Supercharger Stations

Supercharger Stations

With the recent power outages due to Hurricane Sandy, how will the Super Charging stations operate in the event of the power grid being down? Reason I ask is that for the Supercharging Stations to feed the power grid with the excess solar energy, they will have to be a Grid-Tie system.

All Grid-tie Solar systems shut down when the grid is down. This is per code: National Electric code requires that when grid is down, solar cannot operate. Your inverter piggybacks off the sine wave from the grid. When there is no sign wave present, inverter will not operate. The only way to reap the solar electric when the grid is down is to store the electric in batteries, have those batteries tied to a separate dedicated panel for emergency loads and then it could operate independently of the grid.

Given that the Super Charging stations may have battery backup, what happens after a few days with the grid being down? No more juice.

To me, the National Code cripples a Solar panel system. Why can't there just be an automatic transfer switch that still feeds solar power to the local house or charging station and not backfeed the grid in the event of the grid being down. I am curious as to the purpose of this National Code and wondering if Tesla and/or Solar City is looking into a solution for this.

I have a home Solar system and it makes me crazy to see my system down during power outages.

DouglasR | November 5, 2012

Without the grid, I don't think a supercharger station could charge more than two or three cars per day anyway, so I don't think we'd be missing much. I believe the reason for this code provision is so that the solar system does not injure line workers who are trying to repair the grid.

Peter7 | November 5, 2012

" Why can't there just be an automatic transfer switch that still feeds solar power to the local house or charging station and not backfeed the grid in the event of the grid being down."

Hi Gator,

There are systems that have exactly that, I have a grid tie system that disconnects from the grid and keeps some items running in the house when power drops out. Linemen are killed by people who back-feed power either from a generator or from solar into the grid lines, through a transformer, which boosts that generator output up to thousands of volts on the lines that linemen have shut down from their side. It is a mandatory requirement with truly deadly consequences if not followed.


reitmanr | November 5, 2012


Can you give more details about your system. My solar still must have the grid up for it to function. What/how does your system disconnect and still provide power to the house? I have over a 6kW system and would like to be able to access it even when the grid is down- could charge my MS and keep our food cold. I live in earthquake possible SF bay area. Thanks

Docrob | November 6, 2012

ReitmanR, there are a number of products that allow you to do what Peter is describing, one from a major manufacturer is the Sunny Backup set from SMA. This is a solar junction box that is added to an existing or new grid connect system which allows a solar array, generator and battery bank to all be linked to the grid, it auto isolates the system from the grid in the event of a power failure and runs as a stand alone system charging the battery array from the solar array or a generator.

Peter7 | November 6, 2012


Yep, though I installed my system almost 7 years ago so my info may be a little out of date. My system is made by Outback and has a battery backup. When the grid goes out the outback inverters (GVFX3648) switch their connections from the grid and then directly power the "backed up outlets" which in my case is a backup sub panel with outlets run through the house. Between the load on those outlets, the batteries, and solar system it would work as a permanent off grid system if need be. You do pay a small penalty in efficiency, I think mine is about 1%, and the batteries add cost to the system, but it works perfectly.


murraypetera | November 6, 2012

Living in the NYC area and having a 40KWH S on order I can tell it would be of great comfort to have solar powered super chargers for the 40KWH battery. At the minimum HPC at the Super Charger sites.

It would be very comforting to know I could take my Tesla and top it off quickly even when the gas is not flowing and the lights are off.

Just because I do not plan on cross country trips in my S does not mean I would not want/need a quick top off with a Super Charger.

Elon if you lived in an area of the country like NYC/Boston/DC/etc. you would understand the need for 40KWH battery to be super charger capable. Things millage wise may not be far but travel time can be long, very long eating up battery to heat/cool the car for 2+ hours to go only a few miles.

