Long Range Road Trips...

Long Range Road Trips...

Hey all!

We are planning on taking our Roadster on a 280 mile road trip in July that will take us from Sacramento to Mount Shasta. I’m estimating the 280 miles on not only physical door to door, but the usual side trips that go with road trips.

The questions I have for you are:

- Has anyone attempted this run yet?
- How did you do it?
- Was there a range cost with regards to the almost 2500 feet elevation change involved?
- Did you use a J1772 converter? How practical was it and how long did it take to charge?
- Any advice beyond what I have already touched on?

Any help would be appreciated.

--- Cherif

David70 | 25 mai 2011

I haven't, as I don't have a Tesla yet. However, the Berry Patch Restaurant in Orland supposedly has a 70A/240V station. Presumably with that rating it's a J1772. Topping off there should certainly get you to Mount Shasta, in spite of the elevation change. However, you might have to continue all the way past Shasta to the Comfort Inn in Yreka to get a 70A/208V station. I don't know if that's open to the public, so you'd want to call it to find out, and call both to find out hours, etc. Of course, I don't know if you're willing to go and extra 40 miles north of Mount Shasta to recharge for the trip home. I don't know about

I'd be interested in hearing a report from you after you've made the trip.

Two helpful web sites are


Chad Schwitters seems to have done all the active research on the Tesla Highway site.

If you don't mind talking longer to recharge, there is an RV park in Redding with several different NEMA chargers.

Timo | 25 mai 2011

You get longer range by driving slower. It can be done with single charge, but you need to restrict yourself to no more than 50mph speeds and most parts slower than that.

2500 feet elevation would cause you to lose about 2.5kWh of battery, but OTOH you do get it all back in your way down (gravitational potential difference, as long as you don't need to engage regenerative braking you are getting it all back in form of less power needed to keep on going, if the downhill is steep enough that you do need to engage it you get only about 60% of it back to battery).

If you can use on road charging wherever you stop then do so, you almost have enough range without charging, so you don't need to charge long to get that missing part.

dsm363 | 26 mai 2011

This would be a very, very difficult trip to complete on one charge. Driving 50mph on highways where people travel 70mph+ could be dangerous. You're much better off finding a place to charge for an hour or two and take a nice lunch break or something.

BrianK | 28 mai 2011

To enjoy the drive as much as possible, I would plan to stop in Orland at least for an hour, if not until fully charged, and also have a place to charge while staying in Mount Shasta:

Might as well plug in while you are parked, even if it's just with the household adapter.

Where are you staying? They might have RV plugs, check with the management and if you find a new place that can accommodate electric cars please let us know here on the board.

ChadS | 6 juin 2011

I have charged at the Mt Shasta KOA that BrianK's recargo listing points to. They have NEMA 14-50 and let me charge for free, although it was off-season and pretty much nobody was there. It's not the nicest campground and there's not much to do nearby, but it's fine if you need a charge.

It was snowing when I was there. The Roadster HVAC doesn't work while you're charging, so I loitered in the only heated area around--the restroom. Hopefully you will have warmer weather.

Timo's comments about hills are good, although in my experience they take a little more than that out, and you don't get quite as much back. The numbers of course vary, but for planning I generally use 6.5 miles of range lost per 1k of elevation gain, and 4.5 of those come back on the way down, so the net loss is 2 miles of range per 1k of elevation.

Timo | 6 juin 2011

It depends of the hill do you get it all back, so you drive same way down as you went up and did you have to go to regen braking. "you get it all back" as in compared to driving same distance in flat plane. You should, but this is the one rare case where you might actually get more back than you lost (delta loss, not overall loss).

rsdio | 10 juin 2011

Note that the 70A/240V spec matches the Tesla HPC, and that's exactly what lists for the Orland Berry Patch Restaurant.

I was under the impression that none of the J1772 chargers can match the HPC, but maybe that impression is based on actual installations and not the capabilities of the technology itself, which may have higher limits. In other words, I recall reading that most J1772 chargers are only 30A, which puts them behind both the 70A (90A) HPC and the 40A (50A) UMC. Any charge is a good charge, especially if it's free, but a small miscalculation in amperage really affects your waiting time at the charging station. I found this out when traveling to the Wild Horse Wind Farm (NEMA 14-50) after estimating that I could schedule around the same charging time as documented at the Ellensburg HPC - needless to say, I was late.

