I recently took a road trip in my Model S to the Lake Placid, NY area which is home of the Adirondack Mountains and I wanted to share some of the experience.
Like any first time road trip in the Model S you need to make sure you have a plan for charging on the trip. Most of your trip will usually be covered by SuperChargers, but often the last leg of the journey can be a challenge if it’s in a more remote area.
In this case I used the Albany, NY SuperCharger along the way but charging at the destination was going to be more of a challenge. While Tesla has been spreading around their HPWC’s to many destinations, there were none in the Lake Placid, NY area. I hopped over to PlugShare and at the time there were only two charging options in the area.
Note: Since I visited it looks like the Best Western Adirondack Inn added a Tesla HPWC.
The first was at a Price Chopper grocery store which had public (and free) J1772 chargers. These aren’t that fast for the Model S and the store has set rules of no more than 2 hours use and no overnight parking. The location was also not close to the hotel we were staying so these became my backup plan.
The second option I found was an odd entry on PlugShare that showed a box with a couple standard outlets and a NEMA L6-30A outlet. The entry had only two comments. The first comment one from a someone who only observed the outlet but didn’t use it and the other was from a Model S owner from a month back that had used it successfully with only the standard NEMA 5-15 plug. The NEMA 5-15 charges the Model S really slowly so that was also a fallback plan. If the NEMA L6-30 worked that was the way to go.
Tesla doesn’t provide or sell a NEMA L6-30 adapter but I found one on Amazon and got it in time for the trip. On arriving, it took sometime driving around to find this odd set of outlets literally on a tree in a back lot of the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid Hotel. The plug did indeed work and I got plugged in and charging:
With a real parking spot, and no obvious rules or limits and with the outlet at my hotel I now had plenty of charge to do whatever I wanted in the area and there were a lot of things to do and see for sure.
As a good EV citizen, I added more pictures and information to PlugShare to help the next EV visitor find their way. The experience really pointed out the need for destination charging and the need for finding these usual options.
Destination charging FTW!
During the trip I had a number of Tesla Moments, and one was with a maintenance man at the hotel that has been there for over 20 years. After the usual “No they don’t actually catch on fire” conversation (when will that ever end??), I found out that they put the outlet in originally for engine block heating in the winter but according to him EV owners are more than welcome to use it as needed. He said if you’re paying for the rooms you’re more than paying for the electric too…
Over at TMC there’s a group of owners that get together and drive their Telsas up Mount Washington in NH that i’ve been watching. The timing has never worked for me to join in on the fun but it’s something that sounds like fun. In the Adirondacks one of the larger mountains is Whiteface Mountain with a peak of 4,865 feet. There’s an access road that lets you drive up to 4,610 feet then you’re on your own to climb the rest.
Having never driven up a large mountain in the Model S before, my range anxiety flared up for the first time in a long time. Could I drive up the mountain without running out? In the hotel room I plugged in the route on EVTripPlanner and it said I could make it as long as I had about 15% range available for the climb. Once in my Model S I got a similar report from the NAV system which is very accurate, just not useful unless you’re sitting in the car.
From the base of the mountain to the top my range went from 81% to 67% (14% used), and then after the hiking, etc. the range went from 67% to 74% (7% regenerated) on the way back down. The energy chart was an amusing picture as you rarely get to see it go up and to the right:
The drive up and down the mountain was beautiful and made even more fun in the Model S. I never touched my brakes the whole way down and we glided down the amazing mountain. I caught some of the experience with my DashCam:
While charging needed some planning and it would have been easier to just take one of our ICE cars, it the trip was more fun with the Model S. The charging, and unknowns of mountain climbing, etc all added to the adventure.
We don’t get to go on a lot of destination trips like this and we resolved to do more of these kinds of trips in the future — in the Tesla Model S of course!
I’ve been reading your blog for the last year and find your analysis excellent. I am a big fan of Tesla and hope to own one, one day.
Coincidentally, I was in Lake Placid this past Wed (took a quick jaunt up from our vacation home in Lake George this week). On the way there, I was talking to my wife about my concerns of bringing a Tesla on this very trip.
I had two thoughts: 1) where would I charge beyond Albany? and 2) what its like to drive a car in the mountains (especially downhill).
On #1, it is still a bit concerning to take a Tesla too far off the Interstate Highway system, however, there are a lot of new hi-powered chargers being installed (Best Western in Lake Placid for example). So this seems to be a temporary issue and slowly will get better in the future. To your key point — plan ahead and all will be fine.
On #2, I was commenting on our long descents through the Adirondacks in our Honda Odyssey, I had to keep applying to brakes to maintain control of the car. The brakes most certainly are taking excessive wear from this and you can feel the car pulsing from the warping of the brakes (not saying the warped from this trip alone, but it certainly didn’t help). Additionally, I never got my energy back! You confirmed exactly what I thought, the Tesla would brake itself going downhill and recapture a good amount of that energy. Money in the pocket…
Thanks again for sharing your experiences. Please keep them coming. (Love the solar array – I’ve got a small array too 4kWh, just outside of Lowell MA.)
On #1 you definitely need to plan ahead and destination charging is the way to go. While Tesla is distributing HPWC’s to destinations they’re more than a lunch stop. You have to plan on being at the destination for many hours for them to work (think stay at a hotel type length). The restaurant ones are really just minor top ups which I dont think are very practical/useful for anything thats too far from the grid.
On #2 I was surprised how well it worked on the regen. If I hadn’t set cruise control it would have stopped me from rolling down the hill. The combination of cruise control and regen braking meant no brakes needed which was very cool.
Thanks for the comments!
David Bryant said:
Great post, as usual! My spouse and I also have driven up Whiteface Mt. (and climbed to the peak), some years ago, with an ICE car at the time. It is a great place to spend some time and as a future Tesla owner I appreciate your helpful comments on how to get there and back from MA.
Thanks! Definitely fun in the Model S!
David Bryant said:
And by the way, I drove diesels (Mercedes) for many years. From the driver’s point of view, the Tesla regenerative braking behaves a lot like using engine braking on a high-compression (20:1) diesel, especially in a situation like descending a mountain. Coming downhill in my MB diesels (manual or automatic), I would downshift to 2nd or 3rd gear, sometimes even 1st, and would have much less need to touch the brakes than otherwise. There is a similar effect with a gasoline engine, but it is much more pronounced (and thus more effective) in a Diesel.
Another similarity between driving diesel passenger vehicles (especially when i started 40 years ago) and driving an EV is that diesel drivers had to be on the lookout for their next fuel source, especially in tourist areas, as EV drivers do. (I can remember a few close calls when the tank was very close to empty.)
Yup, i’ve got a F350 Diesel and a ML350 BlueTec (diesel) and the hunt for the gas station with diesel is a pain on certain treks, especially the route 80 corridor in PA (same one I can’t drive my Tesla on due to lack of SC’s).