Tesla Model 3 HVAC System in Detail – Video

4 weeks ago by Domenick Yoney 74

The fuss over the Model 3 HVAC system isn’t just a bunch of hot air

Tesla Model 3 HVAC patent drawing

During the test rides at the big Tesla Model 3 handover event one of the most remarked about features was the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Weird, right? Sure, except that for decades we’ve seen air vents on the dash of pretty much every vehicle made, from the humble Chevy Chevette to the ostentatious Rolls Royce Wraith. Even the Tesla Model S and X have traditional air vents. Suddenly, though, in the Model 3 they aren’t there.

Not only are there no obvious vents, but the way of controlling them — through the central touchscreen — is quite a departure from what has always been a manual process. People seemed genuinely fascinated by this.

Now, thanks to Tesla’s patent application drawings becoming public, and a nice little explainer video from the good folks over at Model 3 Owners Club, we can see exactly how this sophisticated sorcery happens. Basically, it comes down to two planes of air blowing out from a pair of thin strips running the length of the dash.

We won’t get into the details here. The video above does a great job in under five minutes. If you want to see how air flow is handled from the touch screen, scroll down and check out the super brief video below demonstrating that.

Source: YouTube

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74 responses to "Tesla Model 3 HVAC System in Detail – Video"

  1. 2013VOLT says:

    Very clever, I like this feature.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      I just hope there’s a fan control I can close my eyes and dial up.

  2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    Distracted driving by design?????
    😛

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      If you can have the air vent setting linked to the driver profiles, wouldn’t that reduce distracted driving?

      1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

        That would work for some situations. Any idea ~IF~ that’s even possible?

        What they didn’t show is how many touch navigation’s did it take to get to that screen.

        1. L'amata says:

          Maybe this car is not for you….lol….

          1. justanotherguy50 says:

            Not for people who don’t want to be distracted when needing to adjust the vents or temperature. Shouldn’t that be… everyone?

            1. Unplugged says:

              Have you ever tried, as the driver, to adjust the far right vent when the passenger who just left turned the vent off? Talk about distracted driving….

              Also, this website deserves an award: The SLOOOWEST website on the internet since dial-up.

              1. justanotherguy50 says:

                You had to find the worst possible situation with traditional vents to try and compare with Tesla’s. The thing is, Tesla’s system will be just as distracting for adjusting *your own* vents & temperature.

              2. Asak says:

                Why would you need to? The far right vent does next to nothing for the driver.

          2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

            So tell us all, what’s the difference between taking your eyes off the road to navigate a touch screen and taking your eyes off the road to navigate on a touch screen phone/tablet?

            1. John in AA says:

              – The type and landing zones on the tablet are around 10x smaller than on the car screen.
              – The UI on the tablet is quite a bit more changeable than on the car screen.
              – The UI on the tablet quite likely buries things multiple touches down, which the car screen doesn’t do for important stuff.

              You may say that Tesla changes the UI from time to time, and that’s right, but they don’t do it very often. When they do, there’s a re-learning process. This process exists with physical control layouts too, as anyone who’s driven a rental car knows.

              I was a touchscreen skeptic until I actually drove one. In practice I find the Tesla cockpit less distracting than either the Audi one I came from, or the VW one in my wife’s car.

              “The difference between theory and practice is less in theory than it is in practice.”

              1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

                I was a touchscreen skeptic until I actually drove one. In practice I find the Tesla cockpit less distracting than either the Audi one I came from, or the VW one in my wife’s car.

                Obviously me too. I’ll give it the good ol’ college try though. For me it’s not a “purchase stopper”.

  3. justanotherguy50 says:

    It is rather obvious they designed the interface for autonomous driving. No dash display & “fancy” controls that demand your attention. Unfortunately, autonomous driving is an expensive, not yet realized option. As cool as this looks, it isn’t a safe & practical design.

    1. Aaron says:

      How often do you change your vent positions while driving? Personally, I set ’em and forget ’em.

      1. justanotherguy50 says:

        Not very often, but I may more often adjust fan speed & temperature. How distracted do I want to be to do any of this? I just turn a dedicated knob or press a dedicated, tactile button to do that on my Bolt.

        On a Model 3, your only safe option will be to set it before driving and forget it while driving.

        1. John in AA says:

          See my comments above about the perils of judging a UI based on screen shots and your valuable opinions and biases instead of logged hours behind the wheel.

          Also, with a half-decent climate control you shouldn’t need to twiddle anything other than the temperature most of the time. Which Tesla puts on the front page of the screen. (And the rest of the controls are one touch down.) Adjusting the climate is just as safe as any other recent car I’ve driven and better than many.

          1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

            I could braille navigate my current buttons.
            Can you do that on the touch screen?

