EV Charging

What is the Difference Between Tesla’s Superchargers and Destination Chargers?

Casey Donahue
Casey Donahue
May 3, 2022
What is the Difference Between Tesla’s Superchargers and Destination Chargers?

As a leading electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla went out of its way to differentiate from its competitors in the EV market by introducing its first Supercharger network. The Level 3 charging network features over 30,000 global chargers that recharge up to 200 miles in 15 minutes and cost less than fuel for gas-powered vehicles. You can find them on many major routes, allowing you to charge on the go without a long wait. 

Meanwhile, Destination Chargers allow Tesla drivers to charge in particular public settings. Tesla owns over 4,500 Destination Charging stations globally and also provides refueling at rates more affordable than gas. Below, we will look at the key differences between these oft-used Tesla charging methods

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What is Tesla Destination Charging?

What is a Tesla Destination Charger, you ask? A Tesla Destination Charger allows you to charge your Tesla without having to be present. For instance, you can charge your Tesla while enjoying hotel accommodation, a night out at the restaurant, or keeping it in a parking garage for an extended period. More popular hotels, resorts, and restaurants are setting up charging stations for electric vehicles, allowing Tesla drivers to charge their EVs without relying on the nearest Tesla charging stations. 

Tesla drivers can view stall availability within their respective locations using the Tesla app. Additionally, drivers can monitor the charging status or get notifications prompting them to begin charging. 

Tesla provides an extensive map detailing all Destination Charger locations across North America when Teslas can be charged. 

How a Tesla Supercharger Works

Unlike Destination Chargers, which you can find at any major place of convenience, Tesla Superchargers can be found at dedicated charging stations. 

Superchargers provide a maximum charging rate of 250 kW,  adding 75 miles worth of range. Stops made for charging are typically short because, according to Tesla, charging above 80% is rarely necessary. Supercharging also allows for automatic battery preconditioning to optimize it for charging purposes. According to Tesla owner Elon Musk, Tesla Supercharging stations will become even faster. He announced future stations with a maximum charging rate of 300 kW, potentially allowing for 100 miles worth of range within five minutes. 

Much like the Destination Charger, the Supercharger enables more travel freedom for Tesla drivers at a fraction of the cost of gasoline. You can reduce your cost for each mile and not have to pay for gas when using a Tesla Supercharger. 

Superchargers and Destination Chargers Differ in Site Location 

One of the most notable differences between Tesla Superchargers and Destination Chargers is their different location setups. 

Destination Chargers typically take longer to charge vehicles, which is why you’ll find them at hotels, restaurants, and other notable urban areas. Meanwhile, the Supercharger network works similarly to a gas station. It is designed for Tesla drivers to charge their vehicles as quickly as possible so that they also can get back on the road. Usually, you will see a Supercharger while driving on the highway or near a major intersection. 

Tesla’s Go Anywhere page is a good resource for Tesla drivers to locate the nearest station. Tesla drivers can choose the car model, departure point, and destination. The page subsequently recommends the best routes and tells you where you should charge your electric vehicle. Additionally, the page shows drivers how much gas can be saved when driving a Tesla. 

The Supercharger Fee Structure

At one point, there was no such thing as a fee for Supercharging. However, recent changes mean that you will have to pay for it at a certain point. When buying a Tesla, you will be given 400 kWh of yearly credit, providing up to 1,000 of driving range. However, once the annual credit is depleted, you’ll have to pay for supercharging your Tesla. 

Rates for Supercharging depend on the Tesla model you’re driving and your location. Various aggregated factors will also determine the true cost of supercharging, such as: 

  • The average miles traveled 
  • Battery efficiency in kWh per 100 miles
  • Energy efficiency (as a percentage) 
  • Cost of electricity in dollars per kWh 

The average cost to charge a Tesla is between $14 and $17

Does a Destination Charger Come With Fees?

When answering the question, ‘What is a Tesla Destination Charger?’, finding out about the fees will be one of the most pertinent points. 

Unlike Tesla Superchargers, which were originally free, Tesla Destination Chargers are always free. Destination Chargers are free because you’re paying for other facility services to use them.

What About Idle Fees?

Some Tesla owners may forget to remove their vehicles from the Tesla charge station when it’s complete, causing long waits for open stalls. When this happens, Tesla charges idle fees to the owners guilty of leaving their cars at the station, preventing other drivers from charging their electric vehicles. 