David70 | 10 juin 2011


I was under the same impression about the J1772 supporting 70A as well as 30A. I'm guessing that the J1772 chargers being installed at Nissan dealerships is only 30A, but the one dealer I talked to didn't know anything about it. There were two such chargers sitting outside the showroom (without any Leafs present).

I see you're familiar with Washington state and Northern California.

I'm still at least a year away from getting a Model S, but I'd been concerned about safely making it (without a long wait at an RV park) between Seattle and Spokane.

Thanks to Tom Saxton that's no longer a problem.

ChadS | 10 juin 2011

The J1772 spec does go up to 80A (thanks to Tesla's recommended modifications). But the DOE money that is installing charging stations only specifies 30A. Couple that with the fact that the Leaf and Volt only charge at 16A, and that a 40A breaker is cheaper and less likely to require an upgrade than a 90A breaker...and everybody is putting in 30A charging stations. Sigh.

I've been trying to get people to put in thicker wire so they can upgrade later; or at least conduit so they can feed thicker wire later. Reducing EV fueling time is the whole reason we are putting these things in, so mo amps == mo betta!

David70 | 10 juin 2011

It just dawned on me.

Are you "The Chad S..."?

The one that did the Tesla Highways research?

But at least all of those chargers that get you from Canada to Mexico are 70A.

rsdio | 11 juin 2011

If the Leaf only charges at 16A, is that with the 240V cable or the 440V cable? Not to change the subject, but I just got a look at a Leaf in person today, and the owner is aware of the 440V charging port, even though she has never used it. Bystanders were talking about 30-minute charges at 440V, but I guess with the extremely limited range of the Leaf I shouldn't be impressed by a 30-minute charge time.

So far, it seems that you can drive about 4 hours with the Roadster, then recharge in 3.5 hours if you're lucky enough to find an HPC.

David70 | 11 juin 2011

The 30 minute charge time makes sense with a DC charger at 440 V and over 100 A. I've been thinking that for a 300 mile range Tesla the charge time is about and hour and a half.

I'm waiting for Tesla to start a Q & A thread for technical questions.

I really want to know about their 480 V AC rapid charging and the infrastructure that it will be compatible with.

DHrivnak | 11 juin 2011

I have tested 4 J-1772 chargers and unfortunately they have been limited to 30 amps which is disappointing. But it is FAR better than the 110V trickle charger.

rsdio | 12 juin 2011

Regarding 440 V versus 480 V, they're basically the same. It's quite common to refer to 110 V and 120 V when referring to standard outlets, and 220 V or 240 V for two-phase. My home actually has 245 V when measured inside the power box, and this is what the Tesla reports. In other words, that's my long way of saying that the Tesla 480 V AC rapid charge might be quite compatible with the 440 V Leaf system, because those voltages refer to the same system. Nobody refers to the actually peak-to-peak voltages, which are alarmingly higher.

ChadS | 15 juin 2011

David70, yes I'm the ChadS that drove the West coast last year, and later put together a map of Tesla charging stations on the west coast (at

Rsdio, our talk of 16A, 30A and 80A has all been in relation to 240V charging, which is all that J1772 covers. There is no (US) standard and no infrastructure for 480V charging yet (aka "DC Fast Charge".

There is a Japanese standard, which uses a TEPCO connector and the CHAdeMO protocol. Nissan and Mitsubishi use this, and Toyota says they will in the Japanese market. But Ford, GM and European makers say they won't. There is DOE money to install some DC Fast chargers this year, and because TEPCO is the only standard available, that is what will be installed. But: the SAE is probably going to update J1772 to include DC Fast Charge. That means at some point, the TEPCO chargers may have to be changed to SAE. Yuk. I've been trying to get them to install units capable of supporting dual heads (Coloumb has announced one).

The DC Fast chargers will primarily be installed in the lead cities covered by the DOE's "The EV Project". But some other places, like the West Coast Green Highways collaborative, are planning to install fast chargers in other places, like the West coast.

David70 | 15 juin 2011


I sure hope they manage to come up with Fast Chargers at enough appropriate locations by the time the Model S is actually released.
By appropriate, I mean spaced so that you can make it from Canada to Mexico as easily with the Fast Charge stations as you can now using the 70A J1772 connections.

It would also be great if that can come up with a similar East-West set along at least one major interstate (e.g., I-80, I-70, etc.)

"Dual heads" sounds like a smart move by Coulomb.

rsdio | 15 juin 2011

Chad, I keep hearing about the Leaf 440 V and whether it is compatible with the Tesla 480 V. My point was merely that 110/220/440 is the same as 120/240/480, but for some reason people and companies are not always precise about the voltage. i.e. I measure 254 V on what some companies refer to as a 220 V standard.

Of course, other questions include whether Nisson has established 440 V Leaf charging stations, and whether Tesla or a third party will design a physical adaptor that might work with the Roadster. If both of those are available, then the 440 versus 480 will not pose an incompatibility.

Steve | 16 juin 2011

rsdio, your comment about 440 vs 480 is right for AC power. However, the DC charging stations have to produce DC at the voltage required for the battery, which would vary among different car models and would be communicated from the car to the charging station through the control signals of the connector. It is independent of whatever AC power may be input to the DC charging station.

rsdio | 19 juin 2011

So, the Leaf uses a 440 V DC charging system?

Reading the Tesla technology pages, it seems that the Roadster doesn't support more than around 260 VAC on its charging input, so any kind of 440 V or 480 V system will need significant conversion anyway.

Is the Model S planned to have 480 V charging capabilities?

daniel1948 | 19 juin 2011

The Leaf has an OPTIONAL level 3 charging input. It costs extra and cannot be installed after-market. The 440 v charger itself is not on-board. The actual charger is at the charging station. It communicates with the car and supplies 440 v DC. They claim 30 minutes to an 80% charge. That's 80 miles nominal range (LA4 cycle). Since people report getting around 85 miles actual range in real-life driving (slow freeway speed, no use of A/C or heater) the 30-minute fast charge probably provides 65 to 70 miles range, though gentle driving would get the full 80 miles.

psusi | 29 juin 2011

One of the reasons I decided that the leaf was crap and I'm saving up for the model S instead is that it uses a dedicated charger that is limited to 3600 watts, so with the 30A 240v charge station you still can only charge twice as fast as with a regular 15A 120v cord.

From what I can tell, the Tesla connects the AC to the main inverter and charges the battery just like it does when regeneratively breaking, which is why it can handle 90A at 240v. It is also why it is limited. Most likely the inverter was only built to handle 240v, and the cabling is only heavy enough to handle 90A.

The leaf zap charge option seems to be a BS gimmick to me. It supposedly is just a DC wire harness direct to the battery so you need a very expensive external DC charger to connect to it, and since the battery pack is not thermally managed, and charging at that kind of rate generates a lot of heat, I very much doubt that this will ever see the light of day.

Even if it did, 80 miles of range is overly optimistic since you aren't going to coast up to the charger with a completely flat dead battery. More likely you will plug in and take it from 20% to 80%, giving 60 miles of range with a brand new battery.

jkirkebo | 4 juillet 2011

If the Leaf battery gets too hot the car will just limit the charging current. I was also under the impression that the Leaf has a battery voltage of about 370V. Thus it will only fast charge at 370V, not 440V.

VolkerP | 4 juillet 2011

If a level 3 DC charging station is specified for 440V, does it mean it provides "up to" 440V? As I understand, the L3 charger continuously adapts amps as signaled by the EV. How about voltage?

rsdio | 4 juillet 2011

jkirk: A battery charging system is not limited to strictly using the exact input voltage, even in DC mode. Transistors or other active semiconductors can alter the voltage and current as needed, either to boost or to drop voltage. Simple battery chargers are just wires, but modern "smart" battery chargers do vastly more than just connecting the input voltage directly to the battery. I have no information on the Leaf charging system in detail, but the battery voltage probably has nothing to do with fast charge, slow charge, or anything else.

SSL161 | 13 juillet 2011


Yes, originally, I was already planning at least one stop (Orland) for a top off. I just hope that the charge time doesn't end up being ridiculous, but if it is, it'll be a learning experience, wont it? :)

On this score... has anybody used Orland yet? How long did it take?

My GPS says 135 miles from where I'm at to Orland. That's right where my "conservative" range says it is (the number in the lower the left of my dash - Gulp). My ideal range states 190.

All this time, I’d been operating off of the published number of 240 max range, but based on my personal experience, I’m gonna go with what the car says.

So... Two stops then??? I'll see what the counters say and add a third stop in down town Sacramento.

Yes, I will post a report of the trip.

Any other input is welcome,

Best to all,

--- Cherif

brooke1lyn | 14 juillet 2011


Make sure to charge it on distance and your car will read the 240. And if driven right I have got 220 out of it when I had to.

ggr | 15 juillet 2011

I think you will find that with they kind of driving one does on a road trip, your estimated range will increase. I've even seen (on a freeway trip San Diego to Los Angeles) the estimated range go UP, as the car realizes it is on cruise control on a flat freeway, even though it's going more than a mile a minute.

So yeah, charge in range mode, and 130 miles is nothing at all to worry about.

Douglas3 | 15 juillet 2011

Estimated range is calculated on the last 30 miles. So if you start on a road trip, initially it will be inaccurate (most likely very conservative). On my last road trip the number was going up, not down, for quite a while.

Once it's "gotten used" to your current driving style it is very accurate. Compare with the "distance to go" on your GPS to see if you're going to make it! If not, slow down. Or find a plug.

dsm363 | 15 juillet 2011

Cherif: I agree, charge it in range mode and find the fastest charges (Tesla HPC at 70A) you can find. The J1772 adapter would probably be really nice to have since that at least gets you 30A at most of the public J1772 chargers.
Also, be conservative with your mileage estimates so you don't run out of juice. That 240 ideal miles really is 'ideal' and hard to reach. Driving at normal highway speeds will take that down a good bit. Others who have done longer trips can speak to that better but don't assume 240 miles will actually get you 240 miles. It's possible as was pointed out above but you have to drive very slow and easy. Have fun!

Delete Me Knapp | 17 juillet 2011

I've done about 13k miles in the 13 months I've had my Roadster, much of it on long distance trips. I try not to use range mode when I can because I do so many long drives--instead I just try to find chargers.

If you are going on a flat highway at 61-62mph, I've found I can consistently match the ideal range. If you start getting behind, just slow down. At even 58mph you'll do a fair bit better than ideal. Range is amazingly sensitive to speed. You'll get there sooner by going slower (which also means the road noise is more pleasant and you can live with the top off BTW) and not having to charge as much.

All J1772 chargers I've found are 30amp (usually ChargePoint), although I've read of 70amp ones around, they just aren't on my routes. I check Recargo, EVCharger, and ChargePoint apps on my Iphone to find chargers.

The comments about hills match my experience.

Earl and Nagin ... | 17 juillet 2011

A couple more tips for long-range-road-trippers that are in a hurry to get somewhere is to not try to fully charge if you don't need to in order to get to your next charging location. The charging current above 80% or 90% charge is a lot slower so you may have to wait another half hour or more for that last 10%.
Once your charging current drops below the maximum (70 Amp for Tesla HPC, 40 Amps for UMC on a NEMA 14-50 at RV parks, or 30 Amps at most J-1772), you're better off getting back on the road to your next charging location where you can charge at the full current.
Regarding charging stations: Some operate at 208 volts and others at 240 volts. Some may have line drops and may not even get that high. Remember that a 240 volt charger will charge ~13% faster than a 240 volt one.
Remember that charging speed is proportional to the power available. Power (Watts) = Voltage (Volts) X Current (Amps).

David70 | 18 juillet 2011

Right. I've assumed that I'd go for range mode charging on overnight stops and standard on the rest. That is, if I ever get my Model S.