            1. John in AA says:

              Of course not. It is, of course, nonsensical to make braille a literal requirement for operating a car, but I assume your point is that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

              I think it’s sufficient that I don’t have to move my eyes more, or longer, than I do to monitor my speedometer and other gauges on any car (well, barring HUDs).

              1. pjwood1 says:

                So, are you saying it makes less sence to go by feel, than sight?

                1. Nix says:

                  I think he is saying that if you literally use braille, and you are like the typical braille user and are blind, that driving probably isn’t for you.

                  But I could be wrong. *shrug*

                  1. bro1999 says:

                    “But I could be wrong.”

                    Not the first time, and definitely not the last!

                    1. Nix says:

                      Yes, I am wrong from time to time, and will be wrong again in the future.

                      But unlike you, I freely admit when I’ve gotten the facts wrong. I apologize and thank the person who provided the correct facts.

                      Unlike you, who intentionally makes stuff up that is wrong, and even when proven wrong by authoritative sources refuses to ever admit it.

                      Like the Volvo crash test where you lied and claimed that the Volvo was going twice as fast in the test as the Model 3. And yet after being called on it, and being reminded of it repeatedly you don’t even have the intellectual honesty to admit you were 100% wrong.

                      That’s the difference between you and me, bro.

                    2. Nix says:

                      Another example — You making a big deal about FM and Bluetooth based upon a premature report, and me saying it would turn out to be a non-issue:

                      http://insideevs.com/tesla-model-3-detailed-video-review/#comment-1329062

                      But you will NEVER admit you were wrong to jump on the issue prematurely and harp on it endlessly before hearing the FACTS from Tesla that prove your endless braying to be a big fat nothing-burger:

                      “Tesla confirmed to Jalopnik that the current crop of Model 3s do not have FM radio enabled. However, the company also confirmed that feature, and Bluetooth audio streaming, will be made available soon via an over-the-air software update.”

                      An honest fellow would admit they made a big deal out of nothing. You aren’t that kind of fellow….

          2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

            “valuable opinions and biases instead of logged hours behind the wheel.”

            …..but officer, I logged 1100hrs driving and navigating music play and texting on my touch pad device. I was not distracted.

            That’ll end well……lol

            1. John in AA says:

              Shame on me for trying to have an actual conversation based on experience and data with a person named “troll”.

              1. Nick says:

                Haha! Yea. You figured out in the end though. 🙂

        2. jelloslug says:

          Why do people completely forget about the steering wheel controls?

          1. Mark.ca says:

            Because they want to…
            Do you really think it’s a coincidence that the same people are always the whiners when it comes to Tesla?

            1. justanotherguy50 says:

              Ad hominem: attacking the person instead of the argument.

              1. Nix says:

                Nope. Attacking an intentional methodology that some people use to intentionally derail conversations and to fabricate FUD is not the same as attacking the individual.

                Sorry you are on the wrong side to see.

          2. justanotherguy50 says:

            Which steering wheel controls? Are there dedicated temperature & fan controls, which I was talking about?

  4. Kdawg says:

    Again, I would have preferred a KISS design. Simple, plastic, manual louvers work fine. Why add motorized ones, inside the dash, creating another point of failure?

    1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

      +1

    2. DJ says:

      This is actually the reason why I don’t like them. Well that and it’s kind of a PITA to do it on the touch screen. So when I have passengers in the car I have to show them every single time now if they want to adjust?

      Anyways, you know it’s gonna break, just like the self presenting door handles, just like the electric door open function on the Model 3 will, etc..

      While I think it’s a cool selling point it just does seem like overkill and as many have pointed out some of us just like simple things that don’t require as much $ to fix in the long run.

      Heck, on an old Civic I had even the manual louver broke once so sooner or later the motorized ones definitely will.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        An MCU can cost $6,000, if out of warranty.

        1. jelloslug says:

          It can also cost $10,000 if you are just making up prices.

  5. Izzy says:

    What’s crazy to me and I saw a video yesterday is that the ventilation system only has a low and a high setting. Granted, a lot of drivers will be using auto but how long is it been since a car had a Low a high setting and nothing in between?? This is such a regression!

    1. georgeS says:

      @Izzy,
      I don’t think we know that for sure yet. You will probably have a continuous speed adjustment on the thumbwheel on the steering wheel.

      1. Ozzy says:

        George I saw it in the video (other inside Evs article posted earlier) and the salesperson confirmed. It has HIGH and low on fan speed.
        Also, I find auto settings on Climate to be too much trouble. Having access to fan speed works much better IMO.

    2. Mark.ca says:

      I was under the impression that everyone uses climate control…why would you keep adjusting the temp anyway. I never do that in my current car.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        Do it all the time. Just this morning: condensate both inside and out. It’s 63 outside and super-humid. Car was just out of a warm garage. What you gonna do w/Model 3? A/C gets you more condensate outside, but you are hot, yet have to see??