Michael23 | November 6, 2012

I'm pretty sure the small battery can't handle the supercharging. If you need it go with 60. Since there isn't an epa rating for the 40 battery yet I wouldn't count on the reported mileage or risk it personally. Maybe down the road they will kill the 40 and 60 will be minimum when battery prices go down.

mrspaghetti | November 6, 2012


It would be very comforting to know I could take my Tesla and top it off quickly even when the gas is not flowing and the lights are off.

How often does that happen up there? I can remember about twice in the last 30 years.

Elon if you lived in an area of the country like NYC/Boston/DC/etc. you would understand the need for 40KWH battery to be super charger capable. Things millage wise may not be far but travel time can be long, very long eating up battery to heat/cool the car for 2+ hours to go only a few miles.

Your argument doesn't support making 40kwh batteries compatible with the superchargers. You're making the case that you need a bigger battery.

tranhv68 | November 6, 2012

When will the next wave of superchargers be announced? Anyone have a new supercharger site sighting?

murraypetera | November 6, 2012

We have had 3 ~week long blackouts in the past 18 months. I think this is going to be more the norm with our changing climate.

Sure I would love to have ordered a larger battery but we all have our financial limits.

My point is that the comments by Elon during the share holders meeting.

We're not currently planning or adding it to the 40 kilowatt version, because we see that as, the customer buying that is really buying it because they don't really make long business trips. So it tends to be a more of a car that you'd want to use for travel just within a greater metropolitan area.

This statement is only accurate for small cities/metro areas.

95% of the time a 40KWH pack is more than sufficient for day to day use but surprisingly there are times when in a large metro area you get stuck in traffic. If you then have to sit around for 30-60 min to get enough juice to get home, this would be less than fun.

The smaller the battery the higher the need for a quick charge.

For this very reason I have ordered the twin-charger option in my 40KWH S. I am fully expecting the 80A charge stations will become more common over time.

I am also very sure the lack of super charge in the 40KWH pack is more of a marketing move vs technical. If others can support DC quick charge in smaller packs then Tesla certainly can do it better. The financial impact of people downgrading their battery pack feel would be very minimal and the option would most likely end up as a gain from additional cars sold due the the feature. I can see the need for 20+ super chargers in the NYC area alone. We have a very densely populated area with highways like a bowl of spaghetti. It is not like you can easily change the roads you take to hit a charge station without a huge impact on how long the trip would take.

Perhaps Elon can do some driving through the 5 boroughs and out lying commuting regions during rush hour when he visits next week. Try some of our bridges and tunnels and see how it goes. Do a run to JFK etc. This time of year might actually be easy on the battery since you do not really need heating or cooling. Heck he could do a run to one of the out-lying stores and back during rush hour for fun :)

Actually he should not spend his valuable time doing this but have some of his staff do this to collect power consumption use. All of the regional stores would be perfect locations to drive from during rush hour. Start in Westchester circle round WTC and head out a tunnel/bridge to NJ Store (no charging allowed) then back to Westchester taking the GSP over the tappenzee bridge. Comes up as 95 miles. I bet it will be close for the 40kwh. Add some Super Chargers along the way and no sweat happy customer/motorist.

mrspaghetti | November 6, 2012


Would be great for you, no doubt. Doesn't make sense for Tesla.

Based on what you've written here and in other threads, I wonder if you should be buying the car if you can't afford at least the 60kwh pack. It will truly suck if you end up stuck on the side of the road - especially if you unfairly blame the car or the company.

Maybe you should wait for the Gen III.

Docrob | November 6, 2012

Yes if it's that marginal and you've been able to stretch for a $50k vehicle I'd save for an extra 12 months the extra 10k for the 60kwh.
As for the next wave of superchargers Tesla needs to strike a balance between installing where the market is and installing to create a market. A few Moreno California and the west coast where the majority of sales are is justifiable but I think they would be wise to install some on the east coast, New York to Boston and New York to Washington DC seem like obvious choices to open up a few potentially enormous markets.

murraypetera | November 6, 2012


Thanks so much for the unsolicited finical advice. Ill keep it in mind.