Idle fees when using Tesla Superchargers vary depending on the charging station and can only be issued when more than half of a particular station is occupied. You’ll have to pay double the fine if all the stalls are being used. The fee ranges between 50 cents and $1 per minute. Tesla drivers typically have five minutes to remove their electric vehicles from a station. If the vehicle is removed before the five-minute window concludes, the idle fee is waived. 

Destination Chargers, meanwhile, don’t come with an idle fee because they use a slower charging process than Tesla Superchargers, and they are located in remote areas. 

With the Tesla app, Tesla drivers can check when the charging process completes at various Tesla charging stations and go back to their respective stations before completion.

Automated charging isn’t exclusive to Tesla Destination Chargers and Superchargers. You can charge your vehicle at more affordable times at home automatically using the Optiwatt app. One of the many free, third-party applications that can maximize your Tesla experience.


Charging Speed of Destination Chargers vs. Superchargers 

Tesla Superchargers charge at much quicker rates than Destination Chargers. Superchargers use 450-volt electricity to charge batteries up to 80%. Tesla stresses that drivers often don’t need to charge past the 80% mark. The charging can be completed in 75 minutes, with 15 minutes of charging affording drivers an average of 150 miles. 

Though Superchargers are faster than Destination Chargers, they still take up more time than filling up a tank at a gas station. Also, Supercharger stations can cause drivers to wait a while, as they are usually filled, especially during the colder months. 

Destination Chargers, by contrast, take more than 12 hours to fully charge Teslas, leading to slower wait times. If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, a destination charger is convenient as you can leave the Tesla to charge overnight and wake up to find it fully charged or close to it. 

Charging Methods of Destination Chargers vs. Superchargers 

The charging procedures used by each charger type are the major difference explaining why Tesla Superchargers take less time to fully charge an electric vehicle than Destination Chargers.

Destination Chargers and other typical chargers provide Alternating Current (AC) to the electric vehicle, which is subsequently converted to direct current (DC). Tesla Superchargers transfer direct current directly to Teslas to accelerate the charging process. 

There are ways to speed up Supercharging by utilizing the electric vehicle’s internal navigation system. In doing so, the Tesla electric vehicle prepares itself for charging by preconditioning the Tesla battery. Thus, reducing the overall charging time. 

The Charging Cabinets

V2, V3, and Urban Superchargers can be used for supercharging Teslas. Urban Superchargers were introduced in 2017 and are the slowest model. A V2 Supercharger’s cable plug is air-cooled and thicker, while V3 supercharger cable plugs are liquid-cooled and thinner. 

Meanwhile, when learning about what is a Tesla Destination Charger, always keep the Tesla Wall Connector in mind. All Destination Chargers use a Tesla Wall Connector, the most recommended charging method by Tesla to charge its electric vehicles. Each Wall Connector uses a 240-volt device with a large capacity, acting as a Level 2 charger that charges Teslas slowly but efficiently. 

Destination Chargers are Installed by Charging Partners

Tesla Superchargers are featured within their vast network of Supercharger stations. Tesla Destination Chargers, however, are installed through charging partners, i.e., the hotels, resorts, and other important public locations where people stay. 

Charging Partners are land and business owners who choose to install a Wall Connector on their respective properties to facilitate electric vehicle charging. Destination Chargers allow people to enjoy their night on the town without being limited to their at-home chargers. 

For each Tesla model, the Destination Charger rates (reflecting the maximum charge rates or mile range per hour) are as follows: 

  • Model 3 - 44 miles per hour
  • Model 3 Standard - 30 miles per hour 
  • Model S - 34 miles per hour 
  • Model X - 30 miles per hour 
  • Model Y - 42 miles per hour

So, what is Tesla destination charging? Destination charging describes the act of using a Tesla Destination Charger to fuel one’s electric vehicle. A Destination Charger or Supercharger, depending on your driving habits and where you are located, can offer you the convenience you need to make your driving experience worthwhile without spending too much time or money worrying about your Tesla.

Fuel your savings. Spend 70% or less with every charge!

Casey Donahue
Casey Donahue

Serial entrepreneur. Founder of Optiwatt. Pushing us towards a greener, cheaper, faster future.

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