What Size Breaker Do I Need for a Tesla Charger?

Maybe you bought a Tesla Model S, X, or three recently and know you can charge it with a home charger, but do you know what size breaker you will need to use?

Electric cars save on fuel but must be charged with electric power. To control the charging process and protect the car’s charging system from high currents, you will need a suitable circuit breaker installed. The breaker size required will be specific to the car and your charging requirements.

This article explains the difference between the level one and two chargers, tells you what charging options you have, and gives a chart to help you install the right-sized breaker in different arrangements.

Using the supplied level one mobile connector can run on a regular 20 amp breaker, but a full charge will take days. To use a level two charger, you will need at least a 30 amp breaker, and if running on a 240VAC for even quicker charging, then a 50 amp breaker is standard. However, if you use a Tesla Wall Connector with the 240VAC supply, you will need at least a 60 amp breaker.

You will find a chart for different charging options below.

Tesla Chargers

Tesla home chargers usually come in two basic types: level one for trickle charging and level two for quicker charging.

level one charger mobile connector
A level one charger (mobile connector)

A standard level one charger can be plugged into any power outlet without worrying about the circuit breaker. The normal 12 amps of power delivery are sufficient to charge the car. But an overnight charge will only give you enough for around 40 miles (around 4-5 miles per hour of charging).

If you need more charge than that, you will need to charge in public places or at work, use a level two charger in slow mode, or else arrange for a proper level two charger at home. A slow level two charger can operate on a 30 amp power plug, allowing you to charge at 24 amps. But a level two one will allow you to charge the Tesla for driving it more than 100 miles.

If the level two charger at home suits you better, you will need to make some changes and use a higher size breaker to manage a higher current. I will tell you exactly what you will need to do.

Arranging for a Level Two Charger

Although a level two charger is more efficient than a level one charger in an at-home charging solution, it may require installing a new main service panel if it cannot handle a 50 amps circuit.

The main circuit breaker in homes is usually for managing 100 amps. A level two Tesla charger will require a 200 amp main panel. So if you don’t have that, you will have to upgrade it first to handle more power-intensive appliances. Then, you will have to run a 50 amp (or minimum 40 amps) line to the charging spot, which is the common setup.

If you already have a 200 amp or higher panel, you only need to arrange a 50 amp dedicated circuit (which will allow you to charge at 40 amps and require a six gauge copper cable).

Breakers for Quicker Charging Options

A 240V outlet, without or with a Tesla Wall Connector, can give you even quicker charging options but will require a higher-rated circuit breaker.

If you can arrange a 240V power outlet, you can increase the charging rate significantly compared to a level 1 charger and slow level 2. You will need a 50-60 amp breaker on a dedicated circuit with a thicker 6 gauge cable.

A Tesla Wall Connector is worth getting if you can afford it for more cost-effective yet faster charging. You can use it on any size circuit from 15 to 100 amps, but it is more commonly used in a 220VAC circuit with a minimum 60 amp breaker.

tesla wall connector
A Tesla Wall Connector

FAQs

Other related things you might want to know:

Do I need to buy a level two charger if I want to use one?

No. A level two charger is already built into the car. It is only the mobile connector it comes with, which is a level 1 connector.

Can I charge the car even quicker than using a level 2 charger?

Certainly, you can use a level 3 supercharger on highways, but you will need to arrange a 3-phase 480V supply. It can charge fully in minutes rather than hours (up to 200 miles in 15 minutes), but it will cost approximately $20,000 for the charging station alone. A level 2 charger is the most common and ideal option for most homeowners.

Do all Tesla models charge at the same rate?

No. There are some variations. For example, if charging on a 240V circuit with a 50 amp breaker, a model X will charge at 25 miles each hour, a model S at 29 miles, and a model 3 at 37 miles. If using a Tesla wall charger on the same circuit, a model X will charge at 30 miles each hour, a model S at 34 miles, and a model 3 at 44 miles.

Normally, a Tesla model 3-Rear Wheel Drive is charged using at least a 40 amp breaker, and models X, S, Y, and 3-Performance/Long-Range use at least a 60 amp breaker.

Reference Chart

Use the reference chart for a general guide to what breaker size to expect for a particular home charging arrangement.

general guide for circuit breaker

Wrapping Up

The right size circuit breaker you will need for a Tesla charger depends on the current draw required in different charging arrangements and your Tesla model.

You can charge it using the supplied level one mobile connector on a regular 20 amp breaker, but it will allow you to drive no more than 40 miles. We showed a range of options for quicker charging using a level two charger and a Tesla Wall Connector, but they will draw more current, and will, therefore, require a higher-rated breaker. A 50 amp breaker is standard without the wall connector, and at least a 60 amp one if you use one.

Use the chart given above to know what breaker size to use.

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