Broken superchargers: what happens next?

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francoisp

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I'm working on a trip itinerary that will take me from Cleveland through 30 to 40 national parks and back. According to abetterrouteplanner I'll be driving around 180 hours and charging for 30 hours distributed across countless supercharging stations. My main worry is that one of those surpercharger sites might be down for some reason. So my question is: what would happen if I'm the middle of nowhere, in need of charging and the superchargers aren't available (and I don't mean by this that they are occupied :)). Would Tesla's road assistance take care of me and take my car (free of charge) to the closest working supercharger? Has anyone you know have had a similar experience?

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DocScott

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I have my doubts they would do that. In an emergency, you can charge using a regular outlet. Sure, it's only about 5 miles of range per hour, but by the time they got someone to you it's not unlikely you could build up enough charge to get to an L2 charger. And then at the L2 charger, it wouldn't take all that long to get enough charge to make it to a Supercharger. In most cases, you could probably skip the first step--it's likely that you arrived at the Supercharger with enough juice to get to a nearby L2. Either way, it's probably better for everyone than waiting hours for some portable rescue vehicle to make it out to you.
 
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FRC

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Impressive road trip! As someone with over 50K road trip miles, I'll try to ease your mind. Make sure that you download the apps for chargepoint, plugshare, and ChargeHub (my personal favorite). With these apps you can (and should) always have a back-up plan. Should disaster strike, there's electricity everywhere. Don't forget about RV parks, State and National Parks, and campgrounds. Make sure your have 110, 20a, 30a, and 50a connectors for your mobile connector (you can get these from Tesla and/or EVSE).

Should you be unlucky enough to run out of power, Tesla roadside will tow you but not for free. I have AAA for back-up just in case.

Having said all this, in 50K road trip miles, I have never encountered an out-of-service supercharger. In fact, I've never even had to wait for a stall. The supercharging network is, in my opinion, one of Tesla's greatest strengths. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy your epic road trip!
 

francoisp

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I have my doubts they would do that. In an emergency, you can charge using a regular outlet. Sure, it's only about 5 miles of range per hour, but by the time they got someone to you it's not unlikely you could build up enough charge to get to an L2 charger. And then at the L2 charger, it wouldn't take all that long to get enough charge to make it to a Supercharger. In most cases, you could probably skip the first step--it's likely that you arrived at the Supercharger with enough juice to get to a nearby L2. Either way, it's probably better for everyone than waiting hours for some portable rescue vehicle to make it out to you.
I planned my stops so that I have a minimum of 40 miles left in the battery at each stop. If the closest supercharger is 180 miles away, that leaves me with 28 hours of charging time. That would be terrible.
 

JasonF

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I planned my stops so that I have a minimum of 40 miles left in the battery at each stop. If the closest supercharger is 180 miles away, that leaves me with 28 hours of charging time. That would be terrible.

If you're stuck with only a 110 volt outlet in an emergency, don't charge enough to reach the next supercharger unless it's close or you have no choice. Use Plugshare instead and find the nearest 220 volt outlet and aim for that. Usually if you're so far from anywhere that there isn't a supercharge for 180 miles, there is likely to be a trailer park or RV campground somewhere closer. Unless you're driving across northern Canada or something, but then even a gasoline car won't help you.
 
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Ed Woodrick

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This one is pretty easy, believe it or not.

Most all of the stops that you have list are showing about 15 minute charging times. That's because ABRP does it for the fastest trip. And honestly, this doesn't look like the fastest trip, it looks like an adventure trip. So first, get off the Interstates and see the country.

Make sure that you have the NEMA 14-50 adapter for your cable. When seeing National Parks, NEMA 14-50 plugs are all over the place. They are in the campgrounds. While it may add a few hours to a stop, screw the additional time and enjoy the park! And there are also J-1772 locations all over the place.

You may also think about the ChaDEmo adapter, it's expensive, but does provide faster charging than a NEMA 14-50 or J-1772. And there are a number or areas in which they may be more prevalent than the Tesla Superchargers.

Look at PlugShare.com and carry the app with you. It lists essentially all of the J-1772, ChaDEmo, and Tesla locations and includes many NEMA 14-50 options. the big advantage of PlugShare is that drivers can "check-in" at a site and indicate pass or fail and in some instance, charging rate. Even Tesla drivers do this, so you can often see if a Tesla Supercharger is in trouble or not. The check-in capability also allows PlugShare to grade the location (1-10). I wouldn't trust a 5, unless there is a recent check-in that says it is working, but I'd trust a 10, which most Superchargers are.
You may want to have some campground directories on your phone. NEMA 14-50 connections are available at sites that take the larger campers with 2 or more AC units.

So in reality, you list about 50 Tesla Superchargers along the route, whereas there are probably over a 1,000 different options along your path.

You show the quickest route to charge, but that's not necessarily the quickest and far from the easiest drive. Time your charging with your needs. Look at when you expect bathroom or stretch breaks and meal stops. Look for options at some of the sights along the way. Try to stay at locations with charging. Starting out in the morning at 100% can make your daily outlook much better (Don't worry about going to 100% each night on the trip, just don't do it for the life of the vehicle, you will get a nag, ignore it). Skip some chargers.

Don't forget that it take energy to climb a mountain, so don't head up on empty, but you can gain a lot of it going down. When you are out on the plains, the winds can help or hinder you.

Look at the locations where you have to charge longer, those are indicators that you may have fewer options. Just do a little homework and understand what your options are in these areas.

