Eight Hours Overnight In A Tesla Model 3 In Freezing Temps: Video


How much energy does this Tesla Model 3 consume overnight in really cold temps?

YouTuber Tesla Canuck has been waiting for a freezing cold night to sleep in his Tesla Model 3. The night he chose was a balmy -17C/1F. Of course, he’s sure to get the usual comments that these temps are not truly cold. However, while there are places that experience colder temps, nearing 0F is darn cold enough for sure. We’re glad he performed the test, because we’re not interested.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a test like this. EV aficionado Bjørn Nyland produced a similar video testing a Model X. In fact, the temperature for that test was exactly the same. Tesla Canuck looks up to Nyland and admits that the famous YouTuber inspired him to produce this recent Model 3 video.

The climate control in the Model 3 must remain on for the entire eight-hour test period in order for the car to be safe to sleep in. In addition, this gives us a solid idea of how much energy the car will consume in a real-world situation. Fortunately, the Model 3 has a setting that will keep climate on even when the car is parked and seemingly not in use.

The results of this test are quite surprising. Based on Canuck’s math, the Model 3 used 2.4375kWh per hour. In the eight-hour period, the car was down just shy of 20 kWh. This works out to about 3% overall loss per hour. So, it’s definitely possible to sleep in your Model 3 overnight in cold temps and still have plenty of juice to hit the road the next morning.

Video Description via Tesla Canuck on YouTube:

Sleeping in my Tesla Model 3 in -17C/1F | Surprising Energy Consumption Result

I’ve been waiting for a super cold night to test out sleeping in my Model 3. I spend a full 8 hours overnight in the car. The energy consumption really surprised me (in a good way). A full content index is below in the description for your convenience.


Introduction: 0:01
Energy starting point/baseline: 3:01
My Model 3 bedroom: 6:15
I’m freakin freezing: 8:37
Good morning / lessons learned: 13:00
Final energy usage stats and conclusion: 16:04

Thank you for watching and please subscribe and comment. I love to hear from viewers.

Here is the math on the consumption. I have no ego, call me on it if I am wrong.

Starting point is 90% SOC. Key assumption is that I have all my 75kWh battery available to me with no degradation. 90% of 75kWh is 67.5kWh. Final SOC 8 hours later is 64%. 64% of 75kWh capacity is 48kWh. 67.5kWh minus 48kWh = 19.5kWh capacity used. 19.5kWh/8 hours = 2.4375kWh usage per hour. Queue the mathematicians!! 

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54 Comments on "Eight Hours Overnight In A Tesla Model 3 In Freezing Temps: Video"

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So that’s equivalent to having a 2400 watt heater going full blast for the entire time. (Minus whatever energy was used to run fans, lights, electronics, etc.). Seems a little high actually. I wonder what the winds were that night?

I was thinking the same thing.
I can heat half my house with that much power. But, the house also has thick walls, multi-pane windows, etc.
All that glass is just a heat sink from inside to outside.

You are correct about the house having more insulation, but I disagree about the amount of power needed to heat a house. According to heater buying guide, 2.5kw is suggested for 250 sq ft. So unless your house is a small hotel room, 2.5kw seems a bit low.

But that’s max power and not running 100% of the time. For the Tesla test it was an average of 2400 w over the night.

This is where I brag about what super insulation and mini-split heat pumps can do. We get readouts because of our solar panels and our 2000 sq ft home runs at around 1500 watts. More during extreme temps of course, and another 1500-2000 charging the car on L1.

I agree about insulation, but why do you think that a mini split helps you? It is just like an window AC.
I’ve been talking to several politicians to get them to make a reg on new buildings.,
Basically, require that all new buildings below 6 stories to have enough on-site unsubsidized AE to => the energy used by the HVAC. With this, approach, and solar still being expensive, it would encourage builders to insulate better, but also move to geo-thermal HVAC.
Why would you think that a mini-split exposed to the local air would be good? In the cold, you are pumping heat up a gradient (say from -20 to 0C to 18C to 23C, which is energy intensive). So is pumping heat out from say 23-25C up to 35-42C.
OTOH, a geo-thermal means dumping heat from say 25C down to a 13-15C area (cheap in the summer), or pulling heat from 10-13C up to 18-23C.

Surely the geo-thermal would look far far cheaper than any of the splits.

Air source heat pumps have advanced considerably in the past decade. Even in sub zero temperatures (Celsius), they can deliver considerably more heat than an electric heater with the same power.

Building insulation technology has also advanced considerably. A small house built to the passivhaus standard could easily be heated with the 2,4kW of heat that the model 3 was using. With a decent air sourced heat pump, it could take as little as 1kW of electrical power to deliver that heat. A ground source heat pump could lower that to maybe 750W, which isn’t really worth the additional investment compared to an air-sourced heat pump.

You have a concept error here. Geothermal is a heat sink not a heat pump. There are ways to connect a mini-split to geo.

