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A 900+ mile visit to the WA and OR Superchargers

Discussion in 'Northwest' started by ChadS, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #1 ChadS, Nov 10, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
    I-5 was recently covered with Superchargers. I've taken a Supercharger trip before (last January I used them from San Jose to Death Valley - see my signature for a link), and I was at the opening in Burlington WA. But there are still several of them in WA and OR that I have not seen. I have a trip planned next January, but I'm impatient and curious. Which ones are near good restaurants and/or hotels? Are they 90kW or 120kW? Is the spacing as planned - can you always make the next one without doing a max charge? I've taken a lot of long L2 trips and had to do a lot of planning. With Superchargers, can I really just get in the car and and drive and have everything work out fine? Can I make it to San Jose in one day now, instead of two?

    I was probably not going to get around to actually doing anything (especially with my wife thinking I was a complete idiot and not wanting me to take her car), but Buzzbuzz said he wanted to visit a bunch of them too. So he picked me up on Friday morning (in his Model S, which has firmware 5.6) and we headed South. We stopped at Superchargers in Centralia WA, Woodburn OR, Springfield OR, and Grants Pass OR. Then we headed back home. When he dropped me off that evening, we had already covered more than 900 miles, and he still had to get home. Everything went as planned; this is really a simple, inexpensive and easy way to travel. And yeah, 900 miles in an electric car in one day is no big deal. I didn't write down the exact time, but it was under 18 hours.

    We had considered driving up to Burlington and back just to make it over 1,000 miles; but we'd both been there so there didn't seem to be much of a point. We weren't trying to set any speed records; we only went a few mph over the speed limit, we did the trip in fairly cold weather, and more than once the car was ready to go while we were still lingering in a restaurant.

    IMG_20131108_110542.jpg
    We both liked Elmer's in Woodburn, OR

    The whole trip took us a little under 18 hours. Less than 4.5 of those hours - so a little less than 1/4 of the time - were at Superchargers. That included 3 meals and a four other restroom stops/email checks. In rough numbers, take your driving time and add 1/3 to determine Supercharger trip time.

    The good news:

    - Over 1,000 miles is clearly doable in a long day (leave very early in the morning, get back before midnight). In fact it looks possible to visit both the Peace Arch park in Canada and the Jefferson Davis Historical Monument In CA and still get home - a 1200 mile trip - in under 24 hours. While you will be tired from all the hours, remember that driving a Model S is not fatiguing like most gas cars. Less noise and vibration. We were in pretty good shape when we got home. (At least I was; buzzbuzz did all the driving. Thanks for that, buzzbuzz, and for being good company).

    - Finding food while you charge is really easy; there was plenty of stuff (including restrooms) nearby at every location. I think there was a Denny's visible from every charger, so bring your High-Cholesterol Club Card.

    - No waiting! Things may be different on a weekend, but we only saw two other Teslas the whole day. One at Grants Pass, and on the way back we talked to epley in Centralia.

    - It really is easy to travel this way. We pretty much just jumped in the car and headed out without any planning (I had done a spreadsheet just to verify we would get back at a reasonable hour given that we both had things to do the next day, but to just drive a reasonable distance you don't need to do anything). At each stop we just used the nav system to determine the miles to the next stop, then made sure we had 50% more miles than that before leaving. (The weather wasn't bad and we could have cut it closer, which also would have made our charging a little faster. But again, we weren't going for a speed record - we were more interested in avoiding drama. And indeed there was none; we arrived at each Supercharger with somewhere between 38 and 106 miles of charge. Never any worries at all).

    The not-so-bad news:

    - All of the Superchargers we visited gave us a max of 90kW, so things didn't go as fast as they could have. [Note added later: I think most of them are 120kW chargers; but buzzbuzz has a sig, so it's limited to 90kW]. We spent a total of 4 hours and 23 minutes (including a little time in a restaurant after charging stopped, so we could have done it with less) adding 853 miles of rated range, for an average speed of 196mph. I guess this is kind of good news though - when they get upgraded to 120kW (or 135kW?!) things will go even faster.

