Making a road trip in an electric vehicle is not the same as doing one in a conventional gas car vehicle. The number one reason is that you have to plan your stops for charging.
You set off in a gas-powered vehicle. You can pretty much guarantee that there’s going to be a gas station wherever you’re going, so you really don’t have to think about stopping for gas.
However, in an electric vehicle, the charging infrastructure is definitely further behind than it is with gas, so you do have to plan where your stops are going to be and how frequently you will be stopping between your destination and where you’re leaving from.
There are a number of considerations you have to take into account when planning your trip in your Tesla or any electric vehicle, and those are things like your tire pressure, the weather conditions, how much altitude you plan to gain on the trip, how much weight you’re towing in, even your driving style. These are all going to have a huge impact on the amount of eventual range that you have when driving in your vehicle that will impact how frequently you need to stop.
Luckily, there are several EV road trip planner apps that help you take those conditions into account and plan a trip accordingly. We’re going to present the three best Tesla trip planner apps that might be really handy for everybody that’s driving Tesla or even any other EV.
Best Tesla Trip Planners
ABRP (A Better Route Planner)
The best way to plan a Tesla road trip is actually to not rely on the navigation system but instead utilize the ABRP (A Better Route Planner).
It doesn’t necessarily try to minimize the amount of charging stops you make along the way as the Tesla navigation system does. But you can set the charging stops from “fewer stops” to “shorter legs” based on your trip purposes. Based on how electric car batteries work, the charge is more efficient on road trips to stop more often to charge.
Unlike the built-in supercharging routing on the Tesla itself, you can set how much battery you want at the final destination.
The ABRP is definitely a must-have app. During any long driving or a road trip, it’s usually not a problem for Teslas, especially going from a Supercharger to another Supercharger. However, there are no Superchargers at some places, so you need to find a third-party DC fast charging station or Level 2 chargers to get some juice under some circumstances.
If you are planning long journeys with multiple stops along the way or no stops along the way, the ABRP will help map out exactly where you should stop.
Therefore, when you’re planning a trip with your Tesla or any EV for that matter, check out A Better Route Planner. It’ll definitely make the process a lot easier.
Tesla drivers can add waypoints.
It allows you to plan your road trip way more accurately.
It’s flexible for you to determine what charging stops you want.
It’s flexible for you to increase or decrease charging stops along your trip.
It shows you both Tesla Superchargers and third-party charging stations.
It shows lots of information in detail such as cost, charging time and the amount of electricity that you will take on.
It optimizes the charging curve of the vehicle so that the charging sessions are usually under 30 min.
It shows lots of accommodations around the charging stations, such as restaurants, restrooms, etc.
You can easily load it in the car browser, load up your trip and get real-time tracking to compare that to the estimates.
It shows lots of detailed information about the charging stations but not the real-time availability of stalls at the charging station.
Although it shows all the charging stations on the map, the payment system is not integrated into the mobile app. So you have to pay your bills with a different app from the charging station provider.
Tesla on-Board Trip Planner
The planner that’s built into the Tesla navigation system is okay. The built-in Tesla trip planner is perfect if you plan a straight shot from point A to point B, but we really wouldn’t recommend using it for any road trips that require more than one charging stop. It just provides very few options for customization and is limited to the conditions of right when you’re using it, meaning that if you want to use it to plan a trip that’s a couple of weeks out, the car is going to use the current conditions such as battery level and traffic. You really can’t plan that well in advance.
You can’t add waypoints. The navigation system won’t account for the return journey in case your final destination is pretty far from a charging location. On top of this, it seems to just try to minimize the number of stops on road trips which makes sense at first glance, but in reality, that results in uncomfortably low margin and doesn’t seem to take into account inefficiencies, such as temperature effects or carrying a lot of extra cargo with you.
The road trip plan made by Tesla is an ideal scenario. It’s not taking into account extra weight, road conditions, higher speeds or weather.
Overall, there are just very few ways that you can actually customize this system.
Very convenient integration into the center screen of the vehicle.
It shows up all the cost, stopping time, and real-time supercharger status. So you can reroute your charging stops when needed.
Great integration of real-time traffic information.
Really precise energy consumption based on various driving conditions such as elevation, so the state of charge upon arrival is very accurate.
It knows the state of charge of your vehicle, so it can plan the trip accordingly.
Sometimes the trip planner is not optimizing charging stops based on the vehicle charging curve.
You cannot add waypoints in the on-board trip planner.
The map is not showing other fast charging options for Tesla.
PlugShare Trip Planner
The PlugShare trip planner is really cool for people that have limited range or are planning long road trips, but you can only get access to the PlugShare trip planner on the desktop version.
If you don’t have a PlugShare account, you won’t be able to use the trip planner, log into stations and leave notes.
The trip planner allows you to add your vehicles. After entering the trip starting point and destination, you will see a green circle in which a bunch of charging stations show. These are every charging station along that route within a particular radius. The green circle is the estimated range of your vehicle. You can adjust your range accordingly.
You can check the elevation of your drive through this trip planner, so you can add in more charging stops or fewer stops depending on the elevation that you’re driving.
The PlugShare app is one of the best apps for public charging stations because it is a lot more comprehensive and shows more charging stations on a variety of networks.
It shows all the available fast-charging stations from all charging station providers on the map, and it tells you the types of connectors a certain charging station has.
It can add waypoints for your trip planning, such as your favorite restaurant that you would like to have lunch.
The integrated payment system in the mobile app. It is not a huge problem for Tesla drivers to charge at superchargers. But it is a problem for other EV drivers to charge at different fast-charging stations. Pay all your bills for different charging stations is a very convenient feature.
If you do not set the preference of charging stations, it sometimes routes you through some slow charging stations with only 60 KW of charging power.
It does not show many details of your charging stops, such as cost, stopping time, and charging time.
How to Use A Better Route Planner?
We’ll step through an example of how to plan a trip with A Better Route Planner.
Let’s say we want to make a road trip from Denver,Colorado to Boston,Massachusetts.
Open up your web browser and type in abetterrouteplanner.com.
Enter your starting point (Denver, Colorado) and destination (Boston, Massachusetts).
2. Go tosettings and turn on the detailed settings.
3. Choose which car you’re driving ( Tesla Model 3 2018-2020 Long Range AWD Aero 18”). The ABRP website provides all sorts of vehicles and every possible version.
4. Set your departure state of charge. Basically, it’s the state of charger you’re planning to have when you leave to start your journey.
5. Reference consumption is based on your vehicle, and you can leave it as is.
6. Set charging stops among “fewer stops” and “shorter legs”. You can choose more charging stops or fewer charging stops.
7. Go down to battery & chargers. What you want to pay attention to are these options.
7.1 We have fast chargers first. There are Tesla SC, Tesla CCS, CCS, CHAdeMo, Level 2 options.
7.2 The charger availability feature can only be used when you have an ABRP Premium account.
7.3 Set minimum charger stalls.
7.4 Set destination arrival state of charge. This is the minimum state of chargethat you’re okay with arriving at your final destination. So in our example, that would be Boston, Massachusetts.
7.5 Set charger arrival state of charge. It is similar to the destination arrival state of charge, but this is for arriving at chargers. The lower this number is, the faster you’re going to be able to charge.
7.6 The maxstate of charge is really just the highest that you’re willing to charge up to. 100% is fine for a road trip.
7.7 Set Battery degradation. We just leave it at the 5% which we think is pretty conservative.
7.8 Next up, charging overhead in the description. We think about this as how much time it takes you to get out of your car, plug in, unplug and drive away. It’s essentially the amount of time that you’re at a charger that you’re not charging. We set it as 2.
8. Let’s go to the speed section.
8.1 Reference speed is basically a percentage of the speed limit, so 100% means that you’re always doing the speed limit, but let’s face it, and most people on the highway go above the speed limit.
If we put this at 107%, it would mean that if the speed limit were 70 miles an hour, you would typically be driving 75 miles an hour.
8.2 Next up is the maximum speed. We limit this to 85 miles an hour because there are some sections that have 80 miles an hour speed limits.
9. Next up, let’s go to roadconditions. Unfortunately, weather can affect an electric vehicle road trip quite a bit and especially cold weather.
