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Super charging at -10F

I'm currently sitting at a supercharger in MN in -10F temps. It took over 5 minutes to start to see any kW or mi/hr above 0, and then it slowly increased from there. I'm assuming the car needed the battery to warm up first as I had only driven about 10 miles before getting to the supercharger and the car had sat in an open parking garage overnight. Has anyone else experienced this? I've also seen a drastic decrease in range in these temps as well. I'm curious to see what my range will be when it's -30F in a few days.
 
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Yes, the battery needs to heat up and it takes time. We were driving from Wisconsin back south and the car had been sitting outside in 5 degree weather all day. We drove about 35 minutes to a Supercharger that was on the way. For us to get to our desired level to make it to the next charger it took around 1 hour and 35 minutes. The first 30-40 minutes was very slow as you're talking about. The update that allowed to heat the battery pack under certain temps came out about 3 weeks after our trip. Just bad timing on our part. But yes heating up the battery takes much longer than one would assume. Luckily it was at a grocery store so we grabbed food and just watched Netflix and ate in the car haha. That was with a Model X. I've heard that the Model 3 has a different way to heat the battery so I'm not sure how well it functions compared to the X or S.
 
Drive more before charging, try to get past regen limitations especially with a Model 3 that doesn't have a dedicated heater.

Some acceleration/regen cycles will help.

Energy use spikes when first starting out but falls somewhat, range reduction is dramatic with short trips, bit much less noticable on long trips. Couple weeks ago I did north Minneapolis suburbs down to Oakdale, over to Eau Claire then on to home to the other side of Wisconsin. 40degree rise for cabin temp on my 2014 P85 and I don't think energy is was up 10%. By contrast earlier this week I forgot to preheat and had not charged and my 7 mile mile to work with model S battery and cabin heaters running hard went over 800wh/m triple my spring/fall numbers.
 
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GolanB

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Sep 22, 2018
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NYC
I've had some experience with this myself; and I find it is better to charge the M3 after having driven atleast an hour. In one video posted online, a Tesla YouTuber (TeslaBjorn) found it took him less time to go for a drive (to heat up the battery), and come back to the charger. He was driving the battery pretty hard, alternating between heavy use, and what little re-gen he could get - probably not a smart idea with snowy road conditions, and traffic.

At home, we still have not installed our 208V powerline, and I have been reliant on our 120V source - it covers the 30 or so miles I need to drive a day. When it drops below 20 degrees F, I've noticed that about 50%-75% of the time, its sitting at 0mph charge rate when it is usually at 4. Although there is no battery heater in the Model 3, I did hear a component running - I suspect there still must be some battery management process in the model 3 that burns some energy when it gets cold.
 
This behavior can be really terrifying. We sat for almost half an hour one time waiting for the charging to get to something reasonable. The only bright side is that the huge drop in charge when the car is cold soaked does come back a bit when everything warms up.

As others have said, if you can do it, charge the car the previous evening before it gets cold soaked.
 
If you can just plug the car into a regular outlet overnight, that will help keep it warm. Not always an option...but usually is, a lot of parking lots and parking garages have a few random outdoor outlets. Another option, at least in the S, is to run the heat for an hour or so before you leave. Doing so helps to heat the battery, initiate from the app.

I wish there was some type of jacket for the battery in the winter. On the S/X there are little rails on the battery, you could slide political signs, those corrugated plastic ones, right in there. -10f with 70mph wind is going to really suck the heat off an aluminum plate.
 

coleAK

Active Member
Oct 23, 2018
1,134
967
Alaska
As for the range in the cold question. I’m in Alaska. Have a LR AWD, 18” aero, Hakka 9’s. We had 2 weeks of below 0F. Highs in the -5 -10 Lows in the -20 -30. In town driving, heated garage overnight, I plugged in at work to a 110 outlet. I averaged ~490 Wh/mi so about a 50% reduction. I’ve also found in those temps Driving in town increases your usage (in terms of Wh/mi) much more than sustained highway. And it’s due to the heater draw. In those same temps we took it out on the highway and got ~360 Wh/mi on a 70 mile round trip running a constant 55-60 mph.
 
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Reminds me of a comment from Musk when asked how he could justify the poor performance of his Tesla in -20degree weather. He calmy noted that in -20 degrees most ICE cars will not even start :)

Very cold temps negatively effect most vehicle.

I don't think it's fair to say in -20 that "most" ICE vehicles won't start. Either that or I've just been driving the right ones. We often get to -20 for at least a couple days a year and I can't remember not having a vehicle start due to cold. Might chug along for a second or two as you start it, but always fired up.

EDIT: But to give credit where it is due, my model S and model 3 warm the cabin _much_ faster than my ICE cars ever did.
 

coleAK

Active Member
Oct 23, 2018
1,134
967
Alaska
I don't think it's fair to say in -20 that "most" ICE vehicles won't start. Either that or I've just been driving the right ones. We often get to -20 for at least a couple days a year and I can't remember not having a vehicle start due to cold. Might chug along for a second or two as you start it, but always fired up.

EDIT: But to give credit where it is due, my model S and model 3 warm the cabin _much_ faster than my ICE cars ever did.
I agree. Also in the really cold it’s not the engine that prevents it from starting (well diesel is another topic) it’s the battery. And in a Tesla if the 12v dies it also won’t “start”. Isn’t that correct? And the Tesla 12v is no differant than any other ICE 12v. I have a block heater and battery heater. I plug both in when I’ll be parked outside at work at much below 0F. When I used to travel north I plugged in both with the car running at below -40.
 
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eprosenx

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May 30, 2018
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Beaverton, OR
I agree. Also in the really cold it’s not the engine that prevents it from starting (well diesel is another topic) it’s the battery. And in a Tesla if the 12v dies it also won’t “start”. Isn’t that correct? And the Tesla 12v is no differant than any other ICE 12v. I have a block heater and battery heater. I plug both in when I’ll be parked outside at work at much below 0F. When I used to travel north I plugged in both with the car running at below -40.

The difference between the Tesla 12v battery and an ICE vehicle 12v battery is that the Tesla battery is a deep cycle battery (for powering some electronics) while the ICE battery is optimized for “cold cranking amps” in order to turn over the engine.

The Tesla just needs enough juice to boot up the computers and close the high voltage contactors (I am assuming the HV contactors are powered by the 12v system). The ICE battery needs a ton of current flow to turn over the engine. I would place my bets on the Tesla. :)

Also, in newer Tesla’s I thought there was a 12v charger wired into the high voltage battery that perhaps did not need the main HV contactors to close in order to operate? If so, it could charge the 12v system as needed to keep it from dying, even in extreme cold.
 
eprosenx

I wish you were correct regarding topping off the 12V battery the contactors due close to supply HV to the DC-to-DC converter. I wish shore power could supply HV to DC-to-DC converter but it does not. If it did, the 12V battery could be topped off using shore power and not deplete the traction battery. Shore power does supply power to the HV cabin heater so I can't understand why it couldn't supply HV to the DC-to-DC converter. Seems like it would even be safer if the contactors were not closed while topping off the 12v battery (parked in the garage plugged in for weeks)? The contactors would have to be closed to top off the 12V battery if NOT plugged into shore power. I would think even 120V @ 12A would be plenty of power to top off the 12V battery as it take several hours to perform this function (seems to top off VERY slowly and the cooling pump is running the entire time using 12V power). Must be some logical reasons for these design choices on the Model 3?
 

SigNC

Active Member
Aug 23, 2017
1,662
1,586
NC
I'm still holding out hope that there will be a software update that will allow you to toggle the inefficient wave to the motors to generate more heat for the battery when you know you are going to be supercharging soon. From a time perspective it's well worth dumping 5-10% of the battery into heat if you can achieve max charging rates once you get to the charger.
 
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As for the range in the cold question. I’m in Alaska. Have a LR AWD, 18” aero, Hakka 9’s. We had 2 weeks of below 0F. Highs in the -5 -10 Lows in the -20 -30. In town driving, heated garage overnight, I plugged in at work to a 110 outlet. I averaged ~490 Wh/mi so about a 50% reduction. I’ve also found in those temps Driving in town increases your usage (in terms of Wh/mi) much more than sustained highway. And it’s due to the heater draw. In those same temps we took it out on the highway and got ~360 Wh/mi on a 70 mile round trip running a constant 55-60 mph.

Ok, so I'm not the only one seeing this...got my M3 in mid November in uptate NY, and have noticed some heavy range loss (as much as 50% or more) when it drops below 30 or 20 degrees F. I have started tracking it every day in a spreadsheet, because it alarmed us and my wife was concerned there was a problem with the car.

Even with charging up for a hour before I leave, in Chill Mode, and driving like an old lady, still getting poor efficiency. My daily commute is only about 4 miles though, so I am wondering if short trips are inherently bad to measure this on?
 

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