Trip planning: Bay Area to Santa Barbara via 101

Trip planning: Bay Area to Santa Barbara via 101

Just got my Model S delivered last week and am really enjoying the commute to work!

I am finding the biggest adjustment is planning out long distance roadtrips. I have family in Santa Barbara so I spent time researching the charge stations along highway 101. I thought I'd summarize what I found in hopes that it might offer some useful bits of info for other newbies and perhaps gain some additional insights from veteran members.

1. Charging stops - Gilroy and San Luis Obisbo
I concluded that I would need to make at least 2 stops to recharge in order to cover the distance. Gilroy is an obvious choice for one stop due to the Tesla super charger station. Unfortunately, Gilroy is nowhere near the midpoint between the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, so even though I can get a quick recharge there, I need an additional stop. I saw that there were some decent charge stations at various Rabobanks along 101 between Salinas and Goleta. Of all the cities along this route, I selected San Luis Obispo because there seemed to be a few other good charge stations located in and around stores and restaurants. While obviously not as convenient as the supercharge station in Gilroy, there were a decent number of choices for high amp charging. I observed charge stations in Atascadero and Santa Maria (North and South of SLO, respectively) but there were relatively few charge stations in those towns so I thought my best bet would be to pick the city with the most 240V 70amp stations - I have concerns that stations might be out of operation or occupied when I arrive so I want to have several fallback options nearby. If I am able to recharge at a 240V 70am station, I should be able to get 52 rated miles per hour. By my calculations on distance (factoring in decreased range due to higher speed travel) I expect to recharge in SLO for about 1 hour. I will need to cover an additional 94 miles from SLO to Santa Barbara so I will prepare to stay however long it takes to get to approx 140 miles of rated range. Once I get to Santa Barbara, I will need to find a public station with 240V70amp charging (I will try finding out about the ones downtown). Either that, or I use my host's dryer outlet overnight.

2. Charge station maps
I looked up charging stations using several websites. I started with and but I realized that they sometimes did not show locations of some good charging stations (particularly further south) and also did not have enough details for the listed charge stations relevant to a Model S dual charger owner (e.g., 240V 70amp J1772). I felt was able to get better information from and - NOTE: information on these sites is always getting updated so I would love others opinions regarding the best websites to get charging info.

3. Charge cards
I noticed some conflicting inforamation on charge stations - many are listed as being FREE and costing $1-2/hour of charge. I got a blinknetwork card from the facilities manager at my office (they have charge stalls in the parking lot for employees). I decided I would also get a chargepoint RFID card. I'm not sure if I will ever need to use it, but the cost of getting one was low compared to the downside of finding yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with range anxiety and limited charge station options. Others may view this as unnecessary given the way that charge stations may provide payment options for non-networked members. I wasn't sure at this time and I simply didn't want to take on additional risk.

4. Range calculations
I had to use a spreadsheet to figure out how to calculate real distances between charge stations, factor in what the rated range should be, and forecast the amount of charge time necessary assuming I could find a decent charge station. I also had to factor in things like availability of restaurants/shops within walking distance of charge stations. It would be great if these charge station websites could factor in all of these additional things besides geolocation of a charge station. If there are other tesla owners who are interested, maybe we could set up a crowd sourced website that helped with trip planning.

I'm going to test all these assumptions in a few weeks by actually driving from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara with my new Model S. I am sure that I will discover some things that I did not anticipate and will need to adjust. I promise to update this post with any new info I find. I'd appreciate any advice from others who've experienced roadtrips with their Teslas.

negarholger | 27 marzo 2013

What battery you have?
There are several trip report going 101... Use searching for 101.

ichong | 27 marzo 2013

@Kleist - thanks for the referal to I have an 85 kWh

drstone | 29 aprile 2013

I am planning on driving my 60 battery Tesla to Santa Barbara on May 14 2013. Anyone have updates on charging stations at Salinas, Atascadero, or Paso Robles? I prefer to just go down 101, and depart Fremont with a charge top off at Gilroy. I used the charging station there (Gilroy)2 weeks ago - in the time I took to eat at In-n-out my rated distance went from 95 miles to 175 miles. Site has 2 superchargers and 2 regular. Only one other Tesla there at the time. One complaint - the supercharger cord was very short - took lots of adjusting the vehicle to be able to plug in. Chris

Brian H | 29 aprile 2013

Yes, that is the old style SC. The new ones have longer cords.

Brian H | 29 aprile 2013

Some philanthropist should dab painted tire targets on the pavement beside those SCs! Since all MSes are the same size, they'd be perfect guides. ;)

dano | 29 aprile 2013

I just did this trip for the first time in my brand new 85 yesterday. I topped up in Gilroy, then stopped at the Robbobank in Atascadero. It's a J1772, which you can crank to 70A if you have the twin chargers. An hour later, I was on my way at 65mph in range mode, with 150 miles of juice in the tank, and 100 miles to home. I thought I was in the clear, but when I hit the mountains, my 50 mile buffer started erroding. When it got to 25 miles of buffer, I slowed to 55mph, and made it home with 17 miles left in the battery. A little too close for comfort, so I would recomend charging to about 170 miles in Atascadero.

By the way, there is often a grey chevy volt permantly hooked up to this charger for some reason. I've heard the owner is OK with you unplugging it for a charge, as long as you plug it back in when you're done. This is what I did. Weird, I know, but a vital piece of information if you want to charge in Atascadero.