Guide for Tesla owners about to face Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian is all over the news. For good reason — this one is shaping up to be serious trouble for those in the southeast. Needless to say, having a Tesla in a hurricane is different than having a gasoline-powered car. There are (at least) six good reasons why having a Tesla is better in a hurricane. That said, there are some things you should be aware of, as a Tesla owner, before Hurricane Dorian arrives.

Photo: Casey Murphy, EVANNEX

I spoke with Zeb Hallock, President of Tesla Owners Club of North Carolina Triangle, who compiled a handy hurricane info page for Tesla owners. Here's what Hallock recommends if you're about to face down Hurricane Dorian in a Tesla. I've added in a few additional guidelines (and handy tips) as well.

First things first

For owners in evacuation areas, Tesla is enabling free supercharging and enabling use of extended battery capacity in Teslas with software locked battery capacity.  Note: Elon Musk recently confirmed this for Hurricane Dorian via Twitter. Those capabilities should remain enabled until the storm has passed. 

Twitter: Elon Musk

If you have a Tesla capable of unlocked capacity, you should see a message on the screen informing you of the temporary change. If you run into any issues, need assistance with your Tesla, or have important questions regarding Supercharger status, you may call Tesla Roadside Assistance for owners: 877-798-3752.

Checking Supercharger status

To view real-time Supercharger utilization and operational status yourself, access the in-car map and touch the lighting bolt icon.  

Source: Tesla Owners Club of North Carolina Triangle

All regional Superchargers will then display real-time utilization on the screen with the indicators above the sites indicating number of cars charging (red) and open chargers (light grey).  Any non-operational Superchargers should be indicated on that screen as well, but may not be updated immediately.  If the utilization indicator above the Supercharger is not showing, it may mean several things:  

  • You may be out of region for this data to be displayed (if you're too far away from the Supercharger, the utilization status is not shown)
  • The Supercharger may have lost network connectivity but may still be working
  • The Supercharger may have lost power (finding alternate charging locations is discussed in more detail below)

Photo: Casey Murphy, EVANNEX

Planning to evacuate in a Tesla

First off, don't worry, you'll be fine, it really isn't much different than evacuating with a gasoline powered car and in some ways it's better.  

One thing to note right away is DON'T FORGET YOUR MOBILE CHARGE CONNECTOR.  You may be using it to charge up before leaving and out of habit, unplug and drive off leaving it at home.  If you think you might forget it in the stress of preparing to leave, put a sticky note on the steering wheel. Also be sure to bring along any charging adapters as well — especially a J-1772 charging adaptor (if you have one) as it's compatible with the vast majority of public chargers.

Top: Tesla's Mobile Charge Connector; Bottom: J-1772 Charging Adapter (Source: Tesla)

Hurricane charging tips

Charge to 100% before you leave. Stating the obvious, charge to 100% just before leaving.  Charge to 90% the night before leaving and increase it to 100% shortly before leaving so that the charge reaches 100% about the time you are ready to leave.

Charging while evacuating (Supercharging). Tesla's Supercharger network is the simplest, fastest way to charge once you're on the road.  And now, with recently added locations and capacity there should be adequate capacity to cover evacuations.  Give yourself a little extra juice at the last Supercharger before your destination to make sure you have some bonus miles at your destination, especially if going to a hotel with chargers as there may be other EVs and/or Teslas charging already.   

Photo: Casey Murphy, EVANNEX

Finding Tesla's Destination Chargers. In addition to Superchargers you can also search online for Tesla's Destination Chargers which lists hotels along with restaurants, shops, and other venues. Tesla's Destination Chargers are another viable (albeit slower) charging option than Superchargers — best for overnight hotel stays. These will show up as grey charging icons (as opposed to red for Superchargers) on your Tesla touchscreen. Or, you can check out a bulk list of all Destination Charging locations which can be accessed online via Tesla's website.

Finding non-Tesla destination chargers. If you're evacuating, the best tool to identify all destination charging resources (including non-Tesla chargers) is Note: non-Tesla chargers are typically slower (and less reliable) than Tesla chargers but accessible with a charging adapter.  There are two general evacuation plans and each has a recommended filter configuration to help with planning.  The below instructions are for viewing on a desktop browser.   The filter configuration may be accessed by clicking the menu icon to the left of the search bar. 

Source: Tesla Owners Club of North Carolina Triangle

Evacuating to a Hotel. Adjust the filter settings as shown below.  Be sure to select "Lodging" under Amenities and nothing else in that section.  Setting this will show charging options onsite or very near hotel properties. 

Evacuating to Friends or Family. The same filter settings are recommended but do not select "Lodging" to show more options. Note: If you have a CHAdeMO adapter, select that plug type as well.  If you don't know what a CHAdeMO adapter is, you don't have one.  Teslas do not come with them and they are an expensive option that must be purchased separately. 

Source: Tesla Owners Club of North Carolina Triangle

What about returning from evacuation?

Check the in-car map to see if the Superchargers you need to return home are operational.  Also, make sure you fully charge at the last Supercharger before returning home if your home does not have power or if you're not sure if it does.  You may also check and look at comments for the Superchargers you're planning to use and check — click on the Superchargers you'll use and select "discuss" to see if there are any comments about them being down. 

What else should I consider?

You may be parking your car in a location with no charging for a while during evacuation.  To conserve energy you should disable Sentry Mode and set Cabin Overheat Protection to "NO A/C" or "OFF".  (Note: Model S and X do not have a "NO A/C" option).  Both of those settings are accessible on the main screen under "Safety & Security".

Source: Tesla Owners Club of North Carolina Triangle

While traveling, if you encounter a situation where range is a concern to get to your destination due to power outage or a long detour perhaps, the following options will extend range while driving:

  • Slow Down. If you aren't going slow already due to traffic and are cruising along at 73 mph, take it down a notch to 65 and you'll save a ton of power and have more range.  Want to save more?  Slow down some more.  Seriously, speed is more important than any other factor in extending range on the road.   If needed, going as slow as 50 mph will show significant savings.  

  • Turn on Range Mode. This is only, however, applicable if you're driving a Model S or X (Model 3 does not have this mode).  Go to Controls -> Driving -> Range Mode -> On.  While this will help a slight bit, it won't help nearly as much as slowing down.  

Staying at home

Of course, you can choose not to evacuate and stay at home pre-hurricane if it's advised. Either way, if you choose to evacuate or stay put, with a Tesla you won't have to wait in those massive lines to fill up at gas stations. Just charge at home or simply use the advice above to find a local charger. And if power goes out post-hurricane, your Tesla can help to power household devices and appliances, according to Brooks Weisblat from Drag Times (which he discussed following Hurricane Irma).

YouTube: DragTimes

Even without the "hack" described by Brooks, your Tesla can still serve as a handy resource if the power goes out. You can easily charge all of your USB capable devices with your car safely parked in your garage. 

You'll also have access to instant air conditioning in your Tesla — especially if you're in the southern heat. So if your power goes out and the hurricane is hitting, you can walk into your garage, hop into your Tesla and stay cool. In fact, you can put the rear seats down and even sleep in an air conditioned Tesla. You can’t do that with an internal combustion engine car, if a gasoline-powered car is on and parked in a closed garage — the toxic fumes would kill you in minutes.


Source: Tesla Owners Club of North Carolina Triangle; Special thanks to club President, Zeb Hallock, for creating such a helpful guide.