And the problem with window units is in install. Most are done poorly while the mini is easier to install well.

Ground loop “geothermal” heat pumps will provide cooling in hot weather and warming in cold weather. The ground remains at a stable temperature year-round, if you go down just a few feet. So whether “geothermal” (i.e., the ground) is a heat sink or a heat source depends on which direction you’re running the heat pump.

But the install isn’t cheap!

I would imagine he has a gas heater. I have a Model 3, and Tesla Solar Panels. When I turn the heat on in my home my electricity usage only goes up 200-300 watts.

John, you nailed it. All that glass was a factor. I could feel the heat loss like it was being sucked up out of the all glass roof by a giant heat sucking vacuum.

I would guess at least a third of that would be battery heating/conditioning? I know our Bolt would under those conditions.

No camper mode either. Ever two hours the car turns off, the interior lights come on, and the doors unlock. Not good for your sleep. 🙂

I think Model 3 does little or no battery heating unless a) driving at highway speed, or b) with the climate control set to high, which would overheat the cabin. But I haven’t really tried to get it to heat the battery beyond case a).

Does not matter. You have lots of windows and not much insulation.

Especially the glass roof. Heat rises to the roof and then is wind-borne.

Let’s not forget the ‘walls’ are sheet metal.

Did you have Recirculate or Fresh Air on? If you had the former, the warm air would only stay up front, then drawn back again through the HVAC system. With Fresh Air on, the air would be forced to the back of the car, and out the exit vents about where your feet were. So, the heat would have been forced back where you were sleeping, keeping you warmer.

He is not on Recirculate. Better air but way worse energy consumption.

If he didn’t have recirculate on, then this isn’t a valid test. I can’t think of any good reason not to put the system on recirculate in these conditions. It’s not like the car is so airtight that you’ll use up all the oxygen inside!

Steve, I was auto A/C and at 4:35 as mentioned by Milord below, the Model 3 was indeed drawing in fresh air. At 2:30 in the morning I switched from auto the manual A/C and I did note that the Model 3 had switched to recirculate. As I mentioned in a reply below, I am curious now if the Model 3 is smart enough to know how to optimize its energy usage in camper mode during extreme cold. Sounds like I need to do some more testing…😎

I suspect the energy consumption is more with the fridge and microwave going.

Good result, and demonstrates the viability of the “camper” concept.

Next step is to address the physical issues of “camping” mode by ensuring the Model Y has the appropriate cabin space in terms of openness and cargo floor length/flatness to ensure the practicality of “camping” mode.

too funny. -17C is quite warm.
Do -40C.
Sadly, it no longer hits the lower 48 at that time. But, I used to enjoy camping at that cold.
And -20C is where you run around in shorts, t-shirt and boots.

-40C, yikes! That’s like, -40F! 🙂 😉

I went out to shovel a long sidewalk in -35F temps one time in the early 80’s, back when I lived in Montana. I was out there for 20 minutes with a slight breeze from my right and when they called us in due to their tardily realizing just how cold it was, my left eye was frozen shut. The frost bite was minimal but at temps like that even with a felt mask on I ended up blowing my exhaled breath in through the eye hole of my mask and what I thought was hang over dry-eye turned out to be a problem. But I had what looked like a bad sunburn on just the skin next to my left eye. For a teenager that was kind of cool.
Any temps under -20F are serious cold.

Oh yeah. You should have glasses or googles on. It can freeze fast.
You are lucky that you did not damage your eye.

We lived on a couple of acres on a ill/wisc border lake, and first time it hit -39F, I was told to take out the trash. Not a big deal. Just run with 2 trashcans out the garage door and then about 15 car lengths to the road. I was in shorts/long-sleve shirt. Nothing on feet. I got about 3 car lengths and realized that my feet were going to be frostbitten by the time I turned around if I went full length. Ran back into the house and took nearly a hour to warm back up to finish the job.

7 years later, moved to colorado, and then after 2-3 years, went to go ‘console’ a friend of mine who was divorcing. walk in same clothes, in -20F for only 20 minutes. FOr that I paid the price; black ears of which it was touch/go to decide. Kept them, but to this day, when a certain temp is reached (which has not happened for several decades), my ears feel like 1 million piercing going on.

Yeah, if you are going outside when it’s that cold then you should be wearing skiing or snowmobiling goggles.

not like. It is.
It was great to go out on the lake and know that nobody else was around. Of course, running the ice boat (a DN class) was frigging cold. Wind chill was down around -70F. It was back then that I could appreciate ICE based snowmobiles.
But, camping was fun.

Yup, that’s the point at which the two scales cross over, and the temperature is exactly the same for both scales.

yeah. that was the kind of temps. 🙂

But he still sees those temps. Doing them as a kid is different than as an adult. You are more knowledgeable as an adult, but you do not have anywhere near the body heat that you had as a kid.

