Electric Car FAQs: Is It Okay To Charge Your Tesla With An Extension Cord?

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Supporters of EVs will tell you that an electric car is just like regular a car. For the most part, they’re right. You step on the pedal on the right and the car goes, you turn the wheel and the car turns, and the only real difference is what kind of fuel goes in it. We say stuff like that all the time, in fact. If we’re being completely honest, though, that’s only mostly true. 99% of the time the only difference is what kind of fuel goes into the car, but that last one percent exists as well.

As EV owners and fans know well, electric cars are indeed much more fun due to their instant torque, and also benefit from the convenience of home charging. However, there are also things that can be confusing for newcomers. To provide explanations on such matters, we’ve launched a segment called “Electric Car FAQs” to answer those oddball questions that come up one percent of the time. Today’s question: Is it OK to charge your Tesla with an extension cord?

Short Answer: Sometimes it’s All You’ve Got

This is going to be an ordinary, everyday article about mundane things. Nothing exciting to see here. However, it will be practical, and it may help you get out of a jam if you find yourself street parking unexpectedly.

Disclaimer: I am not an electrician, nor am I an EV expert, so I’ll just speak from my own experience and the experience of my peers — ordinary laypeople.

I have made the glib answer to those who questioned the availability of charging options that I can plug in anywhere — just like a toaster! And I can, but what about when the toaster is a long way from the power point? Well, you use an extension cord!

Tesla vs. Extension Cord

Ready to get the Tesla charger connected to the Model 3 using an extension cord.

I have found that sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and recent Facebook conversations highlighted the potential dangers involved and noted that Tesla advises you not an extension cord in its Corded Mobile Connector Owner’s Manual. When visiting Winton in central Queensland, I charged using an extension cord plugged into an external power point. The car sat on that rig for 3 days in order to trickle charge back up to a full battery.

On a trip to the Bunya Mountains I tried to do the same at my brother-in-law’s house and it just didn’t work — we changed power points and we changed extension cords, but it just didn’t work. My extension cord worked at home when I got back and I checked it, but it just didn’t work at his house — much to his delight, as he has constantly made jokes about EVs having to carry extension cords.

But what if your extension cord gets really hot and starts to smell like your toast is burning? The obvious answer is — turn it off, unplug it, and check the cord, the plug, and the power point. Something is definitely wrong. Also, you need to make sure the cord is completely uncoiled and doesn’t overlap. Check the wall socket — if it is also hot, you might need to get it checked by an electrician. Was there plenty of ventilation?

Australia has 240 volts going to electricity sockets in the home, which means that charging at home from a regular power point can be enough for most people’s needs. In my own home, we have three choices: regular 8 amp power point, 15 amp power point (for the dryer), and of course our Tesla destination charger. We don’t use an extension cord at home, just the power cable that came with the car.

Remember, if you have any queries about power supply and use — consult an electrician.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 738 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth