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Road Trip w/o Superchargers: Seattle to Bay Area

Road Trip w/o Superchargers: Seattle to Bay Area

Over the past few days, my wife and I (and our little dog) drove from Seattle down to the San Francisco Bay Area and back without incident. We left on Friday, Feb. 15 and returned last night, Feb. 20. We followed a plan laid out by ChadS over at TMC with respect to charging and overnight accommodations. This involved stopping the first day at Bergerville in Centralia, WA, Tesla Washington Square in Tigard, OR, and Sequential Biofuels in Eugene, OR, before stopping for the night at Seven Feathers Resort & Casino in Canyonville, OR. The second day we stopped at the Comfort Inn in Yreka, CA and the Berry Patch Restaurant in Orland, CA, before arriving at my brother's house in Novato, CA. At every charge stop except my brother's, we used 70 ampere power sources originally installed to support Tesla Roadsters. Our 85 kWh Model S Performance has twin chargers, and we borrowed a Roadster-to-S adapter.

Our biggest anxiety was the weather, which would have been a concern no matter what car we drove. The weather was beautiful on the way down, but there was a forecast of up to 8 inches of snow in the mountains of northern California and southern Oregon for the return trip. We decided to start our return trip around midnight Monday night so as to hit the mountains in early daylight, and perhaps get ahead of the storm. We were carrying chains, but I haven't put chains on a car in about 40 years, and I didn't relish the prospect. As it turns out, the snow wasn't that bad. There was an inch or two on the highway around Mt. Shasta, but chains were not required, and the roads were bare going over the Siskiyous (our biggest worry).

The car performed beautifully. What amazed me was how comfortable it was. The lack of engine noise and vibration for hours on end meant that the driving experience left me much less fatigued than I expected (I did this same trip last October in my Ford Escape Hybrid, and it was pretty tiring). Chad's advice about when, where, and how much to charge eliminated any range anxiety. We did have to get used to longer days and a certain amount of boredom sitting around waiting for the car to charge. I probably should have given more thought to how I would spend that time -- for example, on the return trip, we visited a friend in Portland.

Most days, we spent about 13-14 hours between driving and charging. This number was not affected much by how fast we drove, where we charged, or how long we charged: drive faster, and we had to charge longer at the next stop; charge a shorter time in one location, and we had to charge a longer time in the next location. Only on the first day of the return trip did we put in a longer day, as we wanted to keep an extra charge cushion while going over the mountains in snowy conditions. That was a 16 hour day!

Our energy consumption generally varied between 300-350 watt-hours/mile. This was much better than I expected. When at home, the car is not driven very much (I am retired, so no commuting). I also live on a hill. So the car often sits, losing charge, and when it is driven, it does a lot of climbing. As a result, my average energy consumption at home has been just under 400 watt-hours/mile. On this road trip of 1834 miles (including driving around while in the Bay Area), using 601 kWh, with average consumption of 328 watt-hours/mile.

Here are the data, unfortunately not in tabular form:

Feb. 15, 7:40 a.m., left Seattle
Charged to 268 rated miles

9:40 a.m., arrived at Burgerville, Centralia WA (breakfast)
177 rated miles displayed
86.0 actual miles traveled
26.2 kWh consumed
305 watt-hours/mile average consumption

10:45 a.m., left Centralia
218 rated miles displayed

1:30, arrived Tesla Washington Square, Tigard OR
110 rated miles displayed
102.7 actual miles traveled
31.7 kWh consumed
307 watt-hours/mile average consumption

5:00 p.m., leave Tigard
272 rated miles displayed

7:30 p.m., arrive Sequential Biofuels, Eugene OR
147 rated miles displayed
106.4 actual miles traveled
31.6 kWh consumed
339 watt-hours/mile average consumption

8:30 p.m., leave Eugene
185 rated miles displayed

10:30 p.m., arrive Seven Feathers, Canyonville OR
68 rated miles displayed
96.3 actual miles traveled
33.3 kWh consumed
346 watt-hours/mile average consumption

Feb. 16, 7:15 a.m., leave Canyonville
270 rated miles displayed

10 a.m., arrive Comfort Inn, Yreka CA
112 rated miles displayed
126.2 actual miles traveled
45.5 kWh consumed
361 watt-hours/mile average consumption

1:06 p.m., leave Yreka
237 rated miles displayed

4:30 p.m., arrive Berry Patch Restaurant, Orland CA
85 rated miles displayed
155.4 actual miles traveled
43.7 kWh consumed
281 watt-hours/mile average consumption

7:00 p.m., leave Orland
210 rated miles displayed

9:40 p.m., arrive Novato CA
40-50 rated miles displayed (forgot to write it down)
143 actual miles traveled
46.4 kWh consumed
324 watt-hours/mile average consumption

On the return trip, I did not keep detailed records.

