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Weekend trip from bay area? Are the SC stations packed?

medivh

Member
Jan 12, 2020
7
0
CA
Ordered a Model 3 SR and I'm wondering if it will be good enough for one or two-day weekend trips around the bay area.

I'm mainly interested in three destinations: Big Sur (Carmel-by-the-sea), Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. Using abrp, I found there is very limited flexibility in choosing SC stations when traveling from the bay area to Big Sur and Yosemite. Does it mean the SC stations near Big Sur and Yosemite are always packed during weekends? If so, normally how long is the wait?
 

bmah

Moderator
Supporting Member
Mar 17, 2015
4,244
8,033
Lafayette, CA, USA
Ordered a Model 3 SR and I'm wondering if it will be good enough for one or two-day weekend trips around the bay area.

I'm mainly interested in three destinations: Big Sur (Carmel-by-the-sea), Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. Using abrp, I found there is very limited flexibility in choosing SC stations when traveling from the bay area to Big Sur and Yosemite. Does it mean the SC stations near Big Sur and Yosemite are always packed during weekends? If so, normally how long is the wait?

Alright nobody answered yet so I'll take a shot. I drive a Model S 85D, which has only a little bit more rated range than your soon-to-be Model 3 SR. If you leave home with a full charge:

1. Big Sur / Carmel: You've got multiple Superchargers coming down 101 (Morgan Hill, Gilroy) and around Monterey (Seaside, Monterey), plus a Supercharger in Big Sur itself. You don't need to hit all of them...I'd expect to be able to do that round-trip from my house with one charging stop at any one of those. Lots of choices.

2. Yosemite: Haven't done this, but I'd expect you'd use the Superchargers in Manteca and Groveland? This one might not have a lot of alternates.

3. Lake Tahoe: I wrote a trip report about going to Reno and posted it to this forum a couple days ago...you might find that useful but note that I deliberately hit more Superchargers than needed. Basically you have multiple alternatives around Sacramento on both I-80 and US-50 and there are several Superchargers around Lake Tahoe itself.

Few tips:

a) Be flexible. You have fewer alternatives for refuelling than an ICE car has gas stations, but there definitely are a lot.

b) Think about destination chargers too if you're staying overnight somewhere.

c) Superchargers tend to be least crowded early in the morning. The early bird gets the charge.

Other opinions?

Bruce.

EDIT: I guess I didn't actually answer the question. I have not encountered any queueing on any of the routes going to these destinations (except for the originally Roseville Supercharger), but I don't do any of these routes regularly. Also I'm a big proponent of tip c) above. I'm going to stand on the opinion that the Model 3 SR is well-suited to these trips.
 
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aesculus

Still Trying to Figure This All Out
May 31, 2015
4,529
2,599
Northern California
As Bruce mentioned all the places you want to visit (except YNP) have lots of alternatives. IMHO it's best that you fill to 90% at the last SC prior to your destination so you have some flexibility when you arrive and can minimize any conflicts you might encounter at your destination.

Also look at the navigation screen in the car and you can see what the availability of the SC's are where you are planning on going to. You can do this at anytime so look at them during a weekend at roughly the same time you are planning on traveling.

The Groveland SC can get crowded and it is one where you can get capped at 80% charge. It also helps others if you can get in and out with as little time as possible. There are not a lot of alternatives for that one and YNP can be very busy.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,460
3,467
Northern California
I find people are usually pretty lazy in places like these and like to sleep in. If you can Supercharge off hours (late evening or early morning) they is usually no lines. Also, top off at the last SC near you destination gives you option. And also look for accommodations that have charging on the premise. Even a Level 2 will do overnight.

FWIW, I drive a X75 which is about the thirstiest and shortest range vehicle Tesla ever made. And have had no issue with Monterey/Carmel
 

PianoAl

Member
Dec 15, 2019
932
580
Far Northern California
On my few trips, and in watching a number of road trip videos, I've seen that crowded SCs are uncommon, and even when full, a new charger often opens up quickly. Here's Mt. Shasta (16 chargers plus another 4 elsewhere in the the town).

