Parts of this article have been adapted from: https://spaceboatoflightandwonder.wordpress.com but more recently updated with info about new additons.
So, it turns out that there is no agreed upon “best” way to get the electricity from the charger into your car. Different electric car manufacturers put different sockets on their cars and there are a bunch of different vendors of electricity on the road that cater to different types of socket. To me, it seems pointlessly confusing, but there you go.
Anyway, Tesla uses a socket on the car which looks like what’s called a “type 2” connector. It turns out that there is some cleverness in the socket design that means that the Model S/X can use a standard type 2 connector, but the Supercharger has a plug that is able to reach the parts that a normal type 2 connector cannot reach. This enables the supercharger to unleash the beast on your Model S/X without people being able to accidentally plug their Renault Zoe into it, or something like that. There are a bunch of Superchargers dotted about the place (use Zapmaps/Plugshare or Tesla to find them). Locations are spreading across the UK but some areas are still black spots so, if you want to give yourself the best chance of arriving at your destination without potentially having to make some extensive detours, then you’re going to want to get hold of some adaptors to allow you to charge at non-supercharger locations.
What do you get for free / included with the car?
Note: this has slighly changed now but the fundamentals are still the same, to see the differences read: Tesla Mobile Connector (sometimes referred to as a UMC / Universal Mobile Connector) Explained including Gen 1 & Gen 2 differences
Tesla gives you some adaptors to allow you to charge at home. This comes in a handy bag with all the bits in. It looks like this:
This is basically a long (six metres) cable that has a plug that goes into the car on one end and another plug on the other end. You can then connect either a 3-pin domestic plug or a “commando” plug onto the end of the cable. Charging from a 3-pin plug is eminently possible (we’ve done it a number of times) but it’s painfully slow. You get about 6 mph charging rate. This is a perfectly serviceable charger, but has the disadvantage that you kind of have to get the cable out and plug it into charger and then to the car every time you get home.
For a full guide on home charging visit our Charging at Home Guide
As an aside, here’s what our chargers look like:
The one on the left is the a Commando 32amp lockable socket and the one on the right is the ROLEC one. Firstly, you’ll notice that we have both chargers. That’s because it turned out that it was cheaper to get both chargers installed than it was to get one installed. It seemed like a no-brainer to us. You can just seen the cable emerging from the bottom of the ROLEC charger.
So, that’s the stuff that comes as standard. You can charge at home and you can supercharge.
Charging at CHAdeMO chargers
CHAdeMO chargers are important in the UK because [the green energy company] Ecotricity is building what it calls the “Electric Highway“ and in places like Scotland the rapid charger network is fantastic. There are a lot more of these chargers than there are Tesla superchargers and they cover a much wider area of the country. Bonus. The Ecotricity chargers (or “electricity pumps”, as they like to call them ???? ) have a whole bunch of connectors on them, one of which is a type 2 connector. However, this is a bit of a red herring, since this connector doesn’t deliver that much power. The one that you want for charging the Model S/X (unless you have a CCS adapter) is the CHAdeMO connector, which you’ll need an adaptor to connect to. (p.s. we rent them out to paid supporters if you’re doing a road trip). It looks like this:
Unfortunately, this thing is quite expensive. There’s no easy way to say this… it’s over £400. Once you’ve got it though it’s fairly easy to use and the Ecotricity “fast” chargers are something like 50 kW, we typically get a charge rate of about 100 mph from them.
We find that the CHAdeMO adaptor and the standard cable kit fit quite happily into one of the side pockets in the Model S boot. This keeps them out of the way and means that stuff that you have in the boot doesn’t obstruct your access to them.
Read this full guide on the Tesla CHAdeMO adaptor
Type 2 plugs
The type 2 plug is commonly found on slower chargers. Things like Chargemaster or PodPoint charge points, however, you also sometimes find these types of plug in things like shopping centre car parks, which can be helpful. Anyway, if you want to use this type of charging point, then you have to have another cable in the car. Ours looks like this:
A new addition to charging (at least for S/X owners) is the CCS adapter, this allows CCS charging (up to 200kW). All cars now come with the adapter (except Model 3 which has it built in), however, you can also get Tesla to retrofit the required in car charging and you get an included CCS adapter (limited to 150kW) at the same time.
So, that’s all the cables that we find one needs for almost any occasion. Here’s a picture showing what all the plugs actually look like on all the different types of cable, sometimes that kind of thing is useful ????
 – See post by “Donald” on 6th Jan 2016 here