Modern-day car questions are very different from times gone by. Who knew that the weather would be a factor when buying a car. In this article, we’ll look at what is considered safe charging for a Tesla.
Charging a Tesla in the rain is possible with a Supercharger or a TWC (Tesla Wall Connector). A Gen2 Mobile Connector or a 14-50 Outlet needs to be weatherproofed or indoors, to safely charge.
Each charging scenario is different and needs to be assessed accordingly. Realistically Tesla has made charging as safe as possible but we need to allow for all eventualities.
Tesla Wall Connector
The majority of Tesla’s are charged at people’s homes. Tesla recommends when you buy a Tesla that you install a Tesla Wall Connector. It charges at approximately 44 miles of range per hour. Although many Tesla owners install their TWC in their garage they are perfectly safe to use in rain or inclement weather.
The fitting is a NEMA 3R – which translates to weather-resistant against rain, snow, sleet, and even ice. A TWC needs to be installed by a qualified electrician or a certified Tesla Installer.
Nearly all Destination Chargers i.e. chargers at hotels or shopping malls are the equivalent of a TWC. The habit that needs to be formed when charging at home with a TWC is to hang your connector facing down, so water doesn’t collect in it. It won’t unduly damage your connector but it may need to dry out before you can continue to use it.
The quickest way to charge your Tesla is with a Supercharger. A Supercharger will give you 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes. But who wants to be out and about charging their car in the rain? Many Supercharger stations are covered by a canopy but certainly not all of them. Using a Supercharger in the rain will not affect the charging process or reduce the safety of the procedure.
When you plug in your Tesla to begin the supercharge, the onboard computer will first do a series of checks to make sure the connection is correct and that it is safe to begin the charge. There is no power in the cable until it is fully plugged in and the light on your vehicle is green.
There is the possibility of a problem occurring in a thunderstorm. Tesla has in recent years upgraded the insulation on their batteries to prevent damage if the Supercharger is hit by lightning and creates a surge. It has been known to happen in older vehicles (pre-2015).
I would advise unless absolutely necessary to leave the charging of your car till the storm has passed. You are more at risk of a strike than your car is when you are outside of the vehicle.
Tesla Gen2 Mobile Charger
This is the standard cable supplied by Tesla with your car. It comes with a 120V adaptor and will charge your car at 3 miles of range every hour. The adaptor is suitable for household sockets but they are not weatherproof. Most people use the adapter plugged into a socket in their garage.
But not everyone has access to a garage. If your Gen2 is going to be outside you need an electrician to install a weatherproof outlet in order to charge your Tesla safely. If a 120V adaptor gets wet it will be short.
Your Mobile Charger cannot be left outside exposed to the elements, either in standing water or beneath the snow. Tesla recommends that your connection is installed at least 18” above the ground.
What The Tesla Drivers Manual Says
In the Tesla Manual (Tesla manual PDF link) one of the warnings is not to use the Mobile Connector while you, the vehicle, or the connector is exposed to severe rain, snow, electrical storm, or inclement weather. It also warns to keep it clear of moisture and water at all times due to corrosion.
If the Connector is submerged in water or snow to turn off the breaker before unplugging it. These warnings are all pointing to electric shock. Water and electricity don’t mix. But this is because of the normal plug adaptor on the end of your charger and this would be the same advice for any electrical item.
The other available connector for your home is a Mobile Connector with a 240V adaptor. This basically is the same as your 120V adaptor setup but more powerful. It will charge your car 10 times the range – 30 miles of range in an hour. So how does this setup cope with rain? It is the same premise as the 120V.
However, you can get a qualified electrician to install an outdoor weatherproof port. This needs to be fully insulated against the elements. It is a much higher voltage and so needs to be installed correctly. There is still the risk from rain and water mixing with electricity.
The last mention is about Freezing Rain. It doesn’t occur everywhere but it can be a problem when charging your car. If you find that your charger has become frozen in your car, don’t be tempted to de-ice it or pour hot water on it to defrost it. You will need to either cover it down and wait for it to defrost naturally or get an ice scraper and gently chip the ice away.
The natural way is more preferable as you could cause damage to your cable with a deicing tool. But this is not always possible in the busy world that we live in.
In conclusion, I would recommend that unless your home charger is indoors or your exterior socket is completely weatherproof to avoid charging your car in the rain. That I know doesn’t make sense for many, as you need access to your car and you need to be able to charge it. If you know that heavy rain is on the way, it’s worth a trip to a Supercharger.
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