Usually when buying a car, you buy something on the lot and get instant gratification. That car is either fully loaded or stripped down. Custom orders are rare.
With Tesla you almost always end up configuring your own to your exact specifications. While Tesla does have inventory cars that they don’t push, those are used vehicles from the service loaner or test drive pool for those that really can’t wait a few months for a car built exactly to their specifications.
Two of the things you have to consider when ordering a Tesla Model S are:
- If you want the High Power Wall Charger (HPWC), a $1,200 option.
- If you want dual chargers, a $1,500 option.
I think there are three kinds of buyers for the Model S when it comes to options:
- Those that take every option and money is not a problem. These are the enviable people P85+ with Alcantara headliners, etc. Go for both HPWC and dual chargers. Only the best for you!
- Those that go for the bare minimum options and stretch their budgets to get into the car. These are the owners with the stripped down Model S 60kWh’s (or even 40’s!) with no Tech package etc. There are those that have made big financial sacrifices just to get into the Tesla. Decision here is easy. Skip HPWC and dual chargers. They’re luxuries.
- Finally, there are those that are in between and get what they really need and skip what they don’t to save money.
If you’re in category 3 then read on.
Evidently HPWC and Dual Chargers started off as separate options, then were joined into one larger option, then split back up again. Even Tesla was confused on this front! Why they they went back and forth shows that there is a reason for dual chargers without HPWC.
I drive an average of 100 miles a day or 36,500 miles a year in my current car, an Acura MDX. I plan on moving all that driving to the Tesla. On a daily basis it can range from 90 miles to 175 miles just based my usual pattern of family shuttling and commuting. Tesla provides a charging speed calculator on their site. If you take a conservative 200 miles per day and charge on the “standard recommended” home adapter (NEMA 14-50) you can replenish the charge in just under 7 hours. Tesla tends to provide best case numbers and, unlike an ICE car, charging from an empty battery state is faster than charging from 20% left. I wouldn’t recommend arriving home each day with 0 miles left to go since you never know what could throw off the estimates – cold weather, traffic, an unexpected detour etc. If you have some reasonable reserve when you return at the end of the day the the time to charge could be a bit longer than that calculator estimates. Most people I know spend at least 8 contiguous hours a day at their house eating, sleeping, etc., so that gives you 8 hours to charge. This means for the driver doing 200 miles per day a standard NEMA 14-50 outlet is sufficient for charging. While Tesla recommends the HPWC for anyone regularly driving over 100 miles a day, I think the guidance is overly conservative and the HPWC is not needed for fast home charging.
There are possible edge cases where it could be needed:
- On-call type people that can come and go from the charge location with few hours each time and long times away from the charger. Doctors and other professions like that should carefully consider their patterns, but they may also have their own businesses where they can install a charger at both ends.
- People that can take advantage of time-of-use metering from their electricity provider. Here in Massachusetts you have to have sustained at least 2,500 kWh per month over a 12 month period to qualify. Then the off hours are very inexpensive and the on hours are much more expensive. Generally this doesn’t work for homeowners even with high use. My average is high at 2,296 kWh/month but I still don’t qualify.
- The HPWC is one way to get a second charging cable. It’s not the most efficient way since a second mobile connector is just over half the price, so you’re better off buying that second mobile connector and leaving it connected in the garage.
- It’s for a business or public use environment. Here people need to come and go as fast as possible. Whether thats your business or you decided to share your power via PlugShare or the like, then you’ll want to provide the fastest charge possible to get people moving on.
So you don’t need the HPWC. Also don’t forget that the HPWC requires a lot more power and will likely cost more to install than a standard NEMA 14-50, so there’s a hidden cost to HPWC in addition to the charge. The Tesla forums estimate that a NEMA 14-50 install in a home is $1,000-$1,500 but this varies greatly based on the existing setup — I was fortunate at $675 due to some existing infrastructure.
But what about the dual chargers? If you don’t get the HPWC do you need dual chargers? I think that unless you never plan to take a road trip you do and it’s why I modified my order at the last minute to add dual chargers. At home with a NEMA 14-50 or on the road using only Tesla Superchargers like the epic Recargo road trip you don’t need dual chargers. The dual chargers provide no benefit for either and you get max charge rates as provided by those two options. On the road and away from home and Superchargers it’s a different story. While Superchargers are the fastest, there are several other fast charge options out there:
- Publicly available HPWC’s out there like those at a Tesla Store or Tesla Service Center or those shared by homeowners and businesses. These will grow over time. To take advantage of max charge rates on these you need dual chargers. Not all HPWCs provide that fast charge though. They have to be rated over 40A. Just because its called a HPWC doesn’t mean it will charge fast.
- Public EV Plugs (J1772) can go up to 70A. The number of these that are over 40A is very limited today but that is rapidly changing. Canada has a lot more of these right now. To take advantage of max charge rates on these you need dual chargers.
- CHAdeMO outlets offer higher speed charging for those that can take advantage of them. Tesla has been promising an adapter for a while but has yet to deliver. You will not need dual chargers to take advantage of max charge rates on these as they’re DC based charge along the lines of the Superchargers.
Dual Chargers added when you buy the car are a $1,500 option. If added after you take delivery it jumps to a $3,600 option or 140% more. There are people out there that have felt strongly enough after the fact to add them despite the high cost. On a road trip, if you’re lucky you’ll be able to use Superchargers and do free charges in the fastest time. But Superchargers aren’t everywhere and there will always be several other options. If you’re on the road and you need a charge you are going to want to charge at the fastest rate possible. Do you want to spend 2 hours waiting to continue your trip or 4 hours? This $1,500 decision can affect your life for years to come causing you to waste valuable time waiting on a slower charge.
While dual chargers are an extra cost on top of an already expensive car, at roughly 1% of the cost of the car and potentially saving hours of frustrating wait time I think the decision to get dual chargers is a no brainer and provides some future proofing for the car. HPWC is an unnecessary expense.
So, is your charger confusion solved?
This article originally appeared on Teslarati.
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Brian H said:
Some owners get the HPWC, even if their circuits aren’t >50A, for appearance and convenience. Once you use a location, like home, at a particular power level the car remembers that level, so over-drawing isn’t a danger.
Your utility usage calc needs to be updated by the approximately 700kWh your 2,400 mi/mo will require!
Its pretty expensive just for looks.
Im working on the solar angle to handle the added draw.
“charging from an empty battery state is faster than charging from 20% left.”
I don’t have a Tesla but I believe this only matters when you are using a supercharger. 240v @ 40Amps is far less than all but the aggressively tapered part of the supercharging cycle.
Thats right. The Supercharger charge rate varies dramatically over time. For normal charging at home on my NEMA 14-50 I see a steady charge rate until the charge is complete.
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