Tesla Model S Fuel Cost

Posted: 27th May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

My driving style averages around 330wh per mile, or ~3 miles per kWh. Electricity in my area is $0.0749 per kWh net, or $0.1176 per kWh gross (including all delivery charges, fees, taxes, etc). So the car costs about $0.1176 x 0.33kWh = $0.0389 per mile to drive. Multiply that by about 1300 miles I drive each month, total monthly bill comes out to $0.0389 x 1300 = $50.57. No other maintenance is required.

My Infiniti FX50S gets 16mpg. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, it costs $0.25 per mile in fuel, plus other maintenance costs.

The Tesla Model S was finally delivered on 5/2/2013, four years after the reservation was put in. After driving it for about 10 days, I can tell you it’s worth the wait and puts a smile on my face every time I drive it. Watch my video review in five parts on YouTube:

Part 1 — Exterior
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2UZ8DJco3g

Part 2 — Interior
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H434-W_1InY

Part 3 — 17″ infotainment screen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f_Rom4Rl8c

Part 4 — Driving dynamics
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iWwfQz-5uQ

Part 5 — Problems and wish list
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wt6als3Pqs

Part 6 — More features and wish list items after 15 days
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LRTpISoG_E

To read about how the Tesla Model S died after the first day, see forum link below:
http://www.teslamotors.com/fr_CH/forum/forums/tesla-model-s-dead-after-first-day

Lutron RadioRA 2 Lighting System Review

Posted: 2nd February 2013 by admin in Home Technology

Of my less-than-perfect home automation system (thanks to Crestron), Lutron proved to be one of the best choices. In fact, if I were to do it all over again, I would put as many items on the Lutron system as possible.

The RadioRA2 system is a wireless lighting system. It consists of a central control unit (plus repeaters if the house is large), and as many wireless dimmers as needed (I started with about 50 dimmers and ended up with about 70). Because the dimmers are all wireless, you can switch any existing switch to a dimmer at any time.

Once on the system, each lighting fixture can be controlled one of several ways:

1. Tapping on the dimmer itself
2. From any iPad or iPhone running the Lutron App ($29 covers all devices for the entire household)
3. Lutron wall-mounted programmable keypads
4. Timed events – turn lights on/off at certain times of the day, or sunrise/sunset, etc.

A number of functions can be set on the iPad, for example:
1. Set the dimmer from 0% to 100% in 1% increment
2. Turn on or off a series of lights with the press of one button
3. Set the speed of dimming in seconds
4. Set the amount of time delay before dimming starts
5. Set up automatic scenes at certain times of the day, linked to astro-clock such as sunrise and sunset

After using the system for about 30 days, here are some pros and cons I discovered.

Pros –

Very easy to use and reliable, clearly a well designed and field tested product

Pre-set dimmer level using two small keys on the side, then one click on the big button to the preset level, and two clicks to turn light to maximum level

Green LED indicator on smart dimmers make finding the switch in the dark easy

Scenes – a group of lights can be set up to work together as a scene. For example, I have a “Arrive” scene that turns on the mudroom, hallway, and kitchen lights on, so I’m never entering a dark house. A “Good Night” scene turns off ALL the lights around the house, and dims hallway can lights at 10% to work as a night light. Each light can be set at a different dimming level. It’s awesome.

iPad apps works well and is reliable. Interface is clean and logical. Easy to use.

Cons –

Programming of the lighting system is kept at the installer level. The application is actually very simple and intuitive, all drag and drop, but it’s not made available to the consumer.

iPhone app interface is too simple. It definitely gets the job done, but looks like an engineer designed it. Each screen controls only one light fixture, when clearly there is room for more.

The system has no user interface to set the system clock. During the installation, my system clock was off by a few hours, so all my timed lights were turning on and off at the wrong time. It took the installer three trips to correct this.

