Model 3

Charging in the cold....big cold.

Greetings from North Dakota. I've talked to many of you already in another thread, and I'm super grateful for this community as I make the decision to get my Model 3 in the cold wintered North Dakota. I do have a few questions about charging in the frigid cold. Here is my current set up.

I have access to a 120v standard outlet right outside of the garage as I park outside. I live in a house that is separated into apartments. I am speaking to my landlord about paying to install a NEMA 14-50 outlet. I also have access to a level 2 charger that I will need a CHAdEMO adapter for. My daily commute is about 3 miles to my job and back.

My question is, I don't mind charging at the level 2 station for big charges if I can't get the NEMA outlet installed, but will a 120v outlet be enough to at least keep the battery warm so I don't lose mileage overnight?
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Comments

  • I’m not an expert on the cold (living in Phoenix), but my understanding is that 120v should be able to maintain battery levels on the coldest days, though you won’t get any charging.
    Someone who knows more than me will be sure to pipe up shortly.
  • Are you going to be able to park in the garage at all? The battery will get cold soaked to the extent that you’ll have very little if any regen, depending on your commute. 120V can generally maintain charge, but won’t keep it warm. It may add miles depending on how cold it is. Prewarming the cabin will consume some battery charge since the 120V won’t suffice. If the battery drops below 30F, it won’t take charge until the temperature us brought up. This can take a significant amount of time. It can take an hour before supercharging will add charge if the battery gets frigid. Makes sense to charge up while the battery is still warm.
  • > @Bighorn said:
    > Are you going to be able to park in the garage at all? The battery will get cold soaked to the extent that you’ll have very little if any regen, depending on your commute. 120V can generally maintain charge, but won’t keep it warm. It may add miles depending on how cold it is. Prewarming the cabin will consume some battery charge since the 120V won’t suffice. If the battery drops below 30F, it won’t take charge until the temperature us brought up. This can take a significant amount of time. It can take an hour before supercharging will add charge if the battery gets frigid. Makes sense to charge up while the battery is still warm.

    Unfortunately not. The garage is out of service, but the power is on. I use it all of the time when I clean my current car.

    Great info on the 120v. I figured as much. This is exactly why Tesla has suggested to me that I either get a NEMA 14-50 outlet, or even a 6-50. I can expect the battery to drop that low on a North Dakota night most nights in the winter.

    Doesn't plugging the car in right when I get home help to alleviate this problem?
  • The worst case you’ll have is, as Bighorn notes, that regen won’t work-the car will drive like almost every ICE car you’ve ever driven.

    Some apps, like Stats, will allow you to start charging a couple hours before you leave in the morning, which should put enough heat in the battery that you won’t have an issue.

    So, based on my limited understanding, you’d want to plug in when you get home to charge when it’s relatively (???!!!???) warm. That’ll bring the battery up, and charging will terminate at some point. Then use schedule charging in the car, or a phone app like Stats, to restart charging 2-3 hours before you’re gonna leave in the morning, which will initially heat the battery so that it’s ready to go when you walk out the door.
  • The distance of your commute will dictate how long the battery charges on your 240V, obviously. Also what you set the current limit to. If you have a relatively short commute, you’ll plug in when you get home in order to get the charge. It may last a couple hours after which it doesn’t do much. It doesn’t maintain battery warmth. You probably won’t have the option to charge more in the morning, but you can use the app to precondition the cabin, which will also help heat the battery some. The cold soak will definitely change the nature of the beast for the season, but you won’t be worrying about if your block heater is going to allow the starter to turn. You can also depart with a toasty cabin and be the only one driving without a coat at 0F.
  • > @Bighorn said:
    > The distance of your commute will dictate how long the battery charges on your 240V, obviously. Also what you set the current limit to. If you have a relatively short commute, you’ll plug in when you get home in order to get the charge. It may last a couple hours after which it doesn’t do much. It doesn’t maintain battery warmth. You probably won’t have the option to charge more in the morning, but you can use the app to precondition the cabin, which will also help heat the battery some. The cold soak will definitely change the nature of the beast for the season, but you won’t be worrying about if your block heater is going to allow the starter to turn. You can also depart with a toasty cabin and be the only one driving without a coat at 0F.

    Can you explain limit setting to me? Obviously I am new to EVs in general. They're becoming much more popular here. Also, do Model 3 standards come with built-in block heaters?
  • Page 184 of the manual:

    "2. Adjust the charge limit by touching Set
    Limit, and drag the arrow to move the
    charge limit setting. The setting you
    choose applies to immediate and
    scheduled charging sessions."

