will be just a handful per year. Then, the fast chargers like Tesla superchargers can be your solution. This is OK if it’s not a common event. Other solutions can include charging at work. If you don’t commute, or have a round-trip of 20 miles or less, this solution will actually probably work for you — and it might even be free if you have a dedicated circuit plug in your parking spot. It has to be dedicated — nothing else on that circuit breaker.

In some cases, the dedicated plug may actually have a 20 amp breaker and 12AWG wire on it. In that case, the plug may already have the “T” slot in it that says it is 20 amp. Get the 20 amp plug (which Tesla sells and some other chargers sell) and you will see 50 miles or more in an 8 hour night, and you’ll definitely catch up with average driving.

At first blush, when you read that charging a 250 mile range car on Level One can take over two days you will think Level One is ridiculous, but in reality, the bigger the battery the more it can take the swings up and down and still leave you with enough capacity to do your driving. It’s the small battery car that absolutely needs to get to full every night. The large battery car doesn’t.

It should be noted in very cold climates this slow charging may not cut it due to the need to heat batteries and the larger drain of driving in the cold.

Charging at slower Level Two

A Level Two circuit runs at twice the voltage and usually at higher current. In fact, you can install these able to do up to 80 amps. For most people though, you don’t need nearly that much. You will be very happy with enough to restore about 60% of your battery, because your typical daily cycle should run from 20% to 80% full. On a 240 mile Tesla Model 3, you can get that in 8 hours with just 5 kw, which is what you get from a 30 amp plug, the same one that runs your dryer. (On any plug, the car charges at 80% of full current, in this case at 24 amps.) Such a circuit is going to fully restore you on almost any day you drive, particularly if you have more than 8 hours at home. You really don’t need it faster. The regular range Tesla can’t take more than 32 amps in any event (ie. a 40 amp circuit) but you just don’t need even that. If you can get it, of course you should take it, but you should not spend thousands to get that extra boost.

Your electrician might tell you you need a new panel for a 50 amp plug, but that you can put in a 30 amp or 20 amp without a new panel — which can save you a fortune.

That 20 amp Level 2 charger will recover about 14 miles for each hour you charge, or around 110 in an 8 hour night. That’s more than enough for most people — again remember that the average car does 40 miles per day. You will find a few days or stretches of days when you don’t get full, but you might find only a couple of days a year that the supercharger is called for. Again, you don’t want to be slow, but if it will save you 3,000 to go with 20 amps instead of 50 amps, then do it. Ask your electrician to install a “6-20” plug which has 240v at 20 amps. It uses a horizontal pin (like the 20a pictured above) but on the other side. Get that adapter for your car.

tesla, charger, amperage

If you have a truly dedicated plug (it is the only thing on a breaker) then in many cases an electrician can, for not much money, replace a regular 120v socket with a 240v stocket for twice the charging rate, changing the plug and breaker as long as the wiring is rated for the higher voltage. Ask about that — it can almost surely fit your panel’s load maximum. (While the USA runs on around 120v for normal plugs, and much of the rest of the world runs on 220v, US homes can install 240v plugs and there is a well established standard for doing it.)

Sharing with your dryer

Most houses have a 30 amp electric plug for your dryer. It may be easy for you to switch to a natural gas dryer, particularly if you are in the mood for a new dryer. They cost only a little more, but they cost a fair bit less to run, and as such they save money in the long run. They also cost the same day and night. You do need to get a natural gas line at your laundry room. Adding that can cost real money — or be cheap — depending on how far it has to come. Perhaps you can even sell your electric dryer to somebody on Craigslist.

If you do this, you remove 30 amps of load from your house, and now you can add a 30 amp line for your car without needing a service upgrade. Your electrician can also in some cases just run a line from where your electric dryer plug is (was) to where your car is. This is more than enough power for your needs, and even though a new gas dryer is not free, it can be the cheapest option of all.

You can also buy a device called a “Dryer Buddy” for about 350 which lets you plug your car and dryer into the same plug, if your car parks close to your dryer. This device simply sees when the dryer is on, and shuts off car charging when it is. This is also a relatively cheap solution. Unless you run your dryer after midnight you won’t even notice sharing the plug.