I dare say that by the time you hit Bismark, you will have a completely different state of mind about charging.
 

garsh

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So my question is: what would happen if I'm the middle of nowhere, in need of charging and the superchargers aren't available (and I don't mean by this that they are occupied :)).
I'm not quite as prolific of a road-tripper as @FRC, but I've done a few big ones. I've encountered supercharger locations that have had issues - some of the stalls aren't working, and/or some stalls aren't delivering anywhere near as much power as they should be. But I've never encountered a situation where all stalls were dead.

For my one worst-case experience, I believe only 3 stalls were working, and at very limited power. I think I ended up staying there for close to an hour to get enough charge. Even in this degraded state, it was still much faster to stay at the supercharger than to seek out a J1772 elsewhere. So I think you'll be fine. And yes, even if your worst fear comes true, there is still electricity everywhere. Buy a few adapters for your Mobile Connector so you can charge in RV parks if available.
 

DocScott

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I planned my stops so that I have a minimum of 40 miles left in the battery at each stop. If the closest supercharger is 180 miles away, that leaves me with 28 hours of charging time. That would be terrible.
That's not what I suggested. I said to build up enough charge to get to an L2 charger, not a Supercharger. As others have said, there are a lot of L2 chargers out there...
 

John Di Cecco

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Not to be a wise guy but you could get hit by a meteorite, a truck, or there could be war with China. Based on my experience, I would put an entire supercharger site being down in that category. If it does happen, just like any of the above, you are screwed.

I was once lost in the middle of nowhere, with a gas car on empty and the gas station I pulled up to at 11 PM was closed.

One piece of advice.... You can plug in at a campground for 240 volt charging
 

FRC

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I had planned to use camping sites along the way however I did not consider I could use RV shore power. I'll be getting a 14-50 connector.
Make sure to get the 30a also, many campgrounds have limited 14-50 availability; especially during peak season when RVs reserve the 14-50s first.
 
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francoisp

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Make sure to get the 30a also, many campgrounds have limited 14-50 availability; especially during peak season when RVs reserve the 14-50s first.
I took a look at Tesla's store and I did not see a compatible RV TT-30R connector. I'm not a RV person so possibly I have this wrong.
 

JWardell

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The PlugShare app is one of the most important things to have with you on a road trip, so in any unexpected situation, you can find ALL sources of electricity in an area, along with photos and comments to help you know about issues ahead of time. While issues with superchargers are extremely rare, the opposite is true with almost every other charging network.
 
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Bigriver

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@francoisp, looks like a great trip! I have also played with mapping out National Park visits. I ended up breaking them into 5 separate loops for different years because it is a heck of a lot to fit in.

I’m quite sure you will be fine with charging as there is good advise above, primarily that there are always backup options. I have travelled and supercharged a lot and 99% of it has gone perfectly smoothly. However I have encountered the extremely low probability event of a SC site being down, and without the Tesla map indicating it. It was Maumee, the first or last on your route, depending whether you are going clockwise or counterclockwise. In that situation I was able to make it to the Toledo SC.

I would also note that I have done complex trips that I mapped out with ABRP ahead of time, and that helped me with figuring out timing and laying out the general plans. In practice, though, I made notable deviations from that plan. If you are on a portion of the route where you are skipping superchargers because there are plentiful options, it is easy to end up in a situation where you are stopping at the ones you had planned to skip and skipping the ones you planned to stop at. As an example this can easily happen if a meal or shopping or whatever takes longer than you needed to be there just for charging, and you leave a SC at a higher SOC than planned out. Go with the flow and trust the in car guidance of your ability to get to the next charging site.
 

MelindaV

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@francoisp - my only worrisome road trip was during California's PG&E blackouts. I ended up lucking out, and every town I had a supercharger stop at was still powered up - but I did charge more than needed, and stopped at extra stops to ensure I had excess range available.

And if you are looking for other relatively close National Parks not on your route, Crater Lake isn't far off from your Eureka stop (relatively ;) ). and there are Tesla destination chargers at the park.
 

Kizzy

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I did an almost 12K mile road trip in 2019 across the U.S. and Canada. You’ve got lots of good info here. Your route looks pretty epic! It looks like you’re going across North Dakota—a route that didn’t have any Superchargers when I took my trip.

While I never had a stop where charging was impossible (a time or two when Supercharging was slow or interrupted in the Arizona summer heat) I did once encounter an issue where my nav failed to locate Superchargers on my route. The stations were there (and fully functional), but the software failed to find them for the route. Navigating directly to the station alleviated the car’s fears about going out of range of a charging solution, however.
 

skygraff

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RVParky is a good app for finding RV parks that may or may not be on PlugShare. Some even have notes about EV charging spots and pricing.

I did a 9k road trip to the western national parks in the fall of 2018 and had no issue with superchargers being down or even busy (except in LA which wasn’t a critical charge situation and the Fremont factory which isn’t intended for general use anyway). Using PlugShare, I selected a few hotels based on charging and my loyalty points but, for the most part, I car camped and either charged in RV parks while sleeping, topped up at destination chargers while patronizing the business, or used superchargers. One thing to keep in mind, just because the supercharger is 24/7 doesn’t mean the nearby bathrooms are; Tesla’s updated the status info on the screen since 2018 so you shouldn’t be caught by surprise.

Oh, and don’t forget, quite a few national parks have charging options in their parking lots and most of the level 2 ones were free last time I checked. That said, you won’t often have a cell signal and leaving your car charging while you go for a hike is kind of bad form since you should move it once it’s charged enough so others can charge; not every EV driver has access to superchargers.

Have a great time!
 

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