        1. Mark.ca says:

          Wonder if TM3 has a heating element in the windshield…

      2. Loboc says:

        It’s probably fairly automated. Like my GM car. I just set it to 74F+auto. I rarely touch it while driving.

        For morning dew and such, I just pre-condition.

  6. georgeS says:

    I’m with 2013Volt I think it’s cool.

    but all this continued whining about it being a distraction.

    Don’t forget. You’re supposed to have auto steer so you can take your eyes off the road!!!

    1. Mark.ca says:

      Some just like to whine…this car looks really good and it will sell great.

      1. Asak says:

        Honestly, I think Tesla is taking a big risk on the interior of the Model 3. Not everyone likes it. There are a lot of things that can break or not work properly. It’s the opposite of keeping it simple.

        Maybe they have no choice but to go for the “futuristic” look, but it still could very well blow up in their faces.

  7. Jake Brake says:

    Probably gets some new functions like oscillation, is quieter and more efficient?

  8. Donny says:

    My biggest issue with this is making something very simple mechanical, basic, functional, and reliable into something overly technical and complicated. It’s bad enough that everything on these cars is electric to begin with. I’m seeing more and more videos posted from people who can’t open/close their doors, use their windows, etc. all because of electrical and/or electrical motor issues. There is tech and then there is just over complicating something for the sake of over complicating it.

    1. jelloslug says:

      Every car I have owned since 1993 has had power windows and locks and most of them had power seats. Never once have I had to replace a motor in any of them.

      1. Asak says:

        How long did you keep them?

      2. jm says:

        I must be buying the wrong cars, then. My ’99 Passat has had each of the front window regulators replaced twice, the rears haven’t worked in years, and I gave up long ago on keeping the cental locking system working. When a car is worth only $500 you soon give up on chasing anything but the “essentials.”. For me this is A/C and the driver’s window. A big part of it is when 3 hours’ labor at the dealer exceeds the value of the car you become a lot more willing to defer maintenance.

        So why buy something from the get-go that is very likely to become a post-warranty maintenance nightmare? Just to cater to the whim of some engineer working in the bowels of the Tesla organizational structure who has fallen victim to the time honored illness of “answering questions that no one is asking?”

        1. Doggydogworld says:

          I don’t know if German cars are the “wrong” cars, but expensive maintenance issues are not exactly rare.

          Back in the day I had window hand crank failures on multiple cars. Usually a bolt would give way in one of the linkages or some part would get off-track.

    2. Nix says:

      Donny, so what car do you drive with manual window cranks and a carburetor? Because that ship has sailed. Electronics now rule the world.

      I think you may have gotten lost on your way to this site:

      https://www.motor1.com/news/category/classics/

  9. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    I’m sure if the touch screen goes bad, warranty will cover it and you schedule to bring it in a day or two later.

    But what do you do in the mean time when…
    It’s cold and defrosters need to be turned on and heater?
    It’s hot and the AC needs to be turned on.
    You want to put in a GPS location.
    You need to turn up/down audio.

    Not blasting on the tech, just sayin……

    1. Nix says:

      What if the control board for your HVAC system fails on your button controlled card? You would be in the same situation. What if the control board for your GPS system fails? Same situation.

      The reality is that none of those systems have redundant controls in any car. Short of going back to the 1980’s and having physical controls that use cables to physically open and close flaps, and 3 position physical fan motor controllers like the old days, you are dependent upon the electronics either working or not.

      1. Julio says:

        The point is, if the screen breaks, your cars becomes a brick. Everything is controlled by it.

        1. Mark.ca says:

          Tesla app? Maybe there are a few functions available through it. I have charging, lock and climate through my base VW app.

        2. Nix says:

          Julio — That’s how cars work. They don’t have very many redundant systems. It isn’t a space shuttle. If an ICE car’s computer fails, you are calling a tow truck. If the fuel pump fails, you are calling a tow truck. If the transmission control ECU fails, you are calling a tow truck.

          Things failing is bad, mkay?

          You seem to falsely believe that ICE cars have redundant systems. They don’t.

          But why would you expect there would be problems with the center display, when 5 years later after center displays were introduced in Tesla’s, it has not actually been a problem?

          What you are doing is spreading pointless fear, uncertainty, and doubt just to spread FUD. That’s what trolls do. Don’t post like a troll.

      2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

        “What if the control board for your HVAC system fails on your button controlled card?”

        Then I would still be able to control volume on the radio, enter GPS locations…etc….

        WTF is your point?!?!?!?!?

        ” What if the control board for your GPS system fails?”

        Then I would still be able to control volume on the radio,HVAC…..etc….

        Again, WTF is your point?!?!?!?!?