Option #2: Use Dryer Outlet for Tesla

This is nearly as easy as option #1. Naturally, you need access to a 240V outlet (like a dryer outlet), not just a basic 120V electricity outlet. You also need a Tesla dryer adapter. Importantly, there are a variety of different plug types (NEMA 10-30, NEMA 14-30, NEMA 14-50, etc.) — a 240V outlet is not as uniform as a 120V plug. Luckily, you are not one of the first 100 Tesla buyers, and not even one of the first 100,000 Tesla buyers. With around 2 million Teslas now on the road, we’re hitting a scale where even these types of quirks and product needs have been solved and made simple. For example, you can go here to find the exact 240 volt outlet splitter you need to share your dryer outlet for Tesla level 2 charging for your dryer/electricity outlet.

There are a few things that I absolutely love about this option.

First of all, the quicker charging speed relative to 120V charging is notable, and it can be super helpful or even critical for some people’s charging and driving needs. Instead of adding 3 to 4 miles of driving range per hour, you can add 15 to 30 miles per hour. As I noted above, I use 120V trickle charging for my Model 3, but that’s because I don’t have a 240V outlet in my garage or anywhere near it. If I had a 240V outlet, no doubt about it, I’d use that outlet to charge my Model 3 SR.

The NeoCharge Smart Splitter in a 240V outlet, an EV circuit splitter that allows Tesla owners to share their dryer outlet with their Tesla. Image courtesy NeoCharge.

Secondly, even if your 240V outlet is already in use, you can add a Tesla charging station to it via the NeoCharge Smart Splitter. Yes, a dryer (or other appliance) and a Tesla Model 3, Model Y, Model S, or Model X can share a dryer plug to get faster charging. In fact, its splitter is Smart enough that when both your dryer and Tesla are plugged in, whenever you need to use your dryer, the Smart Splitter will automatically pause your Tesla charging and will resume when the dryer is finished. It’s self-installable in minutes and you can use your Tesla Mobile Connector that your Teslacar comes with.


Option #3: Charge Two Teslas on One Outlet

Continuing on the topic of using a 240V electricity outlet, if the outlet is in use because you already have an electric car and have a Level 2 charging station plugged into it, you can use the 240V NeoCharge Smart Splitter to put another charging station (two in total) on the same outlet. Then you can choose to charge both of your EVs at the same time at half power.

Importantly, there’s no Tesla home charger installation cost with this option! The cost of a Tesla charger installation is not cheap. Additionally, if you get a charger installed, you may need to upgrade your electric panel capacity, which can add a couple thousand more dollars to the cost. If you can pop a Smart Splitter into an existing outlet and avoid both charger installation costs and a potential electricity panel upgrade, then you can potentially save a lot of money.

Cost: The NeoCharge Smart Splitter costs 449.

The NeoCharge Smart Splitter in a 240V dryer outlet, this device allows Tesla owners to charge two Teslas simultaneously without expensive installations or panel upgrades. Image courtesy NeoCharge.

if you have a free dryer outlet, 499 for the NeoCharge Smart Splitter.

Option #4: Install Tesla Charger in Garage

As already noted, choosing to install a Level 2 Tesla charger in your garage is the highest cost option of this trio. It is something that many Tesla owners do, though. Tesla charger installation cost can vary greatly depending on the layout of your garage, the existing power capacity of your home, the wiring work that’s needed, and your regional market (the cost of living, and thus of electrician services, is different in Silicon Valley than it is in a small rural town).

Nonetheless, answering the question of how much it costs to install a Tesla charger as broadly and usefully as possible, in general, a Tesla charger installation typically costs somewhere between 1000 and 7000. That is just the installation cost, not including the cost of the Tesla charger itself. (Of course, in some cases, extra complicated or difficult installs could cost thousands more. There are surely some wild and interesting edge cases out there.)

A 500 Tesla home charger can add up to 44 miles per hour (70 km per hour) to your car’s driving range, but that will again depend on your electricity panel, wiring, and model.

Tesla Home Charging Station Cost

So, if you want to go all the way and install a Tesla home charging station in your garage, that’s likely to come at a cost of 1000 to 7000. That includes 500 for the Tesla home charger and another 500 to 6500 in installation costs, depending on the home’s existing power capacity and wiring.

