Friday, February 12, 2021

12 volt battery

 Thurs  2/11

Checked voltage;  11.98 volts, garage temp  53.8º



0816; Started 12 volt charge in car; 



0850; 75%,  14.26 volts at battery

1010; 75%  14.49 volts  

1050; 75% Removed charger, batt voltage 12.75

1125; 12.55 volts

1248; 12.48 volts

Played in snow (went grocery shopping) 




Friday; 2/12

0645; OAT range last 12 hours; 29-27ºF, Garage; 50.7ºF.  12.00 volts.  Did manual update search, disabled wi fi. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

LEAF 12 Volt Battery Health

 Its that time of year when we are monitoring the weather report to see if road conditions warrant leaving for work 15 minutes earlier to make it on time. Its all about managing snow, sleet, ice and...your 12 volt battery. If you are a member of several LEAF groups like me, it will likely take you  less than 5 minutes to find one "car won't start" post and the culprit 95% of the time?  You guessed it.  So some ideas of keeping that battery reliable thru the Winter is something I think we all need to investigate.

Lead Acid Batteries 

12 volt battery issues during Winter didn't start with the Nissan LEAF.  I can't tell you how many times I cussed and bitched every time I couldn't get my $115 (yeah that is what I paid for it) Chevelle to start on a frigid January morning when living in Michigan. Being less than 5 miles from Lake Huron meant it wasn't a "dry" cold, it was a "feel every single degree of icy chill" cold along with that "nice" breeze. As a teen, I was lucky to have a car (although where we lived, you really didn't have much of a choice. Our town had no bus service that left town and we didn't live anywhere near town) but nowhere near the status of being able to park in the garage so it was all about my car not freezing over night while parked under the Elm tree in our yard. 

This meant at least half a dozen times a winter getting Mom's keys so I could jump my car with hers while hoping my fingers weren't permanently frostbitten during the process.  The reality is cold cars don't want to start first thing in the morning.  Now this was a 12 volt battery that was immediately topped off to a full charge right after starting. Right where lead acid wants to be; fully charged.  But if driving an EV (No, the LEAF is not the only EV with this issue) you are not afforded all the advantages you could have in the frigid fight of the Fahrenheit!


Nissan 12 Volt Management

Nissan's BMS charges the 12 volt battery on a regular basis triggered by several different events.  Starting the car is one, having the car sit for an extended period of time is another.  In none of these cases is the 12  volt battery fully charged. When 24 kwh packs were the norm, I could understand Nissan not wanting to spend a lot of electrons on topping off the 12 volt battery. So it was really all about creating an algorithm  that would boost the charge enough to keep it in the safe zone and for many of us, it works.  But the number of people who do have problems along with much larger packs suggests Nissan could be doing a better job. 

To be fair, they do warn you when the 12 volt battery is low (now why that warning doesn't trigger additional charging sessions is anyone's guess)  but like all "idiot" lights, by the time you see it, damage has already been done. According to Battery U, time under 50% SOC on a lead acid battery PERMANENTLY devalues the capacity. 

Symbol appears in upper left corner of the screen in red
 

The Test Part One

I park in a garage which means my 12 volt issues will be greatly mitigated simply because the battery won't get nearly as cold as one sitting outside. I also live in the Pacific Northwest 3 miles from the southern apex of Puget Sound which means pretty mild winters for the most part. 

Now because I have a Plus and a 28 mile roundtrip 4 day commute, I could easily gain enough range the night before my workweek began to cover me for the  week without any additional charging.  I did this for 4 weeks checking the battery voltage in the morning before taking off for the day.  The results were not encouraging. 

Day 1 range; 12.28 to 12.55 volts

Day 2 ranged from 12.15 to 12.41 volts

Day 3 ranged from 11.91 to 12.31 volts. 

Day 4 ranged from 11.99 to 12.21 volts

Now its obvious that the car is getting a boost from the battery during the night at least occasionally. This explains the high end voltage readings. Most of the readings were nearer to the low end of the range. Now I think with the newer LEAFs, the  12 volt gets boosted daily but was unable to capture it charging. Leaving LEAF Spy running all night is an option because it will only stay connected if the car is on which would have changed the algorithm  that controlled the 12 volt charging mechanism so I set up my Go Pro on the slowest frame rate to run all night to try to to catch charging sessions and it failed to capture anything in 4 days. When the 12 volt battery is being actively boosted and the car is not charging, the right charging light (facing the car) on the dash blinks. I will probably revisit this. 

NOTE; For anyone wondering how much power the car uses in the "on and parked" state. I split duty with my dryer plug to charge the car so am only running at 5.88 KW (240 volts, 24 amps)  LEAF Spy shows power in and out of the battery and here you see a .5 amp difference between car on, car off. Using the "PIE" formula (volts * current = power) You can see 5.22 KW of the 5.88 KW feed making it to the battery with car off.  With car on, its 5.04 KW. 


 

During this time, garage temps ranged from 48 to 58º and a few times, I was wondering if I should grab my boost box. 

Garage temp 51.9º 6:55 AM, car last driven 6:22 PM previous day

Luckily the car still started. I couldn't help but wonder if it would have started if parked outside when the previous overnight low was 39º?  After the car started, I decided to charge to see how long the 12 volt battery would boost.  