Shasta.jpg
 

medivh

Member
Jan 12, 2020
7
0
CA
Alright nobody answered yet so I'll take a shot. I drive a Model S 85D, which has only a little bit more rated range than your soon-to-be Model 3 SR. If you leave home with a full charge:

1. Big Sur / Carmel: You've got multiple Superchargers coming down 101 (Morgan Hill, Gilroy) and around Monterey (Seaside, Monterey), plus a Supercharger in Big Sur itself. You don't need to hit all of them...I'd expect to be able to do that round-trip from my house with one charging stop at any one of those. Lots of choices.

2. Yosemite: Haven't done this, but I'd expect you'd use the Superchargers in Manteca and Groveland? This one might not have a lot of alternates.

3. Lake Tahoe: I wrote a trip report about going to Reno and posted it to this forum a couple days ago...you might find that useful but note that I deliberately hit more Superchargers than needed. Basically you have multiple alternatives around Sacramento on both I-80 and US-50 and there are several Superchargers around Lake Tahoe itself.

Few tips:

a) Be flexible. You have fewer alternatives for refuelling than an ICE car has gas stations, but there definitely are a lot.

b) Think about destination chargers too if you're staying overnight somewhere.

c) Superchargers tend to be least crowded early in the morning. The early bird gets the charge.

Other opinions?

Bruce.

EDIT: I guess I didn't actually answer the question. I have not encountered any queueing on any of the routes going to these destinations (except for the originally Roseville Supercharger), but I don't do any of these routes regularly. Also I'm a big proponent of tip c) above. I'm going to stand on the opinion that the Model 3 SR is well-suited to these trips.

Thanks for sharing your experience and the tips! Now I'm pretty confident that SR can handle Lake Tahoe and Carmel without trouble.
 

medivh

Member
Jan 12, 2020
7
0
CA
As Bruce mentioned all the places you want to visit (except YNP) have lots of alternatives. IMHO it's best that you fill to 90% at the last SC prior to your destination so you have some flexibility when you arrive and can minimize any conflicts you might encounter at your destination.

Also look at the navigation screen in the car and you can see what the availability of the SC's are where you are planning on going to. You can do this at anytime so look at them during a weekend at roughly the same time you are planning on traveling.

The Groveland SC can get crowded and it is one where you can get capped at 80% charge. It also helps others if you can get in and out with as little time as possible. There are not a lot of alternatives for that one and YNP can be very busy.

I'm particularly worried about the Groveland SC tbh. Everyone wants to get as much juice as possible from this last SC, so I assume it would be very busy on weekends. And I have to make a stop there with a Model 3 SR. Will check status for that SC once my car is delivered :)
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
6,990
13,778
California
Yosemite is no real issue. Manteca and Groveland are rarely super crowded. Fish Camp is another option (and beautiful place to stay) from the south entrance. There are lots of destination charging options in the gateway cities like Mariposa and Oakhurst. There is L2 charging in the valley but best not to depend on it.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
7,596
Canyon Lake,CA
Usually only see full stalls during the heavily traveled holidays. 4th of July, Labor Day, etc.

Other times, usually lots of spaces.

I stopped at Seaside on my way down from SF to cruise the coast to LA. No problems for me on a normal day.

Only place that was busy was Madona Inn further down. Still lots of open slots, but I needed to share.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,188
10,056
SF Bay Area
With regards to YNP, take a NEMA 14-50 adapter with you. It won't come in your car's mobile kit (check to see what Tesla is supplying it with these days because you should also make sure you have a J-1772 for Level 2 chargers). The NEMA 14-50 will be useful in RV parks where you can charge there. For slower charging than a Supercharger you just need to plan more in advance or as others have suggested look for overnight accommodations where you can charge overnight for more range. If you have plans to stay overnight, I'd ask in advance about overnight charging in case it's on a first come first serve basis and needs to be reserved. We stayed at a B&B that was like that.

