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Road Trip Lessons

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by CleanPower, Jun 12, 2016.

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  1. CleanPower

    CleanPower Member

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    My wife and I took a road trip from Massachusetts down to Sterling, VA, for an overnight, then to Harrisonburg, VA where we stayed several days, then up to Ithaca, NY where we stayed several days before heading home. Earlier this year we took a trip up to Montreal and Quebec City coming home with a few stops in New Hampshire.

    Range Planning

    I created a spreadsheet to do trip planning. It estimates the driving time and the time to charge at Superchargers along the way based on speed and temperature. The spreadsheet was very accurate at predicting the amount of charge I'd have remaining at each stop and the amount of charge I'd need to get to the next stop.

    So now I have almost no range anxiety. The car arrives with almost exactly the amount of predicted charge based on speed and temperature.

    Charging Times

    The spreadsheet also predicts the time needed to charge at each Supercharger. This was quite accurate as well - when you are using a sparsely populated Supercharger.

    However, I found that stops at Superchargers were almost never as quick as expected for three reasons.

    Supercharger Delays

    First, traffic getting to Superchargers at local malls can be brutal. There is often stop and go traffic with lots of lights. Add some time for traffic.

    And once you get to the mall parking area, not all Superchargers are easy to find... You probably need to add 5 minutes just to find the Supercharger for the first time.

    Second, sometimes you are sharing a Supercharger with another Tesla parked next to you. This can dramatically increase the amount of time you need to charge. This only happened to me once on this trip and once on my trip to Canada.

    When I first plugged in, most of the electrons were going to the car who got there first and my car predicted really long charging times. On both trips the car predicted 2 + hours of charging time before we could leave. This causes some consternation among the folks you are traveling with.

    In fact, both times the car charged much faster than predicted, with charging rates rising as the other car's charging rate tapered off. In both cases the car was ready to go about 45 minutes after arriving. But still about twice as long as it would have taken if we weren't sharing with the car next door. Charging time was quite hard to predict because most of the charging takes place during the last 10 or 15 minutes at the charger.

    Third, my traveling companions are almost never ready to leave when the car is ready to go. This is especially true if there are nice shops and a wide range of eating establishments available. We had one stop with so many choices for where we could eat, my wife wanted to check them all out before deciding. The car was charged and ready to go before we started eating...

    Even when everyone is back to the car at the requested time, they will usually want to get something from the trunk, or rearrange the car, or change some clothing, etc... I have come to the conclusion that I should ask passengers to arrive at the car five minutes prior to the desired time of departure to allow for this inevitable getting settled again time. It doesn't make sense to disconnect from the Supercharger till my passengers are actually buckling their seat belts.

    Skipping Superchargers?

    Finally, charging longer than expected at one of the Superchargers along the way, increases the state of charge at your next stop, which slows the rate of charge at your next stop. Overall charging time for the whole trip goes up, unless you can charge enough to skip one of your planned charging stops.

    Skipping a planned charging stop is highly recommended as it saves a lot more time than predicted because of all the considerations mentioned above.

    Lunch?
    While it seems there is a Panera's or Starbucks or Pizza or maybe a Cheesecake Factory or PF Changs at many of the Supercharger locations - I've become a big fan of Whole Foods.

    You can get in and out quickly and everyone can find something they are willing to eat. Simple. Fast. Relaxing. Most likely eatery where everyone can enjoy lunch before the Supercharger says it is time to go.

    Range Anxiety?

    The car will suggest a time to leave the charging station based on a predicted state of charge that looks adequate to reach the next supercharger, while you are charging.

    But disconnect from the charger and drive a couple miles and the predicted state of charge very often declines quite precipitously. You start wondering if you are going to make it to your destination when the car reports you've lost 4 or 5% of your predicted state of charge at your destination in just the first few miles.

    But have faith! My experience is that the predicted percent state of charge will come back to the original numbers (and maybe better) over the next 50 miles of driving.

    It seems that the car at the start of the trip is making calculations based on the high heating or cooling load at the start of the drive or possibly the power it takes to get back up to highway speeds. It looks like it is extrapolating the wh/mile for the start of the trip and assuming that for the whole trip.

    Bottom line - no range anxiety - unless the navigation system decides to re-route you.

    Tesla's Navigation System

    As we were driving through Pennsylvania, we got to a stretch of highway where the traffic was basically stopped for the next 10 miles due to road construction. The car's navigation system helpfully routed us off the highway onto backroads that would avoid the stopped traffic.

