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Tesla Updates Model S Software As a Precaution Against Unsafe Charging

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the belt-and-suspenders-and-superglue dept.

Transportation 148

zlives writes "Tesla Motors has maintained that the most recent fire involving one of its Model S electric vehicles isn't the result of a vehicle or battery malfunction, but the company is still addressing the situation with a software fix, according to Green Car Reports. The California-based automaker has added a software function that automatically reduces the charge current by about 25 percent when power from the charging source fluctuates outside of a certain range, Green Car Reports says, citing the Twitter feed from an Apple employee, @ddenboer, who owns a Model S. You can read the text of the update below."

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Happy Boxing Day from the golden girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789257)

Hahahhah, niggers.

Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789273)

We all know electricity is dangerous. That's why they have those voltage and shock warnings.

Electric cars are therefore dangerous too.

Thus the only solution is to ban all dangerous electricity.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (5, Funny)

Stargoat (658863) | about 8 months ago | (#45789355)

If electricity is outlawed, only outlaws and Nikola Tesla will have electricity.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45789409)

100% agreed. Most professionals agree that you should need a license to handle anything above 110V.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#45789433)

It's not the voltage that kills you.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789501)

It's not the voltage that kills you.

It's the sudden stop.

Wait....

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1)

danlip (737336) | about 8 months ago | (#45790231)

It's the current that kills you, but I=V/R

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789481)

I wouldn't trust most of you with anything higher than 1.5 volts.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789485)

Stop shuffling on the carpet NOW.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789531)

I have 20,000 volts, and I'm not afraid to use them!

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 8 months ago | (#45789925)

I have 20,000 volts, and I'm not afraid to use them!

It's over 9000!

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789545)

Hmm other countries run on 220V with lower Amps and are perfectly fine.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#45789633)

Hmm other countries run on 220V with lower Amps and are perfectly fine.

Bonus points if you can explain why the US runs on 120V instead.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (3, Informative)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#45789763)

Much of the us infrastructure was built prior to 1900, when end uses we're capped at 110 volts for reliability. Much of the European infrastructure was built after 1900, when the end use limitations were solved. So they did 220 v since it w as more efficient.

First mover problem.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790899)

The U.S. has had time to upgrade their infrastructure but one reason it's taking so long is because the electric companies have a government sanctioned monopoly and it takes monopolists a very long time to upgrade anything. In competitive markets advancement happens so much faster.

The only 'innovation' the electric companies have managed to do is to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, to avoid audits, and to put meters that monitor when people use electricity so that they can charge you based on when you use it and the only thing this has resulted in is higher prices and infrastructure that never gets upgraded.

If the electric companies are a natural monopoly then the government is supposed to impose meaningful regulations to ensure the public interest is served. But that's not what's happening.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#45789855)

100% agreed. Most professionals agree that you should need a license to handle anything above 110V.

Which must also include the installation and removal of any electrical appliance or apparatus into a receptacle.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790039)

If electricity is outlawed Nikola Tesla will spin in his grave, generating more electricity.

Re:Tesla can't fix the basic problem (0)

TomGreenhaw (929233) | about 8 months ago | (#45790143)

Right on! What's wrong with safe and healthy gasoline with the added bonus of our money going to wonderful people busy protecting our environment and supporting our politicians?

software fix (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 8 months ago | (#45789299)

he he...he said software fix..he he.

Re:software fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789329)

jonsing for some software... mannnn

Tesla is a danger (1, Troll)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 8 months ago | (#45789317)

Tesla is a danger to the prostitute and coke habits of the CEOs and members of board of every Established Car Maker in the world. It should therefore be banned.

I am glad to see Texas is leading the way in this regard. Y'all don't Don't Mess With Texas!

http://jalopnik.com/how-texas-absurd-anti-tesla-laws-turn-car-buying-into-1451492195 [jalopnik.com]

Also: yeeeeeeeHAW!

Re:Tesla is a danger (0, Troll)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45789571)

Really? I thought we'd gotten past this whole Elon-claims-Texas-is-singling-him-out-when-the-real-issue-is-that-he-wants-a-special-exception-made-for-his-company-and-his-company-alone-and-the-Texas-legislature-isn't-letting-him-cheat-the-system thing.

Try Ohio instead, their legislature actively tried to block Tesla out via legislative fiat earlier this year. Texas just refused to bend the rules for him, and rightly so.

Re:Tesla is a danger (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789699)

Yeah, making it mandatory to have a middle-man sell you a car is totally bending the rules for him.

