Long distance trips off freeways and away from Superchargers

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Mike

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#1
I'm starting a thread to document my experiences regarding long range travel outside the supercharger areas of service.

Background: when my wife and I travel into and thru the US, we do not use the freeway system. We prefer the older, two lane federal and state highways that wind their way thru a slower paced world versus the interstate highway system.

To that end, our next drive to central British Columbia from eastern Ontario, in the fall of 2019 via a friends place in Seattle, will be in my Model 3.

I am applying the building block approach to becoming experienced with driving this car long distances.

Two weeks ago, I drove a "round robin" trip that was a total of 600 kms, essentially two legs, with plenty of supercharger coverage and very simple planning.

The past three days was a 1,500 km trip.

Warm weather, using expressways and superchargers.

Again, not much planning required.

But I did look at each of the 600 km legs the night before to come up with a rudimentary game plan.

I had planned/expected supercharger times based on 125 kph travel speeds.

Learned a few lessons......the Tesla app tells you when you are charged enough to carry on.....but it assumes no wind and one does the legal limit.

I had to drop speed with a headwind (from 125 kph to 100 kph) until my arrival % stopped dropping and then climbed back to (my comfort zone of) 10%.....then I slowly increased my speed enough to maintain the 10% buffer (about 117 kph).

In four weeks, I'm driving down (in one day each way) to southern New Jersey (900 kms per day).

I'll still use the freeway system and the supercharger network, but use that trip to gain more experience and comfort with cutting arrival % down from 10%, etc.

In October, a buddy of mine and I are going to drive from Southfield MI to Albuquerque NM (2600 kms one way), seven days each way, OFF the interstate system.

Six of those legs will be with no supercharger support (other than what's in the tank the night before).

I'll document that trip (from a "day before" fuel management planning and execution point of view) as it unfolds, all on this new thread.

Cheers.
 

tencate

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#2
In October, a buddy of mine and I are going to drive from Southfield MI to Albuquerque NM (2600 kms one way), seven days each way, OFF the interstate system.
I'm heading up from Santa Fe to Grand Rapids (MI) possibly this next weekend. But I'll be supercharging the whole route. I've now driven enough miles ( > 12k) that I'm comfortable running down to 5% charge. Wind does matter, and sticking with the speed limit or thereabouts matters, especially at highways speeds. But if you're ultimately planning on staying off the "supercharger" routes, are you planning on Level 2 charging then??
 

PNWmisty

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#3
Background: when my wife and I travel into and thru the US, we do not use the freeway system. We prefer the older, two lane federal and state highways that wind their way thru a slower paced world versus the interstate highway system.
I love this idea and do it a lot when I travel by motorcycle. The twistier the better. I even end up on a lot of county roads. Sometimes they offer a more direct route with less traffic and tour through even more scenic areas. If you take the really slow roads, and get an early start, you can just kick back and drive in a very relaxed manner since the speeds are so much slower. And if you cruise at about 40 mph, your average speed might only be 35 mph and your range can be north of 400 miles if you start with a full charge. This allows you to drive non-stop for 10 hours without charging!

Unfortunately, the functionality of the GPS is not suitable for this kind of complex, backroad routing. I use two older Garmins (276C and 376C) which allows complex routing. I've never seen any OEM auto GPS that is as versatile and useable as these two units. Most OEM GPS's cause the secondary and tertiary roads to vanish from the screen when zooming out but these two units have complex customization and you can select which features are displayed at every zoom level.

In rural areas of the West, motels often have electric dryers and I bet the owners/managers would be more than happy to let you plug in overnight for a nice tip. Also, some motels in rural areas also have a few RV spots with 30-50 amp service. I wonder if a 50 amp RV extension cord could use adapters on either end to double as a 120V extension cord for those times when 240V is not available. Or just bring two extension cords in addition to the mobile connector. Definitely bring plenty of adapters to maximise charging possibilities. Remember, electricity is almost everywhere relative to gasoline, it's just a matter of finding an appropriate outlet near where you will be staying. Also, you can design your routes to cross a major highway near midday to make use of a conveniently located supercharger without necessarily needing to travel on the major highway.
 
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PNWmisty

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#4
I should add, I like to just drive/ride in the general direction I'm going and wait until midday to make a plan for the evening. I've never had trouble finding a room and the rates are almost always lower than if I had reserved it in advance. As evening sets in, the room will just remain unoccupied if not rented. Maybe this works better on a motorcycle because motorcycle tourers are notoriously cheap and willing to shop around and small motel owners know this. I'm not sure how well it would work in a $50-$60K Tesla! I also like staying in small motels vs. even the nicer business class hotels found in most small cities because they are more unique and owner run.
 

PNWmisty

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#6
Try Google's Maps app. When routing, there's an option to "Avoid Highways".
Garsh, Google Maps is maybe a workable option to do what I was talking about (creating long-distance routes using primarily County level roads) but it is necessary to click and drag your route from state highways to the county level roads. The Garmin units I mentioned make this easier by having routing options of "shortest route" or "fastest route" (as well as "avoid highways") which greatly reduces the need to manually build the routes (although I will typically do some clicking and dragging to customize the route for various reasons).

That advantage (shortest route functionality) is secondary to the ability to configure even the most backcountry road to display when zoomed out to overview level. On Google Maps I haven't found a way to make the county level routes show up on the map past a certain zoom level, they just disappear which is a huge problem in very rural areas because some of these roads go for 60 miles or more. If you can't see where they go without extensive scrolling it becomes almost impossible to incorporate them into your route. And yet they offer some of the most fantastic touring potential.

This is a problem created by the fact that this kind of complex routing takes exponentially more computing power/time to find the shortest distance route when it is required to consider 10 or 30 times the number of routes to compare for distance. But the class of Garmin units I mentioned stand far above the rest in this regard. Most Garmin units are standard consumer affairs and cannot do what I'm talking about when it comes to roads that are truly rural. Google Maps can't automatically route on these roads but you can manually drag to them which may or may not be feasible for creating long, complex backcountry routes. The other issue is that Google Maps don't distinguish between many paved and unpaved routes as well as the maps in the Garmin units I prefer. This is extremely important as you would know if you've ever spent all day on a road in the middle of nowhere where it was difficult to go any faster than 15 mph (due to washboard gravel, soft sand or ruts and potholes)! Information is power.

The LR Model 3 makes practical for the first time a whole new world of rural touring in an EV in the American West and other places I am not so familiar with. You could argue the Model S with the larger battery packs did this too but not as well and at a much higher cost. The Model 3 charges faster (more miles/hour) due to it's higher efficiency which is a key advantage for this kind of rural touring away from Superchargers.
 

Mike

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#7
I'm comfortable running down to 5% charge
This is what I am hoping for. I'm a retired navigator and we used to work with a 5% fuel buffer.

Wind does matter, and sticking with the speed limit or thereabouts matters, especially at highways speeds
100% agree. I was able to test that for myself on a leg between Southfield MI and Burlington ON.

But if you're ultimately planning on staying off the "supercharger" routes, are you planning on Level 2 charging then??
We are not sure yet.

Some legs are arrive at a hotel with 80% from a recent supercharger and "to be determined" plan for the following day.

Other legs are depart from a hotel with "X" to make it to a supercharger (planned based on average temps for dates 14-28 Oct on our route).

I feel I'm going to invest in one of those very heavy duty (car length) extension cords.

I also feel we are going to make a few connectors, so that we can plan on camp sites and RV parks, that sort of thing.

This portion of the planning process will force me to use some other software (Chargepoint, Plugshare, etc) to become somewhat comfortable with it......

All good stuff. Thanks.
 

Mike

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#8
I love this idea and do it a lot when I travel by motorcycle. The twistier the better. I even end up on a lot of county roads. Sometimes they offer a more direct route with less traffic and tour through even more scenic areas. If you take the really slow roads, and get an early start, you can just kick back and drive in a very relaxed manner since the speeds are so much slower. And if you cruise at about 40 mph, your average speed might only be 35 mph and your range can be north of 400 miles if you start with a full charge. This allows you to drive non-stop for 10 hours without charging!
This! When we travel (either my wife or my buddy), it is always the out of the way places that are fun.

The destination is simply a peg on the map.........

Unfortunately, the functionality of the GPS is not suitable for this kind of complex, backroad routing. I use two older Garmins (276C and 376C) which allows complex routing. I've never seen any OEM auto GPS that is as versatile and useable as these two units. Most OEM GPS's cause the secondary and tertiary roads to vanish from the screen when zooming out but these two units have complex customization and you can select which features are displayed at every zoom level.
Seen.

I am using the "route overview icon" all the time to stick to the roads I want to use, based on preliminary pre-trip planning.

The nav system eventually gives up on trying to loop me back to a freeway, but it can be a PITA.

In rural areas of the West, motels often have electric dryers and I bet the owners/managers would be more than happy to let you plug in overnight for a nice tip. Also, some motels in rural areas also have a few RV spots with 30-50 amp service. I wonder if a 50 amp RV extension cord could use adapters on either end to double as a 120V extension cord for those times when 240V is not available. Or just bring two extension cords in addition to the mobile connector. Definitely bring plenty of adapters to maximise charging possibilities. Remember, electricity is almost everywhere relative to gasoline, it's just a matter of finding an appropriate outlet near where you will be staying. Also, you can design your routes to cross a major highway near midday to make use of a conveniently located supercharger without necessarily needing to travel on the major highway.
I'm certain we will make some adapters and it sounds like being able to plug into a dryer outlet is going to be number one.

I'll assume one constructs the adapter to plug into the dryer outlet and the "other end" of the adapter is a plug to allow the Tesla mobile connectors 14-50 adapter fit into it.

Thanks for the tips, cheers.
 

Mike

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#10
Try Google's Maps app. When routing, there's an option to "Avoid Highways".
That's the option I use while I look at my "paper" travel atlas, highlighting the route I want it to take.

Next, I use https://abetterrouteplanner.com/ and force that to emulate my route of choice.

I "route proof" that route of choice (assume depart with 100%/arrive with 1%) to give me a planned fuel burn.

Then, I see if any supercharge can provide any help with that route, either the day before/close to arrival or the following day/close to departure.

A screen shot of my crude spreadsheet that is used to come up with a plan of action per travel day:

capture-png.11315
 

Mike

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#11
On Google Maps I haven't found a way to make the county level routes show up on the map past a certain zoom level, they just disappear which is a huge problem in very rural areas because some of these roads go for 60 miles or more. If you can't see where they go without extensive scrolling it becomes almost impossible to incorporate them into your route.
This is why I always have an up to date road atlas while at the computer......
 

PNWmisty

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#12
I'm certain we will make some adapters and it sounds like being able to plug into a dryer outlet is going to be number one.

I'll assume one constructs the adapter to plug into the dryer outlet and the "other end" of the adapter is a plug to allow the Tesla mobile connectors 14-50 adapter fit into it.
Essentially, yes. The Mobile Connector is about 20' long so some charging solutions will require an extension cord. Technically, you need a different extension cord for every outlet type. What I would do is buy one 50 amp extension cord and make adapters to fit outlets of different amperages. Because the MC is not intended to be used this way, it will be up to you to ensure the Model 3 doesn't attempt to draw more current than whatever outlet you're plugged into is rated at (by setting the appropriate amperage limit on the touchscreen).

Of course, Tesla recommends against using an extension cord or adapter but I think as a retired navigator you can handle this. :D

50 amp cords are pretty bulky/heavy so while a 50' would be more versatile, I might limit it to 25' for convenience/bulk/weight reasons. That will give you 45' to reach the Model 3 which will cover most but not all scenarios.

You might want to consider picking up a Gen 1 Mobile Connector because, when charging on a 50 amp circuit like common in RV parks, it will provide 40 amps vs. 32 for the Gen 2 MC, allowing you to charge 25% faster which could be important if you need to do a middle of the day fill-up.

I imagine you are aware that the last 10-20% of charge is often best left unused unless destination charging (because the last 20% gets pretty slow).
 

Enginerd

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#13
One other advantage of the slightly slower rural roads is efficiency. While I'm still waiting on my Model 3, I've found that my Prius gets about 20% better MPG on 55 mph country roads than 70 mph interstates. I expect that's fairly universal for most cars. Someday I'm sure I'll be close to making my 330 mi weekly trip without supercharging by exploiting the lower speeds were possible.
 

Mike

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#15
I imagine you are aware that the last 10-20% of charge is often best left unused unless destination charging (because the last 20% gets pretty slow).
Yes I am, and thanks for all the other points.

I just did a quick Google search and found this thread in another forum with some show and tell pictures:

https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/nema-10-30-to-14-50-adapter-and-extension-cord.107005/

In that thread, there are a few links for the bits and bobs you have mentioned:

Dry outlet to 14-50:

Amazon product
30' 50 AMP extension cord:

Amazon product
Not sure about this one:

Amazon product
I also see the Tesla branded Model 3 adapters:

https://shop.tesla.com/ca/en/product/vehicle-accessories/model-s_x_3-gen-2-nema-adapters.html

...
 

tencate

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#17
I guess I'm simply spoiled. On all the long trips I've taken, I cannot imagine doing it without superchargers. I sometimes see 400 miles per hour of charge when plugged in; when I'm on any of the local ChargePoints or our local County chargers, I've only been getting around 25-30 miles per hour of charge, that's lots less and just much (too much) longer you have to sit and charge to continue on with the trip. But perhaps just driving off-highway at a leisurely speed for 400 miles and then plugging in for the evening and overnight is what you have in mind anyway. Sounds relaxing. I usually am "on a mission" so can't afford the luxury of a nice relaxing trip like that :)
 

Mike

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#19
But perhaps just driving off-highway at a leisurely speed for 400 miles and then plugging in for the evening and overnight is what you have in mind anyway. Sounds relaxing. I usually am "on a mission" so can't afford the luxury of a nice relaxing trip like that :)
I understand the "mission" aspect.

In my situation, the journey itself is the mission.

Last year, my once a year road trip with my buddy was 21 days, including Elvis in Memphis and Elon in Fremont. .....all in a '66 Lincoln convertable.
 

Mike

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#20
Just to add, Tesla sells adaptors for different plugs for the mobile connector, Now one off amazon might do multiple types or something but the tesla ones are an option. Note this is the the Canadian link :)

https://shop.tesla.com/ca/en/product/vehicle-accessories/model-s_x_3-gen-2-nema-adapters.html
Thanks for the link.

I'm of the opinion that I'll be getting one of those heavy duty 30' cords that handle 50 amps......

If I was to use the Tesla units, I'm committed to the lenght of the Mobil connector and I think I may want some options that a 30 foot extension will give me.