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New owner on tight trips

For three weeks now, my wife and I are the very happy owner of a used Tesla Model S 85 of 2013 with just over 100 000 km (or 60 000 miles) on the odo. It has a rated range of 406 km (252 miles) at full charge. So far, we are very impressed with the car performances and all its features.

Regarding charging, we are in the particular situation where once a week, we have to do a 400 km (250 miles) trip on a fixed schedule. In principle, we could make the distance with a full charge, driving at ~100 km/h (60 miles/h) on flat land, consuming 190 Wh/km (that's 305 Wh/mile), and arrive home close to 0 km of range. But the land is not flat, we need air conditioning or heating, battery will need heating during cold winter days (we live in Quebec), it is not good for longevity to charge the car regularly to maximum range, we often have to do 5-10 km detours to pick up something, and we wish to get back home with 30-40 km of range, just in case. And it’s a bit odd to drive such a car close to 100 km/h… Fortunately for us, in the middle of the trip, we have access to a NEMA 14-50 plug for about 2 hours. (Remember the "fixed schedule".) I thought we would be good. Not completely...

Here is some info I gathered on forums and blogs, some of I didn’t understand correctly before, and that some other new user might find useful. I hope this post doesn’t contribute too much to the noise!

  • I though that the access to the NEMA 14-50 would be sufficient as I initially thought that I could get 50 A, maybe 60 A from such a plug. But by North-American regulations, things connected to a NEMA 14-50 plug are not allowed to draw more than 40 A from the plug, event if the connector is related a 50 A breaker. This is the case of the Tesla Mobile Connector provided with the car; it wont let you dial more than 40 A on the charge current limit. In my case, the 220 V/40 A plug gives me 45 km (or 28 miles) of rated range per hour of charge. So +90 km of rated range for our trip. With that, we can currently do the trip at ~110 km/h, including a couple detours. But during winter, with interior and battery heating...

  • A possibility would be to have access to a Tesla Wall Connector (TWC) at that mid-trip location. The TWC can provide up to 80 A, i.e. 90 km of range/h in our case. But it has to be connected on a 100 A breaker. Like most houses in Quebec, the house where we can plug at mid-trip is equipped with a 200 A main electric panel. 100 A is the half! Installing a TWC would actually require changing the complete electrical panel and outdoor post to 250 A. Plus, above 60 A, it require a safety contactor next to the TWC. All that is not cheap, considering it would be used only once a week for a couple of hours. And this is not our home! Not a solution.

  • We have only two SuperChargers in Quebec. One of them is 1 km from home, so it doesn’t help (we are already fully charged when we leave, or nearly empty but near the home plug when we come back), and the other is not in the direction we’re going. 2-3 more are planned. They will be very practical for travelling to the Maritime Provinces, which is their purpose, but won’t be of any help for our weekly trip. There are also some destination chargers at hotels, but they are reserved for guests, and they are often only 40 A instead of 80 A, i.e. not better than the NEMA 14-50 plug we have already access to.

  • We are blessed to have ~20 CHAdeMO chargers in the province, including one along our route. They provide 50 kW of charging power. That’s 5 times what we can get from the NEMA 14-50 plug (nearly 10 kW), and nearly half the power of a SuperCharger (120 kW). It costs 10$/h, charged to the minute IIUC. It requires an adaptor (which now exists, a saga of its own apparently) at a cost of 500 CAD+tx. Much cheaper than changing the electrical feed at someone else house! But it involves waiting ~30 min in the middle of nowhere (in the case of that specific charger) to get 100 km of rated range. Still, this is likely to be our solution during winter if/when maintaining the battery and the car warm requires so much from the battery that we cannot drive at a reasonable speed.

  • There are also about 400 other chargers in the province, but most of them are 220 V/30 A. This would presumably give us 34 km (or 21 miles) of range/h. For us, this is useful only in case of emergency (i.e. for some reason we didn’t manage to recharge and are approaching 0%), or if we stay at a hotel with such a plug. We don’t usually stay at a restaurant like 3 hours, or enough to get significant range from that sort of plug. But at least, they exist, and there are so many of them, we would have to be very unlucky to end up at 0% before being able to reach one.