Re:Tesla is a danger (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 8 months ago | (#45789869)

Sure thing El-ron.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1087815_tesla-underground-texas-franchise-rules-make-model-s-owners-skirt-the-law [greencarreports.com]

Texas law dictates that only franchised dealers can sell cars in the state.

Tesla, of course, has no dealers. It markets its cars through company-owned stores or galleries (think: Apple Store) and buyers complete the sale online through company headquarters in California."

The current iron-clad Texas franchise law is the result of years of lobbying by the powerful and well-connected Texas Auto Dealers Association (TADA), founded and run for 30 years by legendary Texas lobbyist Gene Fondren.

In 2012, dealership interests "invested" more than $2.5 million in the Texas legislative elections, according to the the watchdog group Texans For Public Justice. Sixty percent of Texas lawmakers received checks from TADA in 2012.

Two elderly billionaire car dealers, Tom Friedkin and Red McCombs--the latter is also chairman of the former Blackwater security firm--kicked in more than a million dollars between them.

Tesla, meanwhile, made no direct political contributions.

http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2013/11/06/tesla-left-out-of-texas-new-electric.html [bizjournals.com]

Texas will start offering $2,500 rebates for electric or compressed natural gas vehicles, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Except, of course, if you're buying a Tesla.
Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), based in Palo Alto, Calif., makes high performance, 100-percent electric cars. Because the cars are sold directly from the manufacturer, rather than from a franchise dealership, they don't qualify for the Texas incentive.

It's the latest blow in the Texas versus Tesla war thatâ(TM)s been brewing ever since the car-maker charged onto the scene with its two-seat roadster in 2008.

Dealerships lobbied hard during the legislative session to prevent Tesla-friendly laws from passing and were successful. The state's franchise laws limit what Tesla salespeople and technicians can do in the state, leaving it up to Tesla owners themselves to offer test drives and spread the word about the car.

Re:Tesla is a danger (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45790095)

No part of that debunks what I said, you know, and in fact your first citation supports it: Texas has a long-established method for selling cars that requires a dealership presence (long-established as in, the law is a good 30-40 years older than Tesla, and probably at least a decade older than Elon Musk himself). There was no such thing as Tesla when the law was passed, so obviously it couldn't have been passed specifically to hurt a company that didn't exist, contrary to what a certain South African guy wants us to think.

Musk wanted a special exception for Tesla; he didn't want the law changed so that any electric car maker could sell without a dealership, he wanted the law changed so his electric car maker could sell without a dealership, but nobody else would be able to. These are facts.

If Tesla's founder put half as much energy into getting a TX auto dealers license as he has into bitching about not receiving special treatment, there would probably be Model S's all over Dallas County by now.

Now, the deal in Ohio? That's legit - it was only a month or two ago that the Ohio legislature put forth a bill that would, effectively, ban Tesla sales in their state. Which is bullshit, I agree.

Re:Tesla is a danger (0, Troll)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 8 months ago | (#45790525)

FTFY:

The current iron-clad Texas misegenation law is the result of years of lobbying by the powerful and well-connected Texas Apartheid Dealers Association (TADA), founded and run for 30 years by legendary Texas slaver Buford T Justice

your point seems to be if an industry can capture a legislature fair n' square then that's all on the up and up and should changing times force exposure of the resulting outrageous and ridiculous laws to the light of day and consequently people have a PROBLEM with those laws , well, they should just mind their own business and STFU.

I think this is what people are saying. At least, it's what I am saying. You're trying to make it all about when the laws were passed or how long they've been around distorting market conditions.

But no one else CARES about that detail because it's IRRELEVANT to the fact this is nothing more than a regressive and unjust good ole' boys system which is bought and paid for by its direct beneficiaries. The longevity of the law is 100% irrelevant and yes, it IS currently being used by oil-loving Texas and its oil billionaires to keep an electric car off the road in Texas

Re:Tesla is a danger (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790321)

Name another consumer industry that requires that you buy through middlemen.

Amazing how you can claim it's Tesla that's looking for the exception when it's the established car industry that, in point of fact, has the exception. Welcome to capitalism, bitch.

Re:Tesla is a danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790889)

Name another consumer industry that requires that you buy through middlemen.

For all intents and purposes, real estate.

Re:Tesla is a danger (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 8 months ago | (#45789671)

Tesla is a danger to the prostitute and coke habits of the CEOs and members of board of every Established Car Maker in the world

. . . not if those CEOs buy Tesla: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/12/26/gm-ford-tesla/4208273/ [usatoday.com]

Re:Tesla is a danger (3, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#45789961)

They could do a hostile take-over of the company. That would also be something very public and would likely end up with Elon Musk becoming very wealthy indeed and cost literally billions of dollars even at the current market cap.

