Tesla Sentry Mode Battery Drain: Here are the Facts

tesla sentry mode battery drain

Most cars come with some safety and protection, but as with all other conventional car features, Tesla went a step further to provide cutting edge protection. Although already enabled with several safety features, none are as innovative and vigilant as Sentry Mode.

Tesla’s Sentry Mode provides an active layer of protection for a Tesla by monitoring the nearby surroundings for threats. However, in order to provide this protection, the Tesla is using a number of functions onboard. When used together and for long periods, battery drain is inevitable. On average, expect to loose about 1 mile of range per hour.

Learn more about why Sentry Mode drains the batteries, what Sentry Mode does, and more. We will also discuss how you can combat Sentry Mode draining your Tesla’s battery as well.

Why Does Sentry Mode Drain the Battery?

Being on high alert for a long period of time would be exhausting for a human. Using that logic, it is not impossible to understand that asking a Tesla to do the same would be equally draining on the power available.

A Tesla never completely “turns off.” Even while sitting idle being charged, the battery is in use. Therefore, when Sentry Mode is activated, a Tesla is incorporating more features and requiring more battery. However, the drain of the battery in Sentry Mode depends on the length of time the Tesla is kept in this mode.

What Is Sentry Mode?

Sentry Mode only became available on Tesla vehicles after August 2017. Sentry Mode monitors the car’s surroundings and determines potential threats. But how?

Sentry Mode is activated when the owner engages the mode. When the Tesla senses movement near the car and Sentry Mode is activated, it immediately starts arming the alarm and cameras on board. While this mode does not actively resist a break-in, it will certainly provide the first level of security to scare off less determined criminals.

How Does Sentry Mode Monitor the Surroundings?

Teslas are equipped with several safety features, including cameras and alarms. When placed in Sentry Mode, the Tesla is using all many of its features to keep the car safe and is therefore far from idle or turned off.

A joint effort is made using sensors, the computer, and cameras to keep the Tesla aware of its surroundings and vigilant in deterring theft or tampering. Usually triggered by motion within a certain proprietary distance of the Tesla, Sentry Mode will enter one of two modes:

  • Alert
  • Alarm

The Alert State of Sentry Mode

The Alert State of Sentry Mode is engaged when the threat is deemed as minor. Something as non-threatening as leaning on the Tesla can trigger the Alert State.

When Alert State is activated, the Tesla will not sound the alarm but does immediately start recording. Of the two states, the Alert State is the least aggressive. When triggered, the Alert State causes the Tesla to politely flash its lights and displays a message on the interior screen that the vehicle is recording.

The Alarm State of Sentry Mode

The Alarm State of Sentry Mode really does step up the attention-getting shenanigans. After the Alert State’s gentle nudge, Tesla spared no expense to announce a problem when they arise.

The Alarm State is activated when something truly impactful happens to the Tesla. Something as obvious as a broken window will trigger the Alarm State. In this event, the interior center screen will become brighter than the Alert State, and the alarm sounds. As a bonus, the Tesla will also play music from the sound system at maximum volume.

Battery Usage in Sentry Mode

As you can see, although a Tesla may appear “off” and unguarded, several functions are actively engaged in Sentry Mode. The surroundings are monitored by:

  • Sensors
  • Cameras

Additionally, internal displays, lights, and even the radio are all on standby when Sentry Mode is enabled.

Sentry Mode reduces battery life at the rate of one mile per hour, according to Motoring Research. That means if you were to leave your car unattended for 11 days, you would come back to a dead Tesla. For comparison, parked Teslas can go as long as 20 days before losing their charge. As such, Sentry Mode does in fact cause additional battery drain. More movement and activity around your vehicle will use more electricity. Areas such as busy parking lots can trigger a lot of activity.

The 20% Fail-Safe

Regardless of how it happens or how fast, battery drain is a threat to a car that requires battery power to run. Tesla thought about that, too.

In response to this, they installed a fail-safe system to try to make sure that a Tesla owner never comes back to a completely dead car. To that end, once the Tesla drops to 20%, Sentry Mode will automatically turn off.

How to Combat Battery Drain

Here is some information to help you combat battery drain:

  • Find a charging station for long-term parking. The easy and obvious answer when facing long-term parking and enabling Sentry Mode is to use a charging station.
  • Have a charging plan. One Tesla owner suggests having a charging plan at the ready. Have the car charged to near 90% before parking and access to charging upon accessing the vehicle again.
  • Be aware of likely movement. It is not clear how far away movement must be to trigger the Alarm mode. However, some say any movement engages the functions. As such, be aware and attempt to limit the car’s visuals of movement. This aims to limit the number of times that Alarm Mode is engaged.
  • Do not use 3rd party apps to check battery drain. Some suggest that using third party applications to check on the battery, engage more of the battery to check the vitals. Similarly, the number of times the car is checked equates to more power loss.

Additional Tesla Security

Aside from Sentry Mode, what protection does a Tesla offer? The options regarding protection for a Tesla are somewhat dependent on the year and model of the Tesla.

However, aside from Sentry Mode, a Tesla does come equipped with alternative protection and security. In fact, their vehicles are developed in strict regards to safety. Some of the options are the traditional security alarm and cabin cameras utilized both with and without Sentry Mode.

Cabin Cameras

The Model 3 and Model Y Teslas have a Cabin Camera onboard located above the rear-view mirror. To use the Cabin Camera feature, a Tesla owner must first enable the function. If enabled, when a Tesla is involved in a “safety event,” the cameras will record a few seconds before the event.

tesla cabin camera

However, it should be noted that the cabin cameras do not record the event that triggered the recording. These recordings are sent to Tesla engineers to further develop safety features and software updates.

Security Alarm

The security alarm must also be enabled by the Tesla owner to function. When enabled, the security alarm is triggered if any locked doors, including the trunk, are opened without a valid entry key.

If someone tries to get into the car during this time, several things will happen, including:

  • Internal lights will flash
  • External lights will flash
  • The alarm will sound

PIN to Drive

Like others, the PIN to Drive security feature must also be enabled by the Tesla owner. In this case, a four-digit pin is required before the car can be driven.

tesla pin to drive
Tesla Pin to Drive

Require Manual Entry

Keyless entry is fairly standard these days. Newer cars can sense the proximity of the keys and allow for keyless entry. As with all other features, Tesla improved upon this design and then gave the owner the option to turn it off.

Like other newer cars, Teslas sense the proximity of the keys, or simply the Bluetooth signal from a smartphone-enabled with the Phone Key feature, and simply unlock the doors. However, for the cautious Tesla owner, it is possible to turn off this feature, ultimately requiring a key for entry.


Battery drain in a Tesla is a concern in general, but watching the numbers tick downward is undeniably upsetting. And, yes, Sentry Mode does use more of the battery and therefore depletes the battery faster. However, with careful planning, it is possible to offset this loss as much as possible. Energy loss may also be a small cost to pay for the increased security it provides.

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