Teslas in Cold Weather

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  • Winter is here and the forum is starting to get flooded with cold weather threads and posts. Please heed the suggested threads and posts before you post something related to cold weather. This is a great place to start: https://model3ownersclub.com/threads/teslas-in-cold-weather.5271

Brokedoc

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#1
Directory of specific topics related to Teslas in the Winter
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I haven't seen much info from our current Model 3 owners regarding cold weather effects so I wanted to reach out and summarize what I've seen in my Model X and see how it compares to the Model 3. I know several of the current Model 3 owners are in warmer weather climates but I've noticed changes that should be occurring even at about 50 degrees.

Starting at about 45-50 degrees, the regen becomes significantly limited (about 50%) when driving a "cold" car - such as parked outside while at work or parked overnight outside if you don't garage. Depending on how cold it is, I've seen it take 30 minutes or more of regular driving before restoring full regen capability. Aside from not capturing as much energy from regen braking, I've become so used to one pedal driving that I need to remind myself frequently to use the brake to slow down when driving with regen braking limited. I see this on my Model X as a dotted yellow line on my power use graph but as I understand it, the Model 3 doesn't yet have a similar power use graph in the UI so I wonder if any current Model 3 owner can comment to any warning that pops up when regen is limited.
20171022_103255.jpg
I have been using the preheat feature a lot more to warm up the car before getting in and it's great but does use up quite a bit of energy. I would estimate that I lose a few "miles" of battery capacity when warming up the car from around 40-50 degree interior temperature. The heated steering wheel is AMAZING. Even when the cabin is already at a comfortable temperature, my hands take longer to warm up and it helps to use the steering wheel heat instead of blasting the cabin heat warmer than necessary. In the Model 3, heating steering should be a PUP option when it gets activated in UI updates.

I have notice a MUCH higher energy consumption when driving in colder weather (about 10-15% more). I assume the heat function of climate control uses up more energy than the cool function but I can't help but wonder if this may also be due to the computer also calculating the effects of the cold weather on the battery. Of course, multiple passengers using heated seats makes the energy consumption go up even more. Again, I can see the average energy use in my Model X display which doesn't yet have a counterpart in the Model 3 UI and previously, the rear heated seats were not activated in the UI.

Because of these increased power consumption/limited regen/cold weather battery effect issues, I have been charging to 80% capacity overnight instead of during warmer weather where a 70% charge for my 40 mile daily commute was my previous norm.

Comments from current Model 3 owners experiencing any of these would be greatly welcome.
 
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Maevra

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#2
Thanks for all this info @Brokedoc! This is super helpful and I'll be sure to observe when we take the 3 out to colder climates.

Regarding regen, there is a message on the screen that says something like "warning, regenerative braking limited" (not sure if that's the exact wording). However that's just for when we've charged the battery to full, which also limits regen.
 

Brokedoc

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Thanks for all this info @Brokedoc! This is super helpful and I'll be sure to observe when we take the 3 out to colder climates.

Regarding regen, there is a message on the screen that says something like "warning, regenerative braking limited" (not sure if that's the exact wording). However that's just for when we've charged the battery to full, which also limits regen.
Yes, the cold weather regen limit is similar to the full baterry regen limit but lasts a lot longer depending on the temperature. I find that the full battery regen limit goes away in less than 5 minutes of light driving whereas today on the way home with the outside temp readout showing 49 degrees, it took about 15 mins for regen to get back to normal.

It’s very interesting about the regen warning. If you see the message again, please post a pic.
 

Bokonon

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Yes, the cold weather regen limit is similar to the full baterry regen limit but lasts a lot longer depending on the temperature. I find that the full battery regen limit goes away in less than 5 minutes of light driving whereas today on the way home with the outside temp readout showing 49 degrees, it took about 15 mins for regen to get back to normal.

It’s very interesting about the regen warning. If you see the message again, please post a pic.
Does the S/X instrument cluster still draw "limit" lines on the power/regen gauge when max power and regen are limited due to battery temperature, state-of-charge, etc.? I remember finding those lines helpful whenever I'd take my parents' S out in the middle of the winter.

I'm also curious as to whether the Model 3's power/regen bar (under the speedometer) displays a similar indicator in those situations, given how different the UI is. I know they can always add one later via OTA update, but I'm wondering whether it's already there....?
 

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#5
One thing I haven't seen mentioned is what happens when you first turn the heater on? I drive an i-Miev and coming from a gas car I was used to having instant heat if I've been driving a while with the heater off. Not so with my electric car, and I assume with any electric car. The heater air always starts off cold. The fact that I've been driving has no effect. Is this also true with Tesla cars?
 

Brokedoc

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Does the S/X instrument cluster still draw "limit" lines on the power/regen gauge when max power and regen are limited due to battery temperature, state-of-charge, etc.? I remember finding those lines helpful whenever I'd take my parents' S out in the middle of the winter.

I'm also curious as to whether the Model 3's power/regen bar (under the speedometer) displays a similar indicator in those situations, given how different the UI is. I know they can always add one later via OTA update, but I'm wondering whether it's already there....?
For the current version of S/X UI, the power usage meter is as in the picture in my original post. There is a dotted yellow line showing limited regen. As the battery warms up, the dotted line recedes.

