Daily Life with the Tesla Model 3: Charging

December 2018. California.

I drive my Model 3 about 50 miles (80 km) a day during the week, and a bit less on weekends. I charge every night in the garage. At the end of each day I pull into the garage, plug in. It’s that simple.

My Model 3 charges for about 2 hours in my garage each night while I sleep.

Note: There continues to be a lot of confusion in the press about how long it takes to charge an EV. I just read a NYTimes article about current electric cars on the market and below each car the author listed recharge time. For the Model S it stated 14 hours. But here’s the thing, if you are the average person you drive about 35 miles a day. Your commute consumes 35 miles of range per day. If you recharge at your home at night – as many EV drivers do – you’re talking about 1½ to 2 hours of charging while you sleep. To be clear, you are not standing around for 14 hours waiting for your car to charge. And when you go on road trips? You use Superchargers with stops of 20-40 minutes every 3 hours (on my last 1700 mile road trip Supercharging sessions averaged 19¼ minutes).

The EPA-rated range of our RWD Long Range Model 3 was 310 miles when we bought it, a software update one year later increased the range to 325 miles (520 km). When charging the Model 3 you can set the car to charge to a specific state of charge (SOC) between 50% and 100%. The car stops charging when it reaches the % SOC you’ve set. Tesla recommends charging between 50-90% for daily driving – depending on your needs – and to charge the car above 90% only if you may extra range on a longer trip.

For the first couple years I charged to 60% for normal work days. This gave me 185 miles / 300 km of rated range to start the day. After driving Toyota’s Rav4 EV for 5+ years (113 miles EPA rated range), I knew that 185 miles was more than enough for my 50 miles of driving on weekdays. Plus, with Tesla’s Supercharging network I know that I can quickly add more to the pack if I head out of town in any direction.

I start each weekday with about 185 miles in the pack. More than enough for my 50 miles of daily driving and any unplanned trips.

Most days I get home in the evening with 145 miles / 230 km in the pack, depending on how far and how fast I drove that day – and a few other variables. The 40-50 miles of rated range that I use on a typical day consumes about 15% of the battery’s full charge.

In terms of kWh, my daily 50 mile commute in the Model 3 uses, on average, 10 kWh from the pack each day. Somedays less, somedays more, depending mostly on weather.

On an average day I drive 50 miles and the Model 3 uses about 10 kWh from the pack.

Lately I’ve put the SOC up to 90% max but I still operate between ~40-70% SOC on a daily basis. I initially scheduled charging to start at 3AM, but recently changed the schedule to start charging 2 hours before I leave for work.

In terms of hardware, I bought a 10-30 splitter from EVSEAdapters and charge my car using the Mobile Connector that came with the car. I have our clothes dryer and Model 3 Mobile Connector plugged in the same circuit. This doesn’t trip the circuit since we don’t dry clothes overnight.

Plugging the mobile connector into our 10-30 outlet provides 240V / 24 amps to the car, ~5.7 kW. This adds about 23 miles of rated range in the pack per hour and charging for 2 hours gives me enough range for normal workdays.

Note that Level 2 charging is about 85-90% efficient. So replacing the 10 kWh consumed each day take about 12 kWh from the wall. I downloaded hour by hour electricity usage data from my utility, which shows the electricity sent to my car during charging. Below you can see from 3AM to 5AM ~12 kWh was sent to the car (see yellow highlighting below). You’ll also notice that our solar system made more electricity than we used that day (See Solar Power Part 1 & Part 2 for more info on the solar system).

I’ve only charged my car to 100% four times. After a software update increased the usable portion of the pack a full charge yielded 325 miles when the car was 18 months old (24,500 miles). At 5 years I got 291 miles of Rate Range from a full charge (67,000 miles). That’s ~11% down from the 325 miles, or 6-7% from the original 310 miles I had out of the factory.

Rate Range after fully charging my Model 3 over 5 years.

During the week I’m usually operating between 40-70% SOC. We’ve taken our Model 3 on lots of regional trips around California and longer trips from the Central Valley to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Albuquerque. During those trips I set the SOC to 90% and operate between 30% and 80-90% SOC while driving from one Supercharger to the next. That works well for me.

Summary: For daily work life operating between 40-60% SOC works for me. Others may need a higher SOC for longer daily drives; may want to be prepared in case of unplanned trips; or maybe just prefer seeing well over 200 miles of range each morning. It’s all good.