    So we were feeling pretty smart when we took the exit and were enjoying the back country drive - until we got back to the on ramp for the highway - only to find it closed due to construction. So we sat at the closed on ramp, looked at the map and found another back country route that would take us up to the next exit. Again feeling pretty good about our large map that could help us make that call.

    But we arrived up at the next exit - and it was closed as well. So we had to drive back the way we came and then turn around and get back on the highway with all the stopped cars... meanwhile watching about 6 or 7% of our projected state of charge at our destination disappear.

    I plan my trips between Superchargers with a 50 mile reserve, so we pulled into that Supercharger with about 20 miles of range left, probably the lowest I've let the car go since I've been driving it.

    It would have been much better to ignore the navigation system and just stay of the main highway - along with everyone else who didn't have the advantage of a large moving map in their car. Especially on a trip where you only have enough charge to get to the next Supercharger with a bit of reserve.

    Destination Charging
    I employed four different strategies for stopping in locations without Superchargers.

    No charging

    At our first stop, we were visiting family for just one night. I charged enough at the last Supercharger before arriving to give me enough range to drive my relatives to dinner that evening and to breakfast in the morning and still have enough charge on board to make it with plenty of reserve to the next Supercharger.

    This strategy is highly recommended if you can pull it off. No fuss. My relatives were quite impressed the car didn't need to be charged.

    Plugging in to the wall

    At our next stop, we were visiting family for several days - and my relatives let me park the Tesla in their garage and parked their car in the driveway. All I can say is that I've been spoiled by Superchargers and my HPWC. I was quite taken aback when I plugged in and the car said more than 24 hours to charge. That was a vast understatement - it turns out it was going to take more than 40 hours to charge back to 90%!

    I drove my relatives around the Skyline Drive (absolutely beautiful and wonderful with the windows down and the roof open!) but those 75 miles added another day of charging in my relative's garage.

    Level 2 Charging
    I've stayed overnight now several times in places that did not have any way to charge. But in all of those cases, there was a Level 2 Charger a few blocks away. (Thank you PlugShare for helping me find the chargers!)

    At the end of the day - I'd drive the car over to the charger - plug it in to charge overnight and then take a ten minute walk back to where we were staying. I'm an early riser - typically getting up an hour or two before my wife. So in the morning, I'd walk back over to the car and drive it back to where we were staying before she'd even woken up. I actually found those walks to be very refreshing and an excellent way to start and end my day. Especially in Ithaca where I was walking on bridges over beautiful waterfalls!

    In Ithaca those chargers were free. In Canada, I signed up for a $10 Hydro-Quebec charge card before the trip and returned home with half of that amount still on the card. When I got the credit card bill - I found out that I had paid $10 Canadian for the card - which worked out to $7.70 US. So I fully charged the car twice in Quebec City for less than $4 and in Ithaca 4 times for free!

    Destination Charger
    Coming back to Massachusetts from Canada through the White Mountains - we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast with a Tesla Destination Charger - a 40A HPWC.

    We arrived with less than 50 miles left - set the car to charge to 90% and 6 hours later we were charged to 90%. It was a very cold night in the teens or 20s. When we were eating breakfast in the morning - I set the charge limit to 100% and turned the heater on.

    When we got out to the car - it was covered in a thick layer of frost - except for the windows - which were crystal clear. The interior of the car was a toasty 70 degrees. Now this is living!
     
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  2. brec

    brec Member

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    #2 brec, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
    But, I assume not elevation changes ... that's sometimes an important factor for me. But I'm in the West, where we have real mountains, unlike those little bumps you Easterners call "mountains."

    I depend on EVTripPlanner.com's estimates.
     
  3. Hugh Mannity

    Hugh Mannity Mediocre Member

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    Thank you for the write up! Am planning a big road trip from Ottawa to Vancouver this summer and there is great info here!
     
  4. Naonak

    Naonak Member

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    With regards to range anxiety, I'm surprised you didn't experience this behavior... but I find this very, very annoying about the Tesla nav:

    When you charge enough, according to the nav, to get to the next station (which seems to have a built-in 20% buffer), but part way there, it decides you don't have enough power and re-routes you BACK to the Supercharger you just came from. This in and of itself may not be so bad, but when the Nav then refuses to route you on your original route and will ONLY route you back to the Supercharger, it gets to be a pain - since you now have no reliable navigation.