You are missing my entire point of my post. Of course I would be very happy to have 40kwh access to SC but more importantly and the point, many many others would also be happy which would result in more cars sold.

If Tesla is supposed to be the most advanced car on the road then why does the leaf or iMev have capabilities that the Tesla does not. One might think, well if i get a leaf even with less range, with a quick charge if I run low I can top off in 10-20 min to get home. Not so with the 40kwh.

Tesla is discounting the value of this feature and the comfort value it will give potential purchasers.

Docrob | November 6, 2012

I think you have missed the entire point, Tesla are not choosing not to offer the facility to 40kwh vehicles out of some ulterior motive, the battery in the 40kwh vehicle is not technically capable of safely using the superchargers without degrading the battery pack.
I think of the 40kwh vehicle as the "neighbourhood electric vehicle"of the a tesla range, the car for those who want a short hop commuter and no or very little intention of using this vehicle for longer trips. If that isn't your intended use of the vehicle then I'd suggest the solution isn't for Tesla to change their design but for you to choose a more appropriate vehicle.

STEVEZ | November 6, 2012

@murray, I believe you're overthinking your 40kWh decision. It makes perfect sense for an urban runabout. The larger issue may be the sheer size of the vehicle: Model S is a big sedan and it won't be as easy to park or maneuver as a smaller car.

Here are the reasons I wouldn't sweat your battery decision so much:

- In my experience, running all the accessories full-time doesn't much impact the range: just a few percent, worst case.
- If your 95th-percentile daily drive cuts that close to the range limit, you'll want a bigger battery or you'll learn to live with range anxiety.
- If you're stuck in traffic and really need to husband the range, you can turn the S off and when traffic starts moving again you can turn it back on and be moving in an instant.
- More and more charging stations of all types will be installed in the next year or two as the number of EVs on the road grows ever larger.

Hope this helps.

Tiebreaker | November 6, 2012


I live in the area. Doing daily the trip you described is insanity, unless you are a professional driver, a messenger or the likes. Definitely not for the 40kWh battery.

Also, why would a Leaf on iMiEV have any advantage over Model S 49kWh? I decided to wait for GenIII, but the 40kWh Model S is still in the picture.

Tiebreaker | November 6, 2012

@STEVEZ +1 on more charging stations. I count on that.

Jolinar | November 6, 2012

In letter to shareholders (on page 3) they say more superchargers will be instaled on east coast next month (December I guess):

"East coast travel all the way from Boston to Washington, DC, will be enabled next month"

mrspaghetti | November 6, 2012


Consider that everyone else is also telling you the 40kwh battery is not sufficient for you. You have been warned.

bfranks273 | November 6, 2012

The quick chargers are not going to be around the corner. On the map you will see 150 mile rings separating them. They are expensive. They will be on the main interstates with a long distance between that the 40kw will not survive. Elon has explained this. The SC chademos wont be all over either. If its a commuter, its a commuter. It will be cheaper and will work well. If you are going long distance, they put the design and engineering and the cost into the larger packs, and played with the economics to support that infrastructure.

tork | November 6, 2012

@murray, did you seriously just compare a model s to a leaf/imiev? If this feature is that important perhaps you should consider buying one of those two? Please don't take this post as being antagonistic as that is not my intent. I just don't think it's that fair of a comparison. It's like the people whining about parking sensors or whatever else they want on the car. So many people feel they are entitled to x features just because they paid y dollars. You know upfront what y dollars is buying. If that is disagreeable to you, you are not obligated to purchase.