Lead acid needs over 14 volts to charge and LEAF Spy logs verified the 12 volt charging at 14.48 volts, just starting just 3 amps. (FYI; LEAF Spy not running the entire time so normally we would see a lot more entries in the drop to under 2 amps with each entry ~ 6 second intervals) 


But the battery only charged for 6 minutes.  FYI; I have a 12 volt battery charger that recommends 4 amp charging medium duty (cars) so 6 minutes? Yeah, barely qualifies as life support. 

Now this may come as a shock to some but there are misconceptions going around on social media including the fact that the normal voltage the LEAF 12 volt DC system runs on 13.04 volts; is enough to charge the battery. This is NOT true, not even a little tiny bit.  The battery is essentially electrically disconnected from the system. 

I then scoured my LEAF Spy logs and found the average to be around 4-5 minutes for a boost with some being as short as 2 minutes. I did see one event that went 7 minutes until LEAF Spy was shut down. Had I only known...

Test Part Two

This part of the test, I measured the voltage every morning when I got up like part one but this time, I plugged the car in immediately afterwards. I would only be charging for ~ 75 minutes so SOC was still quite low (under 50% most of the time)  Since I was charging every day, there was no sense in breaking out day one, day two, etc. so I took 8 measurements (2 weeks worth)

Range; 12.18-12.71 volts. (ok, the 12.71 volts probably should have been tossed out as 2nd highest was only 12.48 volts) 

Wow! so charging every day definitely helps but not nearly as much as I had hoped. I will say that the garage was colder as low as 46.8º and the highest during this time was only 53º. Unlikely significant...

NOTE: Although my car enjoys the pampered life at home, she is just another car at work braving the elements in an uncovered lot for 10½ hours a day.

Living On The Edge

All this made me wonder "Just how close am I to the flame?"  So I went out, checked the battery and it was its customary range at 12.12 volts with the garage at 57.4º. I disconnected the battery entirely from the car and it read 12.30 volts.  I knew that my trip computer would be reset when I disconnected the battery so I turned on the car just long enough to get my LEAF Spy readings for the day before doing all this.  But a .2 volt drop from the system was an interesting data point. 

NOTE; I don't have telematics (Nissan Connect, CARWINGS or whatever its called nowadays) but I do have Wi Fi. Its my guess that Wi Fi is not active when the car is off so shouldn't make a difference. 

So I hooked up the charger. Voltage went to 14.40 volts so a bit lower than the LEAF system. And...


Well, not looking super good (to say the least) 

It did move to 50% in less than 3 minutes. Another 13 minutes to 75%. The time to 100% will be of less value because when the charger senses the voltage starting to rise, it will cut back the current and I have no real way of knowing how much. Either way, I am charging 50-100% faster than the LEAF would be so its pretty obvious that most of the boosts are coming nowhere near bringing the battery as high as 50% charged. Now for Lithium, that would be awesome but Lead Acid? 50% ensures an early death. 

I let the charger run for 40 minutes disconnecting when the charge voltage hit 14.52 volts which was near when the current would likely start to drop. After reconnecting the battery, I waited 5 minutes and checked it. 12.33 volts.  Don't know how much good it did but I sure feel a lot better about it. 

FYI; Temps expected to be below freezing tonight 😉

EDIT

Naturally a few days after I publish this, Elon responded. He is usually pretty good about that ;) 


Saturday, January 9, 2021

December 2020 Drive Report; Hope For The New Year!

2021 promises a reset of the challenges faced in 2020 but the progress is slow. WA is still locked down for all social activities so its take out only, no sporting events, concerts, movies or much of anything else.  Although retail locations are restricted to 25% capacity, other than small (easy to track) shops in the malls, there is very little policing going on.  Each store does have people out front going thru the motions but I have only encountered one line at Costco (didn't go in) but other places like Safeway was packed and pretty sure they were well over the 25% limit but so far, no infections


As you can see; as of Wednesday the 7th (when I took the test) I am free to roam...with a mask of course. Since the test, I have only had close interaction with my Son who sees no one other than immediate family as he is still doing CFH (classes from home)  and a few different people I picked up food from and yes, I and they were wearing masks.  

As far as when I will be able to take more advantage of my range, that remains to be seen. Restrictions were supposed to be "adjusted" on the 4th but were extended to the 11th and then an announcement by the governor is breaking up the state into regions where different levels of restrictions will apply. Due to paywall issues, I have no other information than that but its my hope by this time next week, I will be able to do something besides shuttling a few miles for food and groceries. 

I will be getting the vaccine when its available and due to age and occupation, I will likely be in the first 3rd or so in WA? But still looks to be not before early to mid Spring, so that is a long way off not to mention the 30 day 2 shot process and the several days of immunity building before I am "relatively" safe. 

The Numbers

December as expected saw me under 4 miles/kwh barely. I am actually surprised I came as close as I did due to my higher average speed on my commuting but guessing climate control experimentation played a small part but ended the month going 810.2 miles @ 3.96 miles/kwh costing $19.86 or 2.45 cents/mile. That is a slight drop from last month despite higher utility rates which I calculated at 12.21 cents/kwh. Due to the rate change in the middle of the month, a straightforward calculation would have been tedious so I split the taxes, etc. 50/50 although my tier one/ tier two usage was 600/450. All my EV charging was tier two.
For the year; entire fuel cost was $194 and change which included $42.10 in public charging fees, most of which happened when I was homeless. At 13,985 miles that works out to 1.39 cents per mile. I can live with that. Unfortunately the loss of NCTC likely means an estimated 240% increase in cost.