The dimmer has trouble controlling some LED lights. My family room light fixtures use (16) A19 bulbs and (24) chandelier bulbs. I want the brightest lights possible, so planned on using ~60w each, which turned out to be too much draw for regular dimmers (Lutron does have a booster that can control it). I decided to install all Sylvania Ultra LED series (20w A21s and 6w chandeliers, these are dimmable LEDs designed to work with any regular dimmers). The Lutron digital dimmers caused the bulbs to flicker, although regular dimmers (also made by Lutron) work just fine. The installer also tried dimmers designed for LED with no luck. As of this writing, the installer is waiting for arrival for some different type of dimmer to try again, and the family room lights are on a hard switch.

What would I change if I were to do it all over again?
1. I would still choose Lutron to control all my lighting
2. I would add Lutron thermostats instead of Crestron. Lutron has a cool “seeTemp” control, unfortunately I didn’t find out about this until afterwards
3. Since I’m a tech nerd and I love to control my gadgets, I would put all lights on Lutron’s system (yes, I even have my closet light on the system). I started with ~50 dimmers and had to go through upgrades (from 600w to 1000w) during construction, which wasted some money. Ended up with about 70 dimmers and now I’m happy.

Just finished building my new house (January, 2013) with a full-blown home automation system. With this system, I can control lighting, HVAC, garage doors, security system, video surveillance, TV, audio, etc. all from my iPad or iPhone, anywhere in the world.

Components include:

Crestron MC-3 Processor – This is the command center for the entire system, and communicates with each sub-system
Crestron Thermostats – HVAC, humidity, radiant heat
Crestron AV controls – AV receiver, TV, cable, game, audio, etc.
Lutron RadioRA2 Lighting Control – dimmers for all lights around the house
ICRealtime Video Surveillance – 16 port system with video cameras inside and around the house and night vision
OnQ Intercom – The only intercom system that runs on CAT 5 wiring
LiftMaster – MyQ system allows status reporting and open/close action via the Internet

I will review each sub-system separately, but first I need to let out some frustration with Crestron.

I did a lot of research on available home automation systems. I looked at Crestron, Control4, Savant, OnQ Legrand, and a few DIY systems. It appears the general trend in home automation is IP based controls… of course giving the popularity of the Internet, this is to be expected. I personally preferred Control 4, but at the strong recommendation of my general contractor and their sub-contractor, I went with Crestron. I relied on Crestron’s reputation in the home automation industry, and figured how bad could they be? It turns out I gave Crestron too much credit.

After using it for a month and lots of back-and-forth with the installer, I regret choosing Crestron. This beast is clearly a carry-over from the old days, and requires TONS of programming to get it to work. At a rate of $90 per hour, it took a lot of hours of command-line coding (so I’m told) to get even the simple functions to work. Although Crestron advertise it supports iPhone and iPad, they don’t tell you each device requires separate programming, at between $500-$700 per device type. Want to add Crestron’s own touch-panel? More programming. This thing is so closed and user-unfriendly, I would not recommend it to anyone.

I learned that the interface for each Crestron system is different because it’s programmed for each customer, so how well your system performs largely depends on the programming skills, and more importantly, the artistic design of the installer. I think my installer is good with programming, but terrible with artistic design, and the interface is full of rectangular buttons with white background, giving it a clunky look.

Did I mention to run Crestron using iPad and iPhone, you need to buy TWO copies of the app, each at $99? Crestron Mobile Pro for iPhone and Crestron Mobile Pro G for iPad. This is CRAZY!!! Crestron is milking you coming and going… first with expensive hardware, then with programming fees, and then nickels and dimes you with app pricing. I think the only reason installers still hype up Crestron is because of the way the eco-system is set up – it allows the installers to make the most amount of money from each customer.

Because of Crestron’s ugly interface and the fact I have to keep paying to make ANY changes, I’ve given up on it and started using each sub-system’s app for access, and that proved to be much easier and cleaner. It ended up that Crestron is only used to control my thermostats. And even that turned out to be a problem yesterday. All my thermostats reported “net fault” and my iPad showed the rooms were at normal temperature so heat was not running. Each thermostat showed a different, much lower temperature, and resetting the MC-3 didn’t help, so the installer had to came in this morning to fix it (no charge).

A cold house on the coldest night of the winter so far. What a waste of money.

