Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Real Pack Measurements

On my Nissan LEAF i bought a meter that measures my charge in GIDs and 281 GIDs is equal to 100%.

now given a range of about 84 miles means each GID is good for .3 miles right?? makes sense since 281 * .3 is 84.3 which is the "new" range guideline (EPA says 73 but I have been beating EPA for years so why stop now?)

well, as we all know, my GID measurements have been all over the map.  and ya, it takes charging to 100% several days in a row to get a good idea of where the pack is due to balancing of the cells and all that kind of stuff right?

Well, the other day, I measured 280. i was immediately suspicious.  i havent seen 280 in months and had driven another 5,000 miles so i monitored the decline.  Sure enough, i lost 2 GIDs within a few hundred FEET.

i continued to lose GIDs until around 275, then it went back to a GID every .3 miles.  since then i have charged to 100% 6 times and each time i have been tracking how fast the first few GIDs leave me and if its above 275, the are out the door faster than i am out of my own driveway! but when it gets to 275, everything goes back to normal!

interesting. so now i guess i am driving a LEAF with "about" 82 miles of range and 98% capacity.

after 20+ months, it is better than I had hoped for!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick Charging on a Cold Day

A lot of discussion going around between the disparate communication concerning the level of charge in an electric vehicle battery pack. the SOC (state of charge expressed in percentage of "fullness")  difference between the car and the charging station can be as much as 13%.

AV chargers will charge you to 89% per the station but my SOC meter says different. Now how different is also a question.  the first time I charged till it stopped which is rare, the SOC in the car was 76%.  Did it again a month later and it was a warmer day and it was 80%, so 9% off.

Well today, I plugged in to charge to check the Tumwater DCFC (direct current Fast Charge) station to check it status and it charged fine. I checked some email, sent some texts and then went into store to buy lottery tickets.  Now the AV station has circular lights at the top that tell you the level of charge so you can see from a distance when you might have to move your LEAF to let the next person charge.  pretty cool actually.

But when walking back to car after buying the lottery tickets, I noticed the lights were on but none were flashing which usually means the charge is complete. I checked the station and sure enough it said 89% but charge was still being applied.

"ok, no problem, be done in a minute" i thought. i took a phone call which lasted only 5-6 minutes and the car was still charging! very strange.

now, it was 44º and foggy so I started remote climate control to warm up and it was running.  this made me curious, so I waited another 5 minutes making it about 10 minutes I had sit at 89% on the station meter and it kept going. Well, finally I decided enough was enough and manually turned off the station.

Got in my car, started up and was at 83% which is only 6% off. wondering if this was a way to get more of that last 20% without having to restart the charging session?

**Update Nov 19, 2012.  Just did a charge at the Tumwater DCFC and was a bit surprised that the rate of charge was much slower than expected. i had noticed that my charges were seeming to go a bit longer than before so pulling in with on 20 GID, I figured it was a good opp to check my charging rate.

Earlier in the Summer I was charging at the rate of 75-80 seconds per Kwh up to about 50-60% SOC.  So was expecting to get my first 8-10 Kwh in pretty quick fashion.  So away I went and the first Kwh was in at just under 80 seconds; so far so good. The 2nd right at 80 seconds but then the 3rd came in at 90 seconds. very concerning to see a slowdown in the charge this early.

#4 took 100 seconds, #5 took 104 seconds. I was only planning on charging 10-15 minutes but curiosity got the best of me so decided to let it run till it stopped. I was at 14.16 Kwh at 30 minutes which was still not a bad rate considering that the later  charge rate is much slower.

Well charge ended at 40 minutes and 10 seconds with 16.03 Kwh (77.5% per SOC meter 89% on the charger)  or a Kwh every 2½ minutes which was not bad really despite the last 2 Kwh coming in at just under 5 minutes each.

This rate is slower than I tracked this past Summer and since the heat related thing is unlikely to be the culprit, wondering if the power to the station has been reduced?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

LEAF Instrumentation

Recently, Tony Williams organized a huge event to test various LEAFs that were suffering loss of capacity bars on their Nissan LEAFs.  Initially after a few of the LEAFs were taken to the Nissan testing facility in Casa Grande, AZ  the prelim report was that a few had instrumentation that was over reporting the loss and that some who were thinking that they had 20-25% loss were actually only in the 10-12% range (which is still a bit more than I would have expected especially for those LEAFs that were barely a year old)

So I decided to do my own unofficial range test (very unofficial actually) Unlike the testers in AZ, I had not the time or inclination to devote a major block of my day to the experiment but I did have transportation needs that would tax the LEAFs range and I figured "good enough for me!"

