Range Anxiety Part 2: San Diego to Las Vegas

Last time we checked in, we had 160 miles of rated range and Barstow was a mere 150 miles away.

Leg 1: San Diego to Barst… ABORT! San Juan Capistrano


Time of day: Night

External temp: Low 70s.

Winds: Still minimal (3-5 mph)

Driving Speed: Initially 70 mph +/- 5 mph. I used cruise control whenever possible. As the rated ranged dropped quicker than the actual range, I decreased the speed. I never got it down to 55 though, as that speed just seems unsafe when everyone around you is going 75+.

Climate Control: Set between 72-74 F The heat actually came on for a little bit, so we turned on the seat warmers.

Roads/Traffic: Minimal traffic on this stretch, which is part of why we left so late in the day.

Notes: Well, we needed more of a charge before attempting this leg. If the level 2 charger was functional where we ate dinner we might have been okay. I was keeping one eye on the rated range and the other on the actual distance to Barstow (and a third one on the road). It became evident by the time we we less than halfway there it wouldn’t be enough. So I was faced with the choice of changing course and heading to San Juan Capistrano and using the Supercharger there or finding a level 2 charger along the way and hoping that it was functional and that it would provide a quick enough charge that we wouldn’t be sitting there all nigh trying to get an extra 50 miles. I chose the Supercharger route based off my experience with the level 2s in San Diego. Admittedly it was a small sample size, but of the 3 I tried 1 didn’t work and the other 2 only provided 15 miles per hour of charging. I turned off on Highway 74 by Lake Elsinore and holy cow, that is one ridiculous road. It’s about 30 miles of twisting mountain road. Oh, and there are no lights.


We arrived at the SJC supercharger with about 40 rated miles left. We started with 160 and only traveled 90. I forgot to record the kWh used for this segment, but I’m sure it was fairly high and I don’t plan on repeating this route again. We plugged in and shortly were up to 175 rated miles. That should be enough as Barstow was only 120 away. Right?

Leg 2: San Juan Capistrano to Barstow



Basically the same as Leg 1, but later.

Roads/Traffic: Construction? Oh come on. The section of I-15 North just oust side of Ontario was down to one lane for construction. We probably averaged about 3 mph. If we had left earlier in the day  we would have missed it since it didn’t start until after 9 pm. So much for my plan of traveling at night to avoid traffic. As we crept along, I watch the rated range keep going down while we made very little actual progress. We should have had a 55 mile cushion for this leg and pulled into Barstow with only 20 left.

Legs 1 & 2:


Distance: 212 mi (Rancho Bernardo to Barstow via Hwy 74 & San Juan Capistrano )

Energy used: 67.9 kWh, average 320 Wh/mi


It’s hard to take much away from this given the change of course and the road construction. However there is one thing I’ll keep in mind for future trips. The elevation change from Rancho Bernardo to barstow is almost 2,000 feet. That change includes a cumulative elevation gain of 14,300 feet plus 12,406 feet of descent. That more than anything else likely caused the discrepancy between our rated and actual range. So how much of a charge would I need in the future to go straight from Rancho Bernardo to Barstow. We averaged 320 Wh/mi for the weird combo of legs and construction, so if I multiple the 150 miles by 320 Wh/mi then we would need 48 kWh. The Tesla doesn’t have a kWh gauge but if you look at the energy screen you can get an idea:

272 Wh/mi x 254 mi Range = 69 kWh

272 Wh/mi x 254 mi Range = 69 kWh

If you multiple the Wh/mi by the average projected range you can get an estimate of the kWh remaining in your batter. In the above case I would estimate we have 69 kWh remaining of our 86 kWh battery. I don’t know how precise that is, but I bet it’s gotta be close. I’m going to test it out around town and on our next trip whenever that may be.


So with the construction we arrived in Barstow at about 2 am. At least the supercharger was empty. I decided to throw in the towel and checked us in to the Country Inn right next to it. They had unfilled rooms and given that they were unlikely to book them between 2 am and checkout they gave me a discount rate. The room had 3 queen beds which meant I got to sleep without a kid’s foot in my back for the first time on the trip.