    https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/model_3_owners_manual_north_america_en.pdf
  • Say you have a 32A charging option. You can dial down the amps on the charging screen to whatever you’d like, within reason. 5A was the minimum at one time. It allows you to stretch your charging session. Or be less taxing to your charging infrastructure if you’re apt to trip a breaker or get a voltage drop that the car might respond to by dialing back the amperage.
  • Block heaters are for engine blocks, obviously a Tesla doesn't have an engine block so no block heater. Battery heating is the equivalent in a Tesla.
  • To summarize, if you only have 120, plug in asap and turn on the charger. It won't do much on the cold days (<10f), but it will keep the battery warmer than it would be without.
    240 will be able to heat and charge it, but you have to nurse it: start the charge in the morning so the battery is still warm when you depart. You'll have to figure out how long it will take to warm the battery before it starts to charge and leave enough time to charge. It's the only way you will get regen. You can also prewarm the cabin.
    Reread Bighorn's posts - he has more experience than any of us.
  • I think that the OP should have 3 priorities:
    1) (highest) is to plug in to 120v and get enough energy to keep the battery from extreme cold soak which can harm its life. Since, as @Bighorn pointed out, you can and may have to adjust your charging current to avoid blowing a breaker if there are other loads on that circuit.
    2) plug in to warm the battery enough to have it charge in addition to keeping the battery happy. This is a convenience/cost saving thing to avoid needing to go to the fast charger too often. During those cold snaps, you'll want to set your charging current as high as you can without blowing the breakers.
    3) plug in to warm the battery before departure so you will get some regen.
    With a NEMA 14-50 outlet, all of these are easy. With 120v, it may be a struggle to achieve some or all of the above on those extreme cold days and nights.
    Remember, also that if you aren't plugged in at work, you'll be cold soaking the battery there as well, making it that much harder to warm it up at night.
    Assuming a relatively short commute, there should be no problems except for those extremely cold days.
    A suggestion to the OP is to get a thick, car cover. That may retain a bit of the heat on those extremely cold days. It may allow a bit more of the 120v electricity you put in to the car to charge the battery instead of just keeping it warm.
  • Be good if Tesla provided a database on charging to answer owner questions like this. At what temp would the 120V/15A cease charging? What charge could it provide at a range of temp?

    Similar to the range deration charts for speeds over 55.
  • I'm in Manitoba (north of North Dakota) and have been through 2 winters with our M3 and 5 winters with our MS. I agree with what many have said about 120V charging in winter. I just want to add that our Tesla's have been the best winter vehicles we have ever owned. Even if it gets cold soaked in -30C, I can be confident it will always go (unlike any ICE). With the app, and timed charging, I can always get into a toasty warm car on the way to work, and again on the way home. With dual motor, winter tires, and Tesla's electronic traction control, it cuts through fresh snow with ease. And best of all, I never have to go to fill gasoline in sub-zero temps and freeze my fingers!
  • @MrSpaceTeacher
    Do you know if the 120V outlet you have access to is 120amp or 15amp?

    Also, I use the Tesla outdoor cover as I have no garage and I think it helps keep the car warmer especially if you are charging and conditioning the cabin.
    Please note, I don't live in a clod climate, but car has been through some night below 30 degrees.
  • 120amp -> 20amp
  • I’m in Alaska and 120v will do approaching nothing at much below 0F. And really nothing at -20F. I would not buy an EV as your only vehicle in a true cold climate without home 240 charging. Now if you keep a gas car and drive it for long cold stretches <0F different story. Also in the dead of winter plan on only a 100mile range (worst case) in the LR AWD.

    I’ll also add a lot of people on this forum feel like they need to comment on everything but have no idea what they are talking about first hand. See how many posts where people think cold is in the 40’F... I don’t comment about AC, hot climates, stop and go traffic,...
  • And all these comments about Regen is pointless in the cold. On winter roads you will have regen set to low and even with a garage that is heated to 55F have almost no regen 6 months a year.
  • 120V overnight Charging will prevent the 6-8% loss that can occur through the coldest nights.
    However you need to have access to a level 2 charger overnight once a week to top up your battery.
    This situation would be similar like having an ICE car that you tank once a week and plug overnight for the block heater to make sure it starts ;)
  • I’m gonna agree with coleak. I am a strong tesla advocate. But without 240v home charging I just think you are going to struggle. Winters could be stressful. Bighorn is telling you different ways he has made it work when he faces situations like yours in his travels. But I am curious what his advice would be, knowing you have to park outside in ND all winter AND hypothetically all you have is a 120v home solution. Would you endorse the M3 purchase?
  • Definitely will need 240V somewhere the car routinely resides, either home or work, preferably the former.
  • In a Manitoba (or Alaska or North Dakota) winter, 120V is useless for charging. It is not enough to even warm the battery on the colder nights, though it could maintain some warmth if it is plugged in (and set to charge) when the battery is already warm. However it would not keep it warm enough to have much/any regen on the coldest days.

    Note though, the Tesla drives fine with a cold battery (better than an ICE with a frozen block), just with little or no regen, which is not a big deal.

    On the coldest winter days, I often plug into 120V at work during the day, which keeps the battery warm. But I sometimes wonder if this is inefficient or a waste of energy, as it does little or no charging, and probably uses more energy than anything saved from having a bit more regen.
  • At below -10F I don’t even bother to plug in at work. The lot is ~1/8 mile further away, and uncovered, and it does nothing to charge, warm the battery or pre-heat.
  • Last thing I’ll add to charging. When the temps are below -20F and on snow/ice covered roads I’m charging daily. Typical energy usage is triple normal in the 800-900 Wh/mi so 30 mile drive can use 30-40% on my LR AWD.
  • Perfect! You will be happy with that.
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