You can set wind speed and direction, temperature and even specific road conditions (dry, rain or snow, or heavy rain and snow).
10. You can set certain things that you want to avoid on your route, for example, ferries, country borders, highways or tolls.
11. The last setting is extraweight. It is really nice if you’re planning to have a bunch of luggage or extra people in the car.
12. Our route has finally loaded. It’s going to take 33 hours and7 minutes to drive from Denver to Boston. That’s about 28 hours and 382 minutes of actual driving to go 2001 miles with about 5 hours and 4 minutes of charging with 17 charging stops.
13. Click on table. It’ll open up a nice table of all of this information in a super helpful format, so it’s essentially just a list of every stop from the start to the finish of the trip. For each stop, it’ll tell you what state of charge you’re going to arrive, how long you’re going to be there charging and what percentage you’re going to depart. It even calculates how much it’s going to cost at the Tesla supercharger.
From the table, you’ve got the distance in miles between the points as well as how long it’s going to take. You can even see the specific time of day based on what time you departed.
14. Export it to excel. It will download this spreadsheet that you can open in Excel or google sheets. This is convenient because you can just open this from any smartphone along the route or take a screenshot in case you’re worried, and you won’t have service.
This sheet also has a link that’ll open up the route that you’ve planned on their website in case you want to go back to that and make any tweaks.
If there isn’t a lot of Tesla Superchargers on your way, the ABRP is extremely helpful to map out where you should charge along the way.
Besides, if you are planning to get from point A to point B, it’s best to use the Tesla navigation system, but if you are planning a road trip and it’s relatively long, a few days or more and there are some in the middle of nowhere areas, it’s better to use the ABRP. It provides you way more information and allows you to plan your road trip way more precisely.
by Daniella | Last updated Sep 23, 2021 | Published on Aug 16, 2021 | Learn
Are electric cars really better for the environment? A lot of people doubt that because even though gasoline-powered cars have harmful emissions, today’s electricity comes from coal a lot of times, and that’s even dirtier. So it stands to reason that a coal-powered electric car could be dirtier than an ICE vehicle. But is it really true? Well, let’s find out the truth together.
Gasoline Car Emissions
As we know, burning dead dinos produces some smoke with sorts of nasty stuff in it. Broadly speaking though, the car emissions can be divided into two broad categories: Pollutants and Greenhouse gases.
The pollutants, those are the toxic ones they’re bad for the health of people, animals, and plants. Pollutants include things like airborne particulates, hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen (or NOx), sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. In the US and most of the western world, we’ve been cleaning up these emissions for the past 50 years.
The second type of emissions are the greenhouse gases. You may have heard the truth about their inconvenience once or twice, particularly the issues with CO2 emissions, while CO2 isn’t directly harmful to our health. If its atmospheric concentration changes by a lot, this can really affect the global climate, which can negatively impact us and animals, our lives and future lives.
Carbon Emissions of Electric Car Vs Gasoline Car
Carbon Emissions of Electric Car
As the electric car drives down the road, it will be releasing exactly zero emissions.
Carbon Emissions of Gasoline Car
The ICE car releases pollutants and CO2 from its tailpipe, but just how much is spewed forth into the world? According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, for every gallon of gas that the ICE car burns, it travels on average 24.2 miles 1, otherwise, known as 24.2 miles per gallon. As the gasoline is combusted in the air, about 73% of the exhaust gas is Nitrogen, and that’s just inert. 13% is water vapor and about 13% is CO22. According to the US EPA, one gallon (or 3.8 liters) of gas releases 8.89 kg of CO23.
Taking 8.89 kg of CO2per gallon and dividing by 24.2 miles per gallon, we get a value of 0.37 kg of CO2 released per mile driven or 22.8 kg of CO2 per 100 km.
Fuel Supply Carbon Emissions
Electricity Supply Carbon Emissions – Electric Car
An electric car needs a stream of electrons to recharge its battery every night or whenever you’re going to charge it. Unless this electricity is coming from a renewable or nuclear source, there’s going to be CO2 released during the production of the electricity.
In 2009, over 44% of our electricity in the US came from coal 4. If you’ve ever played a game from SimCity, you know that the coal plants are the first electricity source you build because they’re the cheapest. But you want to replace those things as quickly as you can because they’re so dirty. So how bad is coal? The US Energy Information Administration, or the EIA, puts typical CO2 emissions from a US coal plant at 1 kg of CO2 per kWh of produced electricity 5.
How Much Electricity Does An Electric Car Use?
Looking at our 2020 Model Y, the EPA projects it will consume about 0.28 kWh of electricity per mile 6,but this is only the energy consumed during driving. It doesn’t account for any efficiency losses in all of the equipment getting the electricity from the power plant to the car or from the charging station to the car battery.
After the electricity leaves the power plant, it can travel hundreds of miles across many different wires until it finally arrives at the charging station. As the electricity moves through these wires, any resistance in the wires will cause them to heat up, which represents an energy loss on the part of the electricity flow. The EIA suggests that, on average, about 5% of the energy produced in the power plant will be lost to heat during distribution 7. But just because an electron makes it to the charger doesn’t mean it’s going to get a ride on the big battery.
EV charging stations are notoriously inefficient. Some of the losses are in the components within the charging station. Others are within the vehicle. One group of researchers found that on a typical Level 2 charger, at a current of 40 amps, there was around a 12.4% loss due to charging 8. If we take the Model Y’s consumption of 0.28 kWh per mile and divide by 1 minus the 12.4% of the charging losses and the 5% of the transmission losses, we find that for every mile driven, the power plant must be producing 0.34 kWh of electricity.
Electricity Supply Carbon Footprint
If we assume that 100% of electricity is produced from coal, since 1 kg of CO2 is released by the coal-fired power plant for every kWh produced 5, 0.34 kg of CO2 is going to be released per mile driven, or 21.1 kg per 100 km.
Gasoline Supply Carbon Emissions – Gasoline Car
We’ve expanded the definition of the electric vehicle to include the fuel supply chain, but we haven’t done this for the gas car. Gasoline doesn’t just magically appear at the gas pumps.
Many years ago, in a land, a dino sacrificed its life in the service of your car. Really, in all seriousness, we don’t have to go that far, but there’s significant energy involved in converting the dead dinosaur nectar into gasoline. You have the exploration, the drilling, the transportation of the crude to the refinery, the refining into gasoline and then the shipping of the gasoline to the gas station. Figuring out all of these emissions is really super complicated, and they depend on how the oil is being extracted, how far it has to be transported, in what way it’s transported, and how clean the refineries are.
In a report from the Eindhoven University of Technology 9, they estimate that global drilling for oil releases on average 1.24 kg of CO2 per gallon of gasoline. If you refine within Europe, another 1.23 kg of CO2 is added per gallon. With a final 0.12 kg added for transportation to the gas stations. In total, we’re looking at an additional emission of 2.59 kg of CO2 per gallon of gasoline before the fuel has even reached the car. Dividing 2.59 kg per gallon by our average fuel economy of 24.2 miles per gallon, we get additional emissions for the ICE vehicle of 0.11 kg per mile, or 6.6 kg per 100 kilometers.
Carbon Footprint of Electric Car Vs Gasoline
We get 0.34 kg of CO2 per mile driven released by Tesla Model Y, while 0.48 kg of CO2 per mile (0.37 + 0.11 = 0.48) by gasoline car.
So running our Model Y EV on coal appears to actually be cleaner than running the typical gas-powered car,0.34 kg per mile versus 0.48 kg of CO2 per mile.
But what if instead of the typical car, we choose something greener, something like say a 2020 Prius Eco. The 2020 Prius Eco gets an incredible EPA combined mileage of 56 miles per gallon 6! With 8.89 kg of engine emissions per gallon of gasoline 3 and 2.59 kg of fuel emissions per gallon, the Prius produces 11.5 kg of CO2 per gallon of gasoline. Dividing by the mileage of 56 miles per gallon, we get per mile emissions of only 0.2 kg of CO2 per mile, or about 40% less than the per mile emissions of the Model Y on coal.
Environmental Impact of Making the Car
There’s one source of emissions that we haven’t looked at. There are emissions that are wrapped up just in making the car, like the emissions from making fuel. Manufacturing emissions are really complicated! For instance, let’s think about what goes into making a tiny bolt.
