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Traveling in the Model S: A Road Trip

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by MSEV, May 23, 2015.

  1. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    Really, there are a number of things to learn about traveling in a Tesla Model S (MS). There are differences that come out that I never would have throught about before. I would, on this journey, write down some of what happens and what we learn.

    Number 1: Long Distance Between SuperChargers (SupCs)

    We had been on a trip before, 199 mi between SupCs. The trip down (Omaha to KC) worked but got a little scary when I was down to 30 mi (projected range, which I will abbreviate as "p range", from the Energy screen--I don't use the EPA, in fact I have turned that one to % because that range is not precise enough for may ways of thinking). It was 20 mi from my son's place to the SupC. With 30 mi p range, we made it with 10 mi left. I began to trust p range. So the first leg of this journey was from Omaha to Mitchell, SD. We had rather ideal conditions, low/no wind and 60 to 70 degrees. We had trouble with the Trip Calculator or whatever it is called (and finally called Tesla and they told us how to turn it off). It kept wanting to turn us around to go back to the Council Bluffs SupC because it was not comfortable with the distance to Mitchell: 262 miles! I know that you need to be careful, I know that conditions can change, I believe the Trip feature is being conservative, and it should. And I watch the number of miles to the SupC and I watch the p miles and I don't drive fast if we have over 200 miles to go on a full charge.

    We drove to Souix City, about 75 mi, without a problem. We headed towards Souix Falls and we started getting the red warnings, were told we would be at -7%, that we should go to the nearest SupC (back in Council Bluffs) which we were not going to do. So we headed to Souix Falls, ready to find a J1772 or RV park NEMA 14-50 if needed. Souix Falls is halfway between Mitchell, SD, (the way we were going) and Worthington, MN (the wrong way). But we are watching the actual miles and the p miles (I call this the "differential") and it is 15, so 15 extra p miles. That is not a large buffer, but there are no other SupCs and we will have to stop for power or we won't. So we kept going and the differential kept improving. We got worried at one point and slowed from 65 to 60, and the p miles improved. We got from the red warnings to the yellow cautions to drive slowly (60 is driving slowly, IMHO). And we made it with 15 differential miles.

    So, Lesson Number 1: Watch the differential miles and act appropriately. When you have enough differential miles for your comfort, you can make it; when you are in doubt or running to low, find an alternative plug in.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Another observation.

    Number 2: ICE cars have fooled me and I thought I liked believing them with the fuel gauge

    I noticed during this leg of the trip (mentioned above), that my % of charge seemed to be going down so quickly, particularly in the beginning but not so much during the end. What I figured out was that my ICE cars always "sat" on Full for a long time, then, maybe when 3/4s full, would start moving down. I liked that, tricked myself into thinking that I had a full tank for a long time. The MS shows what you have, the exact percent. I am growing to like that better, but it is an adjustment. It feels like the first bit of energy goes quickly. But the other end does the opposite, particularly if you are doing what I mention in Number 1 above, that is, watching theh p miles. When watching p miles to make sure you have enough energy to get to the SupC and you are adjusting your speed to make sure you do, then the differential towards the end will often stay the same and give you confidence you will make it. In the example above, I hovered at about 15 miles differential the whole way, but when you have 30 miles to go to the SupC and the differential is 15 (meaning 45 projected miles ), it starts to feeling good. And when I arrive with the 15 differential, it shows, IMHO, that I have monitored appropriately and driven the appropriate speed to get to my destination.

    I would add: I am talking about, with # 1 and 2 above, when there are long distances between SupCs. If the distance is under 200 mi (with fairly normal conditions) between SupCs, then I would practice charging to have excess to make things easier and to be able to increase your speed.

    And, if it isn't obvious, I have and 85.
     
  2. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    I find the Energy:Trip display to be even better than the "p miles." While driving, it uses the last several miles of driving to project your arrival SoC at the destination. The current incarnation of the Trip Planner has issues, but I have found the Energy:Trip display to be very useful, and it takes upcoming hills into account; that's very useful in Colorado...
     
  3. travwill

    travwill Member

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    Nice write-up and vote of confidence in the accuracy & what to take into consideration on long trips. Ultimately it is a good estimator but only we know the additional factors (weather, etc) that the car will learn a little later than us.

