Can A Portable Generator Charge A Tesla?

  • By: Umer.A
  • Date: October 10, 2021
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Yes, you can use a portable generator to charge a Tesla. 

But there are various other factors that you also need to keep in mind while using this unit.

It might sound crazy that you can charge your Tesla and electric vehicle with a portable generator. So, you might end up using a portable gas-powered generator to charge your electric vehicle. Sounds pretty weird, no?

But keep your portable generator as your backup power supply and use it only during power outages. You might think from a slightly different perspective. Your Tesla won’t be out of charge even during those long power outages.

You can also charge your car with this generator, where you won’t access those charging outlets. In the following text, we will discuss this matter in more detail, so keep reading.

Is a Portable Generator a Good Option to Charge Your Tesla?

According to the official page of Tesla, a portable generator is not a good option to charge your electric vehicle. Of course, we are not saying that you should always use a portable generator to juice up your Tesla.

Essentially, you can say that you will never run out of power to charge your Tesla. But you need to carry some fuel for your portable generator. With only a few steps, you will be back on your way if you have a portable generator.

Do All Portable Generators Work This Way?

No, not all portable generators work for this purpose. You have to consider a few things when using a particular unit to charge your vehicle.

The unit you will use for this purpose needs to come with the clean sine wave output. A generator unit having sine wave output refers to the fact that it is an inverter, and that’s all.

Tesla’s charging system

The good thing is your Tesla’s charging system can conveniently tell you that the output is not clean or is not a pure sine wave. So, it won’t let you charge your vehicle with a generator unit that is not an inverter. This feature of the charging system prevents any mistakes from happening. So, you won’t end up charging your vehicle with dirty power.

Your Tesla’s charging system is to prevent surges from happening. But, unfortunately, any surge can end up damaging the entire electrical system of your vehicle. And that isn’t good for your car that runs on electricity.

This is precisely why Tesla included a handy safety feature that doesn’t allow your vehicle to charge on dirty power and only charge if the power is stable. So, you can only use an inverter to charge your Tesla.

Will All Inverters Work with Tesla?

In theory, all inverter units will serve this purpose, but that is not the case in reality. Some inverter units also come with a modified sine wave. For example, they might feature a square wave.

In such a scenario, you won’t charge your car with these units because your Tesla will consider them unstable or dirty energy and won’t allow you to charge your car.

All inexpensive power inverters come with a modified sine wave output to keep things simpler. And for this, you need to understand the different types of sine wave outputs. Few units come with a pure sine wave output.

These include Champion 9200W/11500W, Generac iQ2000, Honda EU2200i, and Honda EU7000iAT1. All these units are capable of producing pure sine wave output.

Portable Generator with a Pure Sine Wave Output

There are four different types of wave outputs: sine, square, triangle, and sawtooth. And of course, there are different modified versions as well. Sine waves are pure because they retain their wave shape when another sine wave is added.

But the additional sine wave needs to have the same arbitrary phase, magnitude, and frequency. This feature is not there with the other three types of waves. So, as long as the wave output remains the same, the wave shape will not be distorted.

The output will remain consistent. This is what a pure sine wave output inverter generator does. Because if there is a slight change in the frequency, magnitude, and the arbitrary phase of the wave, the output will change, and so will the sine wave pattern.

Hence, there are fluctuations in the output, and your Tesla won’t charge using this type of frequency because it will consider it dirty power.

The portable generator needs to be grounded as well

Apart from producing a pure sine wave output, the portable generator also needs to be grounded if it will charge your Tesla. You have to ground a generator unit properly because you can begin with the charging process.

In most cases, the frame of your generator will work as a grounding element here. In addition, all inverters from Generac and Champion will properly be grounded for charging your Tesla.

Its charging system will automatically detect that the generator unit you are using is not grounded correctly, and it will not start receiving charges from the unit.

This is the case with most inverter generators by Honda. And To solve this problem, you need to go for a special plug adapter that will bridge the neutral and the ground with the resistor.

You can also go for some copper wire for connecting the ground along with the floating neutral. For some units, you will have to properly ground a generator with the help of a metal rod. Shove it into the ground and then connect it with the grounding bolt on your generator unit.

Moreover, you need to go for the right amount of wattage. A minimum of 1500W is a must here, and any small unit will not get you far enough.

How Can I Charge My Tesla with a Portable Unit?

After determining that your portable unit has adequate grounding and is the right type of pure sine wave inverter, you must know how to charge your Tesla with it.

You have to begin with the lowest possible charge rate. This way, you will adjust the rate up to 28 amps or 30 amps as per need. Doing so will make the job much easier for your unit and keep it safe from overloading.

By default, Tesla will draw 240V/40A or 10000W from a 14-50 NEMA outlet. Therefore, you need to adjust the amperage and scale it down before you plug your unit in.

Can I charge other electric vehicles like this?

Yes, you can charge other electric vehicles with your portable generator in an emergency. In addition, you can charge other vehicles like Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt with your portable gas-powered generator. However, you will still have to make adjustments to the amperage and use a grounded pure sine wave inverter, just like you have used in the case of Tesla.

How long will it take to charge my electric vehicle?

It will take a while to charge your electric vehicle fully. But of course, you’re using your portable generator to charge your electric vehicle in case of emergency, so you will not fully charge it.

A 4000W generator will take around 24 hours to charge your electric vehicle. Plus, you will need to do plenty of gas refills in your generator.

Is grounding mandatory to charge an electric vehicle?

Yes, Tesla requires your generator unit to ground before it can begin the charging process properly. This is mandatory for charging all-electric vehicles; otherwise, your car’s electrical system won’t charge it.

Final Word

You can conveniently use a portable generator to charge your Tesla. But you should not use your generator unit to charge your vehicle regularly.

Just make sure you only go for an inverter unit that has a pure sine wave output. Moreover, it needs to be properly grounded before you connect your vehicle with it. Rest assured, it will take a while to charge your car fully. So, keep it an emergency option to get back on your way and charge your car using a proper outlet.