The honorable thing, and likely the most economically viable approach at the moment, is for these companies to simply double down and really push forward with competing vehicles. Then again, sometimes major companies lack the imagination in terms of how to actually build a competing product.

Re:Tesla is a danger (4, Informative)

Megane (129182) | about 8 months ago | (#45790465)

I hate to break the news to you, but Ohio is out-doing Texas. [jalopnik.com]

"Read the text of the update below" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789351)

Yeah, right.

Obviously TFS is just cut'n'pasted from somewhere without even a pretense at editing, on anyone's part.

Huh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789385)

So they 'fixed' something that wasn't even the problem he's sure because the car logs said so...

Sounds like some bullshit and some backpedaling.

His ego is going to kill tesla...

Re:Huh... (0)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 8 months ago | (#45789491)

Spoken with all the intelligence, insight acumen and sincerity of a bought-and-paid-for sock puppet employed by a major PR firm.

Don't you have another issue you're supposed to be spamming online forums with industry speak for ?

Better get working down today's list or you're going to be out of a job pretty soon, bitch.

Re:Huh... (0)

dugancent (2616577) | about 8 months ago | (#45789543)

Shut up.

Re:Huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790013)

"every opinion is a paid shill! they're all spamming liars!"

You sound like you should be on some medication. Or your current one is not working well.

|this post sponsored by Upjohn makers of Xanax®

Lets beat on companies that improve their products (4, Insightful)

clay_shooter (1680300) | about 8 months ago | (#45789609)

You're comments are a reason that companies drag their feet on enhancing safety. They could do the right thing to add more safeguards. Then some will take that to mean they were defective in the past, and sue. We're actually creating disincentives for companies to improve. The auto insurance IIS safety standards are one of the few places where we provide incentives for companies to improve. I'm kind of surprised it hasn't caused lawsuits "you sold me an x that wasn't as safe as y". Hmm, maybe CYA causes the car companies to have crash testing as early as possible the product cycle to avoid that.

Re:Huh... (5, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 8 months ago | (#45790121)

So they 'fixed' something that wasn't even the problem he's sure because the car logs said so...

Sounds like some bullshit and some backpedaling.

His ego is going to kill tesla...

Could be, but having been on the receiving end of complaints for software-driven hardware, an equally likely scenario is this:

They got a complaint about their car catching fire, and afraid of the PR nightmare this could cause, the top engineers were put on the case to find the problem as quickly as possible and fix it. Meanwhile, someone else was put on gathering all the additional information to feed to engineers/press/etc.

In their digging, the engineers discovered that the charging circuit wasn't really all that robust, and that this COULD cause a charging issue, even if it didn't in this case. With the work and testing already done, they rolled out a firmware update to test if this could be the scenario that caused the fire. The logs then confirmed that this issue wasn't the case, but they had a fully tested firmware update that mitigated other potential charging issues, so they released it instead of just keeping it to themselves.

This kind of thing happens all the time. Although I have also experienced situations where the releasing never happened, as the initial complaint was private and the company never wanted to admit publicly that there was an issue -- in this case, the "fix" was rolled into the next update that was actually supposed to do something else -- it came under "various minor feature improvements" IIRC.

Sounds like something Microsoft would say (1, Troll)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 8 months ago | (#45789389)

It's not a bug it's a feature!

Re:Sounds like something Microsoft would say (2)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 8 months ago | (#45789453)

Correct, it's a feature. As I read it, the software was optimized for fast charging, a major customer concern. The patch doubtless increases charging time, but is more forgiving of non-optimal power delivery. A "charges slower / blows up more" selector switch would be nice, but not for public perception.

Outstanding Journalism by zlives and Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789411)

You forgot to copy some of the hyperlinks, though. I looked below and only found the Golden Girls wishing me a Happy Boxing Day.

Secondary link? (4, Informative)

jo7hs2 (884069) | about 8 months ago | (#45789457)

Here is the actual article, not the article about the article... http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1089292_tesla-updates-software-to-cut-charging-if-wiring-may-be-bad [greencarreports.com]

Re:Secondary link? (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45789583)

Ugh, greencarreports.com? The more of their articles I read, the more I believe nobody working there has Clue 1 as to how cars actually work.

Anyone got a link to a source that doesn't suck?

How's that supposed to help? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789473)

Assuming the fire was caused by undersized wiring in the circuit and not arcing, this "fix" won't do anything until shit's already glowing red hot.
The *proper* fix would be to redesign the charging circuit to continuously monitor feed impedance.
But then you'd have idiots screaming that their tesla refuses to charge at full rate because their crappy garage wiring is not to code...

Re:How's that supposed to help? (4, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#45789861)

The *proper* fix would be to redesign the charging circuit to continuously monitor feed impedance.

They already do that, by monitoring the voltage drop when the load is applied. That doesn't cover all cases though, because fires are more often caused by high resistance or intermittent junctions. If you get say a 5% voltage drop because of wire resistance it's probably no big deal because the heat dissipation is spread out over the length of the wiring. A similar drop caused by a poor junction might glow because it's concentrated in one spot. I believe that poor junctions often exhibit short term fluctuations because they're loose and intermittent, and that's the additional thing that this software mod looks for.

Re:How's that supposed to help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790111)

Which why that word continuously was in there.
Measuring line impedance at startup and then monitoring line voltage is not the same thing as monitoring line impedance (you can't tell resistance change from grid voltage change if you keep the load constant).
*if* they are doing the right thing and varying load while measuring voltage and calculating R from that, consider the point moot.
But then the correct response to detecting such a condition isn't "drop load by a step", it's "stop and complain loudly".

Re:How's that supposed to help? (4, Informative)

AaronW (33736) | about 8 months ago | (#45790371)

Tesla actually slowly ramps up the current draw. When I hook my car up to the 80A charger it will slowly ramp up to 40A, pause, then slowly ramp up to 80A (there are two chargers in the car, each rated at 40A). It monitors the change in voltage as it does this.

Re:How's that supposed to help? (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | about 8 months ago | (#45789931)

They ought to allocate $100 or $200 of the purchase price for a 'free' inspection by a licensed electrician of the main charging location. They could even use it as an opportunity to try to sell charging accessories.

Re:How's that supposed to help? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 8 months ago | (#45790077)

Except in the luxury market, they recognise that trying for the upsell is a bunch of annoying bullshit, and that their customers are paying more to avoid it. Though certainly the "free" inspection is a very good plan. That said, they possibly want to avoid the liability for it if it goes wrong (not very luxury of them).

Re:How's that supposed to help? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790353)

That said, they possibly want to avoid the liability for it if it goes wrong (not very luxury of them).

Let the customer pick their preferred licensed electrician and get the payment refunded by bringing the receipt when buying the car or when it is coming in for the first service.

Re:How's that supposed to help? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 8 months ago | (#45790223)

I'm surprised that people buying an electric car aren't getting a new circuit installed for charging.

Thanks, I was waiting for this. (2)

ls671 (1122017) | about 8 months ago | (#45789475)

The California-based automaker has added a software function that automatically reduces the charge current by about 25 percent when power from the charging source fluctuates outside of a certain range,

When I bought my model S, Tesla advised me against driving around with a wind mill on the roof because "it would cause too much fluctuations". Well, I guess I am safe to do so now.

DYI electrics... (2)

romanval (556418) | about 8 months ago | (#45789595)

Now many home improvements can be a DYI project, but wiring a 240V-50A line is NOT one of those things.

Re:DYI electrics... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789689)

DYI? Do Yourself It?

Re:DYI electrics... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790031)

Don't YOLO It

Re:DYI electrics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790213)

Do Yourself In. Original post was incorrect, wiring a 240V-50A is most definitely a potential DYI project

Re:DYI electrics... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789715)

Do Yourself In?
On a more serious note, a 50A circuit is not rocket surgery if you use copper.
But for fucks sake don't do alucore unless you know what you are doing and have the proper terminations and tools.

Re:DYI electrics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789913)

+1. A proper crimper can cost upwards of $2000, one that clamps on multiple sides and not just two.

The cheap ones do work... until corrosion sets in causing the connection to heat up and start arcing until it catches fire, especially in rainy weather.

Re:DYI electrics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790239)

Google was completely unhelpful on this one. What's alucore, and what are the issues that differ between it and copper conductors?

Re:DYI electrics... (2)

ArtForz (1239798) | about 8 months ago | (#45790341)

Copper clad aluminum cable [wikipedia.org]
Less oxidation problems than straight alu, but still lots of "fun" thanks to thermal expansion and creep.

Re:DYI electrics... (1)

AaronW (33736) | about 8 months ago | (#45790319)

I paid an electrician to install mine, though in my case I had a 100A circuit run and my main panel replaced and a new meter installed. He ran alucore for the long run with special termination lugs to splice to 2 gauge copper in the garage.

