Tesla Supercharger vs. Destination Charger: What’s the Difference?

close up shot of tesla charger

If you own a Tesla, there are two ways you can charge your electric vehicle on the go. You can either use a Destination Charger or a Supercharger.

But what’s the difference between these two chargers, and which is best for you? And should you prefer one over the other? Let’s find out.

What Is a Tesla Destination Charger?

Image Credit: Jakob Härter/Flickr

A Tesla Destination charger is a wall-mounted charging unit, as shown in the image above. These chargers use alternating current (AC) to supply power to your EV. You can charge your car for a few hours or overnight using a Destination Charger, be it at a restaurant, hotel, shopping mall, or other location.

Tesla’s Destination Chargers can supply your vehicle with as much as 44 miles of range per hour, though this can sometimes be as low as 30 miles of range per hour, depending on the location.

The best thing about Tesla Destination Chargers is that they’re basically free to use. We say “basically” because while the cable itself can be used free of charge, the destination you’re at may charge you a parking fee for the duration of your charging period.

Alternatively, some locations may require that you are a paying customer to use the chargers. For example, if you want to use a Tesla charger at a restaurant, the owners may only allow you to use it if you’re getting food.

It’s also worth noting that Tesla, in August 2022, announced that it would be offering a paid service via its Wi-Fi-connected Wall Connector. However, this will only be offered to locations with six or more Destination Chargers.

There are almost 4,000 Tesla Destination Charging locations across the US and over 1,000 in the UK. So, there’s a good chance you’re nearby a Destination Charging location if you live in these countries, especially if you’re in a city—though Destination Chargers are located in some rural areas, too.

If you’re unsure where you can find a Destination Charging location within the US, you can refer to Tesla’s Destination Charging webpage that displays each spot on the map. Tesla also provides a similar map for the UK and countries in the European Union.

What Is a Tesla Supercharger?

tesla supercharger image

As the name suggests, Tesla Superchargers can charge your vehicle at a much faster rate than Destination Chargers. These chargers supply power straight to the EV battery via direct current (DC). You may have seen these chargers at one of your local gas stations, as they’re becoming increasingly prevalent alongside traditional fuel pumps.

There are varying versions of Tesla’s Superchargers, with the most recent being the V3 model. This charger can offer a maximum power output of 480V (or 250 kW per hour). In less than an hour, you can power up your electric vehicle by over 80% using Tesla Superchargers. In fact, you can add up to 75 miles of range in just five minutes! So, it’s undoubtedly the more convenient option over Destination Chargers.

However, unlike Destination Chargers, Tesla Superchargers are not free. But there’s also no concrete price that customers must pay across the board. In fact, Tesla Supercharger prices can vary from station to station, not just region to region.

It currently costs around $0.50/kWh in the US to charge an EV using a Supercharger. But prices can fluctuate above or below this figure. In California, for example, Tesla has hiked Supercharger prices multiple times. At peak hours, customers could end up paying as much as $0.57/kWh.

In the UK, on the other hand, things are considerably pricier. If, for example, you own a Tesla EV or you’ve subscribed to Tesla’s membership plan (for a fee of £10.99/month), you’ll be paying around 50p/kWh. But if you’re not a part of this membership plan, or you don’t own a Tesla EV, this price will increase to 60p/kWh.

But you may be in luck here. Any Tesla car bought before 2017 is entirely free to charge. Yes, that’s even using a Supercharger. So, if you’re an early adopter, you may stand to save money on charging your electric vehicle.

It’s also important to remember that the cost of Tesla Superchargers will likely increase over time as electricity rates increase globally. Supercharger rates have already risen multiple times, so there’s no doubt they’ll continue to do so in the future.

A map of North America with red dots designing Tesla Supercharger locations

There are currently over 40,000 Tesla Superchargers in various countries worldwide, including the US, UK, Canada, India, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and Japan. If you live within a Supercharger-supported country, chances are that a Tesla Supercharger is located near you.

If you’re in the US, you can use Tesla’s Supercharger map to find your nearest station. Tesla also offers a similar map for customers residing in the UK and EU. Alternatively, you can visit supercharge.info to view the global locations of Tesla Superchargers.

Destination vs. Superchargers: Which Is Better?

Interior of a Tesla electric car

The answer to this question is very reliant on the circumstances. If you just need to juice up your EV a little, and the location you’re at doesn’t charge much, if anything, to use its Destination Chargers, then this is the best option for you—especially if you have the time to spare.

However, a Supercharger would likely be the better choice if you want to fill up most of your EV’s battery capacity and time’s not on your side. On top of this, if the business providing a Destination Charger requires that you pay a large sum in another way (i.e., by buying a meal), you’re likely not getting an excellent deal.

Of course, if you bought your Tesla before 2017, your first pick should be the Supercharger, as you can charge your car in less time for free. Overall, the Tesla Supercharger is probably your best option when it comes to speed.

Take Advantage of Tesla’s Charging Stations While Traveling

If you’re away from home and need to supply your EV with a bit of juice, you may be within close range of a Tesla Destination Charger or a Supercharger.

Though they aren’t always free, both serve as a convenient way to power up your electric vehicle while traveling, whether that’s for a few minutes or a few hours.

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