Robert22 | November 6, 2012

Everyone wants the most "premium" car for their money since that is what was promised. Don't begrudge the man his process. This board demonstrates that squeaky wheels frequently get greased. There is no reason to think that the software driving the supercharger/car interaction can't or won't be tweaked to accomodate a less robust or thermally-challenged battery, or a slower charge. Would Tesla do it? Who knows, but I seriously doubt it's impossible (nor do a few sharp guys at MIT intimately familiar with Panasonic batteries). There will be many owners screaming for more range in a year, and a company response that says "You should have gone big" won't be warmly received or good for the stock. Aftermarket on-board battery expansion and portable charging options are already being developed so I wouldn't be too quick to completely dismiss the 40 as being unsuitable for potentially longer hikes. I do agree, however, that purchasing additional capacity upfront is probably the most economical and hassle-free option.

Brian H | November 6, 2012

Just to reinforce the "stuck in traffic" point, the drain on an S is miniscule. It's only really ICE cars that suffer much fuel depletion from stop-and-go traffic. A BEV thrives in those situations.

Peter Spirgel | November 11, 2012

I know there is a thread dedicated to where people want supercharges. Apologies to Volker, but I couldn't find it! It seems most people, including Tesla, feel they should be located between cities. The thought is that on long trips, you'll want to stop after 4 hours on the highway and get abide to eat and stretch our legs. It occurs to me, now that I've taken my first longer trip in my new Tesla, that most "long" trips for me will be under 300 miles. Thus, I won't want to charge along the way;but rather, when I get there! Again, often your destination will be in or around a major city (at least on the east coast where I live). The problem is that locating supercharges in city centers presents other problems. First, since they are free to use for Tesla owners ( at least initially) and parking in city centers is hard to find and often expensive, I fear people would use the supercharging stations as a free parking space. Tesla would have to develop a way to limit the time you could be at a supercharging station. Second, the concept behind these stations is that people will use them when they are traveling. If you locate the supercharges in a city center where people live, people will use them as their daily charger. You would need many supercharges to keep up with the demand and I don't think Tesla has this in mind. Assuming superchargers are not going to be located in city centers for the reasons above, charging when you get to cities is going to require large blocks to time as the J1772 chargers (the most common type) will only get you approx. 18 miles of range per hour. If you've driven 150 miles to the city, you'll need an over night charge to get you enough range back to go home. This, in my opinion, is a problem that will slow the acceptance rate for electric cars.

mrspaghetti | November 11, 2012


There are already a fair number of hotels with EV chargers, and I expect more as EVs get more widespread. As of now it just takes a little more planning to make sure you stay at the places with overnight charge capability.

pilotSteve | November 11, 2012

@Peter - Elon also comments in the Q3 report that supercharges are located in 'free or low rent' areas such as parking lots near outlet malls etc. and electricity provided by solar, thus make them net 0 cost.

I agree with all your points (people using them for routine vs. long distance charging) and thinking about from Tesla's standpoint, Elon's comment about low rent also dictates rural locations.

Teoatawki | November 11, 2012

I'm planning a trip to Minneapolis, but I've been unable to find a single hotel with EV charging available. Sadly, none of the hotel search engines let you search for chargers.

DouglasR | November 11, 2012

I would like TM to license the technology so that third parties could construct, own, and operate supercharger stations. These would not be free, but the market could then dictate where they are located, how they are priced, what other services are included (e.g., parking), and how they are monitored and controlled. Of course, such a market would be quite small, and hence very inefficient, if it were limited to Model S 60kwh and 85kwh cars. Thus I would like to see TM also licence its battery technology to other car makers so that it might become a more common quick-charge standard.

Brian H | November 11, 2012

So, do you now see what Elon meant when he said the SAE standards "suck"?

jerry3 | November 11, 2012


It's a chicken and egg thing. The other cars have such small battery packs that there is no point to supercharging them. Until they have larger battery packs, there would be no point in offering. It's unlikely that they would want to admit Tesla has a better idea anyway.

DouglasR | November 11, 2012


I'm assuming that the Model S will be revolutionary, and that other makers, particularly of premium cars, will soon want to introduce long range BEVs. Licensing the power train and battery technology could be a moneymaker for TM, and would certainly be consistent with Elon's long-term goal of promoting the adoption of EVs generally.