On the way back from Barstow to Las Vegas we used 56.2 kWh averaging 311 Wh/mi. This is up from 54kWh and 301 Wh/mi going the other direction. The conditions were about the same but I drove a little faster so I think that accounts for the difference.

For the whole trip we traveled 934.5 miles, used 293.7 kWh, and averaged 314 Wh/mi. I’ll probably skip San Juan Capistrano in the future as it shouldn’t be any problem to travel between San Diego from Barstow as long as the battery is 2/3 full (especially for the return trip). It is nice that the SJC supercharger is there just in case, and this all might be moot in a year or so as Tesla continues to expand its Supercharger network. One in Riverside would make the Barstow to San Diego leg a piece of cake.

Range Anxiety Supplemental: Charging Networks

The Tesla Superchargers are great and quick and free, but the closest one to San Diego is in San Juan Capistrano. I didn’t want to drive back and forth to charge there and it turns out I didn’t need to as San Diego has several charging networks I could use. Most of them require a (free) membership to use, so I signed up for several in advance. Here is what I’ve discovered so far:

Chargepoint – One of the larger networks, though I wound up not using them on this trip. They have an app (iOS, I dont know about Android) to help locate stations and pay, as well as cards that you can connect to a pay source. The cards for this and the other networks all appear to have an RFID chip so you just need to hold them in front of the scanner to activate.
Plugshare – A great app I used often to find stations. Users can leave reviews and tips for each station which would up being really helpful. No card for this network but they do offer a “Pay with Plugshare” that can be used with some (well, currently one) networks but I never got a chance to try it.
NRG eVgo – No app with this one but they will mail you an RFID card once you sign up. They offer different plans depending on how much you might use their network. As we were just visiting, I signed up for the free one. I only tried to use this network once, and it was the out of service unit. They at least had a sign saying it would be replaced soon.
Blink Network -  This one has an app and an RFID card and was the one I came across most often during the trip. I wound up only using it once – at the San Diego Zoo. They charge $1/hour for members, $2/hour for nonmembers. Membership is free and the whole process was pretty easy.
GE Wattstation Connect –  They had a charging station near to where our relative live, so I signed up but wound up not having to use it. They have a card and an app that you can use to pay. The app is free but I had to pay for the card. You have to order it through Amazon and pay for shipping too. It’s under $10 but felt like a bit of a scam.
Parkmobile –  Actually appears to be part of a larger network of mobile payment plans for different kinds of parking and not just EV charging. No card, just an app to use to active and pay for the charger. I only came across this once, but it was at the Safari Park so I used it. It’s in the Premium Parking, though I didn’t find that out until after I had already paid for regular parking. They let me use it anyway after the parking attendant checked with her boss. It was apparently the first time this came up and there were some cobwebs on the charger so I don’t think it gets used that often. It delivered about 15 miles per hour of charge. You have to pick how many hours you want to buy in advance, which I don’t like. The instruction on how to activate it aren’t really clear either but I did get it to work (thanks to Plugshare for tips left by previous users).
SemaConnect – Yet another network. I didn’t come across this one at all and only mention it because it works with Pay with Plugshare. Right now it looks like it is the only one, but because of that you don’t need a card or a separate account which is nice. Hopefully they’ll add more soon as having a centralized solution to all these networks would be welcomed.

Range Anxiety Interlude: Driving around San Diego

So we arrived Friday night and checked into our hotel – the Rancho Bernardo Inn. A nice little hotel on a golf course in the middle of a neighborhood. I highly recommend it. The buildings appear a little old on the exterior but the rooms are nicely furnished and the service was great. As we were leaving I found out that valet parking at the Inn has a few 120v outlets I could have used. They only provide 3-5 miles of charge per hour, but that trickle charge adds up overnight.

We spent the morning and afternoon with family who live nearby. That afternoon we went to the San Diego Zoo for our Black and White Overnight. It’s a sleepover at the zoo with several talks and private tours built in, including a “Night Prowl” where you go see the nocturnal animals after the zoo closes. The do it every summer. More information here.

