Tesla has always been a step ahead of the game, with its cars already being some of the highest quality on the market. They’re comfortable, safe, and reliable, thanks to their unique technology, like the Autopilot and an amazing air conditioning unit that can run even when the engine is idle.
But how much power does the A/C take, and how does it work? Let’s explore Tesla’s A/C system and see what we can find.
- An Overview of Tesla's Air Conditioning System
- Typical Power Consumption of a Tesla Air Conditioning System
- How Long Does Air Conditioning Last in Tesla?
- How Does Using Air Conditioning Affect Tesla Range?
- Does the A/C Work Well in Tesla?
- How To Reset Tesla Air Conditioning
- Frequently Asked Questions
An Overview of Tesla’s Air Conditioning System
Tesla has a unique, high-tech air conditioning system that can run even while the engine is idle. It’s simply made using a few parts to provide power and control how it works.
Here’s an overview of what happens when you turn a Tesla A/C unit on:
- Your car’s 12-volt battery supplies power to the air conditioning compressor. The air conditioning compressor compresses and pumps refrigerant, also known as R134a or HFC-134a, through the condenser and into the evaporator. Your car’s 12-volt battery also supplies power to two electric heater cores in the cabin.
- The air conditioning compressor has two electric motors. It compresses the refrigerant, sending it through the evaporator and into the heater core. One motor acts as the compressor clutch, turning on to cool the cabin. The other motor is a starting capacitor for the main motor.
- An electric heater core warms the refrigerant as it gets pumped through to the evaporator inside of the cabin. The heated refrigerant is then pumped through the evaporator and into the car. The cabin’s blower motor pushes the cooled air throughout the vehicle to keep it cool.
Typical Power Consumption of a Tesla Air Conditioning System
The Tesla electric air conditioning compressor consumes 1-2kW while the system is in use. Generally, the unit’s power consumption increases with the difference between the air temperature outside the car and the air inside the cabin.
For example, assuming the ambient temperature is 110°F (43°C), and you want the cabin temperature to be 70°F (21°C), then the air conditioning compressor will require about 1.5- 2kW of power to cool down the cabin.
On a similar note, I also wrote a related article and researched the Tesla Model 3 Have HEPA Filter. In this article, I also examine the various possibilities including what the filter can do in certain situations. Check it out!
Whereas, if you want the cabin temperature to be 84°F (29°C) with the same outside temperature, it will require about 0.5 kW of power to cool down the cabin.
Here’s a breakdown of the typical power consumption of the Tesla A/C system at different desired cabin temperatures, based on research by the Idaho National Library.
In this case, the researchers conducted the experiment when the outside temperature was 110°F (43°C).
|Ambient Temperature||Desired Cabin Temperature||Temperature Difference||Power Consumption|
|110°F (43°C)||70°F (21°C)||40°F (22°C)||1.5 – 2kW|
|110°F (43°C)||77°F (25°C)||33°F (18°C)||1 kW|
|110°F (43°C)||84°F (29°C)||26°F (14°C)||0.5 kW|
As you can see, the energy consumption reduces with the difference.
How Long Does Air Conditioning Last in Tesla?
The Tesla air conditioning system can last up to 100 hours of continuous use. Generally, the higher the battery charge, the longer the A/C will last. However, if the outside temperature is too high or too low, the unit may consume more power and quickly drain the battery, shutting it down sooner.
In general, the Tesla A/C system holds up well against other vehicles on the road.
Tesla equipped its Model S and X vehicles with a heating, ventilation, and A/C system that meets the gold standard in energy efficiency. That’s because the system uses positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heaters.
According to ScienceDirect, A PTC heater has a positive temperature coefficient, meaning the hotter it gets, the better its electrical resistance.
The heater consumes less power at lower temperatures and offers more efficiency than standard heaters. It only draws as much energy as it needs from the 12-volt battery to heat up or cool down your cabin to your desired temperature.
How Does Using Air Conditioning Affect Tesla Range?
Using air conditioning will reduce Tesla range when outside temperatures are above 95°F (35 °C) or below 20°F (-6.7 °C). Notably, extreme heat can lower the range by 17%, and frigid temperatures reduce the range by 41%.
Why does that happen?
The reduction in range happens because the air conditioning unit needs to work harder to keep the cabin cool or warm. This reduces the efficiency of the car, which means you’ll need more energy to go the same distance as you would with the A/C turned off.
Pro Tip: Here are a few ways to increase your Tesla’s driving range:
- Reduce speed: Driving slower reduces the car’s energy requirements and helps you conserve power for more miles. It may not be very practical, but it can help eke out a few extra miles.
- Turn off the AC: Turning the A/C off increases efficiency and boosts range. If you’re driving around town or on short trips on a hot day, turn the air conditioning unit off until you’re ready to use it again. Instead, roll down the windows to let fresh air in and absorb heat.
- Maximize battery charging: Driving with a full battery pack is the most efficient way to drive, so if you can plug into a Supercharger or charge station at every stop, you’ll help your range. That way, the car will capture energy from regenerative braking and store it for later use when the battery is low.
I also wrote a related article called: “Do Electric Cars Have Air Conditioning? How Good are They?“. Feel free to read some additional information regarding this topic.
Does the A/C Work Well in Tesla?
A Tesla’s A/C unit works well, even in extreme temperatures. Once activated, the unit automatically starts up and runs when the outside temperature drops below a specified threshold. It will automatically turn off when the inside temperature gets above the desired setting, heating the car.
Similarly, when the external temperature increases, you can reset the AC to cool you off by setting it to a lower temperature. You’ll need to turn the A/C back on using the center touchscreen system or the mobile app if you want that effect.
How To Reset Tesla Air Conditioning
To reset your Tesla A/C, follow these steps:
- Touch the temperature icon on the center console.
- Set desired temperature, ranging from 40 °F (4 °C) to 95 °F (35 °C). The A/C unit begins cooling or heating the cabin immediately.
Note: You can choose different temperatures for front and back seats or synchronize them. Here’s a video that provides some helpful climate control tips:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Tesla Automatically Turn On A/C?
A Tesla doesn’t automatically turn on the A/C unless the Auto feature is on. The Auto mode allows the car’s sensors to detect the external temperature and adjust by heating or cooling the cabin.
To turn the Auto mode on, follow these steps:
1. Touch the temperature icon on the touchscreen.
2. From the popup, tap the power button.
Note: The Auto mode doesn’t work well in extreme temperatures, so set your desired temperature manually if you feel the automatic feature doesn’t produce satisfactory results.
To turn on your A/C manually, follow these steps:
1. Touch the temperature icon on the center console.
2. Select your preferred temperature.
Can Tesla Run A/C While Charging?
Tesla can run A/C while charging. However, turning on the A/C when charging increases the load on the electrical system. As a result, the charging process slows down.
Therefore, if you’re in a hurry, it’s best to save the A/C for when your car is already fully charged.
Tip: If you need a quick, efficient way to charge your EV, I recommend trying out this Lectron J1772 Adapter from Amazon.com. It charges fast and is durable and portable, making it an excellent addition to your home charging system.
EV Speedy’s Take
Arguably, the Model S, one of the best EVs on the market, was designed from the ground up as a no-compromise electric car that just happens to be better than traditional ICE engines in almost every measurable category, including speed, luxury, and safety.
Although the model S is a bit pricey, the car is fantastic and will be a big step in the right direction toward killing off carbon-based transportation. So, why not buy one today?
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