Re:DYI electrics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790001)

It's really quite simple as long as you connect the wires correctly, use the proper size wire and do things according to NEC

Re:DYI electrics... (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 8 months ago | (#45790225)

and a case of AFTERS beer can do wonders if you have an electrician friend.
or you might find one that will do the job for the same amount of money (YMMV)

Do it to code and get it inspected. (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 8 months ago | (#45790477)

Now many home improvements can be a DYI project, but wiring a 240V-50A line is NOT one of those things.

The HELL it's not. I did the wiring on my home improvement - including upgrading the drop to 200A service - and (unlike my uncle) I'm not a licensed electrician or electrical contractor.

Here's the drill:
  - Read up on the subject. Use several sources. One should be the electrical code itself.
  - Do some initial planning, then talk to your local code inspectors BEFORE you TAKE OUT THE building permit and start the project, and adjust the plans accordingly
.
  - Do it WITH a building permit and inspections. (The fee for the permit pays for the inspectors!)
  - Try to get it right, or as right as possible, the first time. Inspectors don't like to find a bunch of problems to be repaired. (It makes them worry that there are more they might have missed.) Fix whatever they spot, don't argue about it. Answer all their questions and be helpful.
  - DON'T use aluminum wire, EVER! Use copper and pay the extra price. (Getting aluminum wiring right is hard, requires special tools, and you can't really tell if you goofed. If you get it wrong, it wil burn you down in a year or a decade.)
  - When the code offers you options, go for the better approach, rather than the corner-cutting way.
  - Look for the UL label (or your country's equivalent) - on EVERYTHING you use.

Things to remember about the electrical code:
  - The national code is a model. Some cities adopt it verbatim, some with changes, a few roll their own. But the REAL code is the way your inspector interprets it.
  - Be nice and helpful with the inspector. Don't argue. (Feel free to ask what you misunderstood about the code, what you're doing wrong, what the purpose of some fine point is. But don't take TOO much of his time.) He has the authority to shut down your project. Respect that.
  - If you DON'T do it to code, and with a permit and inspections in locations that require it (almost all of 'em), and your house then burns down (even if your work didn't start the fire), your fire insurance can pay you nothing (and keep all the premiums you paid over the years, too.)

Re:Do it to code and get it inspected. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790953)

+1, Very well said.

One small nitpick/addendum:
In theory the fire insurance thing isn't quite right.
Most contracts "merely" contain a reversal of the burden of proof in cases of non-permitted modifications.
In practice, good luck proving (to a preponderance of evidence) that your work was up to code *after* your house burns down.

The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid users (5, Interesting)

cnkurzke (920042) | about 8 months ago | (#45789599)

This is a good thing.

I got the 100Amp High ower Wall Charger with mine, and this puppy needs some serious juice!
When i got the car, i used my old "Welder" outlet in the garage, which supposedly was rated for 30 Amps. Of course noone ever was drawing full load from this for long periods of time before people had EVs.
Even my 30A welder only pulls PEAK 30 amp, and not more than a few minutes at a time.

Once i plugged in the Tesla and charging at 30A, the plug got VERY hot, to the point where i was uncomfortable with it, and i manually throttled it back to 18A.
(My default the car will charge at 80% of the rated capacity, so a 30A outlet would charge at 26A)

I could imagine that if left unattended, and not watched over by a curious EE nerd, this would have ended badly.

For the 100A charger i ran 2Gauge wire (That's about as thick as your average garden hose!)
And even the 2Gauge get's noticeably warm at 80A sustained charging.

In the meantime i have been to many friends and family where i "plugged in" (or helped them install their own chargers) and I've seen some shoddy wiring in garages!
Most people use a Dryer outlet "rated" for 30A, but really only good for ~15.
And then for good measure they throw in a 40A wall plate connector.

The tesla charger only recognizes the plug, and - assumes if there is a 40A plug it can suck 40A out of it.
When that has been DIY installed on top of a 20A wiring..... bzzzz we have a problem!

So, hopefully the continuous line voltage monitoring will help a bit, and protect people from their own shitty wiring!

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#45789935)

I wonder how well the charger would handle a 120VAC, 50 amp circuit. This has two legs that give 50 amps each and 120VAC to neutral... or the legs can be used directly for 240VAC. This circuit is a fairly common one for RVs.