The zoo has several electric vehicle (EV) chargers under the solar canopy in the main parking lot. When we arrived they were all occupied with EVs or were ICE’d – a term for when an internal combustion engine car parks in a EV charging spot. I was able to go back to the car during our dinner break and by then several spots had opened up. These chargers work on the Blink network. They charge $1/hour to use. The charger only delivered about 15 miles per hour of charging, but since we were there overnight we were back up to full by the time we left.

The full charge was more than enough to get us around town and to the Safari Park on Monday. Even though I wasn’t anywhere close to empty I used the charger at the Safari Park to fill it back up to a full charge while we were at the park. This one ran on a different network (Parkmobile). More on the different charging networks later.

We spent Tuesday at Legoland and then went to meet family that evening for dinner before we drove back to Las Vegas. I figured driving at night would avoid the rush hour traffic and require less energy for the climate control. I was excited to see a charging station outside the restaurant, but much to my dismay it was out of order. We had 160 miles of rated range left. Barstow was 150 miles away. Should I try to go straight there or should I spend the extra time and miles and go through San Juan Capistrano first? Stay tuned.

Range Anxiety Part 1: Las Vegas to San Diego

In May we finally got our Tesla Model S, and this month we took it on our first real road trip. Las Vegas to San Diego and back. We’ve done that trip many times in the past, and the whole family was more comfortable this time around than with our old vehicle (a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid). Of course, our old ICE* vehicle was much easier to refuel, so how did the Tesla compare in that regard? Here is my experience:

*ICE = internal combustion engine as I’ve come to learn through different forums.


Tesla Model S with 85 kWh battery, 19″ tires.


2 Adults, 3 children plus luggage for 4-5 days
~500-550 lbs total

Leg 1: Las Vegas to Barstow


Time of day: Late morninng

External temp: Rose to 105+ F by the time we reached Barstow

Winds: Minimal 3-5 mph (stayed that way throughout the whole trip)

Driving Speed: 70 mph +/- 5 mph. I used cruise control whenever possible, dropped to 65 mph going up large hills, increased to 75 mph for the downhill portions.

Climate Control: Set between 72-74 F

Roads/Traffic: Steady traffic, but not bad overall. There are two big hills about 1 hour out of Vegas that seemed to eat up a lot of battery, but they are followed by a 10 mile downslope to Baker that replenished a good portion. We stopped in Baker for a quick break. Nothing else to report for the rest of this leg.


Distance: 180.6 miles

Energy used: 54 kWh, average 301 Wh/mi
We started of with a full charge and rated range of 265 miles. According to this, we should have arrived in Barstow with 85 miles of range left, but in actuality we arrived with 75. Not bad considering the hills and highway speed.

Charging: We ate lunch at the Chile’s right next to the Supercharger. It has 4 stalls, only one was in use.

  • After 15 minutes we were already back up to 140 miles of range (and still waiting for our table).
  • After 30 minutes we were up to 220 miles (and waiting for our food).
  • After 1 hour we were pretty much maxed out at 264 miles.

I hadn’t intended to get the full charge but the Chile’s was pretty busy. I need to leave a card with my number in the windshield next time as the stalls had filled up and other Teslas were pulling up just as we were leaving. They are supposed to be adding more stalls to this location in the near future.

Charging up!

Charging up!


While we only had a net gain of 200 feet of elevation going from LV to Barstow, we had a cumulative gain of just under 11,000 feet. (+10,918 ft, -10,718 ft)

Leg 2: Barstow to San Juan Capistrano


Time of day: Early afternoon

External temp: Dropped to high 70s as we approached the coast.

Winds, driving speed, and climate control all the same.

Roads/Traffic: More downhill than uphill stretches. I haven’t mapped out how much yet, but SJC is about 2000 feet lower than Barstow. There was a lot of traffic getting into and out of SJC, probably added 90 minutes of travel time to the trip overall.


Distance: 123.2 miles

Energy used: 36.5 kWh 296 Wh/mi
Given our rated range of 264 miles leaving Barstow, we should have arrived in SJC with 141. Instead we arrived with 140 rated. Not bad.


