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Many Lessons Learned on our First Cross Country Trip

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by cottylowry, Aug 22, 2015.

  1. cottylowry

    cottylowry 2013 Model S

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    #1 cottylowry, Aug 22, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
    We just completed a 3,500.2 mile, 10 day mostly Supercharged trip from Minneapolis to Lolo Hot Springs, Montana, on to Coeur d’Alene and back. We used alternative charging for side trips once in Rosalia Washington south of Spokane at a relative's farm, once in the tiny logging town St Maries Idaho and once each way in Gillette Wyoming where there is a 244 mile gap between Rapid City, SD and Sheridan Wyoming. We learned a lot.

    1. We mainly programmed the Nav to go only to the next Supercharger. When we programmed multiple Supers Nav tells you that you can proceed but it's usually NOT enough charge -- I don't trust it and met other owners on the trip with the same experience. The software doesn't know your payload, head wind or exterior temp.

    2. On the Energy screen we used the trip tab to monitor final remaining % at the next Supercharger, alternatively free up the big screen and tap the bottom of the left sidebar in the nav screen to show the same projected remaining %. The trip tab on the energy screen is a comforting way to know how you will end up. Just slow down if it starts to fall too far. Naturally the closer you get to the next charger, the more you can allow it to fall by speeding up. It’s helpful but not essential to compare the car’s grey projected line and your green/yellow line.

    3. Depending on speed, outside temp, elevation change and headwind, the Trip Tab projected percentage fluctuates up and down. I usually started out too fast and had to slow down until the % oscillates up and down about 1-2% point range, then I feel I've hit the sweet spot for that leg aiming for 10% of charge remaining at the arrival to next charger.

    4. I usually open the Energy/consumption graph in my right hand screen next to the speedometer to monitor Watt hours/mile, just to get a sense if the wind has changed, exterior temp has increased, or there is a subtle elevation increase – like a westerly crossing of S Dakota

    5. We were forced to reduce speed in South Dakota & Montana even though the limit is 80 and 75. The temp was as high as 104 with 35 mi head winds, so we frustratingly had to drop down to 60-65 to keep our final range within 10% at the end of a leg. Tough to have those big diesel pickups roar pass us, but necessary for peace of mind.

    6. Normally one won't have to resort to Level 1, 110 volt, 12 amp charging, but if staying somewhere overnight at the end of a side trip in the sticks, it’s a real lifesaver, at least a mental lifesaver. Don’t dismiss level 1 – it works well.


    7. Use PlugShare to specifically locate Superchargers which may be hiding behind a restaurant or in a motel parking lot – More info than the Tesla Nav screen

    8. Use Allstays Camp & RV smartphone app to locate and call ahead to RV Parks when there is no Supercharger – like Gillette Wyoming. The cowgirl manager at the Crazy Woman RV Camp sees about 3 Teslas a week. Very happy to let us use a NEMA 14-50 for 1.5 hours. She asked for $20 and I gave it to her even though I knew power is $.0875/KW in that area. Better to pay extra and keep everyone happy.

    9. Patronize destination chargers if available when you need to stay overnight. The hotel/motel management welcomes you with open arms and may even have cones up to protect the spot if they know you are coming. Mention that you have a Tesla in Booking.com’s comments section when making the reservation.

    10. Don’t totally rely on the Nav system. Between Billings and Sheridan it tried to turn us around and send us back to Billings for a couple of hours. We finally hit the “remove all charging stations” button to shut it up. Your gut will tell you what is right after a few charging experiences.
    11. When you start Supercharging, make sure the port continues to flash green, then double check inside on the big screen. If you think of it, post your results in PlugShare with a photo and comment. By staying around a couple of minutes you know all is going well. At a private 30Amp Gillette Hospital charger we popped a breaker mid charge and lost about an hour before we realized what happened.

    12. Always check your Tesla phone app to see that you are continuing to charge and all is well --- while you are having the latte in the air conditioned shopping mall next door. You will generally find that you can leave earlier than expected.

    13. Don’t get creative and hope to use 220V alternative charging like at a welding shop in a small Idaho town. The 220V welder outlets are totally different from anything we know to work for cars.

    14. Charge often, probably as often as possible. We wondered why the Superior Montana charger was so close to other Superchargers, well after a long 6% grade that really saps the battery, we understood. Always safe to have more charge – more relaxing that way.

    15. Certainly use EVTripPlanner to lay the trip out, but the in-car nav and the Energy/Trip % tab is really all that you need on a Supercharged route.

    16. Yellowstone gets 3million visits a year but has no chargers, leave the car and take bus tour, you get no door dings and the bus driver has to fight for a parking spot.

