It’s all about the adapter. If you’re a Tesla driver and confused about what you need to charge without a Tesla Supercharger, you’re not alone. Plenty of incorrect information travels online and by word of mouth, leaving drivers wondering what’s possible and what’s not. The frustration is over. Blink has the down-low on every kind of adapter needed to charge on every kind of Blink charger.
What are the Major Kinds of Chargers and How Do They Work?
The vast majority of public chargers are AC Level 2 Chargers. They provide power to the vehicle’s on-board charger, converting AC power to DC power before it enters the battery. The amount of power that can be transferred is dependent on battery capacity. Cost, space, and weight all enter into which car has what battery capacity. A standard EV battery needs 30 kW per 100 miles. Level 1 chargers charge overnight, while Level 2 chargers usually take anywhere between 5 and 12 hours to fully charge, depending on both the car and the charger. The Blink IQ 200 chargers are the fastest Level 2 AC charging stations available, producing 80 amps of output, providing approximately 65 miles of charge in an hour.
DC Fast Chargers however bypass all of the limitations of the on-board charger and provide DC power to the battery directly, cutting out a time-consuming step. Times and battery capacity vary of course for the same reasons—cost, space, and weight. By taking out the step of having to convert the power from AC to DC, charging time can greatly decrease, with many cars charging 80% in under an hour. According to Driving Electric, the same Nissan Leaf that takes 13 hours to charge on a Level 1 home unit would take less than hour to charge on a DCFC.
Additionally, Tesla has their own proprietary fast chargers. The connector only works for Tesla vehicles. In fact, Tesla Superchargers were built specially to charge Tesla vehicles, but there are far fewer of them than there are regular public Level 2 chargers and public DCFC. In 2019, Tesla sold 158,925 units of their Model 3, with only 4,267 Tesla compatible Level 2 chargers to charge them on. While the Tesla Model 3 accounted for 81% of American EV sales, only 15% of Level 2 chargers were compatible with the vehicles.
While there are 25,000 Tesla Superchargers on the road today, Tesla drivers want the opportunity to charge on EVSE that is not a proprietary Tesla Supercharger. Is it possible? With the right adapter, yes!
How do I charge my Tesla on a Level 2 Charger? The J1772 Adapter
To enable Tesla drivers to charge on more charging stations, the J1772 adapter came on the scene to connect the SAE J1772 chargers to a Tesla vehicle. The device enables Tesla drivers to charge Teslas on regular Level 2 public chargers, such as the Blink IQ 200. It comes standard with most Tesla models, but can also be purchased. The adapter supports charging speeds up to 19.2 kW, and, according to Shop Tesla, works with all Tesla vehicles. It connects to your vehicle’s charger on one end and into the EVSE port on the other end.
What the J1772 adapter can do: enable the Tesla to charge on regular Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.
What it can’t do: enable the Tesla to charge on regular DC fast chargers.
How do I charge my Tesla on a regular DC Fast Charger? The CCS1 or the CHAdeMO Adapter
When you have a low battery alert and no Superchargers in sight or a prohibitively long line to use one, Tesla owners want to charge fast on DCFC.
The CCS, or Combined Charging System, enables a Tesla to charge on a regular DCFC. The CCS2 is the adapter that’s been very popular in Europe for years and now the CCS1 adapter is available for North America. Uniquely, it uses PLC, or Power Line Communication, to communicate with the car, the same system used for power grid communication. According to The Driven, this makes it easy for the car to communicate with the power grid as a “smart appliance.” The CCS1 enables Tesla drivers to charge on the Blink Network’s U-Go DCFC chargers.
The CCS1 has proven to be more popular than the CHAdeMO. For one thing, it’s smaller and less bulky. When the uber-popular Tesla 3 hit the European market, it was the CCS2 that became the standard for fast charging, and the CCS1 seems destined for the same popularity here.
You may have noticed many articles and reviews online from drivers who couldn’t get the adapter to work for them, but others insist it’s easy once you get the hang of it. One of the keys is to use your smart phone. Make sure you’re a member of the brand of charger you’re going to use, and start with their app on your phone. Use the app to initiate charging to and to tell the charger which station you’re plugged into. Then, use the Tesla app to operate the charge door and to disconnect when you’re finished charging.
The only drawback? According to Tesla customer forums, the price of $980 may be turning some drivers away.
The CHAdeMO adapter has been available for some time to Tesla Model S and Model X drivers, and is now available for purchase for the reasonably priced Model 3 (2019.24.1 firmware or later is required for Model 3 compatibility). The smaller end of the charger snaps into place on the car and the larger end fits any regular DC Fast Charger. The CHAdeMo (literally Charge de Move) also enables Tesla drivers to charge on the Blink Network’s U-Go DCFC chargers.
Tesla recommends that their drivers join a subscription service (unlock member benefits right now by becoming a Blink subscriber) because it’s much easier to charge up and almost always less expensive to charge than without a membership.
What the CCS1 and CHAdeMO adapters can do: enable the Tesla to charge on regular DC fast chargers.
What they can’t do: enable the Tesla to charge on regular Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.
Universal charging is possible with the right adapter, making it possible for Tesla drivers to charge quickly and easily all over the country, even when there’s not a Supercharger in sight.
June 2023 update: Blink Charging will add include the NACS connector in upcoming EV chargers. Learn more here.