Obviously, all of this will be much easier once the superchargers are installed. But it would have taken three long days, not two, if I did not have twin chargers and Roadster-to-S adapter. It will also be easier in the summer. The main thing is that I learned a lot about taking this car on road trips. I believe it is a great way to go if you have the time.

I will try to return to this thread and post other bits of information as I can, but this is already too long.

Thumper | 21 février 2013

Thanks for the info. We will be doing a partial of your trip next month. Corvallis to Ashland,OR. This is theoretically possible without stops, but with mountains, I think a touch-up is probably a good idea. We do not have twin chargers. Come on superchargers.

DigitalSavant | 21 février 2013

Thank you so much for posting this! I was planning to make the same journey in the spring, so this is extremely helpful!!

Hughlenny | 21 février 2013

thank you!

DLM270 | 23 février 2013

Thank you Douglas,
I plan to do the reverse trip, from the Bay Area to Seattle this summer, to visit family and friends, if my RED Tesla is delivered by then. Your info is extremely helpful.

Randal Taylor | 23 février 2013

This is an excellent post for us long distance travelers. Thanks, we need more of these!

Edneff | 23 février 2013

I thought that the twin chargers only helped if you are using a supercharger? Do the twin chargers make for a faster charge using a normal 220V outlet?

ir | 23 février 2013

@Edneff, supercharger bypasses the single / twin chargers. Doesn't matter, because there are no supercharges between Seattle and CA.

The twin chargers came in handy because the Roadster stations are 70A (single charger is good for 220v @ 50A). That is why I bought twin even though I have a 14-50 (220v, 50A) outlet at home.

nickjhowe | 23 février 2013

Thanks DouglasR. Here's the table:
Rated
Rated Added/ Range KWh
Time Range (Used) Driven Variance Used Wh/m Location
Departed 7:40am 268 Seattle
Arrived 9:40am 177 (91) 86 6% 26.2 305 Burgerville, Centralia WA (breakfast)
Departed 10:45am 218 41
Arrived 1:30pm 110 (108) 102.7 5% 31.7 309 Tesla Washington Square, Tigard OR
Departed 5:00pm 272 162
Arrived 7:30pm 147 (125) 106.4 17% 31.6 297 Sequential Biofuels, Eugene OR
Departed 8:30pm 185 38
Arrived 10:30pm 68 (117) 96.3 21% 33.3 346 Seven Feathers, Canyonville OR
Departed 7:15am 270 202
Arrived 10:00am 112 (158) 126.2 25% 45.5 361 Comfort Inn, Yreka CA
Departed 1:06pm 237 125
Arrived 4:30pm 85 (152) 155.4 2% 43.7 281 Berry Patch Restaurant, Orland CA
Departed 7:00pm 210 125
Arrived 9:40pm 40 (170) 143 19% 46.4 324 Novato, CA

Range Variance is the % difference between rated range used and distance traveled.

nickjhowe | 23 février 2013

Damn formatting. Try again
Rated
Rated Added/ Range KWh
Time Range (Used) Driven Variance Used Wh/m Location
Departed 7:40am 268 Seattle
Arrived 9:40am 177 (91) 86 6% 26.2 305 Burgerville, Centralia WA (breakfast)
Departed 10:45am 218 41
Arrived 1:30pm 110 (108) 102.7 5% 31.7 309 Tesla Washington Square, Tigard OR
Departed 5:00pm 272 162
Arrived 7:30pm 147 (125) 106.4 17% 31.6 297 Sequential Biofuels, Eugene OR
Departed 8:30pm 185 38
Arrived 10:30pm 68 (117) 96.3 21% 33.3 346 Seven Feathers, Canyonville OR
Departed 7:15am 270 202
Arrived 10:00am 112 (158) 126.2 25% 45.5 361 Comfort Inn, Yreka CA
Departed 1:06pm 237 125
Arrived 4:30pm 85 (152) 155.4 2% 43.7 281 Berry Patch Restaurant, Orland CA
Departed 7:00pm 210 125
Arrived 9:40pm 40 (170) 143 19% 46.4 324 Novato, CA

DouglasR | 23 février 2013

Thanks, nickjhowe. I haven't yet tried to master the formatting on this site. It is also helpful to include the rated miles used/added, as well as the variance. I believe you made a couple of transcription errors, however. The segment ending in Tigard should have an average consumption of 307 watt-hours/mile, not 309. The next segment should have an average consumption of 339 watt-hours/mile, not 297.