Degradation Predictions

"Probably" should have waited another 2 weeks for my adjustment but as you can see (the black arrows) in the chart, the last one was hardly a thing and I am expecting more of the same. What the chart portrays is projected ahr/SOH @ 100,000 miles using current degradation trends from day one. Although I have date lines, this data points are logged every 1000 miles.
Now if we were to use only the trends of the recent past; .03% SOH the last 1k miles or .04% the previous 1K miles, I would hit 6 figures around 90% SOH. Unrealistic? Well, there are already 4 LEAFers over 100,000 miles and two of them are still over 90% SOH so yeah, its possible. Obviously they have a much lower level of time based degradation.


Here is the latest entry @ 16,003 miles and I guess we can say things are looking up 

By Date

By miles

Notes; There are now 4 LEAFers (40 and 62 kwh) over 100,000 miles with no capacity bar loss including at least one still over 90% SOH.  Granted their timed based degradation will be less than mine, but so far things are looking good.  We are still searching for the first lost capacity bar. If you know of one, grab some pix and comment below! 

Climate Controls

Recently I discovered my Plus has gained a lot more climate control options.  Not sure my 40 kwh could do some of the stuff but I know my older LEAFs couldn't. 

As we know, heat is the big range killer so using it sparingly is the easiest way to boost range on those longer drives. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the challenge is even greater due to the high humidity that comes hand in hand with lots of rain. So anyway, I am buzzing over to grab dinner and have defrost on and as usual, I am toggling the heat button on and off based on how much comfort I need and got stuck behind a smelly at the light. I immediately closed the vent but since it was pouring rain, I knew fogging would quickly become an issue so I left the A/C on. 

The light turned green, I proceeded to my destination and sat in the car waiting for my food to arrive. (carside delivery) The food came out after a 3 minute wait and off I went and that is when I realized the vent was still closed and until hot food was introduced,  the windshield stayed clear!  This was a shock!

So I decided that I would investigate further so the next day. I drove around this time with LEAF Spy running and results were pretty cool 

 

The phone covers it but I drove around all 
day w/o heat. The day was mild so not an
issue! 

Here there is no power draw but I did see power occasionally, so had to access LEAF Spy logs and saw power ranging from 200 to 350 watts briefly but mostly zeros.  On the chart below, the number you see is the power used in 50 watt increments. So 1 = 50 watts, 2 = 100 watts, etc.  Each reading happens roughly every 6 seconds


Now the weather was a lot drier than it was the previous night so unable to know how bad fogging would be but there would definitely some fogging normally as only the driest, sunniest days are fog free when the vents are closed. I did have light rain in the morning but it was mostly dry with sunbreaks in the afternoon. 

Now there are caveats to this method. Although the A/C is not "technically" cooling the air, removing moisture will lower the temp of the air somewhat. I much prefer the closed vent option especially around town and found that blowing cold air on my feet was easier to tolerate than the face or windshield. It did irk me a bit as the front left vent on the dash leaks but I simply pointed it to the driver's window and that fixed it. 

On milder days in the 50's, it was easy to never turn on the heat. I did toggle heat on/off on a roughly 30/70% cycle in colder weather in the 40's down to the upper 30's when the heat was on most of the time. I will be playing with much more but so far, very impressive results. 

Electrify America

I can't even tell you how much it irritates me that my most hated public charging option is becoming so useful! As mentioned, the Olympic Peninsula Scenic Highway is a major challenge even for long range (200 mile plus) EVs due to no DC charging! Tesla has it covered but that is all.  Well, things have changed as EA has sited and will soon break ground on key locations in Aberdeen, (first convenient CCS/Chademo plug in Grays Harbor county!) Port Angeles, and Poulsbo, WA.  This makes the longest distance between DC chargers at no more than 164 miles which literally takes all the challenge away for me.  Even 40 kwh LEAFers can make it with a few short pit stops at one of free level 2's along the route and there is a LOT of places worthy of a visit!  


All will be located at Walmart.  To be fair, I should mention that Leavenworth, WA (our Bavarian mountainous, Christmasy town) another popular destination will also have an EA location but that area has several DC stations already but as we all know; on busy holidays, there is never enough plugs so the more the merrier!  

We also have a state sponsored public charging rollout(most notably Highway 12 over White Pass) that EA is partially involved in (not sure how much the state has involved in these new EA locations) which means more stations coming.  I have requests for Forks and Shelton which will be very helpful as well. 

But the convenience is "nearly" overridden by the crazy per kwh rates EA started last year. I suggest we all send our thoughts to EA about this. We live in one of the hottest EV adoption areas and we are paying THE highest rates for a charge. Something is not right here!  