Brian H | 18 juillet 2011

"Remember that a 240 volt charger will charge ~13% faster than a 240 volt one."
Trying to guess what the 3rd number was supposed to be. Failing.

David70 | 18 juillet 2011

I think he(they) meant 212V. 13% above that is about 240V.

Brian H | 18 juillet 2011

Yeah, the 'rithmetic is obvious at that level -- but I've never heard of such a voltage standard. Seems like an odd comparison to make.

Earl and Nagin ... | 29 juillet 2011

For you math wizzes out there: the 3rd number should have been 208 volts. 208 Volts is very common in the US as it is one leg of a 3-phase circuit. Public charging stations often just use 208 volts as it obviates the need to put in a transformer. Unfortunately, the result is slower charging. Of course, we also often see reductions from both 208 volts and 240 volts because of line losses.

Georg | 21 août 2011

So ... waiting with bated breath ... for Cherif's trip report ;-0

Dan3 | 23 août 2011

I just got back from a road trip where I got to use my new J-1772 adapter. Spent over 30 hours charging, averaged a little over 21 miles of charge per hour. All but one location had voltages between 195 - 205 volts. Probably started at 208 before the line drop.

the bonnie | 5 septembre 2011

Cherif -

I am in the Sacramento area, just 30 miles east. You can find me over on the under the same user name. Shoot me a private message over there if you see this post.

Best regards,

DHrivnak | 15 octobre 2011

My experience is that J-1772 chargers are poping up everywhere and most are only 208V (one leg of 3 phase power) and 30 amps. I have yet to find a J-1772 above 30 amps. The DOT money only specifies a 30 amp unit and it seems like that is what is being put in.

While charging this way is painfully slow it definately beats 110V.

Geoffrey Kinsey... | 18 juin 2012

Here's a blog about a coast-to-coast trip I'm making. Will include some tables of charge times, range, etc. (I still have just the old MC...)

Volker.Berlin | 19 juin 2012

It may be worth noting that there is a guy called Rafael De Mestre who is currently on a journey with his Tesla around the world. He is sharing his experience via his website:

Brian H | 21 juin 2012

From the text history on the /history sub-page:

11.5.2012 RACE STARTED in Barcelona - exact 3 months later than the French - including the risk to fail due to missing papers for US.
15.5.2012 Arrival in Strasbourg
17.5.2012 Arrival in Cologne
18.5.2012 Ready to transport in Frankfurt - US insurance still missing. Without the insurance the car will be blocked in NY ...
21.5.2012 Yeah! Got the US insurance!
22.5.2012 Car and driver in NY now
23.5.2012 Departing heading west
05.6.2012 Arrival in San Francisco - China drive through license still not available
07.6.2012 Waiting in LA for transfer - China drive through license for 25.6. confirmed - will loose [lose] 14 days ...
17.6.2012 Car arrived China. Following the newest calculations I have to drive 400km per day starting with 26.6. to reach Barcelona 80 days after the start, race turns to a mission impossible ...

I don't know the route and charging circumstances, but I'd have to agree that doing the full range per day is pretty chancy. Keeping the speed below 80 kph might help with range, without much time penalty.

the bonnie | 3 juillet 2012

Nice guy. And entertaining! I had dinner with him, my son, and a couple of other Sacramento-area Roadster owners the night before he arrived in SF.

Volker.Berlin | 2 septembre 2012
Timo | 3 septembre 2012

Damn. Bad news for a around a globe drive. Apparently a "pileup" caused by some BMW seven cars ahead of this one (based on explanation on facebook page).

Brian H | 3 septembre 2012

Close enough for government work: 23,400 miles! Give him the award anyway.

Volker.Berlin | 4 septembre 2012

Seems like he still wants to finish anyway, even if two or three weeks late. Attempts are made to repair his Roadster...

Timo | 5 septembre 2012

Just tweeted that car will be ready at 17h (probably meaning 5pm german time) today. No weeks, just three days after the crash. Great job Tesla!!

Volker.Berlin | 5 septembre 2012

Here is more news on the 'round-the-world race: