first impression - range anxiety

first impression - range anxiety

I normally drive 40 miles r/t a day to work. Maybe another 30 miles some days with lunch or shopping excursions. After an admittedly atypical weekend of driving my new Model S I'm feeling a little more range anxiety than I expected. Full charge in normal mode is 240 miles, driving spiritedly drives that down to somewhere in the 190s. And it will probably be a while before I get comfortable pushing my available range down in the the 30s and below.

I thought I would be fine with charging at 208v/16a at home and catching up over a few days or topping up at work when I was using the car more than average. But it turns out the SEMAcharge station at work is only delivering 208v/15a as well. And at about 8 miles of range (and $1.25) per hour I'm just not feeling the love. My family is spread out around the state and I found myself trying to do the math about what routes I should take and who I'd be able to visit on the same day. That kind of planning exercise is not something I want to have to do on a regular basis, which is why we went with the 85kwh battery. Now I'm finding myself checking to see how much range the car has every time I stop and start. Again, not where I wanted to be with this car. I'm sure a lot of the initial range anxiety I'm feeling will go away as I get used to the car, but I do feel a little option limited by this slow rate of charge.

So I'm thinking I'm going to have to go ahead and spend a couple grand to upgrade the power situation in my rental house. Yeah, it's only 2% of the purchase price of my Sig, but it still hurts. Especially as I'm facing another $2400 outlay for the service plan (Tesla wasn't able to roll it into the initial purchase agreement so it could be financed).

Peter Spirgel | November 10, 2012

@SteveZ. Understood. Interestingly, when the car was delivered, my delivery specialist said that for the first few days, use range mode, then switch to standard mode. I kept it on range mode for my trip because I had no idea what I would experience in real life. When I trturn from this road trip, I plan to switch to standard.

Brian H | November 10, 2012

Yes, interesting! Sort of "pre-conditioning" the battery. Keep us up on how all that goes.

Peter Spirgel | November 11, 2012

FURTHER THOUGHTS. I already posted my initial thoughts for my first long trip in my Model S. As I prepare to return home (a 170 mile trip), here are a few more. First, for me, especially at this early stage of my lrange anxiety learning curve, my effective range is approx. 210 miles before you have to charge-up. What I mean is that for any long trip, assume you start fully charged on what Tesla refers to as "Range Mode." This will give you a rated range of approx. 270 miles. Remember, longer trips tend to have a higher percentage of highway driving and higher speeds reduce range. Form me I need to build in a "cushion" in case I have to take a detour or I get lost.

When I arrived at my destination for my first long trip in my Model S (170 miles), I was able to plug in at Tesla's Washington, D.C. store while my family and I toured. I showed approx. 77 miles of range remaining. Approx. 3.5 hours later, I showed 235 miles of range. Subsequent local driving to our hotel, meals and the function we were attending reduced my range to 180 miles. Not comfortable with starting a 170 mile trip with 180 miles of range, I needed to charge.

Most chargers you'll encounter are the J1772 type. They provide around 18 miles of range per hour. First, you have to find a charging station. There are several apps that locate them. I used Chargepoint. You need to set up an account with them and you receive a Chargepoint card synced with your credit card. You simply tap the card on the front of the charging station, use your J1772 adapter that Tesla provides with the car, and charge. Before I left for my trip, I used the app to see if there were any charging stations near my hotel. The app showed one right around the corner from the hotel! Fantastic! The Washington, D.C. metro. area has numerous charging options.

First warning, don't rely on just one charging location. Despite checking with Chargepoint before I left for my trip (the person I spoke to was not much help), when I found the garage where the station was supposed to be located, I learned that it either had been removed or never was installed! Luckily, I had charged at Tesla. I figured the next block of charging time I would have was the time I was going to be attending the family affair. Again, using the app, I located a charging station approx. 4 miles from the event's venue. I asked someone else to follow me to the charging station so I could have a way to get back to the event. The app indicated this particular station was in a parking garage. Second warning, you need to make sure the charging location has public access when you are going to need it. The app is supposed to provide this info. I found the garage where this particular station was located and the garage was not open. There was no attendant. Instead you needed a card to access the garage. Luckily, the gate had a call box and I was able to talk my way into the garage with the security service! I plugged in and went back to the affair.