Friday, December 4, 2020

November 2020 Drive Report; Winterizing Your Drive

For the month, I only went 738.0 miles averaging 4.05 miles/kwh. With a charging efficiency averaging 88%, that means  207.1 kwh put in.  FYI; DC efficiency is much higher averaging 96-97%. The lower mileage is representative of increased COVID restrictions. The theaters are closed, dine in isn't an option so... life is kinda boring. I admit the movie thing isn't a great hurdle. I have surround sound and 75" so if I slide my chair a bit closer, it really isn't all that bad I guess. First World problems are Hell... A friend doing WFH is getting into meal delivery services and I thought about it as its definitely a healthier option than what I am doing and right now there are some great prices making the difference in cost not so much. But that would be more time at home and not sure I want to do that. I do cook regularly but my skills are limited. I should really invest in a cookbook and get a hobby! 

The Worm Has Turned!

My last blog was my one year review with part two mostly examining LEAF Spy data on battery degradation. There I predicted my next adjustment due in Jan will either be positive or zero.  I also track my stats every 1,000 miles and probably will create another parallel chart for every month but I set a new record for degradation (the good kind of record!) At 15,000 miles (more or less) my degradation was .05% loss from 14,000 miles covering October 22 to November 28.  This nearly cuts my previous record of .09% in half.  I also set another record of sorts when my stats didn't change for 21 days. Previous high was 10 days. 

Now, the reduced driving, 100% L2 charging and the colder weather is also likely playing a part. How big is anyone's guess but realize my 2018 went into super slow degradation mode in July so not putting a lot into the "cold battery hibernation" theory that many people seem to like. 

On the 2018, I got it mid Feb so still "winterish" but much closer to the start of warmer weather but nearly the same thing happened on its one year anniversary where I had no changes for 16 days running from 2/13/19 to 3/1/19.  This happened on the change from 93.00% to 92.99% SOH.  The Plus record happened on the change from 93.13% to 93.12%.  Based on this info, I have determined the Plus is .13% better than the standard!!

(I hope we ALL realize I was kidding on that last part...) 

Charging Issues

Ever get the red flashing error on your EVSE? Usually comes with a dash emoticon? You may have or have not noticed it but its likely everyone has seen it a few times. The error condition corrects itself most of the time so not always noticeable.  I used to see it maybe a few times a month. I unplug 100% of the time when the charge is active since I never charge to full (or anywhere near it lately)  So what I have been experimenting with is squeezing the trigger on the EVSE first, waiting until the pump stops (like one second) running then unplugging. So far, so good. I didn't really track how often I got the faults but in my estimation, I have probably exceeded the time I would have seen at least 2 by now. 

Topping Up

The weather is either cooler or getting downright cold. Your LEAF, just like any other car will see diminished range because of the cold weather. Cold air is denser meaning if nothing else changed,your miles/kwh performance drops with the temperature because of the additional molecules. Not a whole lot you can do about that but there are a few things you can do in advance to minimize those inconvenient moments cars tend to throw at us at us when the weather turns. 

Top off your windshield wiper fluid.  Its the easiest thing on the  list and one of the most vital especially if you usually see snow. Snow on the roads quickly becomes slush mixed with oil and other gasser junk. Wipers alone have no chance against this toxic mix. Being caught short on windshield wiper fluid is not only inconvenient ($15 at 7-Eleven verses $5 at Walmart) but its dangerous. 

Related to the fluid is the wipers themselves. I will admit that I only change the short blade every other year but change the long one "around" November.  Because of the size of the blade, curve of the windshield or whatever,  not all replacement blades work with the LEAF. Costco was infamous for stocking ones that were garbage. Now this is a bit more work but one thing I found that worked very well is replacing just the blade itself. I get mine at the local Honda dealer. Under $10 and it would be classified "very easy" on the DIY scale I think.

Driver: Honda 76622-STK-A02 

Passenger: Honda 76632-STK-A02

Rear: Honda 76622-T7A-003 

Tire Pressures need to be checked. Do it first thing in the morning before any driving if parked outside. Remember tire pressures should be checked during the coldest part of the day. Tires will lose about one PSI for every 10ºF drop in the temperatures.  Another reason to check before any driving is tires heat up unevenly so checking them after driving means your front tires will read a bit higher than the backs since the fronts do most of the work. 

Check your 12 volt battery. Like any car, your LEAF will not start without a 12 volt battery in "reasonable" shape. Yep, that is all we need, one that is barely alive but even that is not always possible with Nissan's 12 volt battery algorithm.  I am happy to report that initial analysis indicates the algorithm has improved on my 2019 Plus.  But improved does not mean "fixed" 

Lead acid for longest life wants to be at or near a full charge. This means nearly 13 volts (why is it called a 12 volt battery then?) Now the LEAF puts a load on that 12 volt battery 24/7. That is how it remembers your radio stations, etc.  That load is pretty low most of the time dropping the voltage a tenth or so. 

Things that can increase the load;

Charging or being plugged in and not charging (charging complete or on a timer)

Telematics like Nissan Connect. 

Walking near your car with fob in your pocket. 

Auto headlight settings or anything else that stays on after you shut the car off. 

So right now I am in the process of trying to figure out if the 12 volt algorithm responds to outside influences. To do that, I have to have a general idea of when the car actually charges the battery when its sitting.  To say tracking this process is frustrating is an understatement.  First thing I tried was Go Pro on the slowest frame rate. Two nights, zero results. Will go deeper into this soon. 