We got ice cream at a McDonald’s close to the Supercharger. We wound up charging for about 45 minutes and got back up to 260 rated miles. Again I didn’t intend to charge for that long but the kids can only eat ice cream so fast. There are 7 stalls here, 3 were in use when we arrived (about 5 pm). They were all empty by the time we left.


Legs 1&2 (Las Vegas to San Juan Capistrano) total:
303.8 miles, 90.9 kWh used, average 299 Wh/mile

I might have been able to skip Barstow all together if I drove a little slower and didn’t use the AC, but even then it probably still would have been close. Knowing this now, a 10 or 15 minute charge in Barstow would be all that I would need to feel comfortable driving this stretch in the future. That being said, I’m probably going to skip SJC in the future and go right to San Diego from Barstow (more on that later).

Leg 3: San Juan Capistrano to San Diego (well, Rancho Bernardo)


Time of day: Early evening

External temp: Low to mid 70s

Winds, driving speed, and climate control all the same.

Roads/Traffic: Some up and down hill sections, but not too bad overall. However there was still a lot of stop and go traffic on the freeway between SJC and SD. I don’t know if it was just rush hour as it started about 3 pm.


Distance: 58 miles

Energy used: 18.6 kWh, average 318 Wh/mile
We should have arrived with 202 miles, but had 190 rated when we pulled up in the hotel. Our Wh/mile was higher for this stretch, I think more from the traffic than anything else.

Stayed tuned (like anyone is reading this) for the return trip…

Forsaken by Google

Recently OBi announced that Google Voice will stop supporting XMPP which means that as of May 14, 2014 I can no longer use it with my Obi device. (See their blog post here.)

This is disappointing as I have been using my Obi in conjunction with Google Voice for the last several years to have free home phone service. Google voice did not support 911, so I signed up for Callcentric which offers an e911 service for $1.50 per month. I described how to do this in an earlier post.

My free ride with Google is over, now what? I can’t find any other completely free service, but I have a low cost solution that works for me. Here is what I did:

First, I logged in to my Obi device and deleted Google Voice as a Service Provider (SP1). I already had Callcentric as my SP2 so I switched it over to work as my SP1 and selected the box to use it for outgoing calls plus e911.

At this point, I could use my home phone to call 911 and other Callcentric users. However I still wanted two more things – the ability to call other people and for my home phone to ring if someone called my Google Voice number.

On the Callcentric website they have different calling plans, I selected the pay-per-call one that has no monthly fee. Since I use the phone maybe 1-2 times a month, the 0.019 cents per minute rate seemed reasonable. Now I can use my home phone to call other people.

Callcentric also offers different plans to receive calls. I again went with the free one, which gives you a New York phone number (either area code 631, 845, or 914). I took one and it is now part of my Callcentric account. If someone calls my 631 number, it connects to Callcentric and my home phone rings. I logged into Google Voice and added the 631 number to my account, and now when someone calls my Google Voice my home phone rings too.

So after all that my home phone can still make and receive calls, and my Google Voice number can still function as my home phone number. The only difference is that I’ll have to pay a small fee per minute for outgoing calls, and if I call someone from my home phone the caller ID shows up as my 631 number. I’m OK with that.

There are other calling plans at Callcentric for those who use the phone more and Obi has several other providers with competing plans that will do the same thing. I haven’t looked into them but they all seem to be close in price. Good luck, comments and questions are welcome.

Zombie Dad Finale


It’s what’s for dinner.

The Zombie Dads gathered for the season finale of The Walking Dead. We all went into it in agreement that Terminus was a bad place but split on why. J and I were firmly in the cannibal camp (my prediction from the previous week), A and D were not. We made our picks for who would get the most kills and which, if any, main characters would bow out.

Final score*:
J (took Rick, predicted Tara wouldn’t make it) 9 points
Me (took Michonne, predicted Beth burgers on the Terminal menu) 9 points
A (took Abe, predicted the end of Carl out of spite) 0 points
D (took Tyrese for most kills and dying, the blaze of glory gambit) 0 points

Tie went to J just for Rick’s style point. While the cannibal debate is not over, I think it’s likely J and I will be proved right next season.

1 point per walker, 2 points per person, 10 bonus points for the prediction