First, you need to find some iron ore in the ground which means a lot of prospecting and research. Then you need to get some heavy equipment to dig it out of the ground. After that, the ore needs transporting to the steel mill and this could be the whole way across the world. The steel mill separates the iron from the ore in a huge furnace and this is likely coal fired. Then the iron is converted to steel before sending the steel to the foundry for forming into the bolt. Next are all of the forging and machining steps required to cut the bolt and its threads. Once the bolt is made, it needs to be shipped to the manufacturing facility where the cars are assembled. It’s attached to the car and finally, the car is shipped to your local dealership.
This is just for a simple bolt, and I’m leaving out all kinds of steps. But my point here is to show how complicated and how much energy is involved in just making a bolt. Now, imagine all of the complex, specialized brackets, engine components, electronics, glass windows, lights, tires, and all the other components that are really essential in modern cars. To try to get a handle on this, I looked at over half a dozen reports and websites on vehicle manufacturing emissions, and I found that most estimates put light vehicle manufacturing emissions somewhere between 5,000 and 9,000 kg of CO210, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,16. The value for a particular vehicle is really going to depend on the size of the vehicle as well as its complexity and the particular materials it uses. To make it simpler for our purposes here, I’m going to use a value of 7,500 kg of CO2. It really doesn’t matter too much what number we choose as the emissions will be the same for both ICE vehicles and EVs.
In the case of an ICE vehicle, this number does include all of the components of the car, but in the case of an EV, it does not include the emissions produced during the battery manufacturing. Unfortunately, this is not insignificant.
Environmental Impact of Electric Car Battery Manufacturing
According to some researches 13, 14, 15, 16, for an EV with a small battery, like the Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery, the battery production emissions are only about half those of the rest of the car, or about 3,800 kg, but for our Long Range Tesla Model Y with a 75 kWh pack, we’re looking at about 7,600 kg of CO2 released during the production of the battery. This is pretty much the exact same number as the emissions for the rest of the car. So this means that before any miles have been driven, our Tesla has already produced more than twice as much CO2 as a typical ICE vehicle.
CO2 Emissions of Electric Car Vs Gasoline Car Overall
Electric Car Vs Gas Cars: Graph 1 – 100% Coal-Powered EVs
In the vertical direction, we have CO2 emissions in tons of CO2. Just to clarify for those of us on freedom units, one ton here is 1,000 kilograms. Anyhow, along the x-axis is the number of miles driven. At zero driven miles, each of the cars has released CO2 equivalent to its manufacturing emissions, about 7.5 tons for the ICE and hybrid cars, 11.3 tons for the Leaf and 15.1 tons for the Model Y.
As we start driving each vehicle, the Leaf and Model Y increase at about the same rate, with the average ICE car increasing more quickly. We also see that the Prius increases the least per mile. At around 33,000 miles, the ICE car surpasses the lifetime emissions of the Leaf and. The ICE car surpasses the Model Y at around 56,000 miles. Meaning, as long as the coal-powered EVs are driven for more than 56,000 miles, they will both have less lifetime CO2 emissions than the average ICE car. Meanwhile, the Prius keeps looking better and better. By 100,000 miles, we see that its total CO2 emissions are 57% of those of the Model Y!
So why would Elon call EVs sustainable transport? Well, it’s all about this little phrase on my plot, 100% coal-powered EVs. Virtually no electric grid is going to be 100% coal-powered.
Electric Car Vs Gas Cars: Graph 2 – 2019 Average US Grid Electric
Even in the most coal-heavy US state, West Virginia, only about 91% of the electricity is generated from coal 17,18. In some states like California, they only get 0.12% of their electricity from coal 18. In Pennsylvania, it comes in quite low at 16.6% 18. Nationally, around 23.5% of our electricity comes from coal, 39.2% from natural gas and 37.3% is produced by renewable or nuclear sources 18. For the same electricity production, natural gas releases 41% of the CO2 that’s released by coal 5. Nuclear and renewable sources can be classified as emissions-free if you’re not considering the emissions related to their construction, which we haven’t been. What this amounts to is that there are huge reductions in the per-mile EV emissions when we adjust our graph for the current US electricity grid mix.
We can see that by 11,000 miles, the Leaf has a better lifetime CO2 emissions than the average ICE car. It takes the Model Y twice as long to hit the same point, and that’s at about 22,000 miles. However, more interestingly, by 60,000 miles, the Leaf has beaten the Prius. By 100,000 miles, the Model Y is about to do the same thing.
Remember that the Prius represents just about the cleanest gasoline-powered car out there today. It’s significantly more efficient than the typical ICE car. More promising, over the next 30 years or so, the EIA projects the grid will become cleaner and cleaner in the US 19. The coal generation is projected to fall from 21% in 2020 to below 13% in 2050. The natural gas percentage also falls, but just slightly. The biggest change is in the increase of nuclear and renewable sources that are rising from about 40% today to above 50% in 2050.
Electric Car Vs Gas Cars: Graph 3 – Accounting for Changing US Grid
I’m sure you can guess these trends aren’t as dramatic as I’d like to see, but they’re at least in the positive direction. This leads us to a particularly interesting point about EVs. As the grid cleans well into the future, an EV manufactured today becomes cleaner and cleaner relative to an ICE vehicle manufactured today. To account for this, I adjusted the lifetime emissions curves for the year the energy is used in. It’s difficult to see, but the EV curves have begun to bend downward as future emissions become cleaner, according to the EIA trends.
It’s a little more obvious if we extend this out to 2050, which takes us close to 400,000 miles. What we do see is that the points where the EV and the ICE curves intersect, which is the point where the EVs become cleaner than the ICE cars, which means that the EVs are becoming cleaner than the ICE cars at an earlier point in their lifetime. Remember, this is only for cars produced today. ICE cars produced in the future will be more efficient than today, and this will make their per-mile emissions lower. And future EVs will likely be more efficient as well with reduced battery manufacturing emissions.
Electric Car Vs Gas Cars: Graph 4 – 100% Renewable /Nuclear Grid in 2050
So I don’t expect the overall trends between the two vehicle types to change that much, but what would happen if the grid got cleaner than the EIA projects? Let’s say 100% renewable and nuclear by 2050. For this, I assumed an annual compounding increase in renewable generation of 3%, with natural gas and coal decreasing in proportion to their current ratio.
Unfortunately, for a car produced today, we don’t see a significant change in emissions until 2039, after which the emissions curve really begins to flatten. But there is another option that’s available today. And it involves powering your EV using solar panels on your house.
Electric Car Vs Gas Cars: Graph 5 – 100% Rooftop Solar for EVs
And if you were to charge your car using this 100% renewable energy, the CO2 emissions curves become horizontal lines on day one. They’re not perfectly horizontal because there are still going to be emissions that are wrapped up in the production maintenance and disposal of the solar panels.
Granted, I haven’t accounted for any of this in any of the electric sources up till now, but it’s small, and it makes our findings more conservative, so let’s go with it. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory puts this at about 0.04 kg of CO2 per kWh produced 20. As you can see, this is by far the best possible scenario for reducing transportation emissions today.
Electric Car Vs Gas Car Carbon Emissions Tools
Earlier this year, MIT released what they call Carbon Counter, which directly compares lifetime emissions and costs for a wide variety of ICE, hybrid, and electric vehicles 15. I’d highly recommend it. Also, if you’re in the US and you’d like to compare emissions among vehicle types in your particular state. The Department of Energy has a simple interactive tool that is helpful for that 18. It takes into account different electricity generation sources to compare EVs, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and ICE-powered cars.
Are electric cars better for the environment? The answer is YES, absolutely!
By comparing the engine and fuel emissions between electric cars (2020 Tesla Model Y) and gas cars, we get 34 kg per mile versus 0.48 kg of CO2 per mile. The electric car outperforms the gas car.
When we account for the environmental impact of electric car battery manufacturing, electric cars are becoming cleaner than ICE cars at an earlier point in their lifetime.
As the grid cleans well into the future, and the electric cars will be more efficient with reduced battery manufacturing emissions, electric cars will become cleaner and cleaner relative to gas cars.
Lifetime emissions of EVs are lower than gasoline cars.