    17. Details: Get the yellow NEMA 14-50R to TT-30P RV Plug Adapter 30amp adapter from www.evseadapters.com Use a hiking pole support to keep long adapter & Tesla plug cord from pulling out of the 30 amp receptacle. The Tesla 30amp adapter seems to be for 220v 30amp dryer, not rv park.

    18. We had great fun each choosing a song on Slacker that we had not heard for years, or months in the case of our HS age son. Very interesting to learn more about our family’s musical tastes.
    If you are tired of sitting in the car, bring foldable chairs from REI to use at supercharger for a short stay – generally no place to sit other than the curb.

    By the way, St. Maries, Idaho is the home of Tom Mueller the guy that designed SpaceX’s first rocket engines.

    Yes, we did drive around the block to just barely get over the 3,500 mile mark.
     
  2. taurusking

    taurusking Member

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    Just made 2000 mile trip to FL and I could not agree more on what you said above.

    Thanks for posting this...This will be very useful for someone who is doing road trips
     
  3. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your great post! Glad you had a good trip. Just one comment: I have charged just fine from an outlet used for welding equipment, you just need the right adaptor. Generally they are an L6-20 plug and you can by an adaptor here NEMA 14-50R to L6-20P Twist-Lock Adapter
     
  4. cottylowry

    cottylowry 2013 Model S

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    Ok, thanks. I'll definitely buy more adapters. Some of the welding shop outlets had a silver metal cone sticking out right in the center of the female receptacle. Here's a photo of one of the others. IMG_1436.JPG I"ll send the photo to the guys at evseadapters.com They have been really responsive in answering my adapter questions in the past.
     
  5. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    On our 5,300 mile trip from DFW to Granite Falls, WA there was only one non-SC stop in Casper, WY.

    You're right about programming only to the next SC. That works fine.

    Mostly I only looked at the trip tab on the energy screen to see how we did. Only once were the grey and green lines the same, the rest of the time the green line was above the grey.

    Didn't use any RV parks this time, but I have had better luck with rvparking.com compared to allstays.

    I forget how much range we had left when we got to Superior, but it was a lot. We could have skipped the other one.



    We did use destination chargers for most overnight stays.

    And sometimes we did need to clear the charging stops.

    We did have level 1 charging at the destination, but because we didn't drive all that much after we arrived and the 110V actually gave a 4 mph charge, we had no difficulties.

    We had a great trip and wedding.
     
  6. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    #6 FlasherZ, Aug 22, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
    That's a NEMA 6-50. You have to be careful with those, because when used with a welder, NEC permits them to be wired with a smaller conductor, and a breaker that wouldn't be friendly to EV charging. The Code (art 630) can allow for small conductors protected by a fairly large breaker on arc welders, so that the breaker doesn't trip while welding. An arc welder rated at 30A primary current and 30% duty cycle can be wired with a #12 conductor (16.5A per duty-cycle table) and a 40A breaker (200% of 20A conductor = 40A, 200% of welder = 33A, next-size-up is 40A). Plugging into this without knowing the conductor size could heat up those conductors pretty warm, if you set it to 32A or 35A charging.

    The receptacle with the cone in the middle was likely a ship-to-shore, or a California ("CS") series receptacle.
     
  7. cottylowry

    cottylowry 2013 Model S

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    Long trip, jerry. We were amazed at how much charge we added going west from Superior, MT and down the 4th of July pass to Coeur d'Alene -- but it's tough going the other direction. You were really lucky to end up with your green line above the grey. It was just the opposite for us, but he had 3 adults, lots of luggage and headwinds. It's really fascinating how one becomes so much more in tune with one's environment and the natural world when you pilot a Tesla. In fact, although I'm not a pilot, the logistics of long distance Supercharging must be similar to flying.
     
  8. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    We only had two adults plus luggage. Average for the trip was 253 Wh/mi. I didn't keep a record of every link. And your right, you become more in tune with the hills valleys and wind when driving a Tesla. There are some photos of the wedding here (no Tesla content though).
     
  9. RiverBrick

    RiverBrick Active Member

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    Hmm, I have the no-longer-sold Tesla 6-50 adapter. I guess I will lower the current to 32A the next I use it to be safe. I do not know what the Federal and provincial codes are in Canada for a 6-50, but when people talk about a welder receptacle here it's either that or L6-30.

    @op thanks for the report.
     
  10. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    If you know it's a 50A circuit with properly-sized conductors, no need... but if it were a 6-50 specifically for a welder, in the US it's permitted to be wired differently and you can be more careful. Many welding 6-50's (in my shop, too) are wired with full 50A conductors and breaker, so it's safe at 40A.
     
