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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging at Home With a NEMA 14-50 Outlet

November 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last month we posted an update on our 2013 Tesla Model S about charging at an RV park. Basically, we used the Model S's included charge cord adapter to connect and recharge from a NEMA 14-50 receptacle, which is a four-prong, 240-volt outlet (yeah, pretty much a dryer outlet).

In the update Dan Edmunds wrote after successfully charging our Model S at the RV park, "You could even have an electrician install a 240V, 50-amp NEMA 14-50 receptacle in your garage instead of paying a grand or more for an SAE-compliant Level 2 charge station."

Well, I just happen to have exactly that setup at my house.

The NEMA 14-50 in my garage came about when the house was built a few years ago. I asked the builder if they could install a 240-volt outlet. It could be used for a clothes dryer, but my thinking was that it could come in handy some day for home-charger pre-wiring or actual electric car charging. Finally, some three and half years later, it finally did with the Model S.

2013 Tesla Model S

I did have to confirm that outlet's fuse breaker was rated for 50 amps, which it is. But other than that, the process was super easy. I just connected the four-prong adapter to the Tesla's charge cable, plugged it into the wall, and then plugged the cable into the car. The car immediately started taking a charge.

It's a fast charge, too. As Dan also noted in that RV update, the NEMA 14-50, because it's rated at 50 amps, flows more power than the typical Level 2 charge station. Using this setup in my house, I can recharge 29 miles worth of range per hour of charging.

I suspect the typical Model S owner would still want to have the Tesla's High Power Wall Connector installed given that it charges even more quickly and allows true tracking of energy consumption. But I think it's pretty cool that I'm one of the few members on our editorial team that can charge the Model S at my own house with 240-volt power.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,797 miles


  • rock2155 rock2155 Posts:

    Small correction, breaker are generally rated for 20% continuous, so your NEMA 14-50 outlet is actually a 40A continuous outlet on a 50A breaker. In the car you can check that it actually charges at 40A and not 50A.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    That rocks - thanks for sharing! It would be nice if my Leaf could do that, although I already have a Level 2 charger which is fast enough most of the time.

  • paco3791 paco3791 Posts:

    As a Model S owner this is exactly the charging setup I use at home everyday. Granted my car is "only" the 60kwh version, the mobile charger works great for me, I can get a full 200ish miles of charge in 5-6 hours and for the daily commute this charger is more than adequate. Plus the the High power wall connector you mention above is a $2700 option. Small potatoes to some Model S owners but not for me.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    This is the setup I'd use if I was a Model S owner.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Cost me a whole $175 to have a 14-50 installed in my garage in Orange County, California. My outlet is literally connected to my panel with zero feet of wire so it's not lossy at all. I get 30mph of charging at 40A and usually dial it back to 25A to keep everything cooler. That still gives me nearly 20mph. Doing a timed charge starting at 1am means I can put between 100 and 150 miles on my Model S on any given night. Pretty friggin sweet!

  • jnb1 jnb1 Posts:

    I have the 85kW Model S and this is the exact setup I have. As someone else commented, the twin charger with high power wall connector is a $2700 option, and the Tesla store rep actually talked me out of it. I'm glad he did since even charging from near "empty" only takes 8 or so hours overnight, which is when I charge (and almost everyone else who has the car). Does it really matter if it takes 4 vs. 8 hours to charge while you sleep?

  • capt601 capt601 Posts:

    Zero reason for the HPWC. Just charges a but quicker other than that, no benefit. For 99% of drivers a Nema 14-50 will work fine, with zero worries and little cost. Think you don't understand the HPWC as it doesn't give you true tracking of energy usage anymore than the standard charge cable.

  • I live on the gulf coast and severe weather is always a threat. One of the standard practices is to fill all your cars up before the storm in case you have to evacuate. This is not possible with electric cars so I'm wondering if they can be charged on a generator in case of a prolonged power failure. Can someone at Edmunds contact Tesla to find out?

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    @allthingshonda: You can charge an EV with a generator, but the pace for a Tesla Model S may be slower than plugging in. A high-end generator might provide the same power as a Level 2 charger (~6 kW), so it would be OK for moderate use.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    @allthingshonda it looks like if you wanted to spend about $3200 on a generator you could get this 17.5 kW to charge your Tesla. And really if you could afford the Tesla then this generator is not unreasonably expensive.-----------------------------------

  • jvonbokel jvonbokel Posts:

    Actually Tesla recommends the NEMA 14-50, and most owners use it primarily. I'd wager it's something like 25% that opt for the HPWC. One of the most common questions people ask about electric cars is how long it takes to charge, but once you own one, you realize after just a couple weeks that you're never really waiting for it to charge. I use my 14-50 exclusively, and it charges for about 2-3 hours most nights. The two times in the last 10 months that I've run it down to near zero, it still only took 8hrs to charge, and was ready to go the next morning. Also, I don't think the HPWC offers any additional energy consumption tracking. I think Edmunds has installed something between the HPWC and the power to measure usage.

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    Yeah. Brent knew the Nema 14-50 is connected to a 50-amp circuit but can only draw 40 amps of that per electrical codes. The Level 2 home charge stations most EV owners buy are backed by 40-amp circuits and deliver 30-32 amps, depending on model. Still, that makes this simple NEMA 14-50 setup (using a cord that comes free with the car) about 30-33 percent faster than the typical Level 2 charger. Also, it is possible to buy a 100-amp version of the SAE J1772 Level 2 charger. The Tesla HPWC is not the only choice you have. In that way you could use a single charger for a Tesla and, say, a Leaf. The Leaf won't draw 80 amps and melt itself because the charge rate is determined by the car, not the power supply.

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    @jvonbokel: Yes, that's right. I added a 3rd-party meter to get kWh readouts for each charge. Data summary coming soon.

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