Electric vehicles are powered by batteries in a battery pack, but did you know there’s a second battery? Just like internal combustion vehicles, electric vehicles also have a 12-volt battery.
However, typically, the Tesla 12V battery tends to go unnoticed until you can’t start your Tesla.
Tesla battery range and charging, this article was backed by Tesla from their website and owner’s manual. Unfortunately, there isn’t much coming from Tesla about the 12V battery. We’ll do our best to make sure the information this article elaborates is accurate and reliable.
In this article, we’ll help you understand why Tesla vehicles need a 12V battery, Tesla Model 3 / Y 12V battery replacement options, and how to replace the 12V battery.
Why Does Your Tesla Have A 12V Battery?
Why does your Tesla have a 12V battery when it has access to a gigantic battery under the floorboard of the car? Let’s get into it.
If you’re like a lot of car owners, you probably don’t pay much attention to what’s under the hood. Obviously, the big difference between an EV and a gas-powered car is the lack of an engine, but when you pop the frunk of your Tesla, you still have access to things, like brake fluid, washer fluid and even a 12V battery.
For some people, it may have come as a surprise that their Tesla even has a 12V battery, especially since there is a high volt battery that could easily provide all the energy they need for their 12V systems. There is a reason Tesla doesn’t do this. When the first-gen Roadster was designed, it actually didn’t have a 12V battery. Instead, a DC to DC converter was used to take energy from the main battery and power the 12V system, such as the headlights, turn signals, media controls, etc.
The problem with that is if the high volt battery needed to be powered down, such as after an accident, all of the 12V systems shut down as well as safety features, like the hazard lights, no longer worked. This is one of the reasons why a 12V battery was added to the gen 2 Roadster and every other Tesla up to this point.
So the 12V battery in my Tesla must be lithium-ion like my high volt battery, right? NOPE! Much like that of a gas-powered car, your Tesla has a lead-acid 12V battery (minus the refreshed 2021 S & X). What’s the difference between these two?
For starters, lead-acid batteries are far cheaper than lithium-ion batteries up front, but over the course of the batteries’ lifetime, lithium-ion batteries make far more sense.
Not only that, but lead batteries have a limited cycle life. Lead batteries are good for about 500 to 1000 cycles as the best deep cycle. If you’re frequently tapping into your battery bank, that could mean that your batteries may need a replacement in less than two years.
In fact, Tesla had a reoccurring issue with its 12-volt batteries. Many in the community have seen their 12-volt batteries die on them with no warning sign whatsoever which could cause you to be locked out of your vehicle and essentially stranded.
Elon did address that they would be solving this by giving customers a heads up when their 12-volt battery is going to die, but that doesn’t address the problem and how to resolve it until their most recent 2021 Model S and X refresh. In fact, in an interview with Sandy Monroe, Elon did acknowledge that in their new refreshed vehicles for Model S and X 2021, and probably later, they’re going to be changing their 12-volt battery to a lithium-ion battery.
This means more capacity, more cycles. Essentially, your battery shouldn’t need to be changed quite nearly as often and should essentially last the same amount of time as your main battery pack. So if you drive a Tesla that is older than the new 2021 Model S or X, most likely, your 12-old battery is going to need to be replaced soon.
The 12V battery in a gas car is used primarily to give a jolt of high current energy to turn over the engine for a few seconds. Once it’s started, the 12V battery really isn’t used that much since the alternator powers the 12V accessories in the car. Even when the gas car is powered off, it doesn’t need much energy from the battery.
If you were to use this type of battery in a Tesla, it wouldn’t last very long, at best, maybe a few months. So Tesla uses what’s known as Absorbent Glass Mat or AGM since Tesla doesn’t need to turn over a gas engine and doesn’t have an alternator and The design of the AGM battery is better suited for Tesla vehicles. It needs to use a 12V battery to power the 12V systems and not to mention the fact that the car still needs to use the battery even when it’s not in use, like Sentry Mode, unlocking the car and being able to turn everything on quickly once you enter the car.
This will mean more charging cycles, and the particular AGM battery used in your Tesla is specifically designed to be repetitively charged and discharged on a regular basis. AGM batteries are also sealed, meaning there won’t be any liquid spills or corrosion.
You might be asking what parts of Tesla use the 12V battery. Rather than bore you with a long list, let’s take a look at what doesn’t use it and uses the high volt battery pack instead.
Obviously, the motors, the air conditioning and cabin heater, the battery coolant heater used in the model S and X, and the DC to DC converter for charging the 12V battery use the main battery.
Everything else is using the 12V battery. When the 12V battery starts getting low, the main battery pack will charge it by using the DC to DC converter, which is the only way it will be charged even when the car is plugged in. If the DC to DC converter fails, the 12V battery won’t be able to be charged. This also helps to explain the phantom drain of the main battery pack.
Tesla 12V Battery Options
The biggest topic of discussion in the Tesla community is the battery, in particular, concerns about degradation, but what tends to go under the radar is the 12V battery which is noticed until people start getting the alert that their 12V battery needs to be replaced. For many people, it is actually the first time they realize the car even has a 12V battery.
For gas car owners, it’s easy to replace the 12V battery. You can stop by your local auto parts store, pick up a new 12V battery and have it installed in minutes. For those that aren’t comfortable swapping out the 12V battery themselves, sometimes the local auto parts store might actually do it for you or you could have a shop do it for you within 12 to 24 hours. In some cases, it may take longer, but most likely, there will be a local shop in town somewhere that will have an opening available.
However, it’s a different story if you have a Tesla. Until auto parts stores start keeping 12V batteries for Tesla vehicles in stock, you’re pretty much at the mercy of Tesla, but many of us came to terms with that long ago.
The best-case scenario is you live close to a service center, and you can pick up a 12V battery there and swap it out on your own in less than 30 minutes. This is, of course, only if you can actually drive your car. You may either need to have your car towed to a service center or make an appointment with mobile service, whichever one will get you your new 12-volt battery faster.
The worst-case scenario is you don’t live close to a service center and you will either need to
1. drive a long distance to get the battery
2. have it towed to the nearest service center
3. schedule an appointment with mobile service
How long it will take with numbers two and three is all a matter of luck.
There is a third-party option that can get you your new 12-volt battery in 24 to 48 hours via overnight shipping, but it won’t be a Tesla OEM 12-volt battery. Instead, it will be a lithium battery manufactured by a company called Ohmmu Batteries. So let’s take a closer look at these two options more closely.
The OEM 12V battery is expected to last on average between two to four years, give or take, depending on how many charge cycles your battery has gone through.
According to Ohmmu, their batteries are expected to last up to four times longer than the Tesla OEM battery, six to eight years.
The Ohmmu battery is expected to be more efficient for two reasons:
It weighs about 60% less than that of the Tesla OEM battery. The Ohmmu battery comes in at a little over 11 pounds, while the OEM battery weighs about 28 pounds.
The Ohmmu battery is also more efficient because overall, it loses less energy during use. Most Tesla owners are aware of the efficiency loss of the main lithium battery, particularly during colder winter months. That being said, the Ohmmu battery has been tested under extreme conditions from temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on their testing, the Ohmmu battery passed the test in extreme conditions.
There is a big difference in price between the two batteries. One quote from a local Tesla service center was $122 for parts and labor with mobile service and a one-year warranty on the battery. The battery alone is approximately $85. Both of those prices will most likely vary depending on where you live.
The Ohmmu battery will set you back a whopping $439 with a four-year warranty. If you’re still covered under your Tesla warranty, the decision is a no-brainer stick with the OEM battery at no charge, but if you need to pay for it out of your own pocket, it actually may still be a no-brainer for many. But let’s take a look at the math.
When comparing the price, the Ohmmu battery actually pays itself off in 5.2 years. Anything you get out of it after that will actually be a bonus. That being said, on average, most people only keep their cars for about six years, so for some people, this may be a moot point. There may also be some hesitation to getting anything other than OEM, but considering the Model S and X refresh has a lithium 12V battery, it’s most likely only a matter of time before the 3 / Y follows suit.
