Charging in Rasht, Iran

Wild camping seems to be ok in Iran. We assumed that after a police car stopped next to us on a picnic area in the woods before Rasht, where we just started to make ourselves comfortable for the night. The policeman couldn’t speak much English. They were amused about this fact and we could further entertain them with the Tesla. In the end, they wished us a nice evening and a good night.

The next morning, we made our way to Rasht. Rasht seemed to us like a very liberal city, with many students and a energetic atmosphere. We enjoyed an afternoon in the city with our Couchsurfing host, Mehdi. Initially, we planned to go on a long hike with him and a local hiking group the following day, but ended up to not do so, since the night was extremely short and we were just too exhausted for a trip like that.

A memorable night at Rasht

Two things made that night short and memorable:

One reason was that Mehdi, invited not only us, but 3 other couchsurfer and about 7 or 8 of his friends to stay at his flat, that he is sharing with 3 other students. The apartment was small and crowded. Everyone was smoking and at about midnight it seemed to me already like a crazy idea to catch a bus at 5 a.m. the following morning to go hiking. Due to the state of the apartment, Benedikt and I decided to sleep in the car, downstairs in the parking lot.

What happened there was the second reason, why the night was short and memorable. We didn’t think a whole lot, when we put the boxes with our belongings next to the car (that is the fastest way to turn the car into sleeping mode – stacking the boxes in the front seats works, but takes a few minutes to arrange, since space is limited). The parking area was fenced off with a high fence and gate from the street. Only the approximately 20-30 inhabitants of the apartment house could access it. Not only did the light in the parking lot keep us awake, but also a family leaving and returning. Since the windows of our car are tinted they didn’t notice that we are in the car while they walked around it and inspected it. After most of them left we suddenly heard the familiar sound of our plastic boxes. When we looked outside of the window, we couldn’t believe our eyes, but a man, probably the families father just went through our boxes. There was not much valuable staff in the boxes except of a pair of binoculars and two Bose headphones. We watched the man holding the binoculars up, looking at them and when he seemed about to leave with them, Benedikt opened the car door and just said “excuse me, those are ours. What are you doing?”. The guy was totally puzzled walked to the front of the building, yelled something to Mehdi, our couchsurfing host, (apparently he yelled, that he just wanted to check what was in the boxes and if it is safe to leave them in the public area of the building), then he put the binoculars back in the box, put the boxes again above each other, took 2 pictures of our license plate and left. We were really confused on what to think about that. It is a strange feeling, catch a thief.

It was after 2 a.m. that we fall asleep and we only got up at 3:45 a.m. to tell our host, that leaving the house at 4:15 to go on a hike just didn’t seemed like a good plan to us. Since the rest of the crowd that wouldn’t go hiking seemed to be ready to calm down at that time (nobody slept at the apartment yet), we moved to the apartment and continued/started sleeping untill 10:00 am the next morning.

Charging in Rasht didn’t work out

The original plan to charge the car with a Schuko in the parking lot, also didn’t work out. The Schuko was on the same phase at the water pump and other stuff in the building. Even though we only started charging with 1kw the electricity of the house was affected and inhabitants complained. The car was still charged at about 50%. That should have been fine for the next planed stop anyways.

Without worrying about charging, we drove to a spot at the Caspian Sea that seemed good for an overnight stay, at least from the satellite pictures of googlemaps. In reality, it was even better. We enjoyed a relaxing and calm day close to the beach and a comfortably night in the Tesla. The next day we were ready to continue our trip further east.


 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Schuko  220  6 amperes  1 kW  0 kWh

Charging in Maragheh, Iran


It seems that we were absolutely lucky in Maragheh. The first hotel that we approached (and also the only better sounding hotel – the supply of hotels in Iran is still much lower than in most other countries) could offer us three-phase electricity. The electrician of the house helped Benedikt to set up a connection right at the fuse box, where we could charge at a maximum of 32 amperes on all three phases (22kW). Overnight we charged 11 kW at 16 amperes and could leave the hotel with a 100% charged car.

The hotel’s employees and maybe even friends of them gathered the whole afternoon and evening around the Tesla. Since there is a strict restriction to import cars in Iran, it is very surprising for every Iranian to see a car like a Tesla. The Iranians often can’t stop taking pictures of themselves with our car.





The number of Instagram followers of the eexplorer-account has also dramatically risen since we entered Iran. Everyone shares and comments on Instagram their pictures of our Tesla. It is fun to observe this, especially from the distance (Benedikt is more patient with showing the car repeatedly to different people and surprising them with tons of cables in the front drunk (frunk)).

