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What’s a Tesla Destination Charger and how do I find them?

A lot of people know about Tesla’s Supercharging network. Pumping out over 100 kW of power it enables long distance travel for EV’s. Fewer people know of their Destination Charger network. Interestingly though it is in fact much more widely available.

As of July 2017, there are 316 Destination Charger locations in Australia. Note that there is often more than one charger per location too. Currently there are only 12 Supercharging stations open in Australia. There are another 8 planned by the end of 2017.

Supercharger vs Destination Charger
Left: Supercharger Locations. Right: Destination Charger Locations. Source: tesla.com

So to put it in perspective, there are 26x more Destination Chargers than Tesla’s famous Superchargers. So what’s the difference?

Supercharger vs Destination Charger

Superchargers are located on main roads between major cities. They are meant to enable long distance travel and provide over 400 km of range per hour.

Tesla Supercharger. Source: tesla.com

Destination Charging sites are commonly found at places considered (unsurprisingly) to be destinations where you might spend a couple of hours, or more – hence Stockland and Westfield’s efforts at rolling out free EV charging.

This includes places such as restaurants, hotels, shopping centers and ski resorts. They can provide 8-83 km of range per hour.

Source: tesla.com

Given the lower charging rate they are considered Level 2 chargers and use the “Tesla Wall Connector”. Tesla will also pay for the first two Tesla Wall Connectors for qualifying business. The only condition is that they are installed in visible or convenient locations.

The business still needs to pay for the electricity use, but there are other benefit for businesses to do this. By providing Destination Charging for their customers it adds convenience. It also places the business on Tesla’s Find Us web page and the 17” Touchscreen Navigation that’s in every Tesla vehicle.

Not all Destination Chargers are created equally

Destination Chargers can be configured in 13 different circuit breaker settings. These range from 15 amps to 100 amps and each amp level provides a different charge rate. The 15 amp setting charges at 8 km per hour while at 100 amps can charge up to 83 km per hour.

You may also find a slower Destination Charger due to power sharing. This is where multiple Destination Chargers are connected to the same outlet and share its power.

For example you may have a 100 amp connection point, but plug in 4 wall connectors. This allows one station to provide maximum power to a single vehicle, or to split power when more than one Tesla is plugged in. As you’d expect, when this power is split you end up getting less than the 100 amps.

A real life example are these three chargers at a hotel Keith visited in the UK. Two of them operated at 6 amp while the other was at 32 amps. If you’re plugging in the Model X shown in the picture that’s a difference of 3 and 19 km per hour!

Tesla Destination Charger
Tesla Destination Charger Calcot Hotel

The new Wall Connector

Also note there are two different versions of the Wall Connectors. The first are the older silver ones and are more common. The second type is the new ones that were redesigned in 2016.

Left: Old silver wall connector. Right: New white wall connector

How do I find them?

If you’re sitting in your Tesla Model S or X then you can search and find Destination Chargers with the inbuilt navigation system.

You can also go to Tesla’s website and use their map to search and find them here. If you’d prefer a full written list they also have one here too.

Can all EV’s use Tesla Destination Chargers?

The short answer is No. The Destination Chargers are built exclusively for Teslas and use their special charging plug. There have been some attempts to create converters so that other EV’s like the BMW i3 could also use them. However these don’t seem to be a very good idea. They come with many caveats like “do not exceed 40 Amps”.

This means if you plugged it into a 100 amp Destination Charger… well who knows what would happen! Probably not anything good though. There is some good news though as many have reported also finding other charging options at Destination Chargers. This thread here lists a few owners doing road trips and finding J1772 chargers.

Continued expansion of the network

While Tesla has supplied thousands of Destination Chargers already all over the world, they’re not done. CEO Elon Musk has promised that they are quintupling the number by the end of 2017. They’re aiming for over 15,000 chargers worldwide. Note that’s chargers, not locations.

Most locations only have around two charges and there’s just over 5,000 deployed so far. This means there should be another ~2,500 locations rolled out over the next few months. One of the main reasons for this huge expansion is to cope with the new Model 3 deliveries.

Summing Up

Destination Chargers are a fantastic idea that’s obviously spread like wildfire. Businesses get free advertising and attract a very high profile customer base. There’s also very little upfront cost for them and the electricity costs would be around $5-$15 per customer.

In return Tesla has been able to very quickly gain access to thousands of prime real estate spots. They’ve also helped solve a major problem of EV’s previously not being able to road trip too well.

So next time you’re at a hotel or restaurant be on the lookout. There’s a good chance it’s already got a spot for you to plug your Tesla in.

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