In the end, it all comes down to what you can afford and what you’re most comfortable with. Understandably, $439 is going to be way too much for many and on top of that, it’s not OEM, which can also make some people uncomfortable. For those of you, considering the Ohmmu battery but have it needed to replace your battery just yet, it actually might not be a bad idea to purchase it now and store it and keep it charged as Ohmmu recommends which is about every six months. That way, when you get the warning or your car won’t start, you have the battery ready to go.
How To Install A 12V battery
It’s time to change out your 12-volt battery in your Tesla model 3 or Y. You might be asking yourself, “Do I change it out myself or do I have a service technician do it for me?” Before you have someone else do it for you, we’re going to give you step-by-step directions on how to swap it out yourself. Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think.
1. Open the frunk, windows and doors
2. Power off the car
3. Unlatch the back seat
4. Disconnect high voltage interlock loop (you will hear a loud” popping” noise. Don’t be alarmed)
5. Disconnect Negative (Black) terminal First (Make sure it doesn’t make contact with metal);
disconnect Positive (Red) terminal Second
6. Push to release bracket
7. Disconnect gas vent tube (you won’t need this if replacing with Ohmmu Battery)
8. Remove plastic covers
9. Lead lug spacers Provided by Ohmmu (Larger one goes on the positive terminal, smaller one goes on the negative terminal)
10. Spacers are tapered. The larger opening faces down. Press down to secure
11. Connect Positive terminal first (Don’t forget to put the red rubber cap back on);
connect Negative terminal second
12. Connect high voltage interlock loop
13. Snap the back seat into place
Tesla is constantly innovating and improving their production on their vehicles. It’s a no-brainer that they are now starting to move from a lead battery to a lithium-ion battery that gives better performance, better longevity in their S and X line. Maybe the margins are a little bit higher, so they’re able to do that. Hopefully, we see that reflected on future 3 and Y models.
Hopefully, you learned a little bit about the batteries in your electric vehicles. You left a little bit more educated and a little bit more knowledgeable on if your 12-volt should fail, you know exactly what needs to be done to replace that and why.
Why have I seen a drop in my range? What’s the best way to charge my Tesla? We’re going to help answer those questions.
The topic about the battery, in particular, the rated range and charging, has been revisited repeatedly. But there are a few battery experts out there and truly good experts that really do know a lot about lithium-ion batteries which coincidentally is basically what the Tesla battery is. The problem is many of these experts have slightly different takes on how the battery works and what’s best for it. As a result, you get a lot of mass confusion and misinformation being spread about all topics surrounding the battery from the best charging practices to battery degradation.
In the end, we found we had more questions than answers and realized a lot of the answers were right there in front of us. That was on Tesla’s website and owner’s manual.
Tesla has the best advice about your battery and who better to go to for advice on your battery than Tesla.
This article is to break down everything Tesla has to say about the battery from the best charging habits to helping you better understand what the rated range really means and everything in between.
Note: All of the information about Tesla is only coming from Tesla’s website and owner’s manual.
What is MPGe?
Most likely, any car you had before your Tesla was powered by gas, and like most people, you probably had a general idea of what kind of gas fuel you got. The mileage was measured by how many miles you can drive on a gallon of gas (MPG).
When you are looking and buying a new gas car, one of the more common questions is, “what’s the gas mileage?” You can typically find that information on the sticker of the car. The number is given to that particular car by strict standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency or the EPA. For example, the Mustang GT500 gets 14 MPG which is the average between city and highway combined.
Since electric cars don’t use gas, the EPA had come up with a new way to measure the fuel economy. They came up with MPGe which is short for miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent.
So what is MPGe exactly?
MPGe stands for miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent. The equivalent part is what we’re talking about energy in a gallon of gas as opposed to the volume of a gallon of gas which is what MPG basically refers to.
Numerically, the EPA says that a gallon of gas has 115,000 BTUs or British thermal units of potential energy in it and is equivalent to 33.7 kWh of stored electricity. KWh is typically how you measure the capacity of a battery. The math isn’t simple as you can imagine. This is part of how they actually pull that equation together.
Why does MPGe exist?
MPGe exists because the electric car market required something in order for shoppers to be able to compare other electric cars and to be able to compare electric hybrids and regular gas vehicles so that they can know what kind of value they’re getting.
However, a high MPGe doesn’t mean that they can actually get that many miles on a full charge.
If an electric car comes with a battery lower than 33.7 kWh, the car can’t get that miles on a full charge, while if the car has a 40 or a 60 kWh battery, it can get further than what their MPGe is.
Tesla driving range is the distance that a Tesla can travel on a single charge.
Tesla Displayed Range
In the case of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, the estimated driving range by EPA is 310 miles. It’s the Tesla estimated, rated or displayed range.
The number of miles indicated by the battery icon on the Touchscreen is the estimated range of your current state of battery that has been adapted on fixed EPA test data. This number isn’t impacted by your driving habits, but it is impacted by the temperature.
Tesla Actual Range
The actual range and the displayed range are different because the actual range does indeed depend on your personal driving habits and your environment.
Your estimated actual miles can be accessed in an energy app on your Touchscreen, and this number gives you a more accurate and reliable number to work with.
It takes an average consumption of the energy over the last 5, 15, or 30 miles and gives you a better idea of how far you can drive on your current state of charge.
This will fluctuate during your trip depending on how fast you’re driving or if you’re going up or down hills, or the temperature outside.
If you put a destination of navigation, it will predict the percentage of battery you have left once you reach your destination.
Hopefully, this clears up any misconceptions you may have had about the displayed range on the screen.
Tesla Battery Range Fluctuations And Degradation
Why does the displayed range fluctuate up and down? This question creates a lot of frustration and concerns for a lot of Tesla owners, especially when they see it go down.
Almost everyone’s initial reaction is battery degradation, but is it really battery degradation? According to Tesla, ”It’s natural for this to fluctuate due to the nature ofbattery technology and howthe onboard computer calculates range.” 1
After digging a little deeper, I discovered Tesla expands on this by stating ”It is normal for estimated range todecreaseslightly over the first few monthsbefore leveling off.Over time, you may see a gradual, butnatural, decreasein range at full charge.” 1
You may have seen this chart or slight variations of it. It certainly is backed up by Tesla’s statement, but it looks a little like Tesla’s very brief and simple way of explaining battery degradation and really doesn’t answer a lot of questions and concerns.
Let’s take a look at this graph from Stats App. The graph displays the daily average efficiency across all users of the app. The ridges indicate higher efficiency during the warmer months of the year. As a result, more range. The troughs show lower efficiency during the colder winter months when there is also less range.
This graph helps illustrate what Tesla says about fluctuating range.
“It’s natural for estimated rangeto change,particularly over time or with a recentchange in temperature.” 1
Tesla expands on this by saying, “Range can be impacted by extreme cold orhot temperatures; however, the impactwill seemfar more noticeable in cold weather.” 1
This certainly explains the big drop in efficiency, and many times the range will see a drop as well during the colder winter months as illustrated by the Stats App.
They then go on to say, “Tesla highvoltage batteries areregulated to keep the batterytemperature within optimal boundaries.Even if the vehicle is not beingoperated, the high voltage batterytemperature is monitoredand regulated to prolong its lifespanand performance.” 1
In conclusion, the estimated or displayed range can be impacted by the outside temperature which can explain fluctuations in the range. A drop in your range after a full charge can mean one of two things or, in some cases, both:
1. Natural battery degradation
2. Recent drop in the outside temperature
Since the battery is more efficient in warmer temperatures, you may start to see an increase in your range after a full charge. Tesla does not have much to say about battery degradation on their website or even the owner’s manual, continuing to leave many in the dark. When you start seeing alarming drops in the displayed range, we hope some of you can better understand some of the fluctuations you may have been seeing in your displayed range.
According to Tesla, it’s normal to see slight drops in the displayed range over the first few months before leveling off. This helps explain early signs of degradation for many new Tesla owners.
Best Ways To Increase Your Range
How to get the most range out of your battery according to Tesla.