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (1)

AaronW (33736) | about 8 months ago | (#45790271)

The Tesla charging cord that comes with the car comes with a NEMA 14-50 adapter so the car can charge at most RV hookups. The neutral line is not hooked up so it just uses 240v/40A. It will only draw 80% of the rated current since continuous usage is supposed to be limited to 80% of capacity in the US.

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (1)

cnkurzke (920042) | about 8 months ago | (#45790339)

This is actually one of the "Default" Plugs that come with the mobile charger: NEMA 6-50 (http://shop.teslamotors.com/products/nema-6-50)

The mobile charger uses the two 120 legs for a 240V charge voltage.

Unfortunately this is often "retro-fitted" over a 30A dryer outlet, or people use stupid stuff like "dryer Outlet Adapters": https://www.google.com/search?q=dryer+outlet+adapter [google.com]
THAT's where the problems start.
Unfortunately there is no good way for a car to recognize the hacked, butchered and abused wiring in many homes.

(No, i'm not a licensed electrician, but i just remodeled and re-wired an entire house from the 50es. scary stuff!)

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#45790519)

On RV related websites, "dryer receptacles" are a chief cause of magic smoke loss in people's rigs. That, or a rushjob done by an electrician who just had both legs wired up instead of one leg and neutral. Even a master electrician might end up things wrong, so it can't hurt to pull out the multimeter and check oneself.

One of the few ways RV-ers have to reliably tell is if they have a portable EMS like from Progressive or another brand. It is smart enough to notice undervoltage or overvoltage and safely shut off so stuff behind it doesn't fry, arc, or just phase change from solid to gas permanently.

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (1)

TomGreenhaw (929233) | about 8 months ago | (#45790275)

I got the High Power Wall charger too but had Tesla's recommended electrician install it in our garage. They had to come out to perform an update to charge at the full 80 amps but other than that its been no trouble at all. I've only noticed that the cord leading to the card get's slightly warm but certainly not hot. I dial it back to 60A unless I'm in a hurry because I suspect its easier on the batteries.

Either way I wouldn't recommend a non-electrician to do this without a building permit. If there was a fire, the insurance companies would probably try to deny the claim.

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#45790299)

This isn't an issue specific to Tesla vehicles, but it is something that any electric vehicle owner should be aware of and an issue in general for home electrical distribution systems.

The first house I lived in when I got married had the entire house on a single 20 amp circuit (supposedly installed by a professional, but I'm not sure which decade with the tar & cotton wiring I ended up spotting as I went through the attic), and the house I grew up in was only rated with the fuse box for 40 amps (again the whole house, but there were multiple circuits with that house). Even the house I live in at the moment is only rated for a maximum of 100 amps, and I'm not really sure how close to that limit I care to push the issue even though the wiring gauge does look sufficient for those power requirements. I know some new home construction can be rated for as high as 200 amps or more, but it is something to be discussing with contractors when the house is being built currently in terms of planning for potential needs of future power needs. IMHO it really needs to be added into the NEC (National Electrical Code) as assuming something like a stead base power load of 40 amps in a standard socket should be found in a garage or something like that.

That doesn't even get into the neighborhood power distribution systems that would need to be updated in a serious manner if electric vehicles became quite common. It most definitely will become a major issue for electric utility companies in the future if these vehicles become popular.

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (0)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 8 months ago | (#45790517)

I find I have the same problem if I use a generic USB charger with mine. My two solutions are either use the charger that came in the box, or use a really long USB cable and plug it into my PC. I actually have a 400ft USB cable that just about stretches from my work PC, down the stairs, out of the office, past security, into the parking lot, and to where I normally park my car. But I have to make sure I'm at work early or I lose that space and have to park further away, preventing me from charging during the day. Those days I charge a laptop at my desk, and then at lunchtime take the laptop to the Model S, plug the car into the laptop, and let it charge until the laptop battery dies.

Re:The root problem - Crappy wiring and stupid use (2)

edbob (960004) | about 8 months ago | (#45790591)

The operating temperature rating of the cable would likely mean that it is perfectly safe, but would be uncomfortable to hold. For example, THHN cable is rated for 90C. The cable itself is safe (the insulation won't melt), but I sure wouldn't want to hold it. Hopefully, the 2 AWG cable you are using is at least rated for 75C, otherwise it is likely undersized according to the 2011 NEC.

