Unlocking the Charge Port

One of the minor annoyances about the Model S has been the charge port.  Like ICE cars with locked gasoline tanks, the Model S charge port is also locked.  While the car is charging and locked, the car cannot be disconnected from the charge cable.  In public places this feature is a good thing — preventing random folks from unplugging your car.  Most public charging locations I have visited usually have empty stalls.  The busier ones I have seen are at work places, but I doubt you would get very far ahead at a company if you disconnect a co-workers car while charging on a regular basis.

Unfortunately this public charging model can cause frustration when charging at home.

Open But Locked Charge Port

Open But Locked Charge Port

Often when arriving at home with groceries and other things strewn throughout the car, I open the charge port through the touch screen.  This step also unlocks the charge port.  But often by the time I get around to plugging the car in, I have already left the fob and the phone in the house and all I want to do is simply plug in the cable.  But the charge port is open but is now locked.

My solution I have been using for the last year has been a device I bought for $20 from lolachampcar from the Tesla forums.  He made a few batches just for fun.  I tied the device to my charge cable adaptor.  I use a Roadster to Model S adapter cable between my vintage Roadster wall charger and the Model S.  The adaptor cable is bright orange. This handy little device is there whenever I took too long to plug in the cable before the charge port self locked. I have gotten into the habit of first plugging the car in, but I do not always remember.

Handy Device on the Garage Floor to Open and Unlock the Charge Port

Handy Device on the Garage Floor to Open and Unlock the Charge Port

Fortunately with 6.1, I now have a total of four ways to open and unlock my charge port!

  1. Use the on screen menu while sitting in the car while the car is on.
  2. With version 6.1, hold the trunk button down on the fob until the charge port door opens.  Be careful not to accidentally open the trunk if you do not have enough clearance.
  3. Use the Tesla app to open the charge door.
  4. Use my handy door opener on the garage floor.

Even if now there are four ways to address this situation, I think the software could be improved to solve my situation through several different software solutions:

  1. Add more time to the unlock state.
  2. Differentiate the unlock state for the condition of whether or not the car is plugged in.  When the car is not plugged in, the unlocked state could be much longer.
  3. Use GPS information to know when the car is home and extend the unlocked state when at home.
  4. Allow a user configurable time.

I do understand why the charge port should lock when the car is plugged in.  I don’t know why the charge port should be locked when the car is not plugged in.  When the charge port is unlocked the light is on, so there is a small amount of drain for the LED lights.  But I would be happy to sacrifice this electricity drain for a 15 minute unlocked state while at home.

I would love to hear from you in the comments section if you know a reason other than a small energy drain why the charge port needs to lock so quickly when unplugged.

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3 thoughts on “Unlocking the Charge Port

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