Saturday, January 18, 2014

Breaking It In!

Since I will be back to the work grind, I have decided to make today my one month anniversary of LEAF 2013 (its actually Monday the 20th...but close enough!) and what a month its been!!

I still don't have a definitive range test and not sure I really want to do one. They have so much variability built into them that unless I get on a track somewhere, results are really only a one time shot. Now, if I have the opp to get near 100 miles on a charge, I might consider circling the neighborhood but even that is unlikely based on a lack of free time. But one thing is obvious and that is the 2013 seems to have a bit more to offer.  It looks like Nissan has simply allowed the BMS to access just a pinch more battery. In my 2011, it was a random access to the full 281 GIDs.  I hit it several times but it was once every 3-5 days or so and I would go weeks without hitting it.  In the 2013, every full charge has hit 284 so even the target is higher.

Now, the weather still plays a big part especially at this time of year and during our monsoon I did a 68 miles and might have had 2-3 miles left and that was while averaging 52 mph on the return trip.  But we had monster winds (power outages all over the Puget Sound Region) and very heavy rain so not the best of conditions.

Compare that to just a few days ago,  I drove almost the same distance 65.5 miles but had 27 on the GOM, 21.5 on LEAF Spy (which I trust a "bit" more) 60 GID and my speed? Well, I "try" to keep it at 60 mph but its a LEAF so its super smooth driving feel completely overcomes my feel for my speed. So, my log showed me doing as much as 72 mph with long stretches in the mid to upper 60's (guessing I was going downhill or something...)  So, in a nutshell, my 2011 got about 90 miles in mostly freeway driving using my VERY conservative style during Summer. But that was consistent because I had cruise control and my usual set speed was 58 mph for the first 2 years and that later dropped to 55 mph as my range degraded.

But the trip above is projecting to the same 90 miles at much higher speeds during Winter. This is a much larger improvement than I was expecting. I actually feel that I can make 100 miles @ 55 mph.  My previous 4 forays into triple digit distances all involved a significant amount of street level driving. They had to because there was no way I could approach 100 miles on the freeway.  But anyway; come Summer, we see how it goes.

The one thing I noticed with the 2013 is that it needs a warm up cycle and please don't tell me what is warming up because I aint gotta clue. Like the 2011, the 2013 blows off the first 10 GIDs or so at the rate of  5-8 GIDs per mile.  After that, its more like 3-3.5 GIDs per mile, a HUGE difference.  For a long time, I figured it wa a "float charge" thing.  This is common on lead-acid batteries. They are charged by charging to a level of 14ish volts which seems pretty high for a 12 volt battery right but that is how its done. (maybe that is why they don't cycle very well?) so the voltage is a bit higher right after charging is complete and settles to its 12.7-12.8 volts. So they read artificially high for a bit so was wondering if that "2874" was a "float GID" reading right? Makes me anyway.

But actually that was shot down because anytime the car sat more than a few hours, it would go thru the same warm up cycle...oh well.  One thing I do know is that its not warming up the heater.  But with the heated steering wheel and seats, it is more comfortable and actually worked well when the temps were in the teens but the heat caused extra condensation on the windshield so defrost needs to be run more than before so kinda of a trade off. I am sure I am still ahead energy wise with the 2013 and positive my butt likes it a lot more than the 2011!

Now, you might be tired of hearing this but if you really want to know what your LEAF is doing, get LEAF Spy.  It really is invaluable as a tool. Every day, I find another reason to look at its data.  More recently, I have been casually tracking temperature readings from on the traction pack and have noticed that generally driving at freeway speeds is good for a 2-3 º rise over 25ish miles.  Now, that is during the Winter and ambient temps do play a part. During our cold snap, twice I noticed a 4 º DROP during the same freeway trip.  Now there  is a constant debate on how to treat your battery well so it will treat you well and two of the most popular topics are heat verses high SOC.

Now we already know both play a part but what if in the Summer, you get home and you have a relatively late start in the morning like 8ish.  Many set their timers to finish the charge just before they leave in the morning but what if that little extra amount of heat is hurting you especially when your drive might add several degrees to the pack?  Unfortunately, I did not get LEAF Spy in time to check on this before temps got cold (also, hadn't thought about this either :) )

So maybe it might be better to let the charge complete say at 2-3 am during the coldest part of the day so the pack can cool a bit more before hitting the streets and the heat of the day.  Either way,  I decided to get a new EVSE upgrade (despite the fact my old one worked fine) and this one is programmable so its currently set to 20 amps. I am on a 30 amp breaker so can go as high as 24 but really don't need the extra speed generally (and if I do, it takes 2 mins to reprogram it) and also I am using an ancient breaker panel that has proprietary breakers with a really crappy reputation so thought it best to not push the limits.

Either way, I am doing what I can to boost my battery's life. Want to do better this time around as compared to my 2011 so aiming for less than 8% degradation at 45,000 miles which is probably a pipe dream but we see.

One quick thing before I go. My basic battery readings are 67.36 ahr and 104.36% Hx. Now, that is where its at most of the time but only for a few days, then the numbers start to drop. I have had it as low as 66.91 ahr and 102.83% Hx. When that happens, I quick charge it to get batt temps at least up the upper 50's low 60's and that boosts my readings back up again. I have never gone past 67.36 ahr but have had Hx readings as high as 105.98%!

So I guess my pack is like me. Not too hot, not too cold

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