Let’s get started with the basics directly from the Tesla’s website,”Your driving behaviors and environmentplay a big role in achievable range.Frequent stop-and-go driving, inclementweather and uphill drivingput a natural strain on the battery.Tomaximizerange, it’s important to watch yourdriving speedand enable regenerative braking whenpossible. As you drive, be mindful of commonreasons your range may decrease morerapidly:high driving speeds, stop–and–go driving,short trips,uphill travel, inclement weather such asrain,snow, and headwinds.” 1
Some of the other basics quite honestly will also help electric cars get better range:
1. Be sure to maintain the car’stire pressure. You can find that information on the inside of the driver’s side door jamb. 1
2. Remove any unnecessary cargoto help lighten the load. More weight requires more energy to move the car. 1
3. If you have a roof rack orbike rack on the rear of the car, be sure to remove them when not in use, which will obviously help reduce added drag.
4. You can also reduce aerodynamic drag bymaking sure all of the windows are up. If you have air suspensions such as in the Model S and X, drop it to low or very low when driving on the highway and use the aero wheel covers if you have them.
One of the many advantages electric cars have over gas cars is the ability to take the energy created from slowing down, braking and putting it back into the battery.
Tesla recommends that you take full advantage of this by setting the regenerative braking to standard and even better on one pedal driving to help control and avoid rapid acceleration and deceleration which uses more energy. Tesla recommends setting your car to chill mode.
As we’ve learned that cold weather can have a big impact on your range and here are some of the things Tesla recommends to help reduce those impacts:
1. Keep your Tesla plugged in whenever possible. This will help the battery retain some heat. 1
2. Precondition the battery before turning on your Tesla. When possible, plug in and charge while you precondition.1
Preconditioning your battery is very easy. It’s as simple as going into the Tesla app, either turning on the heater or defroster.
The best way for this to be effective is if you’re plugged in; otherwise, it will use the battery power to precondition itself.
You can also use scheduled departure which is essentially a timer in the car set for the time you plan to leave the next day.
Simply plug in your car, and it will be charged to the level you set and precondition for optimal performance based on the time you’ll be leaving.
If you live in a cold climate, Tesla also recommends you watch for the snowflake icon. A blue snowflake icon may appear on your touch screen if your car battery is too cold to access all of its stored energy. When this icon is displayed, you may also notice that battery power and regenerative braking are limited. Once the battery is warmed, the snowflake will disappear.
Charging, driving and preconditioning are all ways to warm your battery quicker.
3. Limit high use of heat and air conditioning. Instead, use seat heaters to keep cabin climate at an optimal temperature. 1
Other than mentioning limited use of air conditioning, Tesla doesn’t have a lot about driving in hot temperatures. They do mention to keep the air conditioning on during supercharging to help keep the cabin temperature cool, while also using energy from the grid rather than the battery.
In conclusion, there are a lot of ways to help you get the most range out of your battery. The most challenging time of the year to do this is during the colder winter months making the car less efficient. Tesla has provided several tips to limit that impact as outlined.
Most of these tips are common sense, while others require a little more knowledge about the car to take full advantage of them.
Best Tesla Charging Practices
When it comes to the battery and charging, in particular, there are a lot of opinions about the best practices. Some say you should only charge to 70% on a daily basis, while others say 80% or 90%. There are even some people who think it’s okay to charge 100% every day.
But what does Tesla have to say about all of this?
Let’s start with how Tesla defines charging habits.
“Charging habits include how oftenyou charge,what voltage charger is used and howlong the car stays plugged in.These can all have a direct impact onrange depletion.Adopting healthy charging habits canalso improverange.” 1
There’s actually a lot to unpack. Let’s start with Tesla’s statement of how often you charge a Tesla.
How Often Do You Charge?
When asked what’s the best way to charge a Tesla, or should I charge my Tesla every night, Tesla answers by saying, “We recommend plugging in everyevening to top off the battery.This ensures you always wake up to afully charged Tesla.” 2
It is worth mentioning that what they mean by always wake up to a fully charged. Tesla does not necessarily mean a battery charge to 100%.
Most likely, many of you use rechargeable nickel cadmium batteries before which have what is known as the memory effect. This is when the battery gradually loses its maximum capacity if it’s repeatedly charged only after being partially discharged and the best practice is to fully discharge the battery before charging to preserve the lifetime of the battery.
If that’s what you’ve been trained to do and have used in the past, your natural reaction to the Tesla battery is to fully discharge it before charging, but Tesla states, “Tesla uses lithiumion batteriesso there is no memory effect,this means there is no need to depletethe battery beforecharging.We recommend plugging in asoften as possible.” 2
Tesla also mentions this in the owner’s manual that “There is no advantage to waiting untilthe battery’s level is low beforecharging.In fact, the battery performs best whencharged regularly.” 3
Tesla also discourages discharging the battery to 0%. “Discharging the battery to 0% may result in damage to vehiclecomponents.” 3
The chart highlights the differences between lithium-ion and nickel cadmium batteries.
What’s Voltage Charger Used?
Let’s take a look at what Tesla means by what voltage charger is used. This simply means what type of charger is best for daily charging and Tesla recommends Level 1/2 charging.
“Maintain a regular,every–day charging routine using a low–voltagecharger.It’s best to rely on high–voltage charging(i.e.Supercharging) only when necessary.” 1
So does this mean you run the risk of damaging the battery if you Supercharge every day?
According to Tesla, “The peak charging rate of the Batterymay decrease slightly after a largenumber of high–rate charging sessions,such as those at Superchargers.” 3
This may sound alarming, but the beautiful part is even if you do use Superchargers frequently, Tesla has taken steps to help protect the battery no matter what condition the battery is.
“To ensure maximum driving rangeandbattery safety, the battery charge rateis decreased when the battery istoo cold, when it is nearly full or whenits conditionchanges with usage and age.These changesin the condition of the battery mayincrease total Supercharger time by afew minutesovertime.” 3
In the end, Tesla states several times on their website that it’s always best to only use Superchargers when necessary, like road trips or when you need a quick charge, otherwise Level 1 or 2 charging is best for daily charging to help maintain your battery’s health.
How Long Does The Car Stay Plugged In?
Next we find out what Tesla means by how long the car stays plugged in. In the owner’s manual, Tesla states, “Model S and all Teslas in general hasone of the most sophisticated batterysystems in the world.The most important way to preserve theBattery is to leave your vehicle pluggedinwhen you’re not using it.” 3
What we’ve learned is by leaving the car plugged in, it helped keeps the battery warm during cold temperatures and improves the range, but there are other reasons to leave it plugged in as such that goes on to say, “This isparticularly importantif you are not planning to drive the carfor several weeks.When plugged in, the car wakes up whenneededto automatically maintain a charge levelthat maximizes the lifetime of thebattery.” 3
What Percentage Should You Charge The Battery On A Daily Basis?
Now we go on to one of the more controversial battery charging topics, what percent should you charge the battery on a daily basis?
I’m going to make this as simple as possible by starting with a quote from Tesla’s website “For regular use, we recommend keepingyour carset within the ‘Daily’ range bracket, up toapproximately 90%.Charging up to 100% isbest saved for when you are preparingfor a longer trip.” 2
The ‘Daily’ range bracket is seen on the charging screen in the car and also in the app. The range bracket varies between the lowest at 50% to the highest at 90%.
That’s it. It’s as simple as that. Tesla does not indicate which percentage is better, but they do mention this “wheneverpossible,don’t let the battery go above 90% orbelow 20%.” 3
To summarize what Tesla says about what percentage to charge to on a daily basis, they recommend charging anywhere between 50% and 90% and go on to say it’s best to avoid charging above 90% and letting it drop below 20% whenever possible.
For anyone who has researched the best charging practices for a Tesla battery, you probably discovered you can quickly find yourself going deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole. There are so many quote-unquote experts and opinions on what’s best for the battery. In the end, you find yourself with more questions and concerns than before.
But if you trust what Tesla has to say about this topic and decide to follow the guidelines that have been addressed in this article, it should be very simple.
Best Tesla charging practices:
1. keep your car plugged in wheneverpossible.
2. Use Level 1or 2 chargers during your daily charging and save supercharging for road trips.
3. Set yourdaily charging level to max out between 50% & 90%
4. Trying to avoid letting it drop below 20%and going above 90% whenever possible.
Outside of that, Tesla’s got you covered with software to help maintain and protect the battery. Hopefully, you discovered a few things about the best charging practices that should help ease your mind at least a little.
How Do You Charge A Tesla?
How do you charge your Tesla? Did you know your Tesla has different ways of charging? There are a lot of questions that cover different levels and types of charging.