So my test has several caveats.

1) temp was much colder being in the upper 50's in the morning.
2) elevation changes galore (if you live here you know what I am talking about.
3) Speed. no real set speed or anything else.

As usual, I reset my Miles per Kw and odo A which I do every day.  Had a full charge of 277 GID.

I started the journey with 17 miles of driving around town at 30-40 mph. elevation flat varying from 150 to 180 feet.  temps 57º. Then hopped onto I-5 driving 57-62 mph (per speedometer so probably a few below that in GPS terms)  elevation ranges from 280 to -18 at the bottom of the Nisqually Delta.

Then turning East onto the 512 freeway where elevation rose to near 500 feet before making its drop into the Puyallup Valley  and an elevation that averages 30-70 feet located at the base of the valley where Mt. Rainier drains.

Now at the fair where average speed is single digits.  The Western WA State Fair is one of the largest (and longest) in the country and today was no exception. It was PACKED with people and traffic.  Was there to help with the EV booth.  Then left, climbing back out of the valley (GOM went from 63 to28 by the time I crested the rise in about 2 miles)

Made it back to Olympia, picked up Ryland from Grandma's house and went house. Hitting VLB on the way.  I declined going to turtle because it does nt really matter that I do since this is an unofficial test, but did get to 6.5% SOC so was close.

final results were 82.3 miles and 4.7 miles/kw.  So if thinking I could get about 4 more miles (at the speed I was going it would have been at least that much) that would have given me a range of about 87 miles or so.

at 4.7 miles/kw that is only 18.5 Kw available which would imply I have loss that is not trackable?

so if I do have my 21 Kw to use, then the 4.7 is actually 4.1 miles per Kw. which brings me to another point.  I discuss a LOT about my LEAF and compare notes with others in the Puget Sound region and have a lot of people asking me for advice as to how I do so well.

Thinking now that I am not doing a "cut above" and that my LEAF is stroking me.  I will say that most dont get 87 miles of range from their LEAF when a large part of that drive in freeway like I do but without instrumention like the SOC meter, I can easily see how others would be fooled into thinking they had much less range than they really had.

EV Support

Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited to help man the Tacoma Electric Vehicle booth at the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup, WA.  Despite being located in a sleepy town at the base of Mt. Rainier, The Western WA State Fair rated as being in the top 10 for largest state fairs in the country (we bounce from 6 to 8th) so a VERY big deal here. At 17 days, its also one of the longest.

I love doing these kinds of things because I want to see EVs all over the place simply because they are right in so many different ways but at the same time, initial response has been much less than I had hoped and getting out to talk to the people helps me understand what needs to be done to increase interest.

There was a TON of people there despite the overcast skies threatening rain making it one of the dreariest mornings in several weeks. As luck would have it, the afternoon burned off the fog and the clouds and it turned out to be a very pleasant sunny day but from the several dozen people I talked a few things became clear.

Range,  NOT an issue??.

This was the biggest surprise. Only had 2 people who were concerned about range. A dozen had drives that would have taxed the range of the LEAF but were ok with using public charging. In fact, many stopped by because they had seen the charging stations at Kohl's, Sears or Walgreens. I emphasized the shorter range in winter plus the degradation of batteries meaning that you want to have an extra 10-15 miles on your longest commute you want to do without charging to be comfortable. Most felt that charging stations were becoming so plentiful that it would not be a problem to stop at one for a boost every now and then. That signifies a big big change in perceptions concerning EVs.  But also shows that EV exposure, even at the low levels most have experienced so far is starting to make an impact for people other than the early adopters which brings up the next point

EV Exposure

Several people had already known someone who had either a LEAF, Volt or some other plug in. Having exposure to someone who had one or even just being in a position to see them regularly on the streets has started to generate interest in people who were for the most part, unaware that EVs existed or were so readily available.

As I was leaving the parking lot at the Fair, I was moving slowly negotiating the large scattered pedestrian traffic and heard a young boy talking to his father. "What kind of car is that, Daddy?".  "That car is a Nissan LEAF".  "Wow, that car is so quiet!"  "Yes Son, it is. but its set to make a whole lot of noise in the news pretty soon"   ah Nissan!! I think your advertising dept needs a talking to!!