Systems Evaluation=Enhanced Safety. (1)

Senior Engineer (3443705) | about 8 months ago | (#45789601)

Make no mistake in evaluation of the result. Tesla developed and deployed an evolutionary step in the DNA of Adaptive Chargers. Do we "know" if other EV chargers have or had similar code? We may never know due to the sad facts of Closed Source and those corporate cultures still clinging to it. EV charging is inherently either a dumb load or an algorithmic ADAPTIVE& Smart- citizen of the grid.

Not going to fix anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789657)

The correct fix is to halt the charging, display an error message stating line voltage sagged below acceptable limits, please consult an electrician. Then after clicking a disclaimer which is logged and submitted to Telsa HQ, charging can continue. If the wiring is shit, dropping charge current down to 25% would be more appropriate as if the voltage is sagging that much there is a poor electric connection somewhere that's burning red hot. 75% is still way too much.

Re:Not going to fix anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45789853)

That's pretty much what our grid-tie inverters do.
Well, without the phoning home part. They log the fault to a append-only internal error log and require a manual restart.
Sensing is pretty easy, you slightly vary output power every few cycles and then just calculate R from delta-I vs. delta-U (in practice there's quite a bit of filtering and synchronization involved, but the basic concept is the same).
The exact same concept with reversed current should work just fine for a charger, and considering it can already vary load and measure line voltage... not rocket science.

Re:Not going to fix anything (1)

ninjabus (3024459) | about 8 months ago | (#45790257)

Maybe it's recursive, if the voltage is still unstable at the lower draw the car could lower it again.

So... OTA (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45789675)

So is this an OTA update, or does Tesla send owners some sort of flash drive to do the update with? TFA fails to say.

Re:So... OTA (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#45790023)

Tesla software updates are OTA, yes.

Re:So... OTA (1)

AaronW (33736) | about 8 months ago | (#45790247)

Yes. I was amazed at how fast this came out. I was notified that the OTA update was downloaded within a couple of days of the incident that sparked this. I have had a number of OTA updates, many of which added new features and fixed bugs.

Re:So... OTA (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45790751)

Tesla software updates are OTA, yes.

OK, now we have that established...

Am I the only one who has serious reservations about buying a car (read: 1.5 tons of rolling steel death) that can be 'updated,' remotely, without the owner's explicit permission?

Please tell me that the vehicle at least has to be stationary before the updates start a-flowin'.

Re:So... OTA (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#45790945)

Early production cars have received several software updates already. (My car arrived in late February with version 4.2). I was looking forward to my first update--if for no other reason than to experience first-hand another step into the future of car ownership.

Sure enough, just five weeks after taking delivery, I got in the car one morning last week to find a message on the touchscreen: software update v4.3 was available.

The message suggested I schedule the update for 2 am the next morning. The car needs to be parked and turned off for about two hours to complete the wireless download, which uses the 3G cellphone network.

So, uh, yeah, you get ASKED if you want to update, and the car needs parked and turned off (standby).

Re:So... OTA (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45791085)

Early production cars have received several software updates already. (My car arrived in late February with version 4.2). I was looking forward to my first update--if for no other reason than to experience first-hand another step into the future of car ownership.

Sure enough, just five weeks after taking delivery, I got in the car one morning last week to find a message on the touchscreen: software update v4.3 was available.

The message suggested I schedule the update for 2 am the next morning. The car needs to be parked and turned off for about two hours to complete the wireless download, which uses the 3G cellphone network.

So, uh, yeah, you get ASKED if you want to update, and the car needs parked and turned off (standby).

Nice to know Tesla's not going to be doing firmware updates while you're hauling ass down the freeway, but nothing in that story indicates that installing the updates are optional. "The message suggested I schedule the update for 2 am the next morning" doesn't mean he had a choice in whether or not it was installed, but rather when.

My two real issues with this:

- If Tesla can send info to your car wirelessly, then it stands to reason they can receive information from it as well. Backseat drivers suck.

- If Tesla can Rx/Tx info from/to your car wirelessly, so can anyone else who has the right gear and figures out the protocols.

Re:So... OTA (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 months ago | (#45790949)

Brings to mind the apple update recently which reversed the meaning of mouse wheel clicks.

Re:So... OTA (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#45790349)

The Tesla vehicles also come equipped with a USB port (more than one if I"m not mistaken).... assuming that for some reason you don't have access to a mobile cell phone tower or something like that. I don't think it is standard for Tesla to mail out physical thumb drives or anything like that, but I'm sure customer support can help get the necessary software from a variety of distribution systems.