Brian H | November 11, 2012

Seems unlikely to happen just that way; the form factors others use is so different, especially large custom cell sizing, they would have to redesign from the ground up. Expense is also an issue; TM has squeezed and vertically integrated everything possible to allow more "room" for battery costs. Hard for others to make the same "room".

And union involvement/opposition/featherbedding is sufficient to keep brick walls in front of much serious range expansion.

I think TM's 100-300% range margin is likely to hold even after much larger cap batteries are developed. They might permit other makers to reach TM's current levels, though. Someday.

Sudre_ | November 11, 2012

"And union involvement...."

I don't understand these idiotic comments. Unions have nothing to do with the development of BEVs. Toyota does not use union workers and they still can not create a longer distance battery setup. Your comment is just the usual endless drivel coming out of an anti-union persons mouth. If your rhetoric was true China would already have 500+ mile BEVs.

jbunn | November 11, 2012

I would also say that unions are not relevant to the technology.

Regarding supercharging on the 40, if it was possible (its not), you would have to charge slowly, and you're in the ac charger speed range now.

portia | November 11, 2012

have you tried using Recargo or Chargepoint app or web site to find the chargers? I checked Minneapolis, and it doesn't seem like any hotels there have chargers!

mrspaghetti | November 11, 2012


I didn't find any hotels with chargers either, but it looks like there's a Marriott Residence and a Walgreens with a charger right around the corner. Judging by the other businesses around (McCormick & Schmick, Barnes & Noble) I'm guessing it's a nice area so might be a good option.

Google Maps comes in handy searching for chargers at/near hotels. If you do a search for hotels at your destination city, then a search for ev chargers, you can turn on both results at the top right of the map and see where they're close to each other (or coincident).

DouglasR | November 11, 2012

Brian H,

I'm not predicting that TM will license its technology; I'm hoping it will. TM will not be able to put superchargers everywhere they are needed. However, EVs will not make a significant dent in the automobile market until quick charging is nearly as ubiquitous as gas stations.

Brian H | November 12, 2012

Yeah, I don't think TM is reluctant. I don't think the majors and others are flexible enough to accommodate it. Even Toyota just sort of went half-vast. The upcoming MB product will be very interesting!

reitmanr | November 12, 2012

Found the Sc station at Gilroy Outlets.Two stations near/behind the Sony store. Adjacent to the other charge stations. One Leaf was charging. No MS but some youngsters spotted my Tesla hat and with great delight told me that they often see MS charging there.Then they went on about how fast Teslas are.The next generation sure gets It! Even a store owner started to tell me how great the Ms Is! What Fun!

drripps | November 12, 2012

On our recent trip to California we searched out the Gilroy Supercharger spot and it wasn't easy! I think Tesla should take advantage of this and at least put up a bigger sign! I saw no sign of solar source there either. The more people that become aware of what is going on with this technology the better.

Volker.Berlin | November 12, 2012

I know there is a thread dedicated to where people want supercharges. Apologies to Volker, but I couldn't find it! (Peter Spirgel)

Second result is:

Peter Spirgel | November 12, 2012

Thanks Volker!

Brian H | November 12, 2012

They have hardware ready to go, but lack approved sites.

jerry3 | November 12, 2012

DouglasR -- and that other makers, particularly of premium cars, will soon want to introduce long range BEVs

I don't see that happening any time soon. Most are still in denial and will be for some time. That's what happened in the tire industry when radial tires were introduced. Now there is only one U.S. manufacturer left. I don't see that the car industry has learned anything from the tire industry. They are trying the same tactics and I suspect they will have the same results.

cerjor | November 12, 2012

Maybe the auto industry will learn from the recently defeated Republicans. The Republicans are now saying they have to recognize a change in demographics if they want to stay relevant. That is what the auto industry must do.