When Tesla delivers your brand new Tesla to your house, they supply to you with most people call it charging unit or Tesla calls Mobile Connector. However, technically, it calls electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE.
Before we get into that, let’s go briefly over three different ways you can charge your Tesla.
Level 1 Charging
Level 1 charging uses a typical 110-volt household outlet. You may also refer to trickle charging. This is also the slowest way to charge your car since typically you get about 3-5 miles of range per hour.
Level 2 Charging
You can do Level 2 charging at home. Most people need to have an electrician run proper wiring from your breaker box, but it’s well worth it because you can get over 40 miles of charge per hour depending on the circuit breaker you have installed.
You will be able to charge at both these levels with the included EVSE that Tesla supplies, but in order to get a Level 2, you’ll need an adapter.
DC Fast Charging
The fast way of charging is known as Level 3, technically, DC fast charging or, in the Tesla world, Supercharging.
With their latest V3 Supercharging network, your car can charge as fast as 1,000 miles per hour. Having this charging speed at home would be nice, but most homes don’t come with this power-up.
Now go back to your electric vehicle supply equipment or the EVSE. The reason it calls that is because it does just that supply the electricity your battery needs to charge, but believe it or not, it doesn’t directly charge the battery.
Instead, your Tesla has an on-board charger. The EVSE cannot directly charge the battery because the battery stores the energy as Direct Current, also known as DC energy.
The energy that comes from your house through your EVSE provides Alternating Current, also known as AC power. The on-board charger takes that AC power and converts it to DC power the battery needs.
However, since Supercharging uses DC power, it skips the on-board charger, altogether and goes directly to the battery.
Outside of it, you may have noticed instead of Supercharging, the charging network outside Tesla simply calls DC fast charging. Now you know why they call it that.
If you’re charging from home using a Level 2 charger, it’s important to know that not all Tesla are created equal. Some will have the capability of faster charging than others.
For example, all Performance and Long Range versions of the S 3 X & Y have an on-board charger capable of 11.5 kW or 48 amps. With a 60-amp breaker, it will be able to get as much as 44 miles per hour. Those rates can only be attained with a unit capable of supplying that kind of amperage, such as the Tesla Wall Connector, or other third-party units.
That mobile connector that comes with the car is only capable of delivering about 32 amps on a 50-amp breaker. Once again, you need to make sure you have the correct adapter for either a NEMA 6-50 or NEMA 14-50 outlet which can be purchased.
However, the Model 3 Standard Range Plus and the Model Y Standard Range have an on-board charger capable of 7.7 kW or 32 amps. And with a 40-amp breaker, they are capable of getting as much as 30 miles per hour.
Hopefully, you learned two or three things about charging, but there is more for you to learn. It’s more complicated than what represents in this article. We just give you a basic idea of different ways of charging and how your car accepts a charge.
Tesla Phantom Drain
The term “phantom drain” was developed by the Tesla community, and I couldn’t find it anywhere on Tesla’s website or owner’s manual.
In fact, Tesla doesn’t really have a technical term for energy loss while the car’s parked. They just give advice on how to reduce that loss. To keep things simple, I’ll continue to refer to this “loss” as “phantom drain”.
Although not the most reliable source, here is how Wikipedia defines phantom drain or at least variations of this term.
“Standby power, also called vampire power, vampire draw, phantom load, ghost load or leaking electricity, refers to the way electric power is consumed by electronic and electrical appliances while they are switched off or in standby mode.” 4
Tesla is no strange to this, and this variety of defines of phantom drain depends on several factors which we’ll go over a little bit. Let’s get started with this quote from owner’s manual.
“NOTE: When left idle and unplugged, your vehicle periodically uses energy from the Battery for system tests and recharging the 12V battery when necessary.” 3
This is Tesla’s basic definition of phantom drain or, as they call it, “discharge rate”.
“The Battery can discharge at a rate of approximately 1% per day, though the discharge rate may vary depending on environmental factors (such as cold weather), vehicle configuration, and your selected settings on the touchscreen.” 3
On average, every Tesla is expected to at very least lose 1% of battery per day.
“Situations can arise in which you must leave Model S or any Tesla unplugged for an extended period of time (for example, at an airport when traveling). In these situations, keep the 1% in mind to ensure that you leave the Battery with a sufficient charge level. For example, over a two week period (14 days), the Battery may discharge by approximately 14%.” 3
This is one of the reasons why Tesla recommends keeping your car plugged in whenever possible to help reduce and even prevent the phantom drain from occurring.
As we mentioned that the outside temperature could have an impact on the range, especially in cold weather when the battery is less efficient, but it’s the case not only when you’re driving, but while you’re parked.
“Even if the vehicle is not being operated, the high voltage battery temperature is monitored and regulated to prolong its lifespan and performance – this is why you may notice the compressor running even while parked.” 1
It’s not just the outside temperature that can impact how much the phantom drain you might see, but your personal settings of the car can play a role in the phantom drain.
“In some cases, you may notice that consumption is higher. We recommend deactivating features such as preconditioning, Sentry Mode, Keep Climate On and any aftermarket equipment when not needed.” 1
Unfortunately, you lose out on any of the benefits from the features you turn off to help reduce the phantom drain. For example, preconditioning helps heat the battery to an optimal temperature to give you better range or driving, especially in cold temperatures. However, this feature is best utilized when you’re plugged in; otherwise, it will use energy from the battery to precondition itself and heat the cabin.
When you have the Sentry Mode turn on, the camera sensors remain power on and ready to record suspicious activity whenever your Tesla is locked and parked. This will prevent the car from going into Sleep Mode and will give you a higher normal phantom drain.
Most of these features do require the battery to at least be 20% of charge. Once you drop below that, they will disable on their own.
Although Tesla doesn’t technically use the word “phantom drain”, they still point out what will drain your battery while it’s parked, and the severity of that drain depends on your own personal settings in the car.
by Daniella | Last updated Sep 21, 2021 | Published on Aug 1, 2021 | Learn
What if you had two electric vehicles and you don’t want to install two circuits because It could be expensive?
What the Splitvolt circuit splitter does is it allows you to charge your EV from an existing electric dryer outlet.
You can get this splitter, plug it into the 240-volt outlet and plug two EV chargers in and charge both cars.
Before we get into exactly what the Splitvolt splitter does, let’s first briefly explain home EV charging. There are two types of charging you can do at home or two levels: Level 1 and Level 2.
Level 1 Charging
Level 1 charging is when you charge your electric vehicle from a regular 120-volt household outlet, you can charge any electric vehicle from a simple household outlet. It’s going to take a long time because a household outlet doesn’t deliver that much energy.
In fact, you only get somewhere between three and five miles of range for every hour when you’re plugged into a regular household outlet on your electric vehicle.
Level 2 Charging
When you upgrade to Level 2 charging, you use a 240-volt outlet. Charging from a Level 2 240-volt outlet with a charging station like the ChargePoint Home Flex, the Tesla wall charger or the Grizzl-E charger, you can charge your vehicle much faster all the way up to 45-50 miles of range per hour.
That’s why people might want to invest in a Level 2 charger for their car. They’ll recharge their EV that much faster, which makes EV ownership much better.
Splitvolt made this splitter to save EV owners a lot of money and make home charging a lot less painful.
Now many people get their EVs for many reasons, but quite often, it’s to save money. Electric fuel costs a lot less than gasoline does.
However, if you have to spend thousands of dollars to install a home charger, a lot of your savings go out the window. So what the folks at Splitvolt did was they came up with the power splitter that allowed electric vehicle owners to utilize an existing 240-volt outlet that’s currently being used for something else like an electric clothes dryer.
You place your clothes dryer in your garage or very close to your garage where you can use an extension cord and charge your vehicle from the charger.
Most electric clothes dryer outlets are on a 30-amp circuit. You would plug the Splitvolt into the existing dryer outlet, then plug the dryer into one side of the Splitvolt which is labeled dryer, and you plug your electric car charger into the side that says EV.
What the splitter does is it intelligently splits the power. It will allow you to use your dryer and have your electric car plugged in, and it will switch back and forth when the dryer is finished, the electric car charges.