    As for the ICE estimating. I've always been paranoid of getting low on the miles estimate. Our X5 is pretty accurate but it goes down pretty fast when your driving habits change (from freeway to city for instance) but guess that is good. Our VW Touareg Hybrid actually just estimates at distances of 5 miles only - so its 50, 44, 40, and sometimes jumps down 10 if radical changes - so definitely worried in that one after got down below 20 usually.

    Enjoy!
     
  4. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    Energy:Trip
    I'll have to look at that (see if I can find it).

    Number 3: Hilly (or Mountainous) is Wacky

    So we took off, full chage, for Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park and I don't think what I saw changed much of what I said above, but the hills and valleys made for a wacky time figuring out how far we could go. I was nervous to start out: I did not know how far we were going to go, how far away we could get, and just what to do other than keep an eye on the energy level and keep the SupC (in Rapid City) in mind. We drove about 150 miles and had 40% left when we were done, tons of energy to get to the SupC about three miles away from the B&B (Amie's, very nice). And by the way, we ate at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park and it was excellent. I try to eat vegan or vegetarian, and if I can't find anything good, I'll eat fish. They had some wonderful choices and the food was excellent.

    Tomorrow brings a new challenge: the Wyoming desert, with us needing to go 318 miles to Billing SupC. I have read and posted about this journey, am not certain about which route we will take (Gilette/Sheridan or Brodus) but we will figure it out tomorrow.
     
  5. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    Energy:Trip may require the Tech package. If you have 6.2, and can read real miles to the next Supercharger, you should have it. Select the destination (the next charger, not the end goal), select the Energy App, then go to the "Trip" tab. This should show projected battery SoC at the next charger/destination. After you drive several miles, it will give you the projected SoC at the destination using your current speed/driving style, corrected for elevation changes.

    Hilly (or Mountainous) is easy to understand with the Energy:Trip display. I aim for 10-15% buffer early in the trip, and then by 20% SoC to go, I will let that slide to 5%. In other words, at 90% SoC, I like to see a margin of 10-15%. By the time I am down to 25% SoC, I am happy with 5% or more buffer (20% to go, and 5% buffer).

    You can also correct battery rated miles with elevation change to destination with a 6 rated miles per 1,000 feet correction factor to get what I call Cottonwood Rated Miles. I used to then calculate the Cottonwood Ratio or Cottonwood Rated Miles divided by Miles to Go; If the Cottonwood Ratio grows as you drive, you will get to your destination with energy to spare. If the Cottonwood Ratio declines as you drive, you better do something (slow down or get a charge), because your current driving style will not get you there. With the Energy:Trip display to answer the "will I get there?" question, calculating the Cottonwood Ratio while driving is now just amusement.

    Good luck crossing the Wyoming charging desert!
     
  6. Solarwind

    Solarwind Member

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    Tesla Custer road trip then on to Denver

    [​IMG] IMG_2117.jpg

    - - - Updated - - -

    Got home night before last at 6:30 pm.
    Denver service was great, the car work flawlessly air-conditioning work and we made the 2300 mile trip using just 313 WHM. That included speeds to 130 mph, construction, mud, rain and a lot of traveling at 80+. Our last leg from big timber home was 210 miles which we drove at 70 mph except 30 miles of construction, charged to 248 10 short of max and got home with 58 miles left showing. I think a good tail wind helped as I expected to arrive with about 10 left as it is uphill. Our WH/M was 269. We spent $30 for fuel in the 2316 miles traveled and that was my offer to Dan at Sagebrush inn in Broadus MT for use of the dryer plug. I am very pleased with the car and its performance.
     
  7. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    Today's the big day. 318 miles to Billings from Rapid City. We called ahead and will get free energy at the NEMA 14-50 at the hospital, adding what we need to make it to the Billings SupC. Should be zero problems with that nice, free stop in Gillette.
     
  8. capt601

    capt601 Vin02324

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    Suggest you try EV Trip Planner on your next trip. will show you exactly what you need for a charge.

    The problem is people see a leg of 140 miles and think "well, I'll charge to 150 and be fine". Evtripplanner will show you that on that leg you might need 220 miles or such due to hills, temp, etc... Driving in an ev is not as easy as putting in destination and looking at miles and range in your Gps. Much better to rely on evtripplanner than cars nav and range planning for trips.
     
  9. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    Number 5: make sure of the milage of your trip
    318 miles was the Brodus, highway route. I decided to take the longer (I found out 55 mi longer, which, with experience now, means 2 hours of slow charging) because it had two known places to charge, one in Gillette and one in Sheridan. So it was more miles, and more hours charging.