Conclusion:
In the pre-iPad days, I could see how Crestron would help the home owner by offering one integrated interface for accessing different components. However, if you’re already using an iPhone and iPad, and know how to download apps to your device, you’re better off NOT using Crestron. This is because Crestron is a common-denominator platform, meaning it needs to be compatible with ALL devices in each sub-category, limiting its ability to take advantage of any one system to the fullest. Jack of all trades, master of none. You’d be better off getting the app for each component so you can access ALL the features. You have to go back to the Crestron home screen in order to control a different component anyway, which is no different than going back to the iPad home screen and choose a different app.

Free Supercharging for 60kWh Tesla Model S

Posted: 6th October 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Three and half years ago, in May of 2009, I put down a deposit and ordered a Tesla Model S.

In July of 2012, I test-drove the car and loved it.

In August 2012, it was my turn to order the car and I ordered a 60kWh model.

I’ve heard news about Tesla building Supercharging stations around the country. I didn’t pay much attention since it won’t affect me that much. My daily commute is only a fraction of the advertised 230-mile range. Since I ordered a high-speed charger, I figured I could charge my car in a jiffy if needed.

In late September, I received an email saying Supercharging hardware was already built into my car, and Tesla wanted to know if I wanted to pay $1000 to enable it. I thought about it and decided not to get it.

Then, an hour after I clicked “Do Not Enable”, I received another email by surprise from Tesla, this time telling me they will enable my Supercharging capability at no additional charge! What a pleasant surprise? The reason, they said, was they felt the explanation of the Supercharging option was not clear enough.

This makes me just that much happier. Nice job, Tesla. You bet I will tell all my friends and family what a wonderful choice I made three and half years ago.

The Tesla Model S Performance Sedan is Amazing!

The Tesla Model S Performance Sedan is Amazing!

Watch the test drive video here: http://youtu.be/YeIoIWkwboA

This is a test drive of a Tesla Model S Performance Edition in Chicago, on 7/28/12. I made my reservation on a Model S in May of 2009 and have been waiting over 3 years to drive it for the first time. As you know, the Performance Edition has an 85kWh battery and offers amazing acceleration of 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. The test car was electronically limited to 80mph, and it pulled strong until it hit that limit. One word sums it up – amazing. I had high expectations before the test drive, since I read practically every review article I could find before going in, and the test drive still exceeded my expectations by a mile. My car will arrive in fall of 2012, and I can’t wait to get it. Here are my impressions of the car after about 10 minutes of driving:

Power

It’s amazingly powerful. It blows my Infiniti FX 50S (5.0 seconds from 0-60mph) out of the water. I test-drove a Tesla Roadster before, and thought that was a really, really fast car. The Model S Performance is just as fast (actually it felt faster), and much more refined for everyday driving. As you can see in the video, shortly after I started, there was an instance where I wanted to pass the car in front, but hesitated at first because there was a red light ahead. I decided to punch it and see what the car could do, and man oh man the car just took off. There was no wait for gear to down-shift, it’s max power instantaneously every time. The power of the engine (I meant motor) proved itself again in the 0-80mph acceleration – I don’t know what sitting in a launching rocket really feels like, but I think I came as close as I could on earth today in the Model S Performance. And that’s with 5 adults in the car!!! And yes, I was driving on a public road with a speed limit of …. what speed limit?

Smoothness

It‘s amazingly smooth. The lack of a gas engine and transmission make the car feel silky smooth at any speed. You don’t feel any gear shifts. Just keep your foot on the pedal and like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going and going.

Noise

It’s amazingly quiet. As expected, without a gas engine, this car feels stealth. This is especially helpful because I love the speed but don’t like the engine noise. Some people say the engine noise is music to their ears. Well, not me. I like a quiet car that goes fast. The Tesla Model S delivers. In fact, the loudest thing in the car is the turn signal chirping at stop lights!