        1. Nix says:

          The point is that it is pointless to single out one thing on one car for FUD regarding failure when cars don’t have redundant systems, and Tesla has no more record of failure than any of the other systems in other cars.

          So whining about what could fail, when we have 5 years of history of it not being a common failure point is just spreading FUD.

    2. Loboc says:

      The infotainment screen is currently locked up in my GM car. There is nothing that cannot be done some other way though. Even changing the radio/XM channel is on the steering wheel controls.

      Might suck if the screen does everything and goes AWOL.

      1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

        Might? It will. But I’m pretty sure reliability should be descent for them.

        I’m just poking at all the skunks out there…..lol
        😛

        1. Nix says:

          AKA — Trolling. Go fudge yourself.

  10. Nix says:

    I hear a lot of complaining about touch screens, but that isn’t something exclusive to Tesla. More and more new cars use touch screens. Heck, even the old cranks at Jalopnik (lovers of V8 manual transmission station wagons) recognized a year ago that touch screens are the way of the future.

    http://jalopnik.com/any-carmaker-still-not-using-a-touchscreen-for-their-in-1788825213

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      One of the changes I really when going from the Gen1 to Gen2 Volt was the separation of the HVAC from the touchscreen interface. I really prefer buttons so that I can control the climate while driving without looking at the screen.

      For example, when I first get in the car on a hot California day (presuming it’s preconditioned), I may want frosty air blowing right in my face to cool off, but after 10 minutes of that I’ll want to turn it down a few notches and just keep the cabin cool. I don’t like navigating through menus to make changes.

      I think the dash vent system is interesting, though. Hopefully it’s combined with a button-based control system on another Tesla model. I just don’t like touchscreens.

  11. Bill Howland says:

    Since Johnson Controls designs car ‘interiors’ (seats, dashes, etc) and also has been the old HVAC Johnson Controls where the the controls were mainly Pneumatic, the problem arose about 30 years ago when JC decided to eliminate explicit valves and started using venturi’s and other ‘fluid mechanics’ types of solutions with their products. (Similar to the air deflection detailed here). So it wouldn’t surprise me if JC had a heavy consulting role (or complete subcontracting) here.

    The only problem was, their ‘high tech’ solution 30 years ago fell flat on its face when the compressor providing the air had a bit too much oil- blow-by, and started coating their expensive products with a thin-oil-film, which then meant everything had to be ‘detergent-ized’ or thrown out and replaced. This is ostensibly a ‘new application’ for an existing phenomonon, and therefore, I would think it was patentable since a new use for an existing product really isn’t an invention, but whatever.

  12. wavelet says:

    The good thing about traditional louver-&-shutter setups (to control airflow direction & magnitude separately) is that the front passenger can control his/her airflow separately. Virtually always my passengers want a different setup than I do.

    Does the Model 3 setup allow this?

    1. darth says:

      Yes it is clearly shown on the videos.

  13. mxs says:

    Many people will simply not buy a vehicle solely controlled from iPad-like screen. Many reasons for that, including safety.

    It’s just a cost saving measure to not be accepted by many. I am sure the fleets won’t care and will love it, not so people who would rent the cars from them.

  14. hvacman says:

    They are called “linear slot diffusers”. Not new to the HVAC industry for high-end commercial buildings, but new to automotive HVAC. Automotive HVAC evolved from aggressive high-velocity “spot cooling and heating “, using mechanical dampers and adjustable directional register blades. This was the way to handle it, as the dash had lots of things going on behind it, which limited duct space and diffuser locations.

    With all instrumentation and controls removed in the Model 3 dash, this freed up the behind-dash space and structure for a large air plenum and continuous linear slots, with various hidden electric-actuated control dampers along the slots. Very creative. I’m impressed.

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      Thanks for an informative comment!

  15. bro1999 says:

    What if you live in a location that gets below freezing and are wearing thick gloves and want to change….well anything, since almost everything is accessed through the center touch screen display? Don’t need special touch screen gloves to change a vent setting in any other car.

    And because the Model 3 lacks a heated steering wheel (WTF?), if you have to take your gloves off to change the vent positioning, you have to put your glove back on while driving unless you want to be greeted by a freezing cold steering wheel.

    The more I learn about the Model 3’s UI/(lack of) features, the more it looks like a hack rush job.

    1. Nix says:

      You clearly don’t live in a cold state. Touch screen gloves are now old news. Why don’t you just ask how people are going to use Tesla apps on their flip phones? Catch up with the rest of the world —

      https://www.engadget.com/2016/02/19/the-best-touchscreen-winter-gloves/

      Or just hack your current gloves to work with touch screens:

      https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-hack-your-own-touch-screen-gloves/

      It is amazing how hard you work to fabricate problems.

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