    Number 6: Trip Planner is a Beta and Did Not Work Off the SupC Grid
    Trip Planner (TP) only caused problems going away from the SupC network. Turn it off if you want, if your numbers are wacky in Nav, if it is routing yu in strange ways. Go to Apps, the Nav App (or something like that), turn off TP.

    Number 7: Absolutely so a slow charge overnight if you can, Don't Do Slow Charge in the Day
    We spent 7 hours charging to get enough energy to make it from Rapid City to Billings. I had read about a quick stop to "top it off" and that must have been the Brodus route. We did not waste energy, started with 100%. We got energy at the Campbell County Hospital in Gillette (free, NEMA 14-50, I checked in with security, thanks go to Joe in security for his kindness and allowing bathroom use) and at the HPWC at the Hampton Inn in Sheridan (we couldn't stay there because we have a dog, but thanks to the owner [a MS owner] for having an HPWC and sharing power.
    BUT IT TOOK AN Incredible AMOUNT OF TIME to charge as much as we needed to safely get to the destination.

    Number 8: We will never do that again
    We will completely avoid 300 plus miles trips outside of SupC grid.
    By the time we get back this way, there will be SupCs in both Sheridan and Gillette.
    By the time we go on a long trip after this one (a year from now) there will be more SupCs around the country.

    Having said all that, we are heading over to Bozeman and down to Driggs (off the SupC grid) but plan to overnight charge at the HPWC at the Vodka Distillery in Driggs, so, hopefully, things will go more smoothly because of overnight slow charging. I hope, I hope, I hope. I'll let you know.
     
  10. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    #10 Cottonwood, May 25, 2015
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
    I'm so sorry that your experiences were so painful... :eek:

    Number 5 and 7 are so very important when venturing off of the Supercharger Grid!

    Number 5 - make sure of the milage of your trip — When your off-grid charging is from an L2 at 18-28 mph, every mile driven can add 3 or 4 minutes to travel time. 1 minute at 60 mph driving, and 2-3 minutes charge time. The corollary of this is to slow down. Using less energy per mile by driving slowly can reduce your total trip time because L2 charge time dominates over drive time, the opposite of Superchargers.

    Number 7 - Absolutely do a slow charge overnight if you can, Don't Do Slow Charge in the DayPlanning your long L2 charges to happen overnight cannot be emphasized enough! An 8-10 hour, 5->100% charge is very painful during the day, but painless at night!

    Whenever possible, plan the long L2 charge at an overnight stop!!! See Crowd Funding an HPWC in Sheridan, WY — Casper and Gillette to Possibly Follow - Page 5 for some example calculations on this route.

    Best case, if you had been able to do an overnight charge in Gillette and had dual chargers for the top up in Sheridan, it would have only added 37 minutes to your total travel time over Supercharging. This is certainly optimistic because it assumes that the L2 charging in Gillette is at the hotel, and hindsight is 20-20/6-6, but the Comfort Inn in Gillette is only a 10 minute walk from the hospital. Gillette Hospital to Comfort Inn — Google Maps


    For others traveling this route until more Superchargers are installed, I Strongly Recommend that for travel between Billings and Rapid City to minimize excess charge time:

    • Going West — Do an overnight charge in Gillette at the hospital, and a top up the next day in Sheridan.
    • Going East — Do an overnight charge in Sheridan, and a top up the next day in Gillette at the hospital.
     
  11. Ugliest1

    Ugliest1 S85: "Sparky"

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    Yes, my wife is very very sure about this one, so, by the theory of transitivity, my mind is made up!! No travel plan that includes more than an hour charging stop during the day will survive, unless of course there's some scenic thing there, then it's not really a charging stop.
     
  12. Solarwind

    Solarwind Member

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    Both Gary Q and myself went down the Broadus MT route, planning a stay overnight at Broadus. Gary stayed at the RV park and I stayed at the Sagebrush Inn and used a dryer plug downstairs to charge, (30A) with a extension cord I brought with me. This route is two lane with passing lanes, very good road, very little construction, 70mph speed limit, perfect for range, and shorter then the freeway. Broadus is almost dead center Billings- Rapid City. This stop worked out perfect for us with 40 to 50 miles remaining on the meter at each destination. On the return trip from Denver I decided that going out of the way to Rapid City was still the best bet. Left Denver about 9:00AM charged Cheyenne, Lusk, Rapid City, arrived Broadus 9:30PM. Left Broadus 8:00AM with full charge, charged Billings, Big Timber, arrived home 6:30 as indicated by picture.
     