Nearly all the people above who knew someone who had an EV was either actively shopping for EVs or in the stage of serious research and fact finding but the main stopping point was the price. Lots of questions on the Federal tax rebate and how best to take advantage.  Although the average new car selling price is just over $30,000, Both the LEAF and MiEV after tax rebate AND sales tax waiver for WA State residents (thats 9% you DONT have to pay) both are significantly under that figure.  Oh course, just because the average selling price of a regular car is $30k does not mean those people were happy paying that much.

EV Support.

Finally the next most shocking revelation was that non EV'ers had noticed that EVs have no support. I  probably had at least a half dozen people ask me what I did when I went up to a charging station to see a gas car already parked there.

This is also a major paradigm shift in public thinking. Others are starting to have concerns. This support will be what is needed to start instituting fines for using EV charging parking in a regular car. It is only then we can expect only EVs to be parked there.

Friday, September 21, 2012

123 Million Miles

Most of you are probably thinking that is how far the Nissan LEAF has driven emission free so far, but no. They have actually gone just over 100 million so not quite there yet.

Actually 123 million miles is how far the Endeavour Space Shuttle flew before being retired.  It was then ferried across the country on the back of a Boeing Airliner today in preparation for its final journey to the California Space Museum in Los Angeles Ca.

The problem is that the 12 mile journey from the airport to the museum will require cutting down 400 trees that line the route. Some of the trees are probably older than the Space Program itself.  Officials state the 72 foot wingspan requires this to happen. They also stated that dismantling the shuttle and reassembling it was not an option either.

Sad to see those trees go.  Wonder why they did not helicopter the vehicle over? maybe too heavy eh?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welfare State

It seems that Republicans are complaining that our country is becoming a welfare state. Too many people not paying taxes but expecting the government to support them.  Funny but why are we talking about the people?

What about the large corporate entities like Apple whose i tunes business pays its corporate taxes to Luxembourg?  They operate here, so they use the federal highway system, have the benefits of our public schools (government subsidized) and so on but by paying taxes to another country because the rates are lower, they are the real welfare recipients.

last I heard, Apple might not need the financial support.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plug In Day

This Sunday, Sept 23 is National Plug In Day celebrating all who have gone electric. I will be at the Puyallup Fair Sat the 22nd to talk with anyone who is interested in driving electric and will be trying to answer any and all questions.  We hope to have some to display as well so you can get an up close and personal view.

Due to restrictions moving vehicles in and out, I am unable to put my LEAF on display which is kind of a bummer but I would have to get it there before 8:30 AM and I would not be able to remove it until 11 PM.  Normally, I would leave it overnight but the SO works this weekend so cant spare the vehicle.

But if you in the neighborhood, come on down and say Hi!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

20 Months!!

20 months ago today, i took delivery of my Nissan LEAF.  my LEAF has taken my over 21,500 miles and still retains 98.9% of its original range according to my GID meter which measured a 278 yesterday morning (full capacity is 281)

I have to say this car has done everything I have wanted and more.  People I talk to always want more range but that means a heavier and more expensive battery pack.  During the Summer I can get 85 miles on a charge which is enough to cover 95% of my needs.  When I need to go farther, I have to plan to boost my pack with a public charge and there are many here but the real value is the DCFC (Direct Current Fast Charge) which gives you 80% capacity in 30 minutes which is ok if you have 30 minutes!

I usually dont have the patience for that but use the DCFC stations all the time but only for 8-12 minutes.  The station charges faster when the pack is lower so i can get 40 miles of range in 11 minutes because the first Kwh comes in at just over 75 seconds each.  So if i pull in "about" (calculator handy!) 8.88 Kwh and getting about 4.5 miles per Kwh that is 40 miles of range in 11 minutes.

After the SOC on the pack reaches about 65% then the rate slows way down. the first few times i used the QC,  i tracked how long it took each Kwh to get in and found that a 80% charge (which stops around 80% on an AV)  might put in 10-11 Kwh but the last few Kwh were taking 3-5 minutes meaning my time was not being well used especially if I was doing nothing but waiting to charge!

Now being able to do this means having stations no more than 25-30 miles apart and right now I only have that going South.  need it going west and north and already have preliminary info that will be happening soon going North.  so cant wait!