You may have heard that Tesla vehicles can plug into campground pedestals. It’s highly convenient for travelers bringing a second electric vehicle along.
But does that mean RVers can now plug in their RV power cords at Tesla charging stations to charge the RV batteries? It would make sense that if Teslas can use charging stations and pedestals, RVs should be able to as well, right?
Don’t jump to that conclusion too quickly. Let’s explore this idea more.
Table of contents
- Can You Charge Your RV at Tesla Charging Stations?
- What Kind of Power Requirements Will You Encounter?
- Do You Need Any Special Equipment?
- The Dangers of Plugging into a Tesla Charging Station
- Better Ways of Charging Your RV’s House Batteries
- Should You Try to Use Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Your RV?
Can You Charge Your RV at Tesla Charging Stations?
The short answer is… it depends. Tesla superchargers are designed for tesla vehicles only to the point that they recognize the specific car plugging into them and charger the respective account for power. No Tesla No power.
There are however other Tesla charging stations that are not superchargers like destination chargers. These are frequently free and have the power on all the time.
You could charge your RV at a Tesla charging station, but it’s dangerous. It’s not impossible, and there are dogbone adapters you can buy on eBay and similar sites, but you don’t want to do it. Let’s take a closer look at why this is a bad idea.
What Kind of Power Requirements Will You Encounter?
Tesla charging stations have multiple power configurations, but the major supercharger stations are designed to provide the cars a high voltage (400+ Volts) direct current. An RV cannot use this. Rather, an RV has a NEMA 14-50 shore power connector.
Tesla destination chargers and home chargers as well as most other electric cars use 240V for their chargers. Most RVs receive power from two 120V circuits separated by a neutral wire. Although two 120V circuits equal 240V total, the neutral wire keeps them equally divided so that both circuits use 120V.
This is vital to the proper function of your RV’s electrical system. Some charging stations may be missing the crucial neutral wire, so you could easily overload your RV electrical system.
Do You Need Any Special Equipment?
Connecting an RV to a nonsupercharger tesla charging station isn’t impossible because an adapter cable exists. But the adapter won’t address the possible neutral wire issue we mentioned previously.
It could function adequately at a low amperage. But if you start to pull 120V, it can overload the ground wire. The wire can overheat and become damaged, which is not only very dangerous but also a code violation.
Pro Tip: New to RVing and confused about the electrical system of your RV? We uncovered How Are RVs Wired? Helpful RV Electrical Basics for Beginners.
The Dangers of Plugging into a Tesla Charging Station
As previously mentioned, the dangers of plugging into a Tesla charging station are serious.
Although a Tesla can plug into a pedestal at a campground, an RV cannot safely plug in to a Tesla charging station. When the ground wire is overloaded, your RV’s neutral conductor (that essential wire mentioned before) opens up and improperly returns that current into the ground wire.
The overheating and dangers aren’t just for that outlet but other outlets as well. You don’t want to be responsible for damaging someone’s brand new Tesla because you tried to plug your RV into a charging station.
The ground wire is also known as the Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC), and it acts as protection for a short circuit. Its function is not the same as the neutral wire in your RV’s two 120-volt circuits. So, even though the total voltage is the same in an RV cord and a Tesla cord, don’t expect them to work the same way.
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Better Ways of Charging Your RV’s House Batteries
Of course the safest and best way to charge your RV is to plug into a pedestal designed for it. . These pedestals are connected to an electrical grid. If you’re off the grid and boondocking, you can charge your batteries using a generator. Or some RVers have solar power and sustain their battery life through that source.
You could also charge your RV batteries at a house through a 15 or 20 amp power outlet. You hook up your power cord to an extension cord–always using the surge protector–just like you would at a campground.
Or you can charge them using a 12V battery charger like used for a car. Your RV batteries will also charge through slowly the vehicle’s alternator, which is great for road trips but not efficient for stationary use.
Pro Tip: Unsure what battery is best for you? We tested different batteries to find out What Is The Best RV Battery For The Money?
Should You Try to Use Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Your RV?
Hopefully, you know by now that this answer is a big no. If you are not an electrical engineer and know exactly what power system you are connecting to don’t do it even if you can find an adapter.
And it’s not just Tesla charging stations. It’s dangerous and hazardous to charge your RV batteries using any electric vehicle charging station. Don’t risk it. The cost of the damage to your RV, the charging station, or someone else’s vehicle is not worth the convenience. Plan your travel accordingly.
Have you ever considered plugging into an electric vehicle charging station while on the road? Drop a comment below!
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