This is part of a series that covers my experience with a Tesla Model Y.
Recently I was up in Greeley, CO for a 3 day volleyball tournament. Greeley is a small city in Colorado, but it’s fairly rural in character. Lots of farms and ranches around the area and a lot of cattle industry there. There’s a “smell” that permeates the area and most people are aware of when visiting.
We took the Model Y, and while things went well, it was an interesting experience as an electric car owner. The short list of learnings:
- Plan ahead and charge extra before leaving.
- Take time to charge for at least 10-15 if you are near a Supercharger
- 6kW chargers are useless
The First Day
We headed up on Friday, needing to be up there for an evening event. My wife had driven the car to an appointment early in the day, and I neglected to plug in the car and charge up the car. We ended up leaving in a hurry around 4pm with about 70% charge.
We headed to Loveland, which is about 80 miles from the house. We were near a Crossroads Blvd exit, where a Supercharger is located. After our event, rather than charge, we drove over to Greeley, which is about 15 miles. We got to the hotel with about 30% charge. It wasn’t that cold overnight, about 30F, so we weren’t too worried. The hotel had no place to charge, not even a 110 that we could plug into. Not sure it would have mattered as there were 3-4 Teslas in the lot, so even a couple charging spots would likely be in use.
We woke up and got some breakfast, and found ourselves with about 23-24% charge. Since the plan was to be busy for the afternoon and evening, we were slightly concerned about another overnight without charging.
I downloaded the ChargePoint app at breakfast and saw a lot of chargers nearby, so I wasn’t worried. There were various wattage listings, and when I sorted by adapter, I saw a number of J1772 plugs. We drove over to find a L2 charger, and there was one in the parking lot of a hospital. I attached the adapter, plugged in, and scanned my phone, and charging started.
Well, not really. The Tesla screen showed 10+ hours to charge. We sat there for 5-10 minutes, but didn’t see any increase in mileage and no power was flowing.
We were worried, so I dropped my wife off at the hotel and made my way over to Loveland. I was pressed for time as I needed to be back in Greeley in about 75 minutes, and Loveland was about 25 minutes away. This was a little stressful.
The SuperChargers in Loveland are located behind the Embassy Suites. I’d seen them before, so I knew were to go. I arrived with about 25 minutes of time to charge before I needed to head back. I backed into a stall and connected the car.
As I was doing this, the next car down rolled down their window and reminded me that we both charge slower if we use the adjacent chargers. I’d known this, and I think he was confused as I parked with a space between us. It can be confusing sometimes as the chargers are sometimes offset with parking, but you look at the numbering. I used 1A, with 1B being free. The guy realized he was in 2A and apologized.
When I got in my car, I verified it was charging. The spot rate was adding about 520mi/hr, fluctuating up or down a bit. That put me at around 30 minutes to get from the 10% to 91% (my limit). I walked inside to use the restroom and then came back to sit and read a little in the car.
Someone else pulled in next to me. I was about to say something, as I didn’t want to slow my car, but two more Teslas drove up, so someone was going to be sharing charging circuits. When the driver plugged in, my rate dropped into the 320-350mi/hr range.
I ended up reaching 64% in about 23 or so minutes. I had mapped the route back to Greeley, and when I ran out of time, I unplugged and headed back.
Two More Days
In light use across Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning, we had the Tesla down to about 30% when we finished the tournament. We drove to the hotel to pack up and then headed back to Loveland. This time we grabbed some takeout lunch and brought it with us. I plugged in and only got about 410-420 mi/hr being added, even without another car close.
We ate and chatted with my daughter on the phone for about 20 minutes. Once we reached 60%, I unplugged and headed home, as that gave us plenty of charge. We arrived home with about 32%, and I even went back to the gym later before plugging in for the night.
A couple interesting things for us. First, charging needs some planning. We need to account better for pre-trip charging, as well as mapping out a plan and a backup plan for these trips. We are sometimes time-constrained, so we need to think about when we can charge, and where.
Second, I could have tried another ChargePoint charger, but I was assuming we’d be able to get a good 20% charge fairly quickly. That was a poor assumption on my part, and I know better now to expect I could have problems.
Third, SuperChargers are awesome. We’ve used them a few times, and across 15-20 minutes, while having a snack or coffee, they usually give me enough charge to feel comfortable. Slower than adding petrol to a car (5 minutes), but not bad when combined with a break of some sort.
It was interesting to us that charging in some places is not simple, and not convenient. Finding diesel can be a hassle sometimes on the road, but not as much as finding chargers and hoping they work.