I just watched a vid of the Model 3 UI while driving and it shows a linear bar under the speed number that reflects battery use or regen. I presume that there is some change to the regen half of the bar to show regen is limited and as @Maevra said above, there appears to be a text warning as well.
 

garsh

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is what happens when you first turn the heater on? I drive an i-Miev and coming from a gas car I was used to having instant heat if I've been driving a while with the heater off. Not so with my electric car, and I assume with any electric car. The heater air always starts off cold. The fact that I've been driving has no effect. Is this also true with Tesla cars?
Heated seats start feeling warm pretty quickly. ;)
 

Maevra

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is what happens when you first turn the heater on? I drive an i-Miev and coming from a gas car I was used to having instant heat if I've been driving a while with the heater off. Not so with my electric car, and I assume with any electric car. The heater air always starts off cold. The fact that I've been driving has no effect. Is this also true with Tesla cars?
The air takes maybe a minute or two to warm up if the car has just been turned on, it doesn't start off as hot immediately. But if I've been driving for a while and turn on the heat I think the air takes just a few seconds before it starts blowing hot; granted, I live in California so I don't turn on the heat too often, but I do love those heated seats.
 

KarenRei

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#11
Remember that your power consumption on short trips will be a lot higher than on long trips. It takes a lot more energy to heat up the car than to maintain its temperature. Also remember that range mode disables the battery pack heater - takes longer before you can use regen, but doesn't waste heat heating up something that'll eventually heat up on its own anyway.

I expect Model 3 to be more affected by cold than S and X. S and X have a lot of waste heat because of the induction motor. 3 will have less because it's PM.
 

Brokedoc

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#12
If you want more regen with cold battery, charge to lower limit. Try 60%.
I don’t understand this. Please explain. Once the battery temp warms up, regen returns to normal levels regardless of charge state (aside from 100% where it doesn’t regen at all)

Also remember that range mode disables the battery pack heater - takes longer before you can use regen, but doesn't waste heat heating up something that'll eventually heat up on its own anyway.

I expect Model 3 to be more affected by cold than S and X. S and X have a lot of waste heat because of the induction motor. 3 will have less because it's PM.
I don’t know his source but @arnis has said in his other thread that the Model 3 doesn’t have a battery heater. https://model3ownersclub.com/threads/model-3-thermal-system.5279/ If true, the battery will take much longer to warm up when cold.
 

Brokedoc

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#13
One thing I haven't seen mentioned is what happens when you first turn the heater on? I drive an i-Miev and coming from a gas car I was used to having instant heat if I've been driving a while with the heater off. Not so with my electric car, and I assume with any electric car. The heater air always starts off cold. The fact that I've been driving has no effect. Is this also true with Tesla cars?
For the sake of science, I just jumped into my Model X without preheating to find out how the heating system works from a cold state. With an outside ambient temp of 51 degrees and the car parked idle for 10 hours, the blower doesn’t immediately blow cold air at you. I hated it when my old car used to do that! Within 30-60 seconds, the warm air started to flow. Much faster than jumping in an ICE and waiting for the engine to warm up before the heat would come out of the vents.

I presume the Model 3 will have similarly fast heating but honestly the issue is moot because of preheating from the app.
 

arnis

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Model 3 will heat the battery with drivetrain. Even when vehicle in park. Will just run current with 0% efficiency.
Regen is partly limited due to cell maximum voltage, which will spike up to maximum much faster when battery cold. When pack is even colder, Tesla limits battery from charging no matter the voltage.
 
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So all this cold weather talk is making me nervous. I live in northern Minnesota where we may see winter temperatures below -20°F. We may also get stretches where the temperature won’t rise above 0°F for several days. I’ve always been under the impression that if my model 3 were parked and charging that the battery would be maintained at some optimum temperature regardless of outside temperature. Does anyone know if there are any official environmental operational parameters that are specified for the model 3?
 

garsh

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So all this cold weather talk is making me nervous.
Why? Do you have a 200 mile commute to work? :)
I’ve always been under the impression that if my model 3 were parked and charging that the battery would be maintained at some optimum temperature regardless of outside temperature
There's no benefit to battery lifetime in doing so. The battery is quite happy being cold - it's just unable to *supply* as much energy when it's very cold. As you start driving, the battery will warm up, and its ability to supply energy will increase. So there's no need to keep the battery warm the entire time it's parked.

I do believe it's possible to use the Tesla app to tell the car to "precondition" (warm up) the battery. You can do this before leaving in the morning.
 

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So all this cold weather talk is making me nervous. I live in northern Minnesota where we may see winter temperatures below -20°F. We may also get stretches where the temperature won’t rise above 0°F for several days. I’ve always been under the impression that if my model 3 were parked and charging that the battery would be maintained at some optimum temperature regardless of outside temperature. Does anyone know if there are any official environmental operational parameters that are specified for the model 3?
I personally thought all ev cars warmed their batteries before charging in frigid weather. Maybe, Tesla has figured out a way to do without warming the battery. From my experience, not having a warm battery significantly limits its power transfer.

To clarify, if you have the MS, it only warms the battery while it is charging. It uses a significant amount of power when first starting to warm the battery and cabin. You can prewarm the cabin, but the only way I know to prewarm the battery is to add additional charge.
 

garsh

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I personally thought all ev cars warmed their batteries before charging in frigid weather.
Generally, they just start out charging at slow rates when the battery is really cold. The act of charging warms up the battery, and as the battery gets warmer, it can accept a faster charge, thus warming it more, etc.
 

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#20
I personally thought all ev cars warmed their batteries before charging in frigid weather. Maybe, Tesla has figured out a way to do without warming the battery. From my experience, not having a warm battery significantly limits its power transfer.

To clarify, if you have the MS, it only warms the battery while it is charging. It uses a significant amount of power when first starting to warm the battery and cabin. You can prewarm the cabin, but the only way I know to prewarm the battery is to add additional charge.
In my i3, the battery will only pre-condition if you set a departure time in the App or on the car at least 3 hours in advance. And the car has to be connected to a 240v power source. Otherwise it will only preheat the cabin, and the car will operate at reduced power until the battery warms up. I’ve only seen this when the car was parked outside overnight and it was really cold (below 30F).