January 8th - Range Extender

This Blog Post was originally published on adagia.org.

As you might know, I got a Tesla as my car. I have been following the company since the first Roadster and I could never imagine owning one. Well, back in March I got one and in August I had my first insurance claim to do as we had a pretty hefty hail.

So although I had the car for several months now, it was already spending a few weeks inside a body shop.

However, today is about something different. Recently my father and I bought a gas-powered inverter generator. He thought it might be a good idea to have one if someday power went out and my parents would need to keep the heating pumps going inside their home. They still heat with oil and can switch over to wood but to deliver warmth to the radiators the pumps need to be running and they need power.

So yesterday it arrived at my home and today we managed to start it. But how do you test if it holds the power level it is supposed to hold? Well, every electric car lets you change the amperage at which it is loading. On a Tesla, the lowest you can go is five amperes. At 230 Volts that's 1150 watts (1,150kW) of charging power. Of course, charging at that rate is extremely slow. Normally when I'm charging at a three-phase current, I'm charging with 11 kilowatts per hour. This means zero to 100 would take about four and a half hours.

The generator has a rating of 1800 watts of continuous power and 2000 watts peak performance. So I could crank up the charging power of the car to seven amperes -> 1610 watts. Eight (1840 watts) was working too but that is overloading the generator already a little bit.

So the generator does what it has to do and can run for longer times on that load. This means having the pumps of the heating circuit running inside my parents home is easily doable.

Also, I could use the generator if I would be driving somewhere remote where there wouldn't be a charging station nearby, but in Europe that is almost impossible as there are chargers popping up everywhere.

It is also something I could use at festivals (like the Wacken Open Air). Since the car is resting there for multiple days and you're regularly opening it and charging your phone inside it there is definitely a problem with how long the battery holds over. If you would charge up fully right before arriving that issue could be mitigated, but you never know how cramped the chargers at such a large festival might be.

Subscribe to Philipp Haidenbauer | Blog

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.