Thanks to power outages in California, Tesla is telling its customers to charge their cars fully so their batteries don’t die.
There's a severe wind event happening in California. Starting yesterday and heading into this afternoon, winds in the northern, coastal, and central counties are expected to see sustained speeds of between 44-55 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph. That kind of wind is enough to knock power lines over, throwing sparks that might start a wildfire. And with those kinds of winds, any fire is likely to spread far more quickly than firefighters can put it out.
As a precautionary measure, California's Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has shut off power to approximately 800,000 customers in 34 counties. The power was shut off Wednesday just after midnight and is expected to last for some time, depending on local weather conditions.
Unfortunately, PG&E also has to inspect power lines for damage after the wind storm, so they can't just flip the power back on after the winds die down. "Given the prolonged period during which the wind event will unfold, and the large number of power line miles that will need to be inspected before restoration, customers are being asked to prepare for an extended outage," the company wrote on their website.
This is bad news for Tesla owners, but to keep their customers rolling, Tesla had a plan. Using their fleets connectivity features, Tesla warned customers before the outage to charge their vehicles to 100% in order to wait out the storm.
Normally, Tesla owners don't charge to 100% in order to maintain their batteries. It takes a long time to get fully charged and it's possible to overcharge the battery causing a meltdown. Tesla recommends an 80% charge, which is a lot easier to get to.
In addition to keeping its customers informed, Tesla also activated the "Storm Watch" feature on Powerwall customers. Basically a huge battery, Powerwall replaces a tradition gas generator to keep a house powered during a power outage. Storm Watch charges Powerwall battery cells fully in order to sustain operation through a prolonged outage.
Tesla performed similar actions during past hurricanes in other parts of the country. Its just one advantage--and disadvantage--to owning an electric car.