Tesla Wall Connector (Gen 3) API Exploration

Over the winter break, I was surfing around online to see if there were any projects that allowed someone to pull metrics and perhaps even control the Tesla Generation 3 Wall Connector. A post on Tesla Motors Club forums showed that some preliminary API calls could be made, and at the end of the post someone commented that they have a dashboard setup using InfluxDB and Telegraf that queries the TWC. So I set about getting this setup and running.

After a deep-dive into learning about Telegraf, and a couple of false starts resolving issues, I finally got it working. The price/kWh is averaged out over my last three years of data to use $0.1085, given that my utility has a usage-based tiered pricing structure.

The Total Energy Cost is since August 2020, and as of this writing (1/1/2022), we have exactly 12,000 miles on the Model Y. Note that we haven’t only used our TWC to charge, as we’ve taken a couple of trips and charged on the road.

I think the next step is to setup this dashboard using the Grafana interface I have running locally for TeslaMate. The Cloud InfluxDB offering is slick, but I like keeping my data local/private.

December 2021 Tech Projects/Gadgets

A quick rundown of my current personal projects and gadgets I’ve been toying around with.

  1. Reolink – These cameras are surprisingly good quality for low prices. I’ve got a RLC-520 (Amazon, $50) mounted viewing the back drive, and a RLC-410W (Amazon, $68) temporarily positioned viewing the side patio and yard. The app integrates all of the cameras and presents the feeds in a nicely done UI/UX. My cousin setup a Reolink GO on the site that their new lake house is being built on, and even on a 4G cellular connection the stream is really good. Incidentally, the Synology has an NVR application that supports the Reolink cameras, which made for a bonus feature of the system. If Reolink came out with a doorbell, I’d be very tempted to ditch the Ring and consolidate on the Reolink platform altogether. Sample pics at the end of this post.
  2. TeslaUSB – This open source project uses the Raspberry Pi Zero platform, and Tesla’s open API, to connect your Tesla vehicle to a network and easily transfer any Sentry Cam videos off the car, and sync music files to the car. On Tesla’s, you can mount an SSD and have video automatically recorded and stored from the various cameras mounted around the car. Unfortunately, there’s no real easy way to move those videos off the car short of unplugging the SSD and using sneakernet to transfer them to another location. In place of the SSD, you plug the Raspberry Pi Zero in and when you pull into the garage the Pi connects to your home network and offloads any new videos. It also will sync .mp3’s from a configured location to the car, for accessing and playing from the entertainment system. The only downside I’ve experienced with this is that it renders the in-car Sentry Cam viewer useless, as accessing the stored videos while in the car painfully slow. (I’ve just purchased the newer model Rasperry Pi Zero 2 W to see if this downside is remedied.) And yes, the videos are automatically syncing to the Synology NAS.
  3. Apple 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max – After many years of wandering in the desert of bad features, Apply finally released a great update to their MBP’s, so I jumped at the chance to upgrade my mid-2015 MBP. I’ve had the laptop for about a week now, and it’s great. This screen is amazing. Do I need all of this horsepower? Not really, but I opted for the lower config of the M1 Max as a way of future-proofing. I was really surprised at how the old laptop held up, so I think I’m going to try and do the same with this model and keep it for 5+ years. I missed out on the Touchbar era, and I can’t say if that was a feature I’d be negative or positive on, but missing out on the butterfly keyboard is a good thing. I had heard reviews that the speakers and sound on this laptop was really good, but I was shocked at how good. Sure they’re still laptop speakers, but the bass and fidelity are really surprising. Already I can see how great the battery life is, but I’m also coming from a laptop where the battery was in dire need of replacing. All in all I’m very happy with this laptop.

Reolink RLC-520:

Reolink RLC-410W:

Acquiring a Tesla Solar Panel System

As of: 11/27/2021

I’m going to post a more detailed write-up after the system is up and running, but for now here’s a quick timeline of the process so far on ordering a Tesla solar panel system.

  • 8/15/2021 – Began the ordering process. Website config was 12kWh and 2 Powerwalls.
  • 8/16-18/2021 – Took photos and uploaded as part of the Home Assessment step.
  • 8/25/2021 – Tesla solar design available for review. Design group calculated 9kWh and 2 Powerwalls.
  • 8/30/2021 – Credit check, Approval to Install, and Permits filed.
  • 8/31-9/14/2021 – Kept checking the Austin Permit website for status change.
  • 9/14/2021 – Email to Tesla about permit issue. Tesla promptly replied it was forwarded to the Permit Coordinator.
  • 9/15/2021 – Tesla update that permits were approved.
  • 9/30/2021 – Tesla portal shows install date of 1/5/2022, confirmed with Tesla.
  • 10/1/2021 – Called Austin Energy to confirm the installation date. AE claims I wasn’t on the schedule, but confirmed the backlog due to massive solar and generator installs in the area. I emailed Tesla this information.
  • 10/2/2021 – Tesla portal now shows an installation date of 2/4/2021.

Going into this, I knew that working with Tesla for a solar panel system was likely to be problematic, as the online reviews and posts state Tesla’s very poor customer service. The one bit of advice I kept seeing was the customer (me) needed to act as if they are the project manager, as the PM’s with Tesla are either inept, overworked, or both.

I get the impression that Tesla Energy is experiencing massive growth and are playing it fast and loose. In Texas alone there has been >1 gigawatts of solar installed since the February 2021 “winter event”, compare that to the South Texas Nuclear Project’s annual production of 1.28 gigawatts. Many posts online show that it’s a bumpy ride to install day, but once the day arrives, it’s a swift install and the crews are really great to interface with.

There have been two main issues so far that I’ve had to be proactive with Tesla on: the permitting and the installation scheduling. I’m confident if I hadn’t been checking on the permit status or the scheduling with Austin Energy, my install date would be further out in 2022.

The system design process was quick and I have to say I’m impressed. I was sent the engineering drawings, and was able to confirm that the Powerwalls will be installed inside the garage. Tesla is defaulting PW installs to outside, but given that my natural gas meter was close to my electrical meter, Tesla had to put them inside.

…to be continued.

2021 EV Market Comparison – Updated

I’ve added two new entries: Volvo XC40 and Rivian R1S, because I have family that recently bought and ordered these. I’ve also recalculated the spreadsheet to use the curb weight in kg’s of the vehicles, rather than the battery pack weight. I did this for two reasons – the curb weight is easier to find, and because at the end of the day the total weight of the vehicle matters, not just the battery pack weight. Lastly, I’ve sorted the sheet on mi/kWh, best to worst.

Observations:

  • I was surprised at where the Rivian ended up, given this video from Snazzy Labs. I think real-world data will be interesting.
  • In researching the specs on the Volvo XC40, reviews seem to be negative on it given the lackluster range and high price. Motor Trend ended their review with “make this little Vo’ a no-go”.

Update: Literally right after posting this, my cousin called from their first road trip in the Volvo XC40. The navigation/infotainment/dashboard has rebooted on them multiple times while driving. A quick online search shows me that this is an issue others have had.