But I am waking up to a battery that is anywhere from 12.65 (GREAT!) to 12.15 (ooooohhh...) volts.  Now, I park in a garage where the temps run in the low to upper 50's.  We had a burst of cold weather that lasted 3 days and the garage temps held up well so my issues aren't critical but if you are parking outside, you WILL have battery issues. 

Now, last year my car was new so I had little worries about the cold. My previous place, the garage was 5-10º colder due to a lot more shade (which I MUCH rather wish I still had!) but in previous years, once a month or so, I would boost the 12 volt. So if you have a charger, this might not be a bad idea. Don't be one of the 2-4 Facebookians I see posting dead 12 volt battery stories, daily. 

Finding Your Comfort Level

We all have comfort levels that vary a ton so saying what works for anyone else but me is really quite crazy but everyone does it anyway, so this is my disclaimer; 

I live in a relatively mild climate which means I have challenges...different ones. Because of that, some of what I suggest will sound crazy to people who live in more severe weather. 

Here we have rain...LOTS of it. This year, it hasn't happened like it normally does. Forecasters predicted colder wetter weather but we have been a LOT drier than normal. I don't remember the last time there was little or no rain predicted for the South Sound Region for the first 5 days of December. 

But one thing I have been experimenting with is running defrost with less heat. My Plus has separate heat and A/C buttons.  During defrost, A/C power is pretty low, generally 200 watts or less.  Heat is another story. On startup, it will get up to 3500 watts and slowly work its way down. But its bottom is generally 300-750 watts. (I have seen it at 150 but rarely and no more than a few minutes at a time) So being able to run (and see) with the heat off is a benefit.  I have just started doing this over the  past week and the rain issues have been mild so will report back in much more detail when I see how well it works on the milder, wetter days when fogging is a huge issue. 

Another thing I got was heated socks! Uses rechargeable Lithium and first trip out was favorable. Will have more on that later as well.  Just a few quick comments on the socks.  They are very comfortable so even as just socks, they are great.  I picked them up on Amazon for $25. They have 3 heat settings and only warm up the toes and ball of your foot. 

I got them yesterday so took off on a drive waiting till dark. It didn't get as cold as I had hoped as I was only using steering wheel heat and seat heaters using defrost as needed (light need) but I was very comfortable at 42º.  It was my goal to wait until my feet got cold before turning them on as I won't be wearing them on a regular basis. They will go in my "emergency" kit which also contains handwarmers, gloves, knit caps, tire socks, etc.) so its important to not test to see if they will keep my feet warm but to see if they can warm up cold feet. 

But I got to my turnaround spot and my feet were just starting to feel the cold so not cold yet. I will say even on the highest setting, the warmth was not overwhelming. Still much better than nothing and just the sock itself is much warmer than would I would be normally be wearing. So... stay tuned! 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

LEAF Spy, Batteries, Charging and Degradation; One Year Review Part 2

 I am currently collecting data from other Gen...uh...4? LEAFers with 40 and 62 kwh packs for a more balanced analysis of what we can expect to see long term.  Before 2018, I didn't have much interest since it wasn't till then that I wanted to keep any LEAF long term.  Even the bullet proof 30 kwh pack I had was only a considered cheap transportation purchase to use later to trade up. But despite the fact the 40 kwh had the range I would need,  it didn't have the buffer to allow better charge management which is why I am driving the Plus now. 

A New BMS

Starting with the 40 kwh packs, we started seeing large adjustments in pack  numbers via LEAF Spy every 3 months.  I still don't have enough data to tell you where we will be in 5 years but the early patterns are quite consistent among drivers with various needs, living in vastly different climates experiencing various driving conditions.  The "climate" factor so well published including a Gen One degradation prediction chart based on one's city (quite accurate actually) simply didn't work. We have people in VERY hot areas performing very well comparatively with others in mild climates that normally favor batteries by a large margin. 

Adjustments; Phase One

Although there seems to be outliers, the vast majority of us are seeing rapid drops in numbers lasting 9-15 months.  7 to 10% loss during this time is normal and covers over 90% of people who bothered to submit their battery stats.  My pack was no different. Not only was I losing chunks on my adjustment, I was also seeing a decline of .01 or .02% 4-7 times a  week. "That" alone can add up to over 2% annually. Hx is almost always skyrocketing here. There have been a handful of people whose Hx has remained "reasonable" lower than 110% and all of them (keep in mind my "all" is a very small list due to people not posting their stats when ASKED!) were slightly above the curve. 

Adjustments; Phase Two

But the  big chunks don't last. A new pattern emerges where the chunks lost in many cases, become chunks gained. Now we need to understand that realistically, this isn't possible but the circumstances of how these increases happen doesn't really allow us to blame instrumentation like the 24/30 kwh  packs which bounced up  and down on a near daily basis. So a huge number saw their numbers go up, others saw their adjustments get MUCH smaller or simply stop happening.  My guess is the adjustments are still  there but have nothing to report.  I also have daily records kept; something few others do. 

Adjustments; Phase Three?? 