Damned if they do, damned if they don't (5, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 8 months ago | (#45789837)

So the basic idea is that if your power source is terrible (i.e. shoddy wiring in your home), then pulling too much through it could expose that problem via a fire. That isn't a problem with the car, but rather a problem with the substandard wiring. If Tesla merely responds with "it isn't us and isn't our problem", we'll invariably hear of more house fires and the Model S will be blamed.

So they develop a change that detects potentially substandard wiring from the symptom of poor quality power entering the vehicle. It then cuts the draw significantly in that case to reduce the risk of said substandard wiring causing a fire (notice the wiring would still be at fault). Suddenly, because Tesla has released a "fix", their car must have been at fault all along!

This is an absurd level of idiocy and quite frankly, if it continues and eventually sinks Tesla, then we deserve to choke to death on the smog of our own stupidity's making. It's really remarkable how terribly dumb the top of the bell curve is. All evidence points directly toward the future envisioned in the film Idiocracy.

Re:Damned if they do, damned if they don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790835)

insightful? how about a bit of foresight from the great and all mighty Elon... who engineers without taking into account the energy source? they fixed a bug so lets call it a bug. it would be like saying the road had traffic so its the car owners fault for not asking about the brakes...

This will come back to bite them (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 months ago | (#45790081)

It is exactly the sort of rushed software hack which results in subsequent bug reports.

Re:This will come back to bite them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790437)

It is exactly the sort of rushed software hack which results in subsequent bug reports.

Which sort of bug would you rather have? One which cause the car to charge 25% slower or one which cause the house to burn down? And where is your evidence that this update was rushed in any way? This is the sort of software, where good engineers aim for 100% coverage in unit tests. If such coverage is in place, you can be fairly confident code changes have no unintentional side effects. Additionally if you can prove the change can only cause current to be lower than it would have been with the previous version, then you know what the worst case scenario is.

Re:This will come back to bite them (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 months ago | (#45790849)

The problem is that Tesla can't reproduce the conditions which some of these cars are charged under, so they are making assumptions about the way the mains cables work. The 25% is guess work.

makes me want to own a Tesla... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 8 months ago | (#45790235)

...if only to see the README accompanying that patch. "Apply this patch if your Tesla roadster has ever caught fire." No, wait. Um, "This patch makes the very unlikely event of your Tesla roadster burning down your garage even more unlikely." But it'll be probably something nebulous and lawyer-proof like "This patch enhances the charging software to further protect your house wiring."

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790541)

The Tesla vehicle isn't burning down your garage; your terrible wiring is.

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45790771)

The Tesla vehicle isn't burning down your garage; your terrible wiring is.

Incorrect - the terrible wiring was fine until a Tesla was plugged into it. So, obviously, the wiring alone is not the problem, the problem is the combination of the two.

I'd say the blame is probably closer to 60/40 on the wiring side.

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790915)

Try 90/10. Before the patch.

If the wiring's unsafe at its rated draw, then any appliance pulling its rated draw could start a fire. Most dumb appliances don't have the ability to recognise the situation and would burn the house down; the Tesla could have, but hadn't considered it a problem before (because building codes); they've now gone the security developer route and decided not to trust anything plugged in until it proves trustworthy.

Ultimately, that fire could have been started using a new dryer in the garage, and it would have been entirely the wirings fault. Don't mark something capable of doing a job it can't.

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#45790917)

the terrible wiring was fine until a Tesla was plugged into it

The terrible wiring was fine only because nobody had been using it at rated capacity. And no, you shouldn't have to derate a 50A line. 50A means 50A. NEC is conservative, and if followed correctly you could in practice draw more than 50A (though I certainly don't recommend it). Moreover, Tesla already had one mechanism in place to prevent this sort of thing (cutting back the current if there was excessive voltage drop), and this is simply adding another. At what point do you start blaming the wiring for not being able to deliver the rated current?

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45791113)

Tell you what, I'll call it 60% wiring, 20% user error, and 20% manufacturer's error.

IMO, Blameless parties do not need to issue software updates to fix stuff.

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45790929)

which was fine until the marvel of design and engineering was plugged in? oh you must be plugging it wrong.
all hail the never wrong Elron who is making your grid safer by burning down the homes that don;t meet his requirements.

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#45791029)

don;t meet his requirements.

His requirements? Try the National Electrical Code requirements, which are legally required by most state and local building codes. A 50A line that can't deliver 50A is in violation, and shoddy wiring like that is a serious hazard, regardless of whether you charge a Tesla with it.

Re:makes me want to own a Tesla... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 months ago | (#45790861)

"This patch enhances the charging software to further protect your house wiring."

Ensures a cool and enjoyable energy consumption experience.

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