    - None of the Superchargers we visited yet have covers or solar panels. There was no rain or sun so it really didn't matter to us, and Tesla has said those things will trail by many months, but I just thought I'd throw that out there.

    - Quality restaurants seemed hard to find (though fast food and mid-level were generally very nearby). Not a big deal to me; I usually go for the mid-level options. The mid-level Black Bear Diner in Grants Pass had several good qualities; but we vegetarians have few choices.

    - Few of them were near quality hotels. Though some (like Springfield - and Burlington WA, even though we didn't visit that one today) are. However, I live in Seattle and the Superchargers make the trip so fast I don't care; I will be in CA before I need a place to stay. Not to mention that Supercharger speed means you don't have to spend the night by a charger anyway. I'm just kind of stretching for downsides to list.
     
  2. Raffy.Roma

    Raffy.Roma Active Member

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    Cool! :cool:
    Hope the SuperCharger network will spread all over the world soon (also in Italy :wink:).
     
  3. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Definitely. But I don't recommend it with just one driver. ;)

    My biggest jaunt so far was ~900 miles in 28hrs, single driver -- with an overnight sleep of about 8 hours.

    supercharger rally events in the future?
    http://binged.it/1bjftxz
     
  4. purplewalt

    purplewalt Active Member

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    Kudos!
    Congratulations on what sounds like a great day drive, better if you have a second driver.
    Basically that is DFW to Chicago (actually 925 miles).

    Nice write up.
    Do you have 5.6 installed on your MS?
    I wonder if charging rates may improve with the latest firmware installation...
     
  5. DouglasR

    DouglasR Member

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    Nice, Chad! My wife's nephew in Oakland just had a baby, so we're thinking about a quick trip to the Bay Area. Getting there is no problem, but there are not many good charging options once we arrive. I'm not crazy about leaving my car out overnight in Oakland, and I'm aware of only one hotel that has charging facilities (Sheraton in Emeryville). The charger there is so busy that you can't count on it. We will probably go anyway, and stay with my brother in Marin. He has good charging options. It will be our third trip to the Bay Area since getting our car, but the first one with superchargers the whole way.
     
  6. Puyallup Bill

    Puyallup Bill Member

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    Boy, isn't that something? I make an annual trip to Visalia, CA. No longer up to 700 mile days, so in the ICE (former), we would normally RON at Redding or Red Bluff. Just a few months ago, planning said a minimum of three days, two nights. Now it looks like we are back to our old ICE routine.:smile:

    And, arrive Visalia with ample running around range.
     
  7. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #7 ChadS, Nov 10, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
    Yes, Buzzbuzz does have 5.6 in his car (and it did charge notably faster than my car did on my Supercharger trip last January). I updated my blurb above to note his firmware version.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Yeah, the Southwest Bay area has several options, but Northeast Bay area is pretty darn dry. At some point the Vacaville Supercharger will make things much easier.

    Actually, if Vacaville is close enough, they have several overnight (30A L2) charging options; including some free Clipper Creeks immediately behind America's Best Value Inn (cheap, and nice enough for me but I know a lot of people won't like it). But it sounds like your brother in Marin probably makes more sense.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I added some comments about nearby restaurants and such to the pins on the Tesla Highway map.
     
  8. Tacket

    Tacket Member

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    Great write up! You've got me hankering to make my trip down to Santa Barbara this New Years!!
     
  9. DouglasR

    DouglasR Member

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    You're right about the Vacaville supercharger. It would let me arrive with a pretty full battery, which would probably be sufficient for a few days, perhaps with a top-off or two. I don't think the supercharger will be ready on time, though. So I will probably take the first and last nights at my brother's, which is a reasonable drive to and from Corning. We will then have one or two nights in addition, so I'll try to scout out some other options for the future.

    The only remaining question is whether I try to do the whole shot in one day or two. Maybe I should invite Buzzbuzz along to do the driving.:wink:
     
  10. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find nearby high-quality takeout places that will deliver to the Supercharger.
     
  11. Lyon

    Lyon 2016 S P100DL, 2016 X P90D

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    Those stopping in Springfield should check out Hop Valley. It's the best of the readily available places and won't have you running for the restroom.

    Those looking for meat-free options can check out Café Yumm across the street.

