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

  • By: Sean Cooper

At the moment, there are two main types of chargers that you can use in order to charge your Tesla. These are known as Tesla Superchargers and Tesla destination chargers. Both of these serve a similar function – charging your car quickly so you can get back on the road again. However, they operate in different ways and have slightly different features. In this article, we compare the Tesla Destination Charger vs Tesla Supercharger to discover what they are and how they differ.

Tesla Superchargers

What is a Tesla Destination Charger?

A Tesla Destination Charger is a charger that’s installed alongside your regular electric car charging station. It’s typically installed by hotels and car rental companies that you might visit while you’re out and about. As the name suggests, these are installed at a specific location. They are not movable, so if you want to use one you’ll need to be at the right place at the right time with your charging cable. Destination chargers are also a little different from regular charging stations because they feature Tesla’s unique SAE J1772 adapter. This adapter is different from the standard charging connector that you’ll find at home and it has two main advantages. Firstly, the adapter is the same on both Tesla destination chargers and standard home chargers, so it’s easier to use both of these types of chargers. Secondly, it provides an extra layer of protection for both you and the charger.

What is a Tesla Supercharger?

A Tesla Supercharger is a high-speed charging station that’s installed at specific locations such as highway rest stops, restaurants, and hotels. These are fixed stations, so you’ll know that they’ll be there when you arrive. This makes it much easier to plan your trip and know exactly where you need to stop. Superchargers are also different from Destination Chargers in that they feature Tesla’s proprietary connector, which is different from the standard J1772 connector. While the difference isn’t too problematic for home charging, it can cause issues for destination charging. As a result, you might need an adapter to use a destination charger.

When you purchase a brand-new Tesla you get an annual credit of amperage with the vehicle, which is good for somewhere around 1,000 miles of charging. Fees apply once you’ve exhausted your annual credit, however, so you should expect to have to pay around $15.29 for a full charge of a Tesla Model X. Things get worse if you then hog a Supercharger well after you’ve fully charged your battery, and force others to wait unnecessarily for their turn at the station. This is where you incur something called ‘idling charges.’

How are Tesla Superchargers different from Destination Chargers?

As you’ve read above, there are notable differences between Superchargers and destination chargers are numerous. This isn’t to say that one is better than the other, but they are different. Let’s break down the main differences between the two charging types.

Cost – Destination chargers are typically free to use, whereas Superchargers are paid for. – Destination Chargers are installed by businesses that you visit regularly. Superchargers, on the other hand, are specific to Tesla vehicles only.

Idle fees, where your EV is left to fully charge and isn’t quick to disengage for the next waiting user, don’t apply to Destination Chargers. Because Destination Chargers are generally located in more rural areas where it’s unlikely there’ll be much of a line of electric cars waiting to recharge, which is why idle fees don’t apply.

Convenience – Destination charging is easier to use and provides more protection against potential hazards. Destination chargers can sometimes be used as a backup option at Superchargers if they are not being used. Superchargers are used for long-distance driving and destination charging is a more viable option for shorter trips.

However, you’ll spend a lot more time waiting for your Tesla to recharge if you have to use a destination charger because they’re considerably slower. On the upside, slower charging will extend the life of your battery as faster charging takes a toll on battery longevity.

Which one should you choose?

This comes down to your individual needs and situation. If you are a Tesla owner who does a lot of long-distance driving, then a supercharger will likely be the best option for you. Destination charging is best for people who occasionally do short-distance driving when they are visiting places that have the option of installing a charger. If you’re not sure which one to go for, you can always use whichever option is available. You can even use both types of chargers if you’re able to make the most of each one. If you’re able to do this, then you’re getting the best of both worlds.

Tesla tells us there are something like 4,500 Destination Charging stations available across America located at various hotels, parking garages, and restaurants. The company also claims there are more than 30,000 global Supercharger locations providing 200 miles of power to Tesla owners in as little as 15 minutes. You’ll usually find them close to highway locations where there’s a greater need for convenient fast-charging capability for drivers traveling long distances. 

Tesla destination charger

How to Find a Tesla Destination Charging Station?

The first thing to do is to ensure that your car is equipped with a destination charging cable. If it isn’t, then you can purchase one online. Next, you’ll need to visit the Tesla website and use the car chargers page to find a destination charging station near you. You can then select the types of chargers that you want to filter your results and find the nearest charger.

If you are using your smartphone, which you will be almost all of the time, you can then use Tesla’s excellent Go Anywhere app which features an interactive, user-friendly planner that lets you accurately plot your journey so you know in advance when and where you’ll need to stop.

If you know the address of the place, you can also type it into the destination charger search bar. This will then show you all of the chargers nearby. You can then select the ones that are destination chargers and find out a bit more information about them. If you’d prefer to use a different app, such as Waze or Google Maps, then you can select the type of charger that you’re looking for and it will show you all the nearby locations.

How to Find a Tesla Supercharging Station?

If you’re looking for a supercharger, you’ll have to know the address of the one that you want to use. This is because they are fixed stations and are not movable. To find superchargers in your area, you can use the same websites as above. You can also use the Tesla app to find superchargers. In the app, select the supercharger option and you’ll be able to see all the superchargers in your area. If you don’t know the exact address of the supercharger, you can also search for them in your Tesla app. You can search by city or state to find the ones nearby. Whichever app you use, you can use the directions feature to show you exactly how to get to the supercharger.

Final Words

When it comes down to it, you’ll probably use whichever type of charger is available when you need one. While it would be great if there were enough of each type for you to always have a choice, that simply isn’t going to happen in the real world.

Few of us plan our journeys with such military precision that it will eliminate range anxiety, even with such a great resource available as the Tesla Go Anywhere app. In truth, you’ll often find you can’t go as far between recharges as estimated. And when you do get to a charger just before your battery runs out and gives up the ghost, there’s always the chance there’ll be a queue or that one or more of the chargers is out of action.

There are a lot of good things to say about EVs and Teslas in particular, but don’t say you weren’t warned when your range anxiety becomes totally and unequivocably justified.

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