Takht-e Soleyman





We spend the evening in Maragheh searching for a restaurant and the morning after searching for hip-covering jackets for me. It is necessary for women to wear something like this in Iran. In the afternoon we left Maragheh to drive though the desert like hills to Takht-e Soleyman. It is a Zoroastrian fire temple built during the Sassanid period.

Since our Tesla is a fully functional camping car, we spent the night on a side road in the grassy hills on about 2600 meters’ elevation. We decided to do this more often, not only because hotels in Iran are, at least for foreigners, expensive ((60€-100€ for very basic accommodation), but also because we enjoy staying outside and not being the center of attention all the time.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 direct connection to fuse box  220 Volt  3*16 amperes  11  55 kWh

Charging in Zanjan, Iran

 Search for electricity part 1

After the night in the 1000-star hotel watching an impressive starry sky, we reached Zanjan with the car’s battery being at about 8%. We were lucky, that it was only 11 in the morning, since it would almost take us the whole day to arrange something to charge the Tesla…

At first, we approached the four hotels of the city. None of them had apparently three-phase electricity. The last and most expensive one told us they have three-phase electricity. But since it is at the back of the building and our extension cord isn’t long enough for us parking in the front and charging in the back of the building, we can’t charge at their hotel. It is supposed to be too dangerous to park the car at the back of the building, even during the day. Nothing could argue them out of this idea. Approximately three hours already passed since we entered the city and the display of the Tesla showed 7%. Not much more driving should be done, before we should find something to charge.

So far, we normally found help at hotels. Zanjan was different and therefore we had to start looking for three-phase electricity somewhere else. We approached the first car repair workshops. Since they didn’t have a lifting ramp they also did not have three-phase electricity. I started to get frustrated with only receiving rejections. We missed the hospitality of Iranians that everyone told us before.

Search for electricity part 2

Luckily, when we just wanted to leave to search for other workshops with three-phase electricity, Hahdy, a person speaking well English and working at a trading company next to the car workshops left the building next to the car workshops. He approached us and told us that he will help. Having someone to translate is really valuable. Hahdy told us, that we would just need to buy the right plug for Iran and then everything would be fine. Of course, it was not that easy… I waited at his company, while he and Benedikt approached the upcoming one or two hours 6 or 7 different electronic supply stores, all throughout the city, to find that plug. Even though Hahdy translated, there was a lot of cultural misunderstanding. The Tesla had at that time only 5% left in its battery.

The last electronic supply store where they found help, was right in the middle of Zanjan, in the crowded street leading to the main bazar. The shop owner wanted to sell Benedikt at first a CEE-16 plug, then an CEE-16 outlet (“Europeans need this kind of stuff…”) and only after Benedikt asked also a bit frustrated in the most direct way “just tell me that one thing, what kind of three-phase plugs/outlets do you use in Iran?” the owner showed him the plug that we already bought in Montenegro (see this post). What a surprise! The only difference to the Montengro plug is that the internal wirring of N (neutral/0) and PE (protective earth) are switched. Seems stange to us, but that’s how it is ;-).

Finally – three-phase electricity!

Benedikt and Hahdy parked the car at the opposite street side of the electronic supply store. The owner offered an extension cord with an open-end, where Benedikt connected our open adaptor. Before starting to charge, we always test with a phase detector if the neutral wire is the neutral and if the phases are also at the right position/have voltage on them (this is actually really important, so neither the NRGKick, nor the Tesla will get broken). It was hard to convince the electronic shop owner that this procedure is necessary. In the end, every confusion was solved and the car started charging with 16kw at 24 amperes on all three phases.

While all of this happened, I hung out at Hahdy’s trading company and chatted with the sales girls there. I never really understood, what they bought/sold, but it was interesting to get an insight in an average Iranian company.

Since the four hotels that we approached in the morning weren’t any great offers (high prices for little value), Benedikt and I decided to use the rest of the afternoon to walk 2-3 kilometers through the city to check out a hotel on the other side of town thatwe didn’t know about earlier and just discovered on When we approached it, we saw that it was closed. With the day almost setting and us being already pretty tired, we took a taxi to the other side of town to go to the cheapest hotel that we checked out in the morning. Apparently that hotel couldn’t offer us any room any more. Somehow, it seems we shouldn’t be lucky in Zanjan. Since it was almost 9 p.m. we walked to the next alternative and got a room at a very basic hotel, where 70€ for the night seems overpriced. But we were just too exhausted to go any further.

Benedikt went to get the Tesla, that was charged at 95%. It was only due to our total exhaustion from a tiring day that he turned down several dinner invitations. The people at the electronic supply store and all neighboring stores where extremely friendly. They themselves where happy that our Tesla was in their street the whole day long. That day brought us famousness in Iran, since an Instagram page for cars with 250.000 followers posted a picture of our Tesla parked in the street before the bazar in Zanjan. The next 48 hours we were overwhelmed with messages and new Instagram followers. Benedikt and I are super happy about this and hope that even more people will help us find three phase electricity in Iran.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Montengro outlet with swithed N & PE  220  3*24 amperes  16kW  70

Charging in Urmia, Iran

Drive to Urmia

The traffic in Iran is supposed to be one of the worst. I wasn’t worried, since Benedikt got by now good in driving calmly, but also offensive. I had and still have a good feeling that he manages the traffic and so far, he did good 😉.

The traffic is especially crazy in cities. There seem to be no rules (which is interesting on cross-sections). Hosseins house is in the middle of Urmia, where we somehow managed to get to. The battery of the car had only left about 17% of its charge. We needed electricity. Hossein’s house itself didn’t have three-phase electricity.  But by connecting directly to the electric meter of the house, we managed to charge 4.5 kW (instead of the usual 2 kW) at 20 amperes on one phase. That way the car was supposed to be charged at about 80% the next morning.

Discussion on electricity prices

Electricity prices seem a very sensible theme with a lot of people. Also with Hossein’s dad, we had a discussion that, even though it might seem expensive, electricity prices in Iran are not at the level they are in Germany (1kWh costs between 0,02€ and 0,10€ in Iran, compared to 0,25€ to 0,30€ in Germany). Whenever we are charging somewhere, we always insist to pay for the Kilowatt-hours that we are consuming. After having it experienced before, we are a bit sensible when people try to exploit our need to get electricity. I guess it is a sensible topic and it might seem greedy, but for us it just seems like being used or tricked if people ask for a lot more money than they would have to pay themselves for electricity. Hossein’s dad wanted about 12€. That is as much as we would pay in Germany. On our ongoing journey through Iran, we hardly had anyone ask for money to let us charge anymore. Iranians are known for their hospitality. Maybe that made us even more puzzled to be asked for so much more than expected.

Since it was the night of the election results in Iran, Hossein was out celebrating the results and wasn’t at home to mediate between his dad and us. In the end, the problem was solved the next morning, when Hossein talked to his dad and we ended up paying a fair price (5€) for the kWh that we consumed.

We left Urmia with a car charged at 82% and headed east, crossing the Urmia lake (an environmental disaster in form of an almost tried out salt lake) to reach later that evening Maragheh.


 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
direct connection to one phase of electric meter 220V 1*20 amperes 4.5kW about 50kWh

Charging in Meghri, Armenia


The road to Meghri from Kapan was one windy road up for about 1500 meters of elevation and the same down again. On the way down the hill, we could recuperate about 9kWh. Seeing the percentage sign of our battery going up and up, it almost felt like staying at a supercharger charger. The car was still/again at 80% charged when we arrived in Meghri. Charging at a Schuko would work out to have an almost fully charged car the next day.

A small Bed and Breakfast offered us a Schuko to charge the car (2 kW at 12 ampere). The people showed a great hospitality, even though, the breakfast was a lot better than the beds, blankets and cushions, that were still from Soviet times. Without much sleep, we left early in the morning to drive to the Armenian/Iranian border. I don’t like border days. The feeling to depend on the goodwill of random border controls, makes me anxious. I am also not very patient. Watching a person flip through my passport for more than 5 minutes seems to me just unnecessary.

Border Armenia/Iran

There were three control stations before we left Armenia. On the last control (baggage control), the guy checking our car, made himself the pleasure to drive a bit with the Tesla in the area before we left to nowhere land. We didn’t mind, but saying no, would also not have been a very relaxing option. Keeping the border controls entertained with fun and facts about the Tesla is still a good option to get them out of their routine (see also this post). That way, their mood is usually quite positive and that helps (until now) to pass borders without much hassle.

 On the Iranian side, Benedikt and I had to leave the car after a first check and go through immigration. Everyone gets asked what the name of their dad is, where one is born and what one is doing for work. I have no clue, what the board police man is using this information for…


Getting a car to Iran is quite an expensive joy. One can either organize a carnet de passage at home. The paid deposit should guarantee that one is leaving the country again. Since the deposit depends on the value of the car, the carnet de passage was not our preferred option. The other option to get a foreign car to Iran is that someone else in the country guarantees that one is leaving the country with the car again. In some forums, we heard about this guy named Hossein, who does a good job with this kind of service. We arranged to meet him after the passport control and he would do the import of the car to Iran for us. It took about 4 hours, till the whole process was over. A little exhausted (even though we had to do nothing than to wait), we entered Iran in the late afternoon. A 4-hour drive to Urmia, the city where Hossein is from, followed.


 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Schuko at Bed&Breakfast 220V 12 amperes 2kW about 17kWh