I should probably mention that I drove 55 mph for the first segment, increased to 60-65 for the second segment, and then drove the speed limit or slightly above for the remainder of the trip. Temperatures were in the 40s when I started out, increased to the 50s from around Centralia to Eugene, and then dropped back to the upper 30s/low 40s when I went over the mountains. The second day, it was probably in the 60s from Yreka south, although after sunset it dropped down into the 50s. On the return trip, I drove the speed limit or slightly above for the entire trip, except for the segment between Orland and Yreka, where snow conditions caused me to drive very slowly -- sometimes 30-40 mph. Temperatures were generally colder, including below freezing temperatures between Orland and Eugene. As mentioned, however, my overall average energy consumption was about 328 watt-hours per mile.

I found the range calculator on the "go electric" site (http://www.teslamotors.com/goelectric#range) to be remarkably accurate. It was even accurate in the mountains so long as I average the ascent with the descent. On the return trip, the drive from Centralia back to Seattle, with temperatures around 50, using lights, heat, and wipers, driving 65 mph, my consumption was around 350 watt-hours/mile, exactly what the calculator would predict.

I was never concerned that I would run out of charge. I kept a generous cushion, and I passed numerous RV parks and other charging locations along the way. As indicated above, a greater concern was potential boredom: how I would pass the time while waiting for the car to charge. It is good to charge while you are sleeping, eating, of visiting with friends. It is not so good to charge while you are sitting around in a fast food joint (having finished your meal in about 20 minutes). Thus I found myself trying to shorten some charging stops even if it meant lengthening others. I ran the numbers, and yes, driving fast results in a longer trip than driving slow (I'll spell this out in another post). Since I much prefer to drive than to sit around in a restaurant after eating, I ended up driving fairly slowly.

Of all the numbers available to track my progress and energy usage, I found myself paying closest attention to the line on the trip page showing "average watt-hours/mile since the last charge." Projected range is pretty useless, because it bounces around so much. Rated range is useful only if I have been maintaining a consumption rate of around 305 watt-hours/mile. However, the average consumption since the last charge gives me a good idea of whether I am where I think I should be. Driving on a flat road during daylight in moderate temperatures, I expect to average a bit over 300 watt-hours/mile. If I am climbing, the average might go up to 350. If I am descending, it will drop below 300. At night, when it gets cold and dark, it is difficult to do better than 325. So long as I am within these ranges, I know the car is performing as expected. Again, I am not worried about running out of energy, but unexpected consumption will definitely affect my schedule.

Another interesting thing I noticed was that I could not trust the range numbers right after a charge. Several times, I used a range charge because I wanted that extra margin. Upon completing the charge, the car would show a rated range that was well above 270 (or well above 240 if I was doing a standard charge). However, by the time I could load up the car and get going, the range would have dropped by 5 miles or so. This meant that my average watt-hours/mile would start out very high, often over 1,000. It would then drop over the next 20-30 miles until it settled around the number I expected it to be for that segment. I found it better simply to ignore the initial rated range number in computing how far I could go.

I have often thought about how I would do this trip with only a single charger. I think it would be quite difficult in winter. To be safe, I wouldn't want to plan on more than about 200 miles per day (which allows a cushion for cold, mountains, night driving, etc.) Indeed, driving in rain may well be similar to adding 10-15 mph to your speed, because I think rain may increase the effective density of the air (my speculation only). It would not be hard to get to Portland in a day, but it would then require about 10 hours of charging to go further. So I would want to stay in Portland over night. Similarly, I could easily get to Canyonville on the second day, but it would not be practical to go further -- into the mountains -- without spending the night in Canyonville (Seven Feathers has a casino, for those that like that sort of thing). The third day, I could probably get past Yreka. Shasta Lake has some RV parks, for example. Some may have cabins -- I haven't checked. I could then get the rest of the way on day four, but probably would need a charge along the way. In the summer this trip would be easier because the car would have greater range, there are fewer hazards to worry about, and most important, there are more things to do while waiting for the car to charge up.