  • Speaking of winter, we will certainly heat the car while it is still plugged, and program the charging so it ends just before we leave, so the battery is warm, and we don't draw all that power from the battery during the first few km. Because of battery and interior re-heating, people report that making multi-stop trip with >30 min breaks during cold days is an absolute range killer. (By cold, here, I mean -20 C or 0 F and below). Continuous trips in cold weather are not that bad, apparently. Looking forward to see that.

  • Regarding the battery capacity degradation, heat and full charge are the enemies. (See port #2 in this tread, which cites articles.) It makes a lot of sense. As most chemical reactions, those leading to degradation require energy and heat to occur. Quebec is a good place for coolness, so that’s one. Currently, I keep the charge below 50% during the week, and increase to 95% just before the weekly trip. I read a post where someone who started keeping the charge below 50% even reported regaining a couple of km of range. I’m eager to see that! But I guess it's more related to "battery balancing". Next point.

  • People report a range increase after "balancing the battery", which requires to keep the charge at 100% for a couple of weeks. But this is a different point than degradation: the battery may give as a whole a lower capacity than it actually can because some of its cells are more degraded and discharge faster, preventing the other cells that are plug in series with them to fully charge or discharge. By balancing the battery pack, you allow the system to recalibrate and find which battery has which capacity. As a result, the more performing ones will be able to charge and discharge more than the weaker ones. See wikipedia for mode details. So you may regain some rated range because the better cells are then allowed to charge more. But you are not reversing the degradation process of the weak batteries. If anything, you accelerate it, because you put the battery in one of the conditions that accelerate degradation: full charge.

Other things less or not related to battery and charging that I found useful:

  • VisibleTesla is a great tool! Big thanks to jpasqua and the people who figured out the commands send to Tesla servers. Be sure to download the latest version (as of this writing the 0.50 series) as there have been some changes on Tesla side that prevent the previous versions to work. A couple of times so far, I had to reboot my Mac to make it work. Not sure why.

  • When the car falls into deep sleep, it is often hard to wake it up, either with Tesla’s Android app or with VisibleTesla. There is an option to "stay connected" in the car controls, which helps. In my case, it decreases the range by a couple of km during the night, vs. nearly 0 km when it’s not on and the car is in complete deep sleep. Your choice.

  • The car responds to several voice commands by pressing the "voice button" (top right button on the steering). See this page for a summary. Among others, you can search Slacker for a tune by saying "Play" followed by the name of the group, song, etc.

  • It’s really cool to have the traffic showing up in real time on the screen. However, the time predicted by Tesla’s trip planner seems to be based on official maximum speed, not on actual trafic speed as Google Maps does. It’s probably because Tesla wants, above everything, be able to compute and show a rated range curve for the trip, to which you can refer in order to know if you actually meet the rated consumption and end the trip with the predicted range left. Fair enough.

  • But the trip planner does not let you add waypoints, and will prefer a route that uses less power, event if it takes a few more minutes, and not considering trafic, AFAIK. It would be very practical to be able to predict the range left after a trip that does not go straight to the plug one is planning to be the next. And it would not defeat the purpose of "the curve".

  • The car map does not show the other charging stations than Tesla’s SuperChargers and destination chargers. For that, tesla.plugshare.com will be your friend. Its interface is made easy to use on the car web browser, and it provides info about whether the plug is public or reserved for clients, the cost if any, whether you need a registration or a card to access it, users comments, etc.

That’s what I had in mind so far. Hope it’s helpful for someone. Sorry for the long post.
@fsch, you did not mention whether or not your Model S had dual chargers. If it doesn't, an HPWC at 80 amps will not do you any good, as the single built-in charger is limited to 10 kW (roughly 240V / 40 amp). I think getting the CHAdeMO adapter might be your best bet, as it bypasses the built-in charger and can provide you with a faster charge when a supercharger is not available. Substantial first post, by the way! Welcome to TMC!
Be advised that the cold temps that you will encounter and any high winds, rain, sleet and snow will affect your range. You may have days where you will see a 25% hit from poor climatic conditions on your available range. also it is imperative to try to have you car plugged in as much as possible when the temps are sub freezing and the car is parked outdoors.
A 14-50 for 2 hours in the middle of the trip should make this pretty straight forward. Here is how I would do the trip:

  1. Charge to 100% with scheduled charging, so that the car hits 100% SoC 15-30 minutes before departure. Staying at 100% SoC for an hour or so should cause little degradation.
  2. Turn on Climate Control 30 minutes before departure. In Winter set the temperature higher than normal to preheat the interior; in summer set the temperature to lower than normal. This will put the cabin in a good starting point and have the battery at the correct temperature at departure, reducing battery needs at trip start.
  3. Set nav to your destination.
  4. Watch the predicted round trip energy. Each hour on the 14-50 should add about 10% SoC. Mentally add 20% on the outboud. If that is not enough, slow down.
  5. Plug in soon at the 14-50, and use the App to make sure charging keeps going.
  6. The 14-50 should add over 20% SoC in two hours and keep the battery warm in winter. Turn on Climate Control for personal comfort, if desired, but doing so while charging at this point won't help return range.
  7. On the return, set the Nav to home and watch the Energy:Trip screen.
  8. After 10-20 km, the Energy:Trip screen should have a good estimate of your SoC at trip completion. If it is not enough to be comfortable, slow down or look for other charging options.
  9. Keep the CHAdeMO adapter with you. Per Murphy, if you have it, you won't need it; if you don't have it, you will wish you did...

I predict few problems if you use a little thought and care.
Have you looked into finding a business near where you have the two hours that you could donate a HPWC? You may be able to deal with Tesla's destination charging team and get the HPWC for free and you could donate electrician's bill. Maybe one that already has 30 amp station. Or look into Sun Country Highway to sponsor a charger. (provided you have dual chargers) This could be an excuse to get a 90D too ;)
I’m wondering about this comment:
“But it involves waiting ~30 min in the middle of nowhere (in the case of that specific charger)”

There’s really a CHAdeMO built somewhere with nothing to do anywhere around it? I would think almost anywhere a CHAdeMO would be would have some kind of restaurant nearby to make it into a fairly convenient meal stop.
You didn't say where you were going other than it wasn't near either Ferrier (assume it's home) or Drummondville. So, that means up to the Lauentians, over to Gatineau/Ottawa, or perhaps south to Vermont. In the case of Laurentians, or Vermont, you will see some significant vertical, which will strain your distance.

Please check out PlugShare. There are many Tesla owners that may have an HPWC that you can use.
You seem to have a very good understanding of the issues, but one minor thing you might want to consider is that 200 amp service doesn't actually rule out adding a 100 amp breaker. The electrician will need to do a load analysis, but if you don't use electric heating you are quite unlikely to exceed the panel's capacity. Polly Wog is correct that you must have dual chargers installed to take advantage of that option, however.

Also, as Cottonwood mentioned, I wouldn't be particularly concerned about charging to 100% if you are able to do so by leaving soon after you reach full charge. Degradation is experienced primarily by remaining at 100%, especially in hot weather.
Thanks for your replies and advices. Here are a few answers.

@Polly Wog: Yes, it has a dual charger.

@Cottonwood: good advice: being >95% for an hour or so cannot degrade the battery that much.

@DMC-Orangeville: It's in the Eastern Townships (not too far from Sherbrooke) so we indeed found we use less range returning from there than getting there! The Drummondville SuperCharger is quite out of our way. We would prefer returning to the house where we can plug for an hour. (And my last point mentioned PlugShare ;-).

@Rocky_H: The CHAdeMO is here :) Actually they have build health clinic since Google Street view went there. The CHAdeMO is in the parking. There is an health market, closing at 6 during the week-end. And there is a gaz station on the other side of the road where we can probably get a coffee. But it would have been great if the charger had been located at 5 km from there, in downtown Magog, a nice touristic town...

@LetsGoFast: Like ~70% of households in Quebec, that house is indeed heated with electricity. The good thing with electricity in Quebec is that it's >97% hydro, so we can say that there are almost no emissions related to the car operation.

Thanks to all again!
Welcome to the family. Indeed, a Chademo adapter will provide cheap insurance and the best non-SC option for maintaining speed over distance as one would with a non-EV.

Please also keep in mind the possibility of stopping at a Nissan dealership, should one be available en route and during business hours. Contrary to the experiences of a few, I have found Nissan management to be courteous and happy to help insofar as using their Chademo(s) is concerned. Please note, however, that some (most?) Nissan dealership Chademos can be throttled *by manufacture* to 20kW, which may in the end not be as much help as, say, an 80A J-1172 if you elect to have dual chargers. That said, any port in a storm, and your neck of the woods will have range-robbing storms with some regularity. Dual chargers might provide as much peace of mind, but given the cost, perhaps waiting a season to decide would make sense.