Now, my Plus has only been in Phase 3 (I call  it  and...pretty much only I do) for just over a month.  In Phase 3, the downward trickle slows considerably.  Instead of seeing the .01 or .02% adjustments almost daily, they drop to almost once a week. In the chart below, to reduce the noise I only recorded ahr/SOH when the value changed.  Notice the Hx is also on the slow decline?  My adjustment happened during this period with a loss of .37% 

Notes; I have been on a SOC control kick.  Since I don't have NCTC any more, I have all but avoided DC charging for the most part and "maybe" that is contributing to the very slow numbers decline. I am running between 20-45% mostly with a few bumps to 65%.  Although it doesn't show here, the  longest day during the slow decline was 118 miles.  Another thing to consider is I am simply not driving all that much. With the new restrictions put in this week, it will be even less. I am  guessing neither the miles driven or lack of DC charging is a "significant" factor.  Below is my 40 kwh @ 15 months

Notes; Full on Summer here and all the public charging is DC since I had NCTC at this time which is why I didn't break out separate columns for DC and AC.  Unlike my Plus, I BAKED the 40 several times. Free charging does that to me and it was also during a time when Central WA was blowing up with new stations so trips to Ellensburg and Yakima were a must. Yakima was during Summer and it was HOT! Leaving there, I took White Pass back to Centralia Webasto; a 162 mile trip which is quite the challenge on flat ground. This meant charging on DC (it was free for the opening!) until it stopped at 98% and topping off at an L2 in town; all done at near 100º heat. Fun times!

Point of comparison; One year

2018 LEAF; 16,134.5 miles SOH 92.99%

Plus; 14,669.5 miles SOH; 93.13%

Factor in the mileage difference and its all but a dead heat. This is shocking to me. The charging/driving habits were as different as different can be. In the first year, my 2018 had a diet of 87% DC, My Plus only 55% DC with  nothing since August 24th.  The smaller pack charged to a higher level. I had 30 mins free so frequently charged until it stopped. So my SOC was higher, my pack a LOT hotter. 

Now the  Plus has not done the road trips I had planned. The real test was going to be a rafting trip in Central OR followed by a visit to Bend OR then swinging back up thru Central WA back to Olympia in the dead of Summer but COVID derailed those plans.  The additional range along with the fact the pack doesn't heat up enough on the first charge made hitting 110º quite the challenge. My only experience with Rapidgate was during a run when leaving home under 10% SOC. I stopped in Castle Rock charging only 20 mins which was more than enough to get me where I was going in time (barely) then grabbed another 23 minute charge and went back to EA Lacey and charged at 55 KW  when I normally would have seen about 73 KW.  A slowdown? Yes... drastic? You decide. 

Trendline

Now we are in complete guess mode but based on the limited data submitted by other LEAFers over 2½ years on theirs, the trend is holding up. Below is two charts; the 2018 with 25,125 miles over 21 months then the Plus at just over a year. Data points taken every 1000 miles more or less (whatever the end of the day provided) and displays projected ahr/SOH @ 100,000 miles.  The 2018 has a wiggle in it due to a LEAF Spy recalibration of the SOH. 

To read the chart, you need to look at the drops and how they compare with the upward slopes between the drops. You can see over time, the drops become smaller and the upward slope becomes greater. This indicates the rate of degradation slowing. 

2018 40 kwh
Note; On the left side we see the drop being more than double the slow rises between adjustments. Then you see the slow rise with a jump up when I had my increase. After that you will notice just a slow rise. My last adjustment before the trade in was Zero. Its not like it didn't happen. It simply had nothing to say. If we extrapolate "part" of this chart taking the rate from my one year anniversary 2/16/19 to trade in 11/16/19. My projected SOH @ 100,000 miles would be 85.05%... A 12 bar LEAF. 

But what if the bump up didn't happen (although its quite common) what if it was a zero bump? Then my projected SOH @ 100,000 miles would be 78.97% SOH. Easy to see why Nissan maintained the warranty degradation. I literally have no chance.  It also reveals a possible motive why Nissan is now using the 40 kwh pack to warranty 30 kwh packs. 


2019 E Plus
When I talked about phases above, it was probably a bit of a head scratcher to you but after seeing this chart, it becomes clearer. Extrapolating this chart will be a lot less accurate since we have barely over half the data the 40 has and several projections using different points on the graph ranged from 60 to 74% SOH (July 1 and July 24)  So I took another view taking the degradation from the last adjustment to now and doubling it to get 81.57% which I have to think won't happen. Not doubling the rate puts me at 87.3% a more likely result.  Either way, you will know what I know when it happens. 

Piling On The Miles...Or Not

I got my 2018 when I was still doing the inventory job so my driving was extreme. My first two adjustments I had done nearly 4500 miles on each. Realize the first adjustment, I had only had the car less than two months. Needless to say, I DC'd a lot. Remember, it was 87% DC and that includes a few stretches of a few months when I did no home charging. 

2018 Adjustments; Apr/Jul/Oct/Jan
#1; -0.67% SOH on 4499.0 miles  total 1.30% drop
#2; -1.31% SOH on 4243.2 miles total 1.87% drop
#3; -1.20% SOH on 3254.8 miles total 1.71% drop
#4; -1.55% SOH on 3054.0 miles total 1.73% drop
#5; -0.92% SOH on 2637.8 miles total 1.07% drop
#6;+0.97% SOH on 2642.9 miles total 0.72% rise
#7; zero change  on 3532.7 miles total 0.40% drop 

The S Plus showed up 4 months before COVID hit and I still had NCTC  till February along with a $250 EVgo credit. 

