Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Solar City

I guess if you buy an electric vehicle, the next logical step is getting solar panels installed at home. While I was waiting for the Model S to be delivered, I contacted Solar City and purchased a 3.65 kW system. None of that 20-year lease nonsense for me. They are coming to install the system this Friday, before the end of the year, so I should be able to claim the 30% tax credit for this year's taxes as well.

The process was pretty straightforward, though the sales guy was a bit pushy. On every phone call, he asks me for referrals. The system hasn't been installed yet. How can I recommend either way? Also, I found out that SoCal Edison won't allow the installed solar system to generate more than your prior year's usage. I don't understand this rule. Are solar installers putting much larger systems than necessary? Wouldn't they (utilities and government) want all available roof real estate used up? What this means for me is that I can only get a system to cover my prior usage, even though if I charge the car at home all the time, my usage will increase by 50%.


Social Credit

Wall Street Journal
More than three dozen local governments across China are beginning to compile digital records of social and financial behavior to rate creditworthiness. A person can incur black marks for infractions such as fare cheating, jaywalking and violating family-planning rules. The effort echoes the dang’an, a system of dossiers the Communist party keeps on urban workers’ behavior.

In time, Beijing expects to draw on bigger, combined data pools, including a person’s internet activity, according to interviews with some architects of the system and a review of government documents. Algorithms would use a range of data to calculate a citizen’s rating, which would then be used to determine all manner of activities, such as who gets loans, or faster treatment at government offices or access to luxury hotels.

When I first heard this, I though it was either "fake news" or a joke. It seems like an incredible intrusion of privacy but I guess no such thing exists in China. In the end, it's another tool for the CCP to control the population and stay in power. Why would anyone (Taiwan) want to live under such a system?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tesla Model S - Software Update Update

That was quick. I got a update notice about an hour ago and had the car go ahead and install it. The warning message said the car would be offline (can't drive it) for about 1 hour and 40 minutes but it took only 10 minutes. The software build is now 2.50.180.

As expected, the headlight controls are different. There's now an "auto" selection, and the headlight "switch" in the corner of the touchscreen is now a lock/unlock switch for the doors. The EQ for the sound system now has 5 bands instead of just 3. I also noticed a driver assist submenu with a speed warning options. This wasn't in the release notes and I'm not sure what it does so I guess it's Google time.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tesla Model S - Software Updates

The Model S is basically a huge smartphone on wheels. The hardware is fixed but the software that runs the car is updated constantly. I picked up my car on Monday and I'm already 4 builds behind. The major release right now is 8.0 but there are multiple builds, each with different features. My car has 2.48.109; later builds include 2.48.204, 2.50.15, 2.50.114, and 2.50.178. I read that Tesla added keyfob personalization, better audio EQ, and some minor stuff. All the new cars are waiting for version 8.1 which will include Original AutoPilot features for AP 2.0 equipped cars.

It's a bit frustrating. I'm not complaining about the 8.1 update since I know about that already. However, I would like to be updated to the latest minor build since somewhere in those 4 updates Tesla added auto-on headlights for AP 2.0 cars. Right now I have to turn the headlights on and off manually since the auto setting does not exist on my current software build. Of course, it's not a hard switch but a small icon on the touchscreen. Not really a huge deal but it's been raining in LA recently and turning on the headlights will flip the center console to night mode (black background). Again, not expecting too much but a car that costs 3x my Nissan Maxima should at least have auto lights and DRL (daytime running lights).

Charging at sister's house with NEMA 14-50 plug. Previous house owned had a Model S. Momo was able to charge at 28 mi/hr.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tesla Model S - Home Charging

One of the parties that picked up their car at the same time as me said that it cost him $800 to put in a NEMA 14-50 plug: $600 for parts and labor, and $200 for a permit. That sounds about right since Solar City said a permit to install solar panels at my house cost $250. Anyway, since I found an unused dryer plug at my house (my dryer runs on natural gas), I'm going to use that for now.

To charge the car with the NEMA 10-30 dryer plug, I had to buy the following:

NEMA 10-30 to NEMA 14-50 adapter

15' 50 amp extension cable

Since all the NEMA connectors are the newer 50A type, I had to get a cable that converted my 30A NEMA 10-30 plug to the NEMA 14-50 plug. Also, my dryer plug is inside the house so I bought an extension cable to get the receptacle to the garage.

To this, I used the following that came with the car:

Mobile Connector Bundle

NEMA 14-50 adapter for the mobile connector

The only problem with this setup is that I have to remember to set the charging current to a maximum of 24A. The dryer line is protected with a 30A breaker and everyone recommends charging at 80% of the circuit max. The car will try to pull 40A (80% of 50A) since I'm using Tesla's 14-50 plug, which will trigger the circuit breaker. At least the car is smart enough to associate the charging setup with GPS and set the charge rate at 24A in the future. This setup gets me about 18 miles/hour of charge. Not great but 6x faster than using a regular 110V/15A plug. 18 miles/hour charge rate means about 12 hours for full charge from a fully depleted battery.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tesla Model S - Day 2

Day 2 with new Tesla Model S. I drove for our carpool today since they all wanted to ride in the new car. The regenerative braking is still weird. I found the braking force is not linear: the car slows down a lot at low to middle speeds but won't come to a complete stop by itself. With Monday's drive home and no charging, when I arrived at work this morning, the battery was down to 52% and tool about 3.5 hours to fully charge. BTW, the mobile app is working on my iPhone so I can monitor charging and do a few other things with the car remotely.

Last night, I figured out what was wrong with the USB drive (not formatted as FAT32) and loaded some music. I originally thought that all Asian fonts were messed up but it turns out the car and display Chinese and Japanese but NOT Korean. Strange... too bad most of my Asian-pop is in Korean. It's still hard to use the touchscreen accurately while driving.

On the way home tonight, I stopped to check out the new Superchargers in Santa Ana, next to Santa Ana Main Place Mall.

Car charging at Santa Ana Supercharger

Charging info on mobile app: I think the Supercharger is rated at 350V @200A

It took me several tries to get the charger to start charging my car. Once it started, it was pretty quick. I think it took only ~15 minutes to fully charge the battery from ~70%. Out of the 12 spots, I think only 4-5 were being used.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Tesla Model S - Delivery

Wow, Tesla must want to move cars for quarter end. After no news for weeks, things started happening quick and I ended up picking up my car this morning (December 19). So from order confirmation to delivery took 36 days, which seems pretty average.

This morning, I showed up to the Tesla Sales/Delivery Center in Costa Mesa at 10am. I ended up being one of 4 groups picking up their cars: 2 Model S's and 2 Model X's. They brought us to the back of the building (inside) and each car was assigned a person to walk us though basics, answer questions, and sign paperwork. I had already paid via ACH so it was signing some DMV paperwork. Next they showed us some videos that were also available online. You can tell Tesla was working hard to move cars out the door; all the videos were still showing the old version of Model S. Most disappointing was that the AutoPilot features were not activated yet. I knew this already but most other people picking up cars did not. Without AutoPilot, the car is about as smart as the Nissan Maxima I traded in. Hopefully we will get a software update by the end of the year, per Elon's tweets.

Since I traded in my old car ($8000), the first Tesla drive was to work. I had test drive the car several times but the regenerative braking still takes getting used to. Power is smooth and the ride is very similar to my Maxima. Due to the batteries, the Tesla is a heavy car, but the weight is low so the car is very stable. I used up about 22% of the battery getting to work but was able to find a reserved spot in the parking lot with a Tesla charger. The mobile app is not connected yet so I can't check the charge from my desk. Hopefully it charged; otherwise I will be really low tomorrow. I bought some adapters to use with the included mobile charger so I'll try that tonight: charging the car using my 240V dryer hookup.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tesla Model S - In Production

Got an email from Tesla today that my car is in production. Looking through all the paperwork they sent me, I found my order confirmation and it had an estimated delivery date of December 25th. Seeing how the delivery center is not open on Sunday (probably not open on Christmas Day normally), I'm not sure when the car will arrive. The website still says December to early January 2017.

Also got a few insurance quotes... expensive. :(

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tesla Model S - Order Confirmed

My order was confirmed on November 13th. I ended up changing the order to a 60 kWh battery and dropped the self-driving option. The battery in the new 60 model is actually a software limited 75 kWh battery. I read that you typically don't charge the battery to 100% since that will shorten the life of a lithium-ion battery. Also, when you charge at a Tesla Supercharger, it fast charges to 80% and slows down for the remaining 20%. With a software limited 60 kWh battery, you can charge up to 100% since it's not really "full" and it will charge to "100%" at full speed on a Supercharger. For me, I think the 60 will be enough since I can charge it daily at work.

As for the actual order, after it was confirmed, I did not hear from Tesla for three weeks. On Reddit, people were saying it took months to get their car. I finally called my delivery contact and he said car will be ready in two weeks! Hopefully that is true since my current car registration expires in early January and I need to take delivery this year to file for the $7500 federal tax credit.