Why the big differences in overall cost? First of all, there’s regional variation for these sorts of costs. In some areas, an electrician will cost notably more than in other areas. Also, depending on the location and capacity of your electricity panel and your wiring needs to get from the panel to the electricity outlet location, installation costs will be higher or lower. If you need a lot of wiring, expect a higher cost.

How Many Amps Does A Tesla Home Charger Draw?

The Tesla Home Charger is a device that can charge your Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X.

The charger comes with a built-in inverter and AC output. It does not have a DC input and can only be used to power the vehicle.

Tesla’s home chargers are designed to draw as few amps as possible. They have a maximum continuous current of 48 Amps, depending on the size of the breaker.

Below we list the standard circuit breaker sizes used and the equivalent amps these breakers can draw for the charger.

60 Amp Circuit Breaker

The 60 amp breaker is the largest recommended by Tesla, providing an output of 48 amps for charging. This equals about 11.5 kW and works for all four Tesla models.

50 Amp Circuit Breaker

The 50 amp is the most common breaker with a power output of 40 amps and 9.6 kW.

40 Amp Circuit Breaker

The 40 amp breaker has an output of 32 amps and 7.7 kW when running a 240V power adapter.

30 Amp Circuit Breaker

The 30 amp breaker is small but still can charge slowly with 24 amps and 5.7 kW of output.

How Fast Does A 50 Amp Breaker Charge A Tesla?

Tesla has been known to be an innovator in electric vehicles, and the latest product is Tesla’s home charger.

It is designed for those looking for a quick charge for their Tesla vehicles.

It’s important to note that the Tesla home charger does not have a fixed power output, and it will depend on how much power your house is drawing.

When using a 240V outlet on a 50 AMP, you can expect your Tesla Model 3 to charge roughly 30 miles per house.

This would give you a full charge overnight.

Electrify Home HomeStation

I had the opportunity to borrow the Electrify Home HomeStation for testing purposes and came away impressed by its packaging and stylish design. Unfortunately, after seeing just how compact the Wallbox Pulsar Plus, I find the HomeStation to be a bit too large for my liking. But design is subjective, and some of you may hate the way the Pulsar Plus looks and love the way the HomeStation looks.

It comes from Electrify Home, the home division of Electrify America. Yes, the same brand with thousands of public EV chargers across the U.S. This is a Smart, Wi-Fi-enabled charger that has adjustable amperage from 16 to 40 amps when plugged into a NEMA 14-50 outlet. You can remotely control the charger through an app, which worked well enough during my testing. My biggest grievances with the charger was the inability to control the lighting and I didn’t receive any notifications once my vehicle was done charging. Both these issues could be addressed in the future with software updates, however.

Electrify Home provides a three-year limited warranty with this EVSE, which is pretty standard across most quality manufacturers. It’s got a hefty charging cable, but the connector isn’t the best I’ve held. I also was not a huge fan of the two-piece design for the nozzle holster — seems overengineered for no real good reason.

Tesla Wall Connector

The Tesla Wall Connector is a hardwired Level 2 charger that requires professional installation. You can choose to order the unit and hire your own electrician do the work, or you can choose to have a Tesla installer do the work as a package deal when you purchase the charger. This unit is approved for indoor or outdoor installation and is compatible with the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y.

tesla, charger, amperage

Depending on exactly which Tesla you own and how its configured, you can get up to 44 miles of range per hour. You can also customize the power level provided by your Tesla Wall Connector for circuit breakers as low as 15 amps all the way up to a maximum of 60 amps. This charger includes an 18-foot cable and features Wi-Fi connectivity.

Recent updates

Updated (12:24 p.m. EST, 04/18/2023): Added Best Buy shopping links to our recommendations.

Updated (8:40 p.m. EST, 04/14/2023): Added a Best Buy shopping option for the Tesla Wall Connector.

Updated (2:00 p.m. EST, 04/03/2023): The Tesla Wall Connector is now available on Amazon, so we added a shopping link for convenience.

Updated (1:57 p.m. EST, 03/07/2023): Updated the list of recommendations based on recent testing of home EV chargers. Added more information on why you shouldn’t go straight to purchasing a Tesla Wall Connector just because you own a Tesla.

Updated (2:00 p.m. EST, 06/07/2022): Added a new top pick for a Level 2 charger recommendation. Updated content to reflect that Tesla is no longer including a mobile connector as standard.

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