Saturday, December 24, 2016

30 KWH; Bigger, Faster, Hotter??

Anyone who says the LEAF's 30 kwh pack is not an improvement simply does not have a 30 kwh pack. Yes, its still on the borderline of what a road warrior would need.  Yes, it still must rely on a reasonable public charging network and yes, it will probably degrade faster than a TMS battery pack would, but...

I have yet to realize just how much more freedom I have because I got mine at the end of November so its been cold, rainy, snowy, and even windy...VERY windy!  But a few things are already obvious; I now do what I couldn't dream of doing with a 24 kwh pack.

I am not talking about those Wintertime 80 mile trips that I made in my 24 kwh LEAF with VERY careful planning that I now do without even thinking about how much charge I have left. Typically, on the way home, I am in a hurry so previously I drove as fast as my remaining range and weather conditions permitted me to do, which was usually 55-60 mph.  Now, even at 70+, I am barely hitting LBW by the time I get home.

I am also not talking about the 163 mile trip I took the other day which included an unexpected detour to pick up my Sister when BiL's near new Chevy Truck went DOA on the highway.  This was an unplanned 52 mile detour.  I had already planned on getting a quick boost on the way home since I would still be near 110 miles in Winter but now it was a full blown 30 min charge on the way there.  Thankfully, the 30 kwh pack takes a charge at near full speed at much higher SOC's.  This allowed me to get enough so that I did not have to stop again on the way home. Again, not possible in the 24 kwh pack especially when the charging speed starts to drop before 50% SOC!

In a nutshell, the 30 kwh pack not only provides roughly 20-25 miles of extra range (5.4 kwh) its ability to charge faster means a much greater flexibility in planning a drive that may include charging stations not in the ideal position along the route.


There is a catch. The 30 kwh pack has been available since the beginning of the 2016 model year in the SL/SV trim with the S Trim getting it mid Fall.  There was a lot of reports of "2nd Gen" LEAFers who claimed their 30 kwh pack heated up much faster than their previous 24 kwh packs despite less fast charging sessions.

Well this was a concern! What good is getting extra kwh's on the road if it heated up your pack so much that it rendered the car nearly unusable?

Now, initially I had some doubts. Hot weather was probably part of it.  I figured people were just Kwh crazed, driving 75 mph,  zipping from one station to the next only because they could.  But then I saw some reports in mid Fall from an Oregonian when the weather was in the mid 40's. Wow, that is not hot weather at all!

So I decided to heat up my pack to see just how bad it was.  But 3 stops at fast chargers this past week didn't seem to do much heating at all. As always the weather was completely uncooperative being much colder than normal. So might have to repeat this experiment when we get back to normal.  For some background, at this time of year, I usually had 4 temp bars and a fast charge would bump me to 5 or 6 temp bars and I would almost always have at least 5 temp bars the next morning.  But that is not happening with my 30 kwh pack and because I park in my garage, the colder than normal temps are not really a factor since the garage temperature swing is only about 4-5º even on the coldest days.

So, I purposely did not charge the night before, got up yesterday morning, OAT was 33º, garage was 50.2º and batt temps were 50.2/49.8/49.2.  So did a bit of driving around and then hit the Tumwater DCFC

Time Stamp 12:15
As you can see, the driving around we did hardly changed temps at all. In fact, the last number went down. This one I am guessing is at the end of the pack or more exposed because it always quickly diverges from the other two always being cooler than the top 2.  I also suspect that it might not be as accurate since its usually reading lower than the garage temp. (or I need to change battery in garage sensor...:) )

Time Stamp 12:38
So I charged for 21 mins to get to 80% (There was also a car with Campbell Edmonds Dealer plates who pulled in...) cutting it a bit shorter than planned but still ok.  AV says I got 12.05 kwh and as you can see LEAF Spy counted 11.558 kwh to the pack adding 12.6 kwh as "available" so the heatup worked. OAT has dropped to 32º and it starts to snow.

We then went home to wear out the Xbox which was 10 miles and FOREVER to get there. People seem to lose their ability to make rational decisions behind the wheel when flakes appear. Its almost as if they are auditioning for that scene from "The Wizard of OZ" or something...

Time Stamp 14:05
We get home and park in garage cause its snowing like crazy now and I don't want that stuff on my car but we leave garage door open (which is pretty normal for me during the day anyway) Later we dash off to get something to eat.  We picked a bad day to be out driving. It literally took us longer to drive the 3.4 miles to the restaurant than it took us to order, eat our food and leave.

We go home and car is in garage with door shut, OAT warms up to 25º, Garage is 45º. (left door open too long).  A few hours later, car has to give up its spot for Kayak (another story) but just for an hour.
Car returns to garage, door shut.

Time Stamp 20:46
LEAF put to bed with no dinner. (She was not bad or anything like that. Just another sacrifice for pseudoscience!)

Time Stamp 08:02  12/24/16
I got up, crank on heat (overnight temp is generally set to 55-58º), drink coffee and checked LEAF.  As always, all 3 are back to near ambient temps. I guess I should have checked before I turned on heat. But in reality, I probably don't want to know how much my furnace is heating up the garage. Sometimes a bit of ignorance is... well, you know.

In conclusion; my experiment did not go as I had planned cause I wanted to heat the pack up a bit more but even in the times I did it earlier in the week, I was still seeing the same results the next morning. The pack always returned to near ambient temps.

Another thing to keep in mind is most of what I was doing during the week was charging at Tacoma Mall, spending 25-40 minutes to drive home and immediately parking in garage with door shut so even with a somewhat climate controlled garage that never got below 46º even during the colder days, I was still seeing all the heat generated from fast charging dissipated overnight.

This experiment is not done but the initial results are interesting.


  1. Very envious! We can buy a 30kWh LEAF in Australia. I'd trade up tomorrow if I could

    1. It is a welcome bump and by all indications another will soon follow. I will say that more is better but I think 40 kwh is looking like my minimum requirements.