Fun Factor

It’s amazingly fun to drive. I read about the low center of gravity helps the car’s handling, since batteries are placed under the car, and I paid special attention to see if I could notice the difference. And yes, I can tell you the handling on this car is excellent. It feels like the car is glued to the road. Again, with my Infiniti FX50S as the benchmark, the Model S feel much more solid. Before I purchased the Infiniti, I also test drove a BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne, and the Infiniti came out on top. I know it’s not fair to compare the handling of a sedan with that of a SUV, but the Model S offers so much storage I feel like it’s even more spacious than the X50S.

Touch-Panel Screen

The center Infotainment control screen is amazing! I can write a review just on that topic alone. Just take my word for it, if you like gadgets, you will love the center console. My co-pilot showed me the suspension settings, steering settings, where you have granular control over how the car feels. I actually looked for pot holes on the road to test the suspension system, and it felt like it was able to smooth out all the bumps. There is a noticeable different between the steering settings, from Comfort (like an old Cadillac), to Standard (like a Mercedes), to Sport (like a BMW).

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking – it is very easy to get used to. Basically regenerative braking allow the momentum and coasting power of the car to recharge the battery. There are two levels which can be set from the touch screen, Light and Standard. From the online reviews I read, I expected a significant slowdown when I let go the gas pedal. Not really. I altogether forgot about it altogether until the Tesla guide brought it up.

Stopping Power

I was prepped while waiting by the Tesla employees that the Model S has massive brake rotors. I didn’t think too much of it until I gave it a try. After accelerating to 80mph (electronically limited on the test car), I slammed on the brakes and the car came to a screeching halt while feeling solid and in control. There was not veering, minimal nose-dive, and as expected ABS kicked in to help. I don’t know the official stopping distance from 80 mph, but it felt like a short distance and seemed good enough for me to avoid most accidents.

Refuels and Repairs

Once common questions for any electric car are where where to refuel and how to get service. Of course there are a few charger options available for the Model S, and the onboard charger can be plugged into any wall outlet, although charging using an 110V outlet will be painfully slow. I believe there is also a national charging grid being worked on, not sure about timing when this will be ready for use. As for service, I was told that Tesla will come to you!!! Yep, they will drive a service van to wherever you are, your home, office, whatever, and service the car in the field. Of course, some major service still needs to be performed in their service center. Thankfully they have one in downtown Chicago so it won’t be so bad for me. But knowing they will come service the car in the field is very, very convenient. And for $100, Tesla can send a flatbed truck to pick up the car, take it to their service center, and return it after service.

Other observations:

  • The steering wheel is thick an beefy and reminds me of the Hummer steering wheel.
  • The disappearing door handles are very cool.
  • The car is vary spacious inside.
  • It has a completely flat floor in the back seat, which is uncommon for a rear-drive sedan. The back seats are wide and three adults fit with room to spare.
  • The trunk is huge.
  • The car is wider than I thought.
  • The silver wheels are painted, and match closely to the silver paint cover. The graphite color wheels are also painted, and didn’t look as good to me. I expected the silver wheels to be shinier, but I can live with the stock color.
  • The key is a miniature Model S car. There are no obvious buttons but you can press different parts of the car key to lock/unlock the corresponding doors.
  • I thought push button start was cool in my Infiniti and a big convenience feature. The Model S goes one step further and you don’t even need to push a key. Just carry the key in your pocket and sit down, and the car will wake up.
  • I learned from an Tesla employee that the traction control in the Model S works surprising well, since the computer controls the drive motors directly, instead of trying to apply braking to a conventional gas engine driven car. He said even in deep snow, you can floor the accelerator pedal and the computer will control the wheel spin and (1) accelerate as fast as physically possible, and (2) keep the car in a straight line.
  • Visibility through the rear window is somewhat limited. I believe it’s due to the slope of the back window, the gap that you see through is even smaller than my Infiniti FX, which is already smaller than most cars
  • The gear shift stick is made by Mercedes
  • If you lift you foot off the brake pedal at a stop light, the car may roll backwards a little bit.

Conclusion

Overall, I simply can’t wait to take delivery of my car. One big problem I see is how to deal with all the speeding tickets I’m going to get. Oh well, with great power comes great responsibility.

Watch the test drive video here: http://youtu.be/YeIoIWkwboA

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