2019 Plus adjustments; Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct
#1; -2.35% SOH on 3267.1 miles total 2.82% drop
#2; -1.29% SOH on 3265.1 miles total 1.61% drop
#3; -1.13% SOH on 4123.2 miles total 1.59% drop
#4; -0.37% SOH on 2898.0 miles total 0.49% drop

Notes; Adjustment 3 covered my labor share assignment when I was working at a different facility. It was just under 100 miles roundtrip 4 days a week for 6 weeks. It was "profitable" I banked $215 a week in untaxed travel pay all while using up my $250 EVgo credit. 

About halfway between #3 and #4 is when I went to all level 2 charging and a lot less driving. The totals look ok but that is because school was out and my Son and I could take any day of the week for road trips so lot of "short" 200-300 miles trips were in there. Now that school is in, the only day we have to really do any traveling is Saturday which is just about my least convenient day.  

The 2018 bounced around quite a bit so hard to discern any real trends until the very end but the Plus is very predictable. The "total" you see in the last column is the adjustment plus the daily drops.  

Conclusions

Sorry... way too early to tell with any certainty which is why more data is important to the process.  This means several LEAF Spy data points spanning years.  Many 2018's will be hitting year 4 in the next few months and those data points are valuable but less so if we don't have your 2½ year data or your 2 year data.  I am guessing you figured out by now that this post was less a one year review and more a plea for more battery data. The MANY points mentioned briefly I will delve into more at a later date and that includes why charge management is more important than you think. I will also have more insights to my "keep it low" SOC experiment which will end around June. Hopefully by then the vaccine will be available and being rejected by millions (a sad and unavoidable fact I'm afraid) but traveling in relative safety will be an option for the more sensible people among us. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

One Year LEAF Plus Review

Just over a year ago, November 12, 2019 I received a call from Ray Raied Issak of Campbell Nissan of Everett WA  that was more than a bit unexpected. I was entering the 20th month of my 2018 LEAF S 40's 36 month lease when I was offered the chance to upgrade to a Plus at the same monthly cost.  Well, to say I thought there was a catch is a bit of an understatement but it was 50% more range, nearly double the DC charging speed so he definitely had my interest!

Now, I knew there would be a change on the backend because the Plus was simply more expensive so something had to change. My 40 kwh which I had thought about buying had a residual under $10,000 and its degradation had all but slowed to a crawl so my original 170 miles of range (Remember, YMMV) was down to around 158 to 160 miles. I could live with that. But the thought of a faster charger, the end of NCTC and the per minute billing of the day had me thinking that this was simply too good an opportunity to pass up so I resisted my knee jerk "Hell yeah" decision...and slept on it... Sleep didn't fix a thing so we set a time to swap cars. 

November 16th, I jumped in my car, set the NAV for traffic issues since this would be my 3rd car from Ray and I knew the way and off I went past a half dozen LEAF dealerships to THE best LEAF salesman in the Pacific Northwest. Ray was actually the best nationwide twice...or 3 times? Either way, he is VERY good at his job! 

The Pluses 

Power

Ok, it VERY noticeably faster than my 40 kwh LEAF to the point of being a bit scary.  In a year, I have had it to the floor like 3 times and that is probably 2 times too many so if power is your thing, its got it but you probably need different tires. Ecopias simply spin too easily.

Range

So I haven't really tested the range other than 3 times.  I did one trip during Winter and although not very cold with more than half the trip in the mid 40's with only the very end dipping into the 30's, it rained nearly the entire time including some pretty good downpours.  I was testing L2 chargers on the route so it was more than the normal in and out of the car which means running defrost more than usual was unavoidable but the car performed fine.  

Since I stopped to charge a bunch of times even if only briefly, I can only estimate the range to be just under the EPA rating of 226 miles. I was expecting over 200 miles of range so this was a pleasant surprise. As always, YMMV and this trip was the usual minimal climate control trip as much as could be done anyway. 

I did do over 272 miles with no charging stops with relative ease which is code for saying range anxiety did not play a part. The original route was about 265 but I had so much left I did some around town errands after my return with 275+ likely possible and yeah, traffic congestion played a part but that is everyday situation here with very few options to avoid it if going North. 

Note; All things are relative and I recently realized when I was putting this together that my perception has changed; what used to be a road trip isn't anymore. Any trip that requires less than 30 minutes of DC charging doesn't qualify in my mind and I did quite a few trips in the 300  mile range. 

Charging

It started out hot but didn't last and my relationship with Electrify America has soured considerably.  They expanded well moving into 4 of my 6 desired regions but the real goldmine was the ability to pull 200 amps while paying 18 cents a minute under their $4 a month subscription plan but then the veil was removed and Electrify America was revealed for who they are; NAZI's!!

Ok...maybe that was a bit over the top but they are thinly disguised Germans pretending to be an American company. First they throttled the Chademo down to 120 amps making Webasto and Blink faster. Then they went to a ridiculous 41 cents/kwh rate which means they now occupy the same brain space as Blink and its 49 cents/kwh rates for charging options. 