Approx 3 hrs. later, I got a ride back to my car (didn't love the idea of leaving my new Tesla unattended in a garage- but it was my only option). The J1772 chargers give you approx. 17 miles of range per hour. Not much when you want to fill-up! Range was showing 235. Enough for my 175 mile trip back? I'll let you know...

I am 3146 | November 11, 2012

@Peter...I will have a Tesla HPWCinstalled at my house early next year. I am in Mullica can alleviate some of that anxiety on the way back from the south. Even if you need a 120 charge to get you by until you get home, feel free to let me know.


Peter Spirgel | November 11, 2012

@nj7065. That's very kind of you. We have a J1772 level 2 charging station In my office's parking lot which is located right next to the Cherry Hill mall if you're ever up in our area looking to top off! What made you decde to get a HPWC? When I looked into it, Tesla did not recommend one for my needs and I would have had to upgrade my electrical service to accommodate its needs.

mrspaghetti | November 11, 2012


Advise you read the Motortrend article about their trip from Las Vegas to LA on one charge. You have plenty of range, and if necessary you can always slow down a little to get more.

Sudre_ | November 11, 2012

Peter this is a great story. It really helps me see the real world use of the car. I don't have mine yet but I have driven around St Louis and already noticed a few are not public so I updated the Recargo app with comments (recargo then updated the facts). EVERYONE please comment in these apps so people like Peter don't get these surprises. If an app doesn't have a comment section I don't use it the app. I always upload pics and a fully description even tho I am not charging yet.
When I drove to Chicago to look at the car I left comments at all the public chargers I looked at along the way.

Peter Spirgel | November 11, 2012

+1 Sudre!

Brian H | November 11, 2012

Yeah, the info you leave today may save a fellow owner's bippy tomorrow!

STEVEZ | November 11, 2012


My DS didn't mention anything about Range mode charging except that you shouldn't do it any more often than necessary. If there's a benefit to using Range mode for the first week or so with a brand new battery pack, that would be very interesting, indeed. I'd like confirmation from more than just your DS, though: there have been a number of cases documented on the forums where different Tesla employees give conflicting information about the same issue.

DouglasR | November 11, 2012

Do all J1772 chargers provide a maximum of 17 miles per hour? I thought some were faster -- i.e., the same 31 miles per hour you would get from a NEMA 14-50 outlet.

sergiyz | November 11, 2012

The J1772 chargers are 30A, roughly 15 miles per hour.
NEMA 14-50 are 40A, but the maximum I've seen with them is 26 miles
added per hour.

sergiyz | November 11, 2012

btw, HPWC allows you to use 80A of current to charge, but you don't have to use all 80A.
You can always dial it down to 40A or less, but having an ability to charge at full 80A is great for making mid-range trips during the day.
50 miles per hour of charging vs about 26 on 40A.

Sudre_ | November 11, 2012

There is one on the way to Chicago that was recently installed in Normal, IL. It is supposed to be an 80amp.... if I recall correctly. Normal is trying to get the attention of all EV owners who are going South out of Chicago. Tesla should call them. There is a good chance they will fund or assist in any way the installation of a Supercharger (and I will be able to quickly drive to Chicago!)

Peter Spirgel | November 11, 2012

Installment #3 of my first experience with range anxiety. I made it back home from my trip to Washington, D.C. with 27 miles of range left! Left a location in Arlington Virginia with a Rated Range of 206 miles and a projected range (again, based on my last 30 miles of driving- which was a mixture of local and highway) of 148 miles. Now my trip was 175 miles! I set off expecting my Projected Range to adjust over the trip to a number closer to my Rated Range and that's exactly what happened. I seem to be getting better range on the highway than with local driving. I can't figure out why. On the highway, my limited experience is that the Rated Range number is quite accurate. On my trip - almost all at a highway speed of 70 mph, I seem to have a range of approx 275 miles if the vehicle is fully charged on Max Range. Allowing for a cushion of 30 miles, that translates to an effective highway range for me of 245 miles. Would I like it to be greater? Yes! Will I get used to and comfortable with the range? I hope so. Having more places to charge quickly and accurate information regarding each charging location will go a long way towards addressing range anxiety. Those superchargers on the East Coast can't come fast enough!