    What more, though (Since you can force the route via clearing everything out and making your destination the next Supercharger -- annoying but workable), is when it changes your route to route you back, but you don't notice (and there's no clear indication of this, believe me) and you end up taking wrong exits and going in directions you never intended because the Nav in the Tesla is so mind numbingly stupid that you want to chuck it out the window.

    I always have Google Maps pulled up on my phone as a sanity check at this point, because the in-car nav is so unreliable on long trips. Seems fine for short trips, though.
     
  5. Boatguy

    Boatguy Member

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    Would you care to share your spreadsheet?
     
  6. xkwizit

    xkwizit Member

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    Great post. Would love to see your spreadsheet.
     
  7. ishop4more

    ishop4more Member

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    I'd love to see this spreadsheet too!
     
  8. CleanPower

    CleanPower Member

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    @brec You are correct, the spreadsheet does not include elevation changes as a factor. I was planning to go up Mt. Washington last fall but the roads were closed due to snow. Mt. Washington is 6,288 feet. I'd say that counts as a mountain - even in the west.
    The highest I've taken the car is about 3,000 feet, over some passes and ridges, but every time I've descended back to about the starting elevation at my destination.

    I have cross checked the estimates from my spreadsheet with EV Trip Planner, and they are highly aligned.
    But I don't like that you can't put an actual speed into EV Trip Planner - just a speed factor. How fast should I actually drive with a speed factor of 1.1? I'm not sure.

    @Naonak I find the Tesla Navigation maddening as well. On my trip home from Ithaca, it wanted to route me home via the Binghamton Supercharger. I removed all charging stops, but it still wanted to route me through Binghamton, instead of the 17 mile shorter route direct to the Albany Supercharger. It took about 45 minutes of driving before it gave up on trying to send me to Binghamton and realized that the way I was driving was faster and used less charge.

    As a side note, of all the Superchargers I've visited - the Binghamton Supercharger is at the top of my "avoid stopping here" list.

    @Boatguy @xkwizit @ishop4more I'll see if I can modify the spreadsheet to make it intuitive for others to use it.
    Right now - it would not be obvious where you should input data and look for results - unless you wrote the spreadsheet yourself.

    Check back here - in a few days. Hopefully I can make it easier to use for others.
     
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  9. FrederikBoivin

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    would love to it too - thanks for sharing!
     
  10. Rocky_H

    Rocky_H Member

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    For @CleanPower and @Naonak , I want to clear something up about the complaints you have about “navigation”.

    A lot of new Tesla owners don’t realize it, but there are actually two separate functions at work, but most people think it is just “navigation”. The navigation is generally pretty good, and it was fine before they added this other thing called “Beta Trip Planner”, which is a steaming pile of crap and is responsible for the bad routing back to Superchargers you just left, etc.

    That feature can be disabled, and I highly recommend doing so. I just select the next Supercharger on the route, because that’s pretty obvious which one I’m going to, and it goes there—no muss, no fuss, and no unnoticed trying to turn me around.

    To disable Beta Trip Planner, go to Controls, Apps, Navigation, and there is a checkbox for it.
     
  11. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    No need to disable. Just select next SC as final destination.
     
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  12. Rocky_H

    Rocky_H Member

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    It still may think you can’t make it and start rerouting you to other places or back to the Supercharger you just left. I’ve even seen reported here in this forum of an endless loop where it told them to go back, charge again, drive, go back and charge again, drive, go back, etc. etc. THAT is my biggest gripe about it. Navigation is to tell me turns to take to go to the destination I have picked. It shouldn’t EVER change my destination, which this Beta Trip Planner frequently decides to do, and that’s just unacceptable to me. Maybe that’s just me, but taking me to some other place I didn’t want to go doesn’t seem like what Navigation is for.



    One other note is what @Naonak mentioned. When it says you have enough, you don’t have enough. Fill up a bit beyond what it says or just pick your own buffer.
     
  13. nikielizabeth

    nikielizabeth Member

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    Thank you for this - good to know and fun to read. I have been scouring EVtripplanner, but PlugShare will be a great resource as well. Safe (and fun) travels to you.
     
  14. nikielizabeth

    nikielizabeth Member

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    Picking up my Tesla in a week - this is invaluable information. Thank you.
     
  15. CleanPower

    CleanPower Member

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    • Informative x 2
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  16. nikielizabeth

    nikielizabeth Member

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    Wow! Thank you so much!
     
  17. FrederikBoivin

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    THANKS for sharing!
     
  18. Boatguy

    Boatguy Member

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    This will take some study! Thank you very much.
     

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