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From charge anxious to charge awesome

Discussion in 'Texas' started by Missile Toad, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2016
    Messages:
    430
    Location:
    Houston
    My story
    I started 2017 with a (pre-owned) 70D Model S having 12,000 miles and only 3 months of experience driving it. Houston lags many other municipalities in local charging. The year started with one L2 charger at 8 miles from my house and one Supercharger at 23 miles from my house. The year ended with 4 additional L2s and a second Supercharger at about 25 miles from my house.

    I’d always been comfortable with driving the car down to 10 RM or lower, mainly because my environment is flat and warm — two conditions that make power consumption very predictable. Since I began the year with confidence in the Superchargers, but no confidence in the Wall Connectors (WC), I went out of my way to visit nearby WCs frequently — particularly to validate such chargers and report performance in Plugshare. I was surprised to see that 60-75% of chargers identified in Plugshare, when tested actually matched what was described therein.

    Wall Connectors, if new, can’t be trusted
    I found that the remaining 25-40% of wall connectors just didn’t match Plugshare reports and more importantly, did not match what Tesla’s official database reported for as much as 6 months at a time. Common problems have been a) wrong count of charging ports; b) wrong addresses; and c) exaggerated kW outputs. Tesla’s pattern seems to be get the details of the charger from the host site, and then assume that they are correct. Later, Tesla would get phone calls telling them of the errors, and it would take some 3-6 months post-phone call for them to make the correction.

    Most surprising site, Sherwood, Arkansas
    I made a couple of road trips through the midwest. One stretch was off the interstate system for some 250 or so miles. This stretch took me through Sherwood Arkansas, where Tesla reported a Best Western site had a whopping eight wall connectors. The site was new, and I seemed to be the first to document its performance in Plugshare. Of the eight connectors, seven delivered 16kW or better. One showed a red light on the face of the WC, and would not charge. This Best Western site made it possible to drive from Illinois through Arkansas, without having to top-off at the Memphis Supercharger, which adds at least 60 miles to my trip.

    Charging plans for 2018
    I’m using a 16A NEMA 5-20 at the house, which is entirely sufficient for these warm Texas garages. I think that those who insist on putting the WC into their house either need it to counter sub-freezing garages (and inefficiencies in the cold driving), or they own multiple Teslas. A long commute could also be a factor. At one time I thought the WC would be necessary — but it just isn’t. Moreover, as my town has gone from charger poor to charger rich, I’m going to refrain ‘testing’ the local infrastructure. I know where the chargers are, that they work, and that, many times (for now), if you ask nicely, mid-day, the hotels tend to be happy to allow a brief (free) charging episode. My current blend of WC charging sessions (2017) is 75/25, where 75% of the time I’m testing/verifying a charger, and 25% its absolutely necessary to complete a trip. I’m going to shift to a ratio of 10/90%, where only 10% of the time am I trying a charger to confirm it operational. The end result is I’ll charge about 1/3 as much outside of my garage — and truly enjoy non-stop (for fueling) driving.
     
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  2. arcus

    arcus Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Messages:
    1,182
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Very nice write up, thanks for putting it together. I do agree that you need to be prepared for unexpected when visiting L2 chargers. When using PlugShare I like to check the activity of other Tesla owners to make sure that it has been validated recently. Gives some additional (albeit not guaranteed) peace of mind.

    Like you, I don't see a need for WC at all. I do have NEMA 14-30 in the garage which is more than plenty. I might reconsider once we get 2nd car in future, but till then it is perfectly adequate for our needs.

    As the additional chargers become more abundant the anxiety will hopefully disappear altogether.
     
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  3. brkaus

    brkaus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    Messages:
    5,197
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Good summary.

    However, I personally wouldn’t survive with a 5-20. I live in warm Texas and work from home. But I do put 60-70 miles per day and I would hate to worry about keeping the car plugged in or quick recovery from a trip, or finding a local charger and waiting.

    I did install an HPWC. I keep the current limit at 24a and survive just fine. I can bump to 40 when I really need it.

    Would be fine with a 14-30 or even a 6-20.
     
    • Like x 1
  4. Missile Toad

    Missile Toad Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2016
    Messages:
    430
    Location:
    Houston
    My range anxiety does not exist. However, my charging anxiety will persist unless Tesla does something more to validate the newest wall connector chargers. Getting simple things wrong like the location of the Wall Connectors will have me calling hotels prior to visiting distant places just to be sure that they exist. Before I bought the car, I barely perceived that a supporting WC network existed -- instead focussing only on the SuperChargers. Now, I find that the Wall Connectors are indispensable to overnight stays and back-country travels. Of course, there is an element of 'whack-a-mole' to the WCs. If there are too few Tesla's driving up to them, it will take longer to validate them. If there are too many Tesla's driving up to them, you might have to queue up to use them (probably more a problem in California).

    If there is a lesson to be learned it is this. Call ahead to a hotel. This accomplishes two things. First, you might be able to persuade someone to put a traffic cone on the spot, reserving it for you, a guest. Second, it raises awareness of the hotel owners that the chargers are improving occupancy by attracting a (for now) niche client base.

    One last thing. Scrounging for a free charge might work when there is little interest/competition from actual guests at the hotel. Always ask, the front desk first, before plugging in (leave your phone number or stay with the car). Texas has a law concerning 'theft of services', that could get you into a pickle if you don't mind your manners.
     
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