Also have you explored the Plugshare app or website yet? You can filter connector types for your Tesla: Supercharger, NEMA 14-50, J-1772, Tesla (wall charger), and household Wall outlet which will be your slowest. Plugshare is a good source for charging locations in more out of the way places where Superchargers aren't plentiful. It provides info on how many stalls, types of connectors, photos usually of the location, directions and car owner comments which can be very helpful so read through them. If you don't know this already, J-1772 Level 2 chargers may require a payment method (some may be free, non-networked) and some charging networks (like ChargePoint) may require their card or app to use. Plugshare is pretty good about including this info as well.
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,188
10,056
SF Bay Area
As for the wait time which I assume you mean when crowded and there's a line, really hard to say with multiple versions of cars with different battery packs and depends on what charge level the driver needs. If you aren't aware, the car begins tapering off more steeply (ie takes longer to add miles for the minutes you charge) around 80% and above. Which is why some busy Superchargers will adjust your charge level to 80%. This can be overridden if you are traveling long distance for example and need more range by simply readjusting the level. Elon is okay with this but asks people at busy locations to stick to the 80% max if they can. It does get cars in and out faster and usually there's another charger within that 80% range for you to use.

Another thing that can influence the charge rate you are getting is if you are on a shared or paired Supercharger (the numbered and A/B lettering system on the older taller chargers). These typically charge at 150 kW split between two stalls (these are not necessary next to each other so be aware of the numbering and lettering system). The first car in the paired stall, such as in 1A or 1B, to plug in will get the higher charging rate and as they get closer to being done, the other paired stall will increase its rate. Now this isn't true for urban Superchargers which are the smaller pedestal units. Those do not use distributed pairing, but they charge at a dedicated slower of 72 kW rate.
 

sperkin

Member
Mar 23, 2017
918
1,028
Los Angeles, CA
Just slide that limit bar to the right.

Or, am I not aware of S.C. stations with hard caps?

People shouldn't slide it when there is line, but Tesla allows it. I think there should be a hard cap at 95%.

I have started charging with 20% at a busy SC, and the Model S beside me had 230 miles (I saw on his screen after I plugged in). I would get to 80% and he is still sitting in his car trying to get 100% to finish calculating (which will take another 30-45min to finish). There are 4 cars deep waiting.
 
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KSilver2000

Active Member
Dec 23, 2017
1,368
2,438
CA
People shouldn't slide it when there is line, but Tesla allows it. I think there should be a hard cap at 95%.

I have started charging with 20% at a busy SC, and the Model S beside me had 230 miles (I saw on his screen after I plugged in). I would get to 80% and he is still sitting in his car trying to get 100% to finish calculating (which will take another 30-45min to finish). There are 4 cars deep waiting.

Maybe a hard cap at 95% is fine. But, not being allowed to slide it past 80% would be awful. For many on road trips, that would mean a difference between 1 and 2 stops, or 2 and 3 stops, depending on the battery model for many weekend trippers.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
7,596
Canyon Lake,CA
If the car paired next to you is trying to get the last 10% charge, they most likely will be in the heavy throttled state of charge, and you will be getting the maximum amps your car can take.

First car to plug in gets what they can accept and the balance is shunted to the 2nd car.
 
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sperkin

Member
Mar 23, 2017
918
1,028
Los Angeles, CA
People should do whatever they want/need to get where they’re going.

It's a free country. I'm just saying people shouldn't slide it when it's busy, but they can do what they want like driving slow in the passing lane. I don't really care. I don't care if they need another 45min to go from 99% to 100% because they need to watch another episode of TV. There is absolutely no reason to get to 100% at the Santa Monica Supercharger.

Actually maybe 75D Model X might need to get to 100% all the time since they have the shortest range. I just don't understand how I can pull in at 10%, leave at 90%, and the Model Xs that was here are still charging. I can't see there screens, but I have seen plenty of Model S at 90% while I pull in and I leave before them.
 

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