    Also, fantastic write up! I'm really looking forward to being able to make a supercharged trip someday soon.
     
  12. SCW-Greg

    SCW-Greg Active Member

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    Thanks Chad. Love your pioneering!

    I'm itching to create a road trip and use the SCs. Thinking a run with he wife to Palm Desert this Spring could be in order.
     
  13. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #13 ChadS, Nov 20, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
    Good news - in other threads, it's being reported that some of these chargers have been upgraded to 120kW. That 1,000-mile trip in one day (or the 1200-mile visit California AND Canada and return home in 24 hours) is looking easier to do...

    [Edit: looks like they were already 120kW; we were just limited to 90kW because we were in a sig]
     
  14. Six

    Six Member

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    On my travel back from Portland on Monday I charged at 120kw at Centralia superchargers. On the trip down I charged at 90kw.

    Differences:

    - trip back charged at unit 1 rather then unit 4
    - trip back late at night (could units charge different off-peak?)
    - trip back started charging with 9 miles of range left, trip down started charging with about 100 miles left

    My guess is the only factor was the third but I do not know.

    Was very fun to see how fast charging at 120Kw is, but it did ramp back down to 90Kw fairly quickly as I crossed 100 miles of range
     
  15. DouglasR

    DouglasR Member

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    I just returned last night from a trip to the Bay Area. I charged at all five of the superchargers along the way (Centralia, Woodburn, Springfield, Grants Pass, Mt. Shasta, and Corning). Unfortunately, I didn't see any of them exceed 90 kW, even when I started from a low state of charge -- 30 -50 kWh. Is it possible that only some units at a particular supercharger location can charge at 120 kW?

    This was my third trip in the Model S, but my first with superchargers all the way. What a difference! We still took two days going down, but we were able to leave pretty late in the day each day. The drive back took just under 18 hours: we left a little after 6 a.m. and arrived home a little before midnight. I did all the driving. We stopped only to charge and eat. We always finished charging before we finished eating, except on a couple of occasions when we didn't eat at all, but took a brief nap. Because the car is so smooth and quiet, no vibration, etc., I didn’t get tired. The only part of me that was tired was my eyes: they seem to be bothered by the brightness, especially going from dark to headlights, and also by focusing back and forth from close (the dash) to far away. I need to get them checked, but I think it’s just age. The car performed flawlessly.

    While in the Bay Area, I charged the first and last nights at my brother's NEMA 14-50 in Marin. For the two nights in between, we were in the East Bay. We were unable to find a hotel with reliable charging, so we stayed with my sister-in-law, and for one of those nights were invited by a generous Roadster owner to park in his garage and charge using his NEMA 14-50. Ironically, there was a fierce windstorm that night which knocked out the power to his home. Fortunately, the power was restored around 2:00 a.m., and the car resumed charging automatically.

    With the superchargers, the Model S becomes a practical car for road trips, able to make the journey almost as fast as an ICE car. While the trip from Seattle to the Bay Area can be done in 18 hours (including charging), I don't know that I'd recommend it, as it makes for a pretty long day. The big problem with road trips continues to be how to charge when you reach your away-from-home destination. I suppose when there is a critical mass of EVs, the hotels will see the advantages of installing charging stations or outlets.
     
  16. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    On road trips, I don't have much of the latter issue because I use cruise control a lot. CC doesn't mitigate that for you?
     
  17. DouglasR

    DouglasR Member

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    I use cruise control too, but it won't tell me what song is playing or how many miles I have to go or what my energy consumption is, etc. :smile: I guess I could train myself not to look at the dash, but it's such a compelling display, and it does keep me from getting TOO relaxed.
     
  18. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Understood. I really would like to see some enterprising individual come up with a windshield HUD that doesn't require much refocusing to transition to/from the traffic ahead. Perhaps intentional rendering "out of focus", or more precisely "at a focus depth about 10 car lengths ahead" would be just about right.
     
  19. Puyallup Bill

    Puyallup Bill Member

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    I wish they would give us a font size option. The mph and range figures are fine. But with my bifocals, the remaining characters are just a tad too small to read without refocusing through the lower part of the lens.
     

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