Note - you are supposed to only use Max Range when going on long trips. Daily charging on Max Range is not recommended by Tesla.

When I made it home, I plugged in to my NEMA 14-50 outlet in my garage and it said I was charging at a rate of 27 miles per hour. I will start my day tomorrow with a "full tank."

jjaeger | November 11, 2012

Thanks Peter for the thread and the thoughts. Believe that your experience is very much indicative of what many of us are worried about. I still have a few months before I start to experience this first hand, but am starting to plan a N. Calif. to Phoenix trip for spring training and these real world data points are critical to both planning and getting through this trip.

Dr. Bob Reinke | November 11, 2012

Is there a national hotel motel chain that has class II or 14-50 charging recpetacles at most locations? Is there a list of locations? A list of chains?

mrspaghetti | November 11, 2012

DouglasR | NOVEMBER 11, 2012 NEW
Do all J1772 chargers provide a maximum of 17 miles per hour? I thought some were faster -- i.e., the same 31 miles per hour you would get from a NEMA 14-50 outlet.

There are some that provide higher amperage, but they are not common (yet). I have read about some as high as 80 amps.

@Dr. Bob

There are a number of apps / web pages that you can use to find chargers, none of which is comprehensive. Plugshare, recargo, carstations and chargepoint are the 4 I can think of off the top of my head.

Also note that you can use google maps to search. Do a search for hotels at your destination city first, then type "ev chargers" into the search box. Then go over to the top right of the map and turn on both search results & you'll see all the charging stations it knows about plus the hotels. Sometimes even if you can't find a charger owned by a hotel, there is a good chance there is a charger very near by a hotel that you can use overnight in a parking garage, etc.

I am 3146 | November 12, 2012


Thanks for the information and the invite as well.

The reason I went with the HPWC was that I have deposits down on the S and and X. Since I will have two Teslas, I figured being able to charge faster would mean I would only need one charging outlet. I could charge the one car and then plug in the other car at night and they would both be fully charged. Also, I thought if friends came over, they would be able to get almost fully charged by the time they had to leave.

I figured that the faster I could charge at home, the less range anxiety I would need knowing my car would almost always be charged when I am home or needed to go on a last minute trip to the shore or North Jersey.

William9 | November 12, 2012

jjaeger: I will be making the trip from Napa to Tucson on the 27th/28th of December. My plan is to go Napa/Harris Ranch SC/Lebec SC/Barstow SC/Blythe (spend night at KOA)/Scottsdale Tesla Store/Tucson. I could probably make it from Harris Ranch to Barstow directly, and from Blythe to Tucson, but until I learn more of my cars capability don't want to chance it. And the two extra stops don't really impact the trip...still two days.

There is a thread over on TMC by SIG698 discussing an attempt to get a charging station at Chiriaco Summit east of Indio, or Blythe. Might be worth watching.

Sudre_ | November 12, 2012

Tesla would recommend leaving both the X and the S plugged in not have one sitting around unplugged while the other charges. I would recommend after switching the charger from one car to the other (if they are both staying parked) to plug the other into a lesser power outlet. That's why I went with two 50 amp plugs rather than the HPWC.

STEVEZ | November 12, 2012

If you drive both cars almost daily I think the only time sharing an HPWC between two Teslas would potentially be a problem is if you leave home for several weeks and only one can be plugged in. The daily inconvenience of having to go out to the garage after several hours and swap cars on the charger is also to be considered. Ideally, you'd want an HPWC *and* a 14-50. I opted for two 14-50 circuits...and then I traded in my Roadster for the S. Ah, well, we'll see: the S is such a compelling automobile that we may yet have two EVs in the garage. Meanwhile, I have a spare if y'all find yourselves passing through Denver. :-)

Theresa | November 12, 2012

The issue of charging over a few weeks should be able to be handled by the standard 120V outlet adaptor. No need for the 14-50 connection for maintainance charging.

jjaeger | November 12, 2012

William9, thanks for the data, will be interesting to hear how the trip goes. There's a learning curve to be had before these trips become second nature.

jd3tm | November 12, 2012


going from Napa you will need to stop at Gilroy Supercharger I suspect in order to make it to Harris Ranch. I don't believe you can get from Napa to Harris Ranch w/o stopping!

