The main battery pack on your Tesla vehicle costs several thousand dollars to replace. Because of this, you are, quite naturally, concerned about maintaining the battery to improve its life span. And one of the important factors that affects the lifespan of the battery is how you charge it.
There have been a lot of questions about the best charging practices for a Tesla vehicle battery, especially the question of whether it’s ok to charge the lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) battery to 100 percent.
On this subject, you will get many opinions and so-called best practice recommendations from different sources. But, as I always say, there is no better place to look than the vehicle manufacturer itself and factual scientific information about the subject.
So, in this article, I will answer all the questions that you have about to what percentage to charge the LFP battery on a Tesla vehicle, and provide other best practice recommendations on how to maintain your Tesla vehicle battery using recommendations from Tesla and basic physics.
Should You Charge LFP Battery to 100?
It depends. The answer is in your vehicle, literally.
To understand this better, I think it’s important to provide a solid background on Tesla vehicle batteries and the principles behind them.
All of Tesla vehicles, no matter the model and model year, use lithium-ion batteries for the main battery pack. However, they are not all the same. The batteries differ in the chemical composition of the cathodes as follows:
- Lithium ion phosphate (LFP)
- Nickel-Cobalt Manganese (NCM)
- Nickel-Cobalt Aluminium (NCA)
The last two cathode chemistries, NCM and NCA, are so energy dense that they are best suited for the long range versions of Tesla vehicles. The lithium-ion phosphate cathode chemistry is less energy dense, less expensive, and best suited for other Tesla vehicle versions.
Each of these battery chemistry types have their recommended maximum charge limits but their minimum charge limits are all the same.
And that’s why Tesla never recommends a single value for all their vehicles’ battery charge limit. Instead, here is what Tesla have to say on to what percentage you can charge your vehicle’s battery:
- You can set the charge limit for your vehicle’s battery by adjusting the charge slider to the level of charging you want.
- Refer to the information on the vehicle touchscreen by navigating to Controls > Charging, or on the mobile app by touching the Charging icon for the recommended daily and trip charging limits for your vehicle. The recommended daily charging limit varies with vehicle configurations.
- Charge the battery to the appropriate charge limit for your vehicle based on the installed battery. Different batteries require different charging routines for optimal performance. Your vehicles touch screen will display the recommended charge limit for your battery.
From this, it is immediately obvious that there is no set figure for charging all Tesla vehicles.
So, if your Tesla vehicle comes with lithium-ion phosphate batteries, simply refer to the recommended daily limits on your vehicle touchscreen to know the charge limit that is best for the vehicle.
- If the recommended limit on your vehicles touch screen says 100%, then you should charge to 100% as often as you can, and at least once every week.
- If Tesla have determined that charging to 100% does not negatively affect the battery, then you should follow the recommendation.
- Tesla batteries are some of the most sophisticated in the world and it’s never a good idea to apply common wisdom from other battery types to Tesla vehicle batteries periods
So, when people ask the question of whether it’s okay to charge a Tesla LFP battery to 100%, I always say to them, follow the recommended limits on your touch screen as that is what’s best for your vehicle.
- There has been a lot of debate as to whether charging to 100% degrades the lifespan of an LFP battery and the simple answer is that it’s really doesn’t.
I will provide details about the things that do affect the lifespan of your LFP battery later in this article.
The takeaway from this section is that the answer to whether you should charge your LFP Tesla vehicle battery to 100% is, if Tesla says it’s okay on the touchscreen, then it’s really okay. You cannot get better information about this from anyone outside Tesla.
How Often to Charge LFP Battery?
The simple answer is, as often as you need to. Daily, if you have to. The important thing is to never let your Tesla LFP battery fully discharge. And do not charge it beyond the recommended charge limit on your vehicle’s touchscreen. Other than this, you are quite okay charging it even more than once a day.
To appreciate this, I must explain a few things about lithium-ion batteries:
● They have more than 5000 cycles in them before they even begin to degrade
● Zero maintenance is needed
● 100% of the charge can be used with no issues
● They have 2% self discharge per month under normal conditions. Just make sure it is disconnected when not in use for long periods
So, yes, how often you charge depends mostly on how you use your Tesla vehicle. No more, no less.
Tesla LFP Battery Charging Recommendations
Now that I have, I hope, answered all your questions about whether it’s okay to charge your LFP Tesla vehicle battery to 100% and everything else there is to that, here are detailed recommendations on how best to charge and maintain your vehicle’s LFP battery.
- If you are not planning to use your Tesla vehicle for several weeks, then leave it plugged in. Bear in mind that average discharge rate on Tesla vehicle batteries is 1% a day, though this can vary with factors such as weather, vehicle configurations, and the settings you have made on the touchscreen.
As a rule, try to avoid keeping the battery below 20% charge for an extended period of time. When the battery is too low in charge, the battery icon will turn yellow and the available range will drop if the vehicle is parked in colder temperatures.
- Set the charge limit to the value recommended for your vehicle in the settings described earlier in this article. Control > Charging
- There is absolutely no advantage to waiting until your Tesla vehicle’s battery level is low before you charge it. Instead, Tesla says that your battery performs best when charged regularly
- Never allow your Tesla vehicle’s battery to go lower than 1%. Several components may become damaged or require replacement, if you do so. For example, the low-voltage 12V battery will certainly need replacement if you allow the main battery pack to discharge fully.
And you know what, damage from a full discharge is not covered by any warranty whatsoever; not even the Roadside Assistance warranty
- The charge speed will decrease:
- When the battery is too cold
- When the battery charge is nearly full
- When the battery condition changes with time and use
When you notice this, you need to understand that it is normal behaviour and you do not need to make any changes such as battery or charger replacements.
- The battery requires zero maintenance. So, do not remove the coolant filter cap or add any fluid. If you get indication on the touchscreen that the fluid level is low, please contact Tesla immediately.
- Do not use the battery as a stationary source of power.
- As much as possible, make sure to always charge your Tesla with a wall connector. Supercharging stations and mobile connectors should only be used occasionally and when absolutely necessary.
- If you are charging with a mobile connector, make sure to plug the connector into the power outlet FIRST before plugging into the vehicle
- Exposing the battery to extreme weathers, hot or cold will degrade the battery quicker
- Leaving accessories or the car itself on, when not in use will also decrease the battery lifespan. And so will excessive use of accessories and Sentry Mode.
Now, I will give you tips not only on how to preserve the battery lifespan long-term, but also how to get maximum range out of every charge.
- Do not drive too fast. And avoid frequent, rapid acceleration. To set a limit, go to Controls > Pedals & Steering > Acceleration to control acceleration.
- When the vehicle is in motion and you are not pressing the accelerator pedal, avoid using the brakes when gradually slowing down. Instead, modulate the accelerator pedal.
- Limit your use of heating and air conditioning. For heating, use seat and steering wheel heaters instead to keep warm.
- Set Stopping Mode to Hold so that regenerative braking at low driving speeds does not send bursts of energy back to the battery.
- Avoid using your vehicle often to ship heavy loads
- Raise your windows fully
- Maintain your wheels and tires using best practice. I did an article on Tesla wheel alignment and you can read it here.
The best way to know what maximum charge limit is best for your Tesla is to check the recommended limit on your vehicle’s touchscreen. Most of the information in the public space about what value to charge to, is mostly based on common wisdom. LFP batteries in Tesla vehicles are sophisticated and optimized for maximum performance and lifespan.
So, as long as you follow all the recommendations in this article, including charging only to the recommended limit for your Tesla vehicle, you will enjoy the battery for a long time to come.