It’s not going to be for every electric car owner. For instance, you just bought a Porsche Tycoon, and you probably won’t use the Splitvolt splitter because you’re probably going to spend whatever it takes to fit your garage out to have the proper charger. It doesn’t matter if you have to spend two or three or four thousand dollars to put a charging station in your garage. You have the money for it if they just dropped 200k on a car.
However, many people are budget-minded and would rather not spend the money unless they have to.
Installing an outlet in your garage to plug your Level 2 charger in can be as little as $300. If you have a very simple installation, like your service panel isn’t far away, and you have the additional capacity in your service panel to put a dedicated 30, 40, 60-amp circuit, it minimally costs three or four hundred dollars to get one of these installed.
However, many people spend a lot more money when they try to have one of these installed. It depends on how far your service panel is. If your service panel is down in the basement 100 feet away, that’s a lot of cables to run, so the installation can easily creep up over a thousand dollars just for the outlet. It gets even more complicated if you need to have a service upgrade. So is there any way you can utilize what you have?
The answer is YES. The Splitvolt splitter allows you to provide the location of the existing dryer outlet that you have, or there could be an outlet in your garage that the previous owner used for welding or a number of uses. That’s being used for another appliance, and you could share that circuit. All of this will allow you to forego any installation expense. The only thing you have to do is buy the splitter, plug it in and get a charger to plug in.
The Splitvolt splitter won’t allow the circuit to draw more than 24 amps. If at any given time, it’s drawing more than 24 amps, the current protection will shut off, and it will stop working.
The Splitvolt allows an extra level of protection, so you won’t overdraw your circuit if you’re using a charger that can deliver more than 24 amps.
You will want to reduce the maximum charge rate inside the vehicle. Most electric vehicles allow you to do this.
Typical Splitvolt Installation Using A Dryer Outlet
Plug in and turn on the power to the Splitvolt splitter switch. It includes real-time power status display and monitoring.
Plug in the charger handle to the vehicle. Charging begins automatically. The charging rate increases gradually until it is charging the EV with full 24-amp power.
When the dryer starts, EV charging is automatically switched off until the dryer is no longer in use; when the dryer completes its cycle or is turned off, EV charging resumes automatically.
The Splitvolt splitter comes with a three-foot pigtail which is important. Because sometimes you might have to reach down low behind your electric dryer. It’s also important because some NEMA outlets don’t have a standard orientation, and sometimes they’re installed with the ground down, sometimes with the ground up. You would order your Splitvolt splitter with a plug that matches the existing plug that your electric dryer uses.
Splitvolt also sells EV charging equipment that you can pair with the Splitvolt circuit splitter. You don’t need to use their equipment, and you can use any EV charger provided on the market. The Splitvolt splitter comes with a variety of different plug configurations, so make sure that
You choose the right dryer plug based on which plug your dryer has.
Which receptacle that your EV charger will plug into.
If you don’t have any charging equipment and you order it all from Splitvolt. That’s an easy thing to do because you go to Amazon. You just make sure that you get one that’s configured with the right plug for your Splitvolt splitter.
Splitvolt offers their chargers in three different plug configurations so you have to make sure to match the configuration on your Splitvolt circuit splitter.
They have a NEMA 10-30 plug and a NEMA 14-30 plug, both of which can deliver 24 amps for the vehicle. They also offer one with a NEMA 14-50 plug which can deliver up to 40 amps to the vehicle.
If you do buy this unit, you have to make sure that you dialed back the amperage that your electric vehicle accepts because you don’t want to exceed the 24-amp limit that the Splitvolt circuit splitter is capable of delivering.
The Splitvolt will be typically installed on a 30-amp circuit which is what electric dryers are on now. Even though it delivers a little bit less power than what some of the other higher powered EV charges do, you’re going to be saving a lot of money, and you don’t have to go through the hassle of calling an electrician pulling permits, spending the money on an extra circuit, perhaps even a service upgrade.
The Splitvolt comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
If you are interested in the 24-amp chargers made by Splitvolt, you can also check the details on Amazon. Just like the Splitvolt splitter, they come with different plug configurations, so it’s really important that you match your Splitvolt and your portable charger with the proper NEMA plug configuration.
by Daniella | Last updated Sep 21, 2021 | Published on Jul 25, 2021 | Learn
Tesla has become one of the leading EV brands. With its outstanding performance and unparalleled Supercharging network, we can confidently drive a Tesla vehicle and know that we will be fine traveling long distances.
However, there will still be some occasions where we need to charge our Tesla on a non-Tesla charger with a Tesla charging adapter.
So what kind of charging adapters do you need on the market for Tesla vehicles?
Tesla Charger Adapter
Tesla Mobile Charger Adapter
A Tesla mobile connector that can deliver up to 32 amps comes with every Tesla vehicle in North America.
Tesla used to include a NEMA 14-50 adapter, but now they only give you a NEMA 5-15 plug which can just plug in a regular household outlet.
In order to improve the charge rate with the mobile charger, you can purchase a Tesla NEMA 14-50 240-volt adapter that connects to a NEMA 14-50 outlet (the most common Level 2 outlet at home) and turns the mobile connector into a Level 2 charger.
If you are driving your Tesla on the road, and there are no DC fast chargers or Superchargers, and there are just Level 2 chargers nearby, and you are going out of energy, you would definitely need to recharge your Tesla with the Level 2 charger before it’s going “dead”.
To charge your Tesla with a third-party Level 2 charger, you need a J1772 to Tesla charging adapter. Every Tesla comes with this adapter, but if you need another one, click here.
Tesla CCS adapter will definitely be needed when making road trips in your Tesla. Tesla has the best DC fast-charging network on the market. The fast charging speed and solid reliability will take care of your trip.
However, there may be some cases when you need to charge your Tesla at other branded DC fast charging stations.
As the CHAdeMo connector is dying out in the market in the USA, and the CSS is the future choice of fast charging connector, the adapter you would want to buy is the Tesla CCS adapter.
The Lectron Tesla CCS adapter is Lectron’s brand new product which can super fast charge up to 120 kW depending on the CCS charging station and Tesla model.
You could get away with the mobile connector that came with your car or the so-called Level 1 charging cable. But it will take a huge amount of time to charge your car with 110-volt outlets. You may want a Level 2 charging station to charge at 220 volts, which is much faster.
If you were a huge fan of Telsa or its boss Elon Musk, you probably wouldn’t need another Level 2 charging station at home because you probably will only buy Tesla vehicles in the future.
However, if you would like to buy an electric car from another manufacturer with a J1772 charging port, you probably should consider buying a Level 2 charging station with a J1772 charging port and use an adapter to charge your Tesla at home.
The reason is that other Level 2 charging stations might come with a longer charging cable and more features that you need. Besides, it will make your transition to other vehicles cheaper without the need to switch charging stations.
There are other J1772 to Tesla adapters on the market but be careful of the maximum current that it can handle.
If you are charging at a higher amperage than your adapter could take, you would probably break your adapter or even your vehicle. All Tesla vehicles except Tesla Model 3 SR+ can charge at a maximum of 48 amps with AC charging.
Charging On the Road
When you are staying not at home on a road trip, there might be other Level 2 public charging stations out there near your overnight hotel. You will be fine if the Level 2 charging station is a Tesla destination charger. But you can also charge at other AC charging stations with an adapter to make your journey more convenient.
There are two occasions where you will need the adapters for DC fast charging.
1. Busy Superchargers During Holiday Sessions
During normal usage, you will see tons of Tesla superchargers available, and you are the only one at the supercharging station.
However, during busy holiday traveling time, you will need to share charging power at V2 superchargers with others.
Sometimes, you even need to wait in line for charging at Tesla superchargers while other brands’ DC charging stations are empty. So if you had an adapter that allows you to charge at other DC charging stations, you would save a lot of time.
2. Lots Of Routes Are Not Covered By Supercharging Network
There is no doubt that Tesla’s supercharging network has the best coverage at the moment. But there are still uncovered back roads.
You might find yourself in a situation where your part of your planned route is not covered by the Tesla Supercharging network, and you will need to use a third-party DC fast charging station to complete your journey. Otherwise, you probably need to go through a much longer route.
Therefore, you would need a Tesla CSS or CHAdeMo adapter for charging your Tesla on the road to get a smooth and convenient journey.