We departed from Pottstown, PA around 1:30PM on February 18th, bound for Kissimmee, FL. We stopped at my sister's house in Powhatan, VA on Tuesday night, and a hotel outside the Savannah, GA supercharger on Wednesday night. We spend the night on Thursday in a hotel in Kissimmee, and then stayed in Kissimmee.
Our first supercharger stop was Newark, DE – a charger I had been to before. All 4 stalls were empty. We charged up to 230 miles or so for the 202 mile run to Glen Allen, VA – a rookie mistake that did not bite us, as we drove conservatively and we had around 20 miles of range left when we pulled in. In Glen Allen we had dinner at the Chi-chi’s while charging. In the morning we drove around nearby sites, then headed back to Glen Allen to charge up before heading south.
During the trip on Wednesday we hit every Supercharger until we stopped in Savannah – Rocky Mount, NC, Lumberton, NC, and Santee, SC. We did not see another Tesla until we hit Santee, where there was one. We did not see a blocked stall with an ICE car until Santee, where one stall was blocked (this was the only time in the entire trip that we saw a stall blocked by a non-Tesla.) We pushed on to Savannah as I had made a reservation near the airport there – a mistake, probably, as it is easy to decide during the trip where to stop and make a reservation the same day.
The hotel in Savannah was too far from the supercharger at the airport to walk, so Bill volunteered to get up a little early and charge the car before we left the hotel in the morning. We then hit St. Augustine, FL, then Port Orange, FL before driving a house in Kissimmee. When we arrived, Bill spent some time filing down the ground blade on the 40 amp plug so it would it in the 30 amp dryer socket, then we left the Tesla charging.
Concerned about a snowstorm, we departed around 10:30AM on Friday February 28th. We charged the Tesla to a full charge before departing, so we decided to skip the Port Orange Supercharger and made it comfortably to St. Augustine. We ate lunch in St. Augustine, then hit Savannah, Santee (where we had dinner,) then spent the night in Lumberton, leaving the car parked at the supercharger there overnight. We departed after breakfast for the superchargers at Rocky Mount, Glen Allen (lunch at Chi Chi’s), Bethesda (the one we skipped on the way down,) then Newark before arriving at my house around 7PM.
Bill remembered to set the trip meter for the trip back. From my Kissimmee house to my Pottstown house was 1064 miles and we used 360 KWH.
Safety tips on this kind of trip:
• Be careful to not leave the supercharger too early. On the way down we departed from Rocky Mount with 160 miles or so, then arrived at Lumberton with only 12 miles of range to spare after driving a bit over 110 miles or so. A fairly safe margin is 1 ½ miles of range for every mile you need to travel. Driving 79 MPH takes over 400 wh/mile, driving 65 while drafting behind a semi improves this to 290 wh/mile or so.
• Make sure the car is charging before you leave it. While the web application on your phone is great, it sometimes takes a long time to connect. On the way back in Savannah we lost 20 minutes when the phone finally connected and reported that the power hose was not connected or something. Coincidently, we were the furthest from the car when this happened.
• In Bethesda, a nice Tesla owner told us that we should lower the car in the highway for better mileage at high speeds. This is on the controls – driving menu, I believe, on software version 5.8. This seemed to work increasing mileage somewhat.
• Bring up an unfamiliar supercharger from the Tesla web site on the screen before approaching it, as this will help you locate the stalls (which can be a bit difficult to find.) I wish I knew about http://supercharge.info before we went on the trip.
• The amenities list on the Tesla web site for each supercharger is accurate, though there are often additional shops and restaurants in walking distance. In my experience, if the web site says you can use a restroom, the front desk will be happy to help you.
• Before leaving the car at a supercharger, set the navigation to the next supercharger (or the one beyond that if you want to skip one.) This lets you know how much range you need to have before you leave.
• Superchargers are MUCH faster adding range when the batteries are in a lower charge state rather than higher. It can be pretty frustrating to wait for range mileage over 210 – we generally left when it was 200 or so.
• The way the superchargers are listed on the web site is confusing. The two left columns are the west coast and central US. The right two columns are the east coast. Each set is listed alphabetically by state. Since the location dots on the map is not hyperlinked it is harder than it should be to identify each station.
Notes on specific supercharger sites. Note that we were on Interstate 95 for almost the entire trip, so we visited the closest one to that route from Pottstown to Kissimmee.
• Newark, DE – this is the most convenient to I95 as it is on a center rest stop with a wide variety of fast food places and convenience stores.
• Bethesda, MD – two stalls on the first floor of a parking garage at an extremely crowded mall (on Saturdays) that has a Tesla store. To be replaced with a larger one soon – can’t happen soon enough. Full of local Tesla owners scoring free electrons.
• Glen Allen, VA – in the Chi-Chi’s parking lot in a mall near I95. Pretty convenient – lots of stalls. The web site says no public bathrooms; we ate at the Chi Chi’s in each direction so this wasn’t an issue.
• Rocky Mount, NC – Near a Texas Steakhouse and Doubletree hotel.
• Lumberton, NC – Near a Texas Steakhouse, but a bit less convenient for other services.
• Santee, SC – In the back of a motel – Clark’s Inn and Restaurant. We ate at a Wendy’s a short walk and across the street. Also a nearby drugstore.
• Savannah, GA – On the first floor of a parking garage a few hundred feet from the terminal. You have to get a ticket to park, then have this validated at the visitors center on the 1st floor of the terminal near the stairs to the concourse. Kinda a pain – the least convenient, thought the concourse did have restrooms, restaurants and shops.
• St. Augustine, FL – at the end of an Outlet Mall, near their food court.
• Port Orange, FL – at the entrance to an upscale mall with fairly nice public restrooms and lots of restaurants.
In general, hopping from Supercharger to Supercharger was pretty easy – didn’t take much more time than a gas car would have.