October 27, 2013
- Waco, TX – Tesla Supercharger
- Hilton Garden Inn, Bossier City, LA – NEMA 14/50
Having charged up last night at the San Marcos Supercharger, I was ready to head up to the Supercharger in Waco. It’s located in the parking lot of the Collin Street Bakery, which is a great place to have lunch, coffee, or just about anything your stomach is craving. Just ask the countless college co-eds “studying” there. I put studying in quotes because even though each of them had large textbooks open, they seemed more interested in listening to whatever was playing through their headphones and checking Facebook on their smartphones. The Bakery’s selection is large, and quite good. Apparently they’re known for their fruitcake. Yes, fruitcake. Along with ads for specials on the bakery’s digital billboard, there was an ad for the Tesla Supercharging station!
I met a husband and wife who were charging up their Model S as well. We must have talked for half an hour it seems. Very nice folks, and completely happy with their car.
Having charged up, I headed on for Shreveport, LA. This was the first day when the weather wasn’t absolutely gorgeous, though it wasn’t bad by any means. It was just overcast with some mist.
My original plan was to drive up to Dallas and charge at the NEMA 14/50 outlet on the outside of Apex Express, Inc.’s building, just off I-35E, south of I-635. They have a Tesla HPWC, but it’s only available during business hours. Since this was a weekend, they were closed. But they do have the dryer outlet on the side of their building that’s free to use as well. However, looking at Google Maps once again, I realized I could just take the back roads more or less directly to Shreveport, which would cut off enough miles from the trip to get me there in one full charge. Once again, with Google Maps up on the web browser and the GPS on the other half of the screen, I headed out for Shreveport.
Not being a gambler myself, I never realized that gambling is illegal in Texas… that is until I crossed the border into Louisiana. Tons of billboards lined the highway advertising hotels, restaurants, and shows, and every one had the same black border on the bottom with white text saying “If you or someone you know has a gambling problem call…” Just in case folks missed the footer on nearly every billboard for the first five miles inside Louisiana, there was a full billboard dedicated solely to that message. I think I got the message.
I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn, plugged into the NEMA 14/50 outlet on the back side of the hotel, and with the car charging up I went to check in. The outlet is in the middle of the back of the building, right next to what I believe is the hotel’s main air conditioner, which had come on just before I plugged in. After checking in and getting settled in in my room, I checked the charging status. Doing this almost became second nature at this point. Whenever I plugged in the car, I would immediately open the Tesla Connect app on my Windows phone to make sure I could monitor the charging status. When I looked, it wasn’t charging. In fact, it said there was some sort of power error. So I went back down to the car, and sure enough there was an error message on the dash saying that there was an issue with the power source. I unlocked the car, unplugged the cable, and plugged it back in, and it started charging again. So I went back to my room to watch Game 4 of the World Series.
After the game, I checked the charge status again, and sure enough it wasn’t charging. I went back down to the car, unlocked it, unplugged the cable, plugged it back in, and everything seemed fine… until the hotel’s air conditioner kicked on. Just then the light around the charge port turned from pulsing green to red and I got the same error about a problem with the power source.
I called Tesla Roadside Assistance and explained the issue. They had me reset the box on my charging cable by holding down a reset button for 30 seconds. That didn’t seem to do anything. So we tried resetting the charge port by locking the car with the remote fob, unlocking it with the fob, unplugging the charging cable, and plugging it back in. That too didn’t seem to do anything. I mentioned that the problem happened when the hotel’s air conditioner, which was right next to the outlet, came on. This was the key to solving the problem. The Tesla rep asked me to plug in the car and lower the amps it was pulling from 40 down to 30 or even 25. By doing this, any surge or dip in the current caused by the electric motor in the hotel’s air conditioner starting up would be outside the range of current the car would be looking for, and therefor wouldn’t cause the car to see any fluctuation in current, which should keep it charging. Well, that finally did the trick. I was able to reset the charge port, lower the amperage, plug in the charge cable and have it stay on. I thanked the Tesla rep very much for his help and went back to my hotel room. I checked the charge status a couple of times again before finally turning off the lights and going to sleep. All was well and I would be fully charged by mid morning for my next day’s drive to Jackson, MS.