Worried about battery health and longevity? Here are a few Tesla charging best practices to consider.
One thing every Tesla owner has to figure out on a regular basis is charging. Like the way oil changes are important for combustion vehicles, battery maintenance is one of the top-of-mind items when it comes to owning an electric car.
When it comes to the batteries inside Tesla vehicles, Tesla has made the process as simple as possible, lending itself to an easy ownership experience. There are, however, a few do’s and don’t’s to be aware of. We’ll go over some of these, and touch briefly on the science behind battery maintenance in this article.
Note: It’s worth mentioning that at the time of writing, some vehicles in China and the United States contain Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries and NOT Lithium-Ion, leading to a few different battery characteristics and maintenance requirements. In this article, we will focus on Lithium-Ion batteries, such as those featured in Tesla vehicles from 2008 to today.
What Does Tesla Say About Charging Best Practices?
The battery in a Tesla vehicle is made up of many (thousands) of cylindrical battery cells that work together toward a common goal. Thankfully, Tesla vehicles manage things like cell voltage, capacity and temperature automatically so we can focus on enjoying the vehicle. These systems are always on, 24/7, even when the car hasn’t been touched in a long time.
Tesla’s Owner’s Manual for most current vehicles tells us a few things:
- Try to keep charge between 20-90%
- Only supercharge when necessary. Use slower, AC charging whenever possible (Level 1 or Level 2)
- Parking indoors is more efficient in the coldest / hottest months
Three Tesla Charging Best Practices and Tips
What Tesla doesn’t make clear are some of the battery best practices you can implement to maximize battery health. Here are three tips to consider.
Setting Your Charge Level When Away
If you’re heading away for more than a few days without your car, it is common practice (it’s also recommended) to leave the vehicle plugged in. What Tesla doesn’t tell you is that a battery charge limit of around 57% is optimal for the battery. We figured this out by monitoring the internal systems on a 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range. Leaving your battery in the 50-60% range protects the chemistry inside and slows the degradation of the cells. See our battery deep dive to find out more.
Factor In Preconditioning Time
Where supercharging is billed by the minute (currently standard in Canada), if you ask the car to navigate to a Supercharger, the car will preheat the battery to enable faster charging. This can take as long as 40-50 minutes in the cold of winter. As such, be sure to allow time for preconditioning if you’re planning on more than just a 10-20% “top-up.”
Setting Your Charge Level For Daily Use
Unless I’m travelling or working out of town, I’ve stopped leaving my Tesla Model Y at 80-90% as I only use 5-20% of a battery per day. Most of the time, I set my charge limit between 60 and 70% and forget about it. This ensures I put the least amount of stress on the battery while having a good enough buffer for the unexpected.
Best Practices for a Longer Battery Life
As far as protecting and maintaining any battery goes, the above tips are practically all you need to do. Along with avoiding physical damage to the battery packs (the bottom of the car) and the affiliated equipment (your charger and charge port), these tips will ensure you get the most out of your battery for years to come.
If you are thinking about placing a Model Y order, be sure to use my referral code and get 1,500 Supercharger kilometres!
*As of Sept 2021, Tesla has put a pause on referrals 😞 I will update if/when they reinstate it.