Given the path you are looking at, you might be able to make it without ever stopping for the night, just take a 45 minute break every Supercharger stop!!

Good luck.


STEVEZ | November 12, 2012

If the S is anything like the roadster, even maintenance charging is better done at 240V, because the battery environmental conditioning system wouldn't work on 120V. No big deal if the garage doesn't get too cold or too hot while you're away, though.

I haven't heard yet if the S behaves in a similar fashion.

mrspaghetti | November 12, 2012


I'd imagine that the battery heating/cooling system would be powered from the battery, same as when it's not plugged in at all.

William9 | November 13, 2012

jd3tm; It is 204 miles from Napa to Harris Ranch. With a full range charge of 260 miles, shouldn't be an issue. And I'll be the one in the slow lane.

Volker.Berlin | November 13, 2012

And I'll be the one in the slow lane. (William9)

Please, don't! You're ruining our (and Tesla's) reputation! ;-)

jd3tm | November 13, 2012


You will quickly discover that it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to go that slow!!!

Going from San Jose to Napa (~100 miles) cost me almost 140 miles of range because:

-no one goes the posted speed limit on either I680, I580, I80 or any other Innn in Cali...

-it is just to darn much fun to merge at these intersecting interchanges...I think I lost 20 miles of charge just merging! ;-)

-passing and staying away from the folks who have been "Tasting wines" all day uses extra acceleration.

-there are actually very few spots where you can regen significantly so you won't make up much miles of charge that way.

So, give yourself a little pleasure and a break at the Gilroy SC! It's a great place to take an energizing stroll and drop a few $$$s to help the Cali economy! That way you can truly enjoy the Tesla Model S driving experience!



STEVEZ | November 13, 2012


You wrote: "I'd imagine that the battery heating/cooling system would be powered from the battery, same as when it's not plugged in at all."

I'm not certain the S is designed the same way, but when it was plugged into 120V the Roadster wouldn't turn on the A/C or resistance heater in order to maintain the battery temperature.

mrspaghetti | November 13, 2012


Not doubting you about the roadster, but I'd be very surprised if the engineers at Tesla hadn't improved upon that with the Model S.

Any current owners care to confirm?

Theresa | November 14, 2012

I don't know about the resistance heater but I can believe the AC is not needed when using 120 as it would not provide as much heating during charging as a 240 input would.

Vawlkus | November 14, 2012

Battery climate control IS run off the battery at all times, except when the battery's SOC reaches critically low levels.

dahtye | November 14, 2012

I plugged into 110V earlier today and didn't hear anything from my Model S.

Later I plugged into 220V/50A - charging at 195V/40A and still didn't hear anything. I only listened for the first 2 minutes though.

Brian H | November 14, 2012

I think only SC makes enough heat for the AC to run loudly.

mrspaghetti | November 14, 2012

I think the AC is just quiet all the time.

MB3 | November 14, 2012

I had a test drive today in MD. the AC is the loudest thing in the car. I would not call it quiet. Actually it is the fan not the AC per se.

Timo | November 14, 2012

Interior AC and battery AC are two different things. Maybe battery AC doesn't make much noise. OTOH 220V (at low amps) or 110V might just heat batteries so little that AC doesn't need to run at all.

SunnyGuy53 | March 20, 2015

If you are getting a NEMA 14-50 outlet installed for charging a Model S, have the electrician put it on a 50 amp, 240 volt circuit.

This should not be a problem nowadays, as most homes have 200 amp service available (although not necessarily into the box).

Any continuous load, (which includes an EV), is only allowed by code to draw 80% of a circuit's capacity, which means 40 amps MAX draw on a 50 amp circuit, (32 amps MAX draw on a 40 amp circuit, etc.).

A 40-amp draw at 240 volts (i.e., a 50-amp circuit) equates to about a 30 mph charge rate, so your Model S should be fully charged in the morning -- if you get enough sleep. :-)

Btw, here in Central Illinois, 25 miles from a nuke plant, I typically pay $.02 per kWh or less overnight.

Since the power company's app rounds to one decimal place, it actually showed $0.0 per kWh one night.

See you on the road -- or at an SC!