  11. hipringles

    hipringles Member

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    I swear I read on another thread that the range planning DOES include weather...
     
  12. RiverBrick

    RiverBrick Active Member

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    It has a primitive method of including cabin heating and cooling. If you happen to have AC or heat on at the time you enter the destination, it takes into account that HVAC energy use for its predictions.

    But, no, pre-trip, it doesn't factor temperature, wind, or precipitation into how many kWh the motor will consume. After you drive 15-20 miles, the graph will adjust for overconsumption, but without any knowledge or memory as to why its original prediction was off.

    For highway driving below 5°F, the system's original estimation gets worse exponentially. I believe this is the point where the Model S uses energy to warm the battery. In milder Winter conditions, I think waste heat from the motor is enough for battery warming.
     
  13. hipringles

    hipringles Member

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    Interesting...

    The entire range planner is meh. But I prefer to do the math myself from previous driving experience etc.

    I also haven't taken a trip of > 210 miles on a charge
     
  14. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    I took many long road trips. I agree with most of what you said. I would definitely rather go a longer way and use a Supercharger than risking arriving at a charging station that might or might not work. I have done 20k miles on Superchargers and never has any of them failed. Superchargers are the way to go. Always reliable.

    When in doubt and even when you think you know how much you will need to get to the next supercharger, charge extra! Countless times have I had to slow down to reach the next station because of temperatures, head wind, ... It's better for your heart rate, it better for the battery, it's better for the relationship with your wife, it's just better. :)
     
  15. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    I've had three instances of SCs that wouldn't charge (out of about seventy SC uses), but moving to a different stall that was working allowed me to charge, so while they are reliable, they are not 100% reliable.

    And you're right, allowing a 20% or greater cushion is the thing to do.
     
  16. GSP

    GSP Member

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    Jerry,

    Since there always was at least one available working Supercharging stall at each of your locations, the supercharger system was 100% reliable for you. Unlike a single Chademo charger that is frequently out of order. That is what really counts, and why super chargers are so much better than any alternative charging network.

    GSP
     
  17. KevinMS

    KevinMS Member

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    I have recently returned from a much shorter trip that I have taken many times before. But this was the first time with the Tesla! The difference was a publicly available HPWC at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company in Tillamook, OR, near our destination. The few others that were further away were "patrons only" (hotels) and "no vacancy" (rv parks). I let them know that the open use of their charger was highly appreciated, and their excellent smoked brie, crackers and jams were the centerpiece of our wine and cheese evenings on the deck of the beachfront condo.
    I must ask those that travel the longer distances if they've experienced the navigation bugs that I did on this short trip. For me, this was a 280 mile, one SC, trip arriving at the destination with margin to spare. I was familiar with the route as I've taken it several times before but wanted to try the navigation with the planned SC stop, etc. It should have been an easy route to plan. But the nav system created a route that was nearly 500 miles starting off by going to a closer SC 80 miles in the opposite direction! I turned off adding SCs to the route and planned a route to The Dalles, OR, where it said that I did not have enough charge to make it. I ignored both the warning and the route, taking my usual route that was 40 miles shorter. After charging in The Dalles, I plotted the route to Tillamook, OR. The nav system wanted to stop at the Woodburn, OR, SC along the way (a 60 mile side trip on I5), followed by another torturous path to the north through Canon Beach. Again ignoring the warnings, SC stop and route, I proceeded on my typical route to Tillamook that was 180 miles long, easily within the range of the Tesla. I must say that watching the nav system struggle with my obvious lack of attention to the directions was entertaining. But to top it off, the nav system at one time wanted me to turn off of I84 in OR to cross the Columbia River to Hwy14 in WA only to cross back over at the next bridge! This isn't a Google Maps problem as the correct route was provided by the Google website. The algorithm in the Tesla is, for some reason, different.
     
  18. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Redundancy is a great thing. However, there have been reported instances of the entire SC station being down. This is a rare event, and seems to be more common with SCs that have just opened and are in small towns. Weatherford had this happen last month.

    I 100% agree that the SC network is many times better than the runner up for a variety of reasons, including stability. But I wouldn't say it was five nines.
     
  19. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Congrats!
     
  20. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    Well, I'm in Norfolk, VA and the supercharger is down (Death at Norfolk charger).
    Had to rely on 120V and a short time at a Whole Foods.

    I've had an issue in Milford, CT.

    PS: Kudos to the original poster. The farthest I've gone is 1,600 miles.
     

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