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Tesla Model S - Charging Tesla plugs in

Updated daily, the above shows where I charge my Model S, counting the total number of days at each location type. Most charging occurs either at Home (green) or at Destinations (yellow) where I drive and stay overnight. When travel calls for a Tesla Supercharger, that day is in the red column. Likewise for Public charging stations in blue.

Charging the Model S

Blue Tesla Model S

An electric car with 265 miles of range means that it has a really big battery pack. Folks I meet who have no experience with electric cars often ask me: "How long does it take to charge?" I answer "That depends on how far I drive that day." Without understanding my answer, they restate what they're really thinking, "How long from empty to full?"

That question derives from their unconscious, outdated, gas-car-peculiar assumption:

Only after it's nearly empty,
Gas Station Line
drive to, wait at, then fill at a gas station.
Below is a visual summary of how I charge my electric car in a typical year.
Charging at home - % ( days/year)

Every smartphone user already knows:

  • Plug it in before you go to sleep,
    then it's full when you wake up.

    Tesla Plug In

  • Takes just a few seconds to plug in each time.

  • How long it takes to charge,
    as is how empty it is at the end of the day,
    is irrelevant.
  • Overnight destination charging - % ( days/year)
    Supercharging - % ( days/year) Public charging stations - % ( day/year)

    When I started driving an electric car I felt liberated because I realized a vehicle doesn't have to act like how a gas car does. I asked myself:

    "Why should I bother to leave home to fuel my car?"

    I felt like my brain was being flipped around.

    After two years of using my electric car, I can tell you this is how we fuel the car of the future.

    Overnight destination charging is just like charging at home except it isn't at home, just like charging a smartphone away from home. Therefore charging at the same place where I'm sleeping occurs % of the year. Conversely, refueling while awake and away from sleeping quarters (the gas-car refueling method 100% of the time) occurs about % of the year. Charging an electric car is not only practical but also saves me time hence is far more convenient than refueling any gas car.

    Saves time: Each week, fueling my (old) gas car about took me 30-40 minutes, including driving, waiting, and paying time. Each week today, charging takes 20-30 seconds of my time.

    Convenient: Imagine going miles to the laundromat to do your laundry for decades, then one day you start using your own washer and dryer at home. It's kinda like that.

    Real-world Charging of the Model S

    Let's take a closer look at the illustration of how much of the time I charge my electric car with each method. This should put things in perspective.

    Charging at home - % ( days) of the year

    Every smartphone user already knows:

  • Plug it in before you go to sleep, then it's full when you wake up.

    Tesla Plug In

  • Takes just a few seconds to plug in each time.

  • How long it takes to charge, as is how empty it is at the end of the day, is irrelevant.

    I paid a licensed electrician $150 to buy and install the NEMA 14-50 outlet, conduit, wire, and dedicated 50-Amp breaker.

    NEMA 14-50 outlet         50A Circuit Breaker

    The typical charging pattern, which I can see in my electric bill, is midnight to 3 am. How long varies depending on both how far and how hard I drive the Model S. The car is programmed to start charging at midnight. At that time electricity costs me 9c/kWh, which translates to one fifth of the cost per mile compared to my old gas car. Here is my typical daily energy consumption:

    Typical Hourly Energy Usage

    Why, you might ask, is my daytime consumption negative? I have solar panels on my house, which generate during the "OnPeak" period, therefore I'm selling energy back to the grid for upwards of 28c/kWh, depending on the season. Averaged over the year, I actually get money back from the power company despite charging my electric car. If I drove less I'd get more money back at a rate of 9c/kWh.

    The Model S is my sole car. I drive it about 15,000 to 16,000 miles per year. That averages to 308 miles per week or 44 miles per day. Every morning the car is "full", so I have plenty of range on days like these.

    How much I drive any given day varies widely. The few times I drive about 200 miles in a day fits in this category.

    Tesla Model S at Legoland
    Tesla Model S at USS Midway
    USS Midway
    Tesla Model S at Lake Arrowhead
    Lake Arrowhead
    Tesla Model S at Snow Summit
    Snow Summit

    Boy that is a lot of space to fill.

    Do we get the point yet?

  • Overnight destination charging - % ( days) of the year

    I take my family for a few days' vacation to these locations, where I plug in the Model S much like at home. One frequent destination is my parents-in-law's home.

    Blue Model S BW Charge Blue Model S Lake Arrowhead House Blue Model S Las Vegas
    Supercharging - % ( days) of the year

    Do I really need to talk about what happens only % of the year? Now it seems so trivial by comparison.

    Supercharging - %
    Long-distance road trips taking our family of four to places like: is when we use, at no cost, the Tesla Supercharger Network. It's so cool to use I'm itching to go on another road trip, yet in retrospect it actually doesn't happen that often.
    Tejon Ranch Supercharger
    Tejon Ranch
    Harris Ranch Supercharger
    Harris Ranch
    Buellton Supercharger
    Moab Supercharger
    Blanding Supercharger
    Flagstaff Supercharger
    Oxnard Supercharger
    Primm Supercharger
    Barstow Supercharger
    Price Supercharger
    St. George Supercharger
    St George
    Beaver Supercharger
    Public Charging Stations - %
    When the destination, like certain old-fashioned hotels, doesn't give me a place to charge, I'll seek out a public charging station. Still that need is pretty rare.
    Morro Bay
    Santa Barbara

    Dean E. Dauger holds a Ph. D. in physics from UCLA, where his group created the first Mac cluster in 1998. Dr. Dauger is the award-winning author in multiple American Institute of Physics' Software Contests and co-authored the original, award-winning Kai's Power Tools image-processing package for Adobe Photoshop. After founding his company, Dauger Research, Inc., its debut product, Pooch, derived from Dr. Dauger's experience using clusters for his physics research, was soon awarded as "most innovative" by IEEE Cluster and continues to revolutionize parallel computing and clusters worldwide with its patented technology.

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