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Recent Road Trip Experiences

Discussion in 'Model S' started by gghahram, Jan 8, 2017.

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  1. gghahram

    gghahram Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Lawrence
    We just completed our first roadtrip in our 60D we picked up December 16th. I wanted to provide some helpful tips and feedback to other users who are thinking of doing roadtrips during the cold months in the Midwest with limited charging options. Our trip total length each way was 286 miles with 3 superchargers between our destinations every 100 miles or so. Many of the tips I will describe have been recommended by other members on this board.

    I definitely started with a severe case of range anxiety before we left our trip but that is absolutely gone. The car is capable of more than I expected and has great range on the highway and city driving. Our average temperatures were around 20 degrees and I only had 110V outlet at our VRBO available at night (8-10 hours) otherwise charged a total of ~5.5 kW at 2 different chargepoint stations and superchargers when on the highway. We drove probably an average of 30 miles per day ranging from 20-60.

    For the roadtrip, we stopped at every supercharger. It didn’t really add much time for us since we stop frequently in our ICE vehicle and have a 2 year-old. I think this is the best way to go that way you really don’t worry about using too much energy and if there is a problem along the way it does provide a buffer. We had the climate control on at 70 degrees, heated-seats, and I went 75-80mph the entire time. The superchargers tend to be in good locations with things to distract you for the 30 minutes needed for charging. On our way back, the temperate was 9 degrees and we used about 20 Wh/mile more energy vs 30 degrees so temperate does make a small difference in energy consumption. This could also have been related to headwind, elevation change, minor changes in speed, etc and arrived with 9% at one supercharger due to increased usage.

    When we got to our destination I had to be much more conservative on energy. I had never charged away from home besides playing around with the supercharger in Topeka Kansas. The supercharger system is amazing and definitely spoiled me since I had only used them and my home NEMA 14-50. I had to get used to starting off with 60% capacity in the morning since the 110V charger is 4 miles/hour or 1kw/hr. In summary, I found that turning range mode on, activating low power mode for connectivity, maximizing roads with a speed limit of 45-55mph, and paying attention to acceleration kept my Wh/mile around 320 on average and if I really really tried to stretch it out (was down below 40% one day) 280 Wh/mile.

    One of the biggest factors I found to cause problems and extend the trip was a cold battery. It really limits supercharging to ¼ or 1/3 of the regular supercharging rate in our 60D which is 325 mph. One our way out of town, 110V charged the battery to 70% overnight and drove to the supercharger trying to maximize range to reduce our time there. It was about 45 minutes away. I think that this was a huge mistake because even after driving at 55-60 mph, preconditioning the interior/battery in range mode, and having climate control on during that 45 minutes the battery still was not warm enough to maximize supercharging. A 10 minute stop turned into 30 minutes due to the painfully slow rate. This charger charged us at the max rate just a week before. In hindsight, I may have saved time by turning range mode off, driving 70 mph, and preheating the vehicle for an hour or even more to get it up to operating temp. The ambient temperature was 9 degrees F.

    I also think it is critical to plug into supercharger or any charger ASAP when arriving at your destination in cold temperatures. In the above example, I plugged in on arrival and was receiving 25KW or so, became frustrated due to the slow rate and so move to every available stall, and with each move the rate decreased and never increased. My guess is that the the battery was actually quickly cooling because of the ambient temperature and thus limiting the rate.

    On our way home, I practiced drafting which like many others on this board have described, provides significantly increased range. I got behind a large motor home going 65 mph and reduced my energy consumption dramatically. If in a bind, you can probably go an additional 30-40 miles following this technique.

    I also wanted to comment on public charging stations and would highly recommend downloading the app Plugshare and ordering a chargepoint card before starting your trip. There was one day that I relied on a public charging station to get around the city that day since the 110V would not provide enough energy even with an overnight charge. I assumed that I would be able to use it and stretched myself too thin that day. When we arrived at the charging station early in the morning (9:00AM on a Wednesday I wanted to make sure I got there early so it wouldn’t be ICEd) it was blocked for more than 2 hours by a volt. I ended up driving to another charger and the lesson was learned – never rely 100% on a single public charging station and always have a backup plan. This is especially true in certain parts of the Midwest where chargers are limited, spots are not reserved and may be ICEd, and may be blocked so you can’t access them.

    Overall, the trip was amazing in the Tesla which makes it just as worthy a roadtrip vehicle as our Volvo XC90. It would have been nice to have autopilot but it was still great regardless after driving ~800 miles total on this trip. It was such a great feeling to drive past the gas stations and supercharging (as long as the battery was warm) was not an inconvenience. We stopped at a gas station to get a soda and overheard people discussing gas prices going up due to x, y, z. I chuckled to myself and was happy to know that our new car doesn’t rely on crude oil and all the baggage associated with it.

     
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  2. KJD

    KJD Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Messages:
    803
    Location:
    SLC, UT
    Excellent write up on cold weather travel. Another item that you can add to your back up plan is most RV parks have a NEMA 1450 outlet. The RV people call these 50 amp outlets and while it is slow compared to a supercharger, it still sure beats the 110 outlet any day.
    RVParking.com | Find RV Parks, RV Park Reviews has a filter for 50 amp outlet.
    Keep this in mind in addition to the plugshare app as you said above.
     
  3. BerTX

    BerTX Active Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,779
    Location:
    Texas/Washington
    Nice write-up! Thanks for sharing.

    You might want to review what exactly Range Mode does, and decide when and if you want to use it on a regular basis. The tendency, particularly when new to the car and still feeling some range anxiety, is to turn it on. However, it is best saved for when you REALLY need the range. It limits not only cabin temperature control, but also battery temperature control. Since you told it not to use energy to heat the battery, it minimized that function, costing you time that you didn't need to waste since you really didn't need the range. Also, there possibly is some cost under certain conditions to battery longevity.

    Plugshare is definitely a great tool, but you might look at the differences when you use it on the browser in the car. There are specific features optimized for Tesla use, such as being able to search specifically for charging at hotels. I did not know until recently that using tesla.plugshare.com (purposely did not make that a link so you could type it in) gives those same features in a browser other than the car's.

    Yes, don't rely on a single potential charging source. They may be ICEd or full as you say, but they are also occasionally just flat not working. Plugshare will give you some idea of the status, but if you are using Chargepoint, their app will give the status of their network, even let you know if they are in use.
     
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  4. gghahram

    gghahram Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Lawrence
    I totally agree with your range mode sentiment. When we took delivery of our S, the employee recommended always using range mode but after researching the topic and Bjorn's video, I actually had never used it and wasn't sure why I needed to keep it. After our last trip, I think I will only turn it on AFTER everything is warmed up and, like you said, REALLY need the range even when doing roadtrips ie <10% buffer. Supposedly it decreases the energy used in the smaller front motor on the D in addition to decreasing power to climate and battery pack. I didn't notice much real-world Wh/hour difference with testing it out on the trip for 30 miles each under similar conditions but the heat was noticeably worse in range mode.

    Very good tip I didn't think about this but a 14-50 is preferable to a public J1772. After looking into this, evidently there is a RV park in the City of St. Louis where we were staying. This is quite surprising given the urban location but I think it would be nice to have this peace of mind for a back-up plan.
     
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