But it was awesome while it lasted. Getting a significant range boost in less time it took to leave some pee was totally cool! But as one fades, another emerges. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has finally decided to get serious about providing public charging services. Yeah, they have had free level 2's for a few years now but few in anything remotely resembling convenient locations and...well its level 2. Great if there are amenities or near places where business needs to be conducted which these weren't.  Case in point; The free level 2 at the regional office in Olympia a few miles from my house existed for a few years before my first visit. This is a FREE station and you know me...can't leave them alone! 

So it was with HUGE gratitude I plugged into PSE's new complex  in Lacey and got over 200 amps! and it was at 25 cents/kwh...higher than the heyday of EA, but still quite reasonable! This was the first in a series they plan to build. We need to show some support here! Hopefully this will lead to many more locations! 

Safety and Convenience

Ok, some of this was there starting in 2018 but still worth mentioning because of the seemingly huge number of LEAFers who either don't know about this or doesn't use it.

One of the best features is the TPMS screen  which  shows individual tire pressures on each wheel AND they are self registering. When I rotate tires, it takes a few power cycles but the new positions are recognized. Pretty cool! 

Another cool perk is the steering wheel heater now has memory.  Before I had to turn it on every time I got in the car. Now, it remembers its last status and repeats it. So I turn it on in November, turn it off in May. Saving the button cycle count!  Keep in mind, its still on a timer so an occasional re energizing is needed. One thing I did test was letting it time out and it still came back on on the next trip!

Lemonade 

Licensing

Ok, I like Lemonade so I will start with what I like.  In WA, we are blessed with the ability to support our local charging infrastructure. Every year we pay $75 to fund that endeavour. Naturally the roads also need some love so an additional $150 goes to them. Like any tax, it works better for some than others. (A glance at trump's tax returns verifies this) To this date; the charging infrastructure has seen many new stations installed so its easy to see where that money is going.  So lets look at the cost of EVing Washington State. 

Fuel

We pay one of the highest prices for gasoline in the country so its easy to see why EVs are so popular. Having just sprung for $300 for my tabs a few weeks ago (taken from the account that was supposed to pay the sales tax on the car. FYI; got enough in there for several more years of tabs) sometimes we need to remember how it used to be. 

WA bills us 51.9952 cents a gallon for gas. The feds tack on 18.4 cents which means 70.3952 cents for every gallon we buy supposedly goes to fix the roads or the same place our $150 EV tab fees supposedly goes. So why am I adding both the state and federal tax when the EV Tab is a WA thing?  Well, I challenged anyone to show me how to get gas w/o having to pay both and still waiting for an answer so until that happens, we will deal in reality, not semantics. 

Having a huge concern for my footprint decades before EVs started becoming mainstream, I naturally drove the car that came closest to my goals; The Prius. I got 3 of them and like my LEAFs, two of them were tax free.  Hypermiling was a new term probably invented by Prius drivers chasing the 50 MPG goal which we all soon found was rather easy to achieve.  Even with two highway trips to Disneyland, I had a lifetime average in my 2010 Prius just over 53 MPG. I thought it was super cheap transportation. Since I have gas receipts for the car, a "scenario" which is often tilted is not needed here. Again, reality wins. For this, we will  use the  last Prius owned; a 2010 Prius purchased May 13, 2009. 

During my Prius' 66,000+ mile journey, I consumed 1245.78 gallons of gas costing $4096.98 or  6.2 cents per mile. Granted some of time involved was during a much more expensive time than the prices we are seeing today. Those trips to California were EXPENSIVE! and included the highest price paid @ $4.319 a gallon!   A more recent example would be my Corolla that cost $1811.69 averaging 6.78 cents per mile. It did pay prices comparable to what we are seeing today including a lot of sub $2/gallon gas. Ahhh, those were the days! As long as you don't breathe too deeply... Its lifetime was 38.14 MPG. I gave it away 5 days after I picked up my 40 kwh. Yeah, it took that long to realize I didn't need it any more. 

Now my Prius was around well before the $75 Hybrid tab fee was a thing so the average tab renewal was probably $80ish but only because of my "DUALPWR" custom plates. The Corolla's last tab fee was $52.75 paid December 2017. 

Anyway, I felt that a per mile cost was the most equitable way of determining fuel costs. No maintenance costs are added. To make the Corolla a relatively cheap car (as cheap as you can get with a car over 230,000 miles that is) I had my Sister go thru the car and fix, update, etc. it before I gave it away and that included a badly needed new set of tires. The Prius also had a new set of tires as well. Other than a few "curb" incidences; none of my LEAFs had the burden of that expense.  So that is the gas option. Under 7 cents a mile is not all  that  bad a deal really. 

So lets look at the EV "scenario" since reality is waaaay too unfair in this analysis. For this scenario; we will toss in home rates at 2.5 cents/kwh (higher than I pay BTW)  The $225 tab fee (I know only the $150 is the "fuel" thing but people will whine so...)  and say $10 a month for that road trip over 300 miles.  That should allow us 2-3 trips out of town per month. 

So in 15,000 miles, my EV would cost

$225 for tabs