Also, note that now might be the time to sign up for various network cards/fobs for future travel (it's easy to forget, otherwise). Vermont, for example, has a nice mix of NRG evGo Chademos as well as about 10 Nissan dealerships which should all by now have the aforementioned Chademos. Plus soon the South Burlington SC and then there's the West Leb SC which might as well be in VT. Another network that's even better, which is to say cheaper is AVnet (Aerovironment), but their presence is much greater in the west than the east yet so far as I know.
@Rocky_H: The CHAdeMO is here :) Actually they have build health clinic since Google Street view went there. The CHAdeMO is in the parking. There is an health market, closing at 6 during the week-end. And there is a gaz station on the other side of the road where we can probably get a coffee. But it would have been great if the charger had been located at 5 km from there, in downtown Magog, a nice touristic town...

OK, looking at that spot, I see Boulangerie Owl’s Bread, a pastry shop, right next to where you pointed out the CHAdeMO is. It’s got great reviews on Google, is open 8AM to 7PM, and looks like a pretty good stop for a half hour. Doesn’t look that painful a place to spend a little time.
OK, looking at that spot, I see Boulangerie Owl’s Bread, a pastry shop, right next to where you pointed out the CHAdeMO is. It’s got great reviews on Google, is open 8AM to 7PM, and looks like a pretty good stop for a half hour. Doesn’t look that painful a place to spend a little time.

You're partially right. The Owl's Bread bakery is actually located in downtown Magog (been there a couple of times, nice place indeed, more a restaurant than a bakery) but they recently opened a counter in or next to the health food market, with "opening hours to follow". Will look into that.

I'm very thankful to the businesses who payed to install that CHAdeMO there since it is the only fast charger ~100 km around. It's just that it is next to a great location but too far to get there while you wait. Of course, you are there to charge, not to do tourism! And you don't want to get there and find the plug used by someone who left for 3h. So great location from that point of view!
New development regarding my situation: there is now a CHAdeMO in Granby, QC, 500 m from downtown, and 700 m from my brother's home. Cool!

Does anyone know why there are so few of them in Ontario?

Here are a few other unrelated considerations I (re-)discovered, and that I put here to complete the second part of my original post:
- The garage opening button on the screen apparently only works if the driver is seated.

- You can set the height at which the trunk door (power liftgate) opens by pressing the button on the door for 3-4 seconds, until it beeps. (I apparently did that inadvertently, and I was wondering for about two weeks why the door did not fully open.)

- Most electrical heaters in my environment (e.g. mother-in-law's garage) are on a 240 V 20 A breaker with no neutral wire. This corresponds to the specs of a NEMA 6-20 plug (AKA high-power air conditioner plug). Hence, it should be safe to install such a connector on that circuit (parts ~10$). (Legal notice: all this needs to be done by a qualified electrician. :wink:Tell him to use gage 12 cable.) Then, in order to connect your UMC, you will need an adapter. There is a large body of literature about adaptors in these pages. Let just say that there is no NEMA 6-20 direct UMC adapter sold by Tesla, but can buy, for example, a NEMA 6-20 to NEMA 14-50 adapter for ~50$. Or make your own, in my case for ~15$. And of course, you need to turn off the heaters and limit the charge current to 16-18 A on the Tesla before plugging her. (The car will remember that setting, based on positon.) You can then charge at ~20 km/h or 12 miles/h or ~5 kW. Not too bad if you sleep there from time to time. With that, I can plug at ~95% of the places we go outside the city. Less and less "on the road" plugging needed, although I often plug just to encourage the businesses et al. and show them that their plugs are actually used.

- And finally, I confirm after 6 weeks that the MS is a really, really great car, especially after driving our old Sienna for a short trip! Putting aside performances and pleasure to drive, one of the things we feared was the lack of room to carry things compared to the Sienna. But there is really plenty of room in the trunk to start with. We can fit my aunt's three dogs in it (1 large and 2 medium-size), and there is still some room! Then the frunk can contain a surprisingly large amount of things. And the rear seats are easy to fold to get a large and relatively flat space in order to, e.g., move furniture. It's actually much easier to use than in the Sienna where you have to remove things from the trunk in order to stow the rear seats. Anyway, I only see rare occasions where we will be missing the space we had in the Sienna, probably only if we need to carry more than 5 people, and that does not happen very often.