  13. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    Solarwind,
    Thanks, that is helpful. We will not be going that way, but all of this helps until the SupCs are functioning in Sheridan and Gillette.

    Cottonwood,
    Thanks for the Energy:Trip features info. Very helpful. I used it and I like it, used it a lot to go over Teton Pass (B&B 110 to J1772) a couple times and felt much more comforatble in mountainous areas with Energy:Trip info guiding me over projected miles (which are wacky in mountainous areas). I will probably be switching my travel milage watching habits to a reliance on Energy:Trip as a main factor.
    And thanks for the emphasis on "Really, DON'T do slow charging in the day if you can do it at night!!" That info is out there on this forum, and I like (sometimes, usually before I have done it) to learn by experience, so I thought I could get through the WY desert with a couple hours slow charging. Ha!!! I can be a big fool, but I now experiencially know a lot more about off SupC travel. So to say it again, SLOW CHARGE in the night if at all possible, and COMPLETELY AVOID IT in the day for low battery SoC unless you have very cool things to do while all that slow charging is happening.
     
  14. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    I continue to have trouble with differnt aspects of the navigation. My biggest problem is the Places button in the upper left, and then go to superchargers and the milage is wrong for them. I have got caught more than once believing those numbers and they have been very shy of actual miles to the SupC. I don't use them anymore. I can get a software update when I can plug in and have wireless (I am traveling) and maybe it will fix that.
     
  15. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    Until you pick a Supercharger, the distances displayed are the "as the crow flies," straight-line distances from you to the Superchargers. Once you pick a Supercharger, the Nav calculates the actual road distance to each Supercharger.
     
  16. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    I wondered if it wasn't something like that. It is not useful to know the distances in a car "as the crow flies" however, and I wish they weren't there. My 2 cents.

    - - - Updated - - -

    To go further with what Cottonwood had taught me from above, we went from Park City, UT, to Green River, UT, (SupC) by "back roads" and skipped the interstate and two SupCs. We had enough energy, with the Energy:Trip feature telling us we would have 10% at Green River. We drove under the speed limit much of the time to make sure that we would make it and we did with slightly above the 10%. We watched the Energy:Trip percentage along the way to make sure we would make it. So, shorter route worked, had lunch at a nearby picnic table at the Green River SupC, and made it to Moab easily (of course).

    Number 9 (or something like that)
    It is easy and convenient to travel the SupC route, from SupC to SupC, and you can drive faster in doing so. The rest of our trip home will be SupC the whole way and will seem fast.
     
  17. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    So, for us, traveling all SupCs route seemed so easy compared to any area that required slow charging. Short breaks or meal breaks and not waiting for charging. Tomorrow we head home, 780 miles, SupC all the way. That will be interesting.
    And there seemed to be a difference in the way we felt about the travel: with time outside the SupC network, we were running on a lower percentage (often 20%) while in the SupC network we seem to run from 90 to 100% filled down to about 50 or 60% at the next SupC.
     
  18. KJD

    KJD Member

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    MSEV,
    Excellent write up. Just got the Model S last week and the information here will come in handy when I plan my adventure to Montana this fall.
     
  19. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    Thanks, KJD.

    We got home last night, SupCs the whole way.
    Impatient person that I am, it took a couple hours longer than I thought. I didn't allow for charge (or meal) times.
    I caught myself one stop saying we were waiting on the charging, but we were not--we were waiting for the food we ordered. The MS had said we had enought power to make the next SupC.

    I was putting off a software upgrade the whole trip, not certain about downloading when I couldn't charge at night and not having a night L2 charge situation where I had internet access. Darn, I wish I could have gotten it. The Nav and Trip Planner look to have been improved in the upgrade I had installed last night (after I got home). That was really the main difficulty with the trip, struggling sometimes with the Nav system. It was not bad, just frustrating at times. We could figure it out, but to have it working better will be nice. I also felt that it will just get better and better, which made it easier.
     
  20. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    I found more Teslas at the SupCs than anywhere else. By the end of our trip, we would often charge with two other Teslas. This became more likely when a fellow traveler and we were hitting the same SupCs, so by the third stop together, we talked about the Model S.
     

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