Another very long post, but I hope it is of some use.

DouglasR | 23 février 2013

Just to be clear, with a single charger I could drive further than Portland in a single day. It's just that, by the time I restored even 100 rated miles, it would be quite late in the day, and I would probably prefer just to stay in Portland than to drive on.

nickjhowe | 23 février 2013

@DouglasR - I was puzzled by the differences in numbers too - I'm calculating Wh/mile by dividing KWh used by miles driven. All the other numbers came out correct; those two were wrong. Is it possible you made an error in one of the numbers?

nickjhowe | 23 février 2013

@DouglasR "I ran the numbers, and yes, driving fast results in a longer trip than driving slow" - I already ran the numbers on this in this thread: http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/stop-or-not-stop

If you can use SuperChargers, drive as fast as you can; if you have to use any other form of charging, drive slow.

DouglasR | 23 février 2013

Yes, quite possible I either copied the wrong number from the car or read the wrong number off my notes. I'll check again.

DouglasR | 23 février 2013

Nick, upon arrival at Eugene, the energy consumed should have been 36.1 kWh, not 31.6 kWh. That would mean the average of 339 watt-hours/mile is correct. I will see about the other number, but that one was not as far off.

DouglasR | 23 février 2013

Nick, I can't figure out why there is a discrepancy in the second number. In addition to the mileage and consumption since the last charge, I also (usually) copied down the cumulative totals for "Trip A." According to those numbers, the consumption and mileage leaving Centralia were 26.2 kWh and 86.0 miles. The same numbers arriving at Tigard were 58.0 kWh and 188.7 miles. Thus, while the segment mileage of 102.7 miles was correct, the consumption should actually have been 31.8 kWh, not 31.7. That would make the average even higher (i.e. 310 watt-hours/mile) rather than the lower number I reported, 307, which I presumably read off the dial.

One possibility is that the charger might have been interrupted right at the beginning, so that the energy consumed "since the last charge" appeared less than it was. I suggest we just stick with the 309 number, since it's in the middle.

olanmills | 23 février 2013

Cool to read about. Even though I see that it's very doable, and I do travel from Seattle to SF sometimes, I will still stick to flying lol.

nickjhowe | 23 février 2013

Updated to correct error:
Rated
Rated Added/ Range KWh
Time Range (Used) Driven Var Used Wh/m Location
Dep 7:40am 268 Seattle
Arr 9:40am 177 (91) 86 6% 26.2 305 Burgerville, Centralia WA (breakfast)
Dep 10:45am 218 41
Arr 1:30pm 110 (108) 102.7 5% 31.7 309 Tesla Washington Square, Tigard OR
Dep 5:00pm 272 162
Arr 7:30pm 147 (125) 106.4 17% 36.1 339 Sequential Biofuels, Eugene OR
Dep 8:30pm 185 38
Arr 10:30pm 68 (117) 96.3 21% 33.3 346 Seven Feathers, Canyonville OR
Dep 7:15am 270 202
Arr 10:00am 112 (158) 126.2 25% 45.5 361 Comfort Inn, Yreka CA
Dep 1:06pm 237 125
Arr 4:30pm 85 (152) 155.4 2% 43.7 281 Berry Patch Restaurant, Orland CA
Dep 7:00pm 210 125
Arr 9:40pm 40 (170) 143 19% 46.4 324 Novato, CA

Brian H | 23 février 2013

In the rain, rolling resistance rises. Don't know if running into raindrops has much effect.

DouglasR | 23 février 2013

Brian,

A quick search suggests that rain has a significant effect on aerodynamic drag, e.g., http://www.waset.org/journals/waset/v67/v67-190.pdf

Intuitively, that feels right.

Brian H | 24 février 2013

Interesting! I like the loss of airflow smoothness due to water roughening of the surface. Your car gets lumpy in the rain!

dqb | 24 février 2013

Excellent data! I haven't gotten up to planning a long trip yet, but hopefully will do one or more in the summer. It would be great if some enterprising fan would create a fun web site to organize and filter data from drivers as they compile feedback from their journeys.