How Long Can You Leave A Tesla Plugged In?

There are a lot of myths associated with lithium-ion batteries, such as those used in cell phones and Teslas. They have had issues in the past, including disabling a brand-new Boeing 787 belonging to Ethiopian Airways and horror stories of cell phones spontaneously combusting. With new safeguards built in, these problems happen much less frequently.

Tesla recommends that you keep your Tesla plugged in, with the charger switched on for the whole time that the car is not being used. If you are going on an extended holiday which could last weeks or months, keep the Tesla charger connected and switched on.

Although Tesla recommends that the charger be left plugged into the car, there are a few precautions that they recommend you take. These mainly involve setting the maximum percentage of charge to which the Tesla battery is charged.

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You Can Leave A Tesla Plugged In For An Infinite Period

The way the Tesla chargers work means that once the desired charge percentage has been reached, the charger stops producing current. If the Tesla battery loses some charge, the charger keeps the battery topped up to maintain the instructed charge limit.

Essentially the Tesla charger works as a standalone unit, talking with the vehicle’s systems. When a dip in battery charge percentage has registered, the car and the charger work together to ensure that the missing portion is topped up.

Tesla recommends that different maximum percentage charges be applied to various model vehicles.

For Rear-Wheel Drive Vehicles

For rear-wheel-drive vehicles, Tesla recommends keeping the charge at 100%, and if it drops below this figure, don’t be nervous about plugging the charger back in and increasing the percentage.

If a vehicle is parked for a week, and the image of the battery displays “50%” and “100%”, Tesla recommends that the car be driven and, when convenient,  returned to the charger to raise the percentage once again to 100%

If the battery image displays ‘Daily’ and ‘Trip,’ Tesla recommends that you set the charge limit to 90% for daily use. You can do this by using the mobile app or the vehicle’s center screen to select the charge limit within the ‘Daily’ range. 

Tesla recommends that if you need an extended range for a single trip, you set the charging limit to 100% for the duration of the trip.

For All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

Tesla recommends that the charge limit for All Wheel Drive vehicles be set to 90% daily driving.

Once again, you can set this value on the mobile app or the vehicle’s center screen.

As with the rear-wheel-drive vehicles, if you need to increase the range for a long-distance trip, you can set the maximum charge value to 100% while traveling, but remember to set it back to 90% when you return to daily commuting. 

How Long Can You Leave A Tesla Plugged In
Source: ACWorks

Why Does Tesla Recommend Keeping The Battery Charge At 90%?

Lithium-ion batteries that are used in Teslas are rechargeable batteries that consist of two layers: 

  1. The first layer is made of lithium cobalt oxide
  2. The second layer is made of graphite. 

The length of a Battery’s life is expressed in two ways: cycle life and calendar life.

Five factors influence the life expectancy of a Tesla Lithium-ion battery.

The Calendar Life Of The Battery In The Tesla

Lithium-ion batteries start to degrade from the moment they are first used. 

There is not much that a Tesla owner can do about this issue. 

It is because of the battery’s chemistry, which involves moving Lithium ions between the Lithium Cobalt Layer to the graphite layer and back again.

As the Tesla car ages, its battery capacity drops to 10% by 185,000 miles.

The Cycle Life Of The Tesla Battery

The number of charge cycles is the number of times over the battery’s lifetime, which it has been charged and discharged.

When an electrical draw is imposed on the Lithium-ion battery, Energy, in the form of electrons,  is released by the lithium ions moving from the graphite layer to the lithium cobalt oxide layer. 

When the battery is recharged, those lithium ions are shifted back the other way, i.e., Lithium ions return to the graphite layer from the Lithium cobalt oxide layer.

The Tesla Batteries Charge Exceeding 90% Of Capacity

Suppose the  Tesla Lithium-ion battery is recharged to greater than 90% of the battery capacity. In that case, too many lithium ions are removed from the lithium cobalt oxide layer, which causes the lithium cobalt oxide layer to start breaking up.

The Tesla Batteries Being Discharged To Less Than 5% Of Capacity

When the Tesla battery is discharged to 5% or less, too many lithium ions move out of the graphite layer. The atomic structure of the graphite layer falls apart by removing too much lithium.

Thoughts On Over Charging Or Discharging To Greater A Percentage

The consequences of overcharging or discharging the battery do not mean that we shouldn’t charge to 100% or discharge to 5%, but it’d be wise to minimize those occurrences.

Tesla advises that it is acceptable to charge the battery 100% for long trips and even travel with a charge level of less than 5%.

All Tesla says is that you should not repeat these situations regularly, and as soon as circumstances permit, the 90% limit on charging and the 5% limit on recharging should be reimposed.

The Temperatures The Tesla Battery Is Exposed To

If the Tesla remains connected to the wall charger, it will modulate the temperatures of the battery.

The Tesla will draw power from the charger to use as Energy to automatically cool or heat the battery as required.

Park the Tesla in a garage or undercover carport if you can. It is particularly true in freezing climates, as freezing temperatures negatively impact Lithium-ion batteries.

If you expect high temperatures and the car is plugged into the wall charger, activate the cabin overheat protection, which will keep the interior from overheating, and provide some cooling protection to the battery.

The car regulates the temperature to below 105°F.


Tesla recommends you keep connected to the charger for the entire duration it is parked. Don’t wait for the charge to reduce to lower levels as this works against the Lithium-ion chemistry. Instead, attach the charger to the car immediately when you arrive at home and the office, if possible.

The Tesla system automatically controls the amount of charge, which is put into the battery, and if you have set the maximum charge percentages correctly, the car will protect itself.

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