At 4:35 you can see the car’s drawing air from the outside!! It’s not on recirculate.
Mate you have been using way more energy than you need the whole time.

Milord, that is good observation. I had the A/C set to auto then switched to manual at 2:30am. When I switched to manual I did notice that the A/C was on recirculate. I wonder if the Model 3 is that smart enough to figure out the optimal settings based on its condition (e.g. knowing that it is in camper mode). Hmmm.

“I wonder if the Model 3 is that smart enough to figure out the optimal settings based on its condition (e.g. knowing that it is in camper mode).”

If so, then shouldn’t it have switched to recirculate immediately, since it was so cold outside?

Color me confused.

It’s better than suffocation.

Yeah, it wasn’t a valid test.

If you’re planning on camping in your car, like on a road trip for example, you’d want to get foam window panels for privacy and maybe to block out the morning sun. They would have the added benefit of insulation. You’d need a lot of foam, of course, with all that glass… I’d like to see a part two video with that, to see how much better it does

Big deal! A small four cylinder internal combustion engine (ICE) consumes 0.95 Liters (0.25 gallons) of gasoline per hour idling. After 8 hours it would consume 7.6 Liters or 2.0 gallons of gasoline. The heat energy in gasoline is the equivalent of 33.6kWh per gallon. This means 67.2 kWh of energy would be consumed by an ICE (emitting tailpipe emissions) and only 19.5kWh used by the Tesla (emitting zero tailpipe emissions) in the same time period. 3.45 times lower energy usage.

I got stuck on a highway in a snow storm for twelve hours in a 1994 Mercury Sable. I ran heater and let the motor idle the whole time. I don’t think I used more a couple of gallons of gasoline and I had plenty of gas to get out of there once the snow plows cleared the road.

I have camped out in a traditional car in similar temps (not by choice, the guy with the chalet key had an issue making it to the chalet).
But, we had snowmobile suits because, well, we were going on a snowmobile trip.
Every couple hours we started the car and ran the heat for 10 minutes to take the chill off.

Bottom line, if there is any chance you might be in the car for a long time in the cold, a snowmobile suit (or regular winter clothes and a sleeping bag) should tide you over with the car providing minimal heat, hence using very little energy from the battery.

I wonder if a little extra fan to circulate the air better would have helped with the cold feet.

Dave_the_braver…the answer is a definite yes. At the 2:30am I switched to manual mode and cranked up the fan. It help a lot. I also jacked it up from 21C to 26C 👍

This really is a shortcoming for Teslas. It would be nice if they circulated into back of MS/MX as well, since ppl seat there.

Ok – interesting as far as it goes – If one is camping out in your model 3. I’m quite surprised he mentioned it was ‘chilly’ with the thing drawing over 2400 watts.

What would be more interesting and something that a prospective owner would want to know – is what is the overnight loss in the cold? It got down to around -6 F last night here and it will ‘warm up’ to ‘-3F’.

Drove to suburban Rochester and back today and used up 97% of my battery charge in my Bolt ev – and this was only 130 miles. 2 kw battery heating was occurring for the first 1/2 hour each way – of course stopping in Rochester for 45 minutes caused the battery to cool off, which the system had to warm up again as I headed for home. Since it was in the single plus digits each way, I’m sure the bolt ev’s heater was doing quite a lot to warm the air up 100 degrees or so.

Again – blindly being flagged by the same few people.

The cars are not going to distribute heat to the back so he could have adapted a 3 inch plastic hose from the hardware store and routed it to the back in advance of the test for adequate comfort.

I’m not impressed. On my recent trip to Colorado and I drove through the night with temperatures dropping into the teens (F). One of the charging stops during the coldest part of the night was at an L2 charging stop allowing me to sleep for a few hours.

I had my sub-freezing sleeping bag with me and I turned on the seat heater while I slept. I slept quite comfortably. Of course when you are traveling by EV and the battery is below the floor board, the warm battery is going to help keep the cabin warm.

I might mention that L2 charging with the heater on takes much longer to charge. Turning on the heater wasn’t really an option while L2 charging. But there really wasn’t any need to turn on the heater to keep warm.

If VW ever gets around to building that new van, they’ll have a hard time making enough of them.

To cut down heat loss on the glass roof, throw an old blanket on the roof if it’s not windy, anything is better than just glass.

in what universe is -17 C not very cold?

What is “cold” or “hot” is very dependent on what you’re used to.

I live in the Kansas City area. Some friends of mine took a trip to England. The temperature was in the low ’80s. The local Brits kept apologizing to them for it being “very hot”. Well… I guess if you’re wearing two or three layers of woolen clothing, low ’80s is hot…

Björn Nyland had shielded all the windows of his Model X with taylor-made reflective insulations. This helped a lot, although in his situation it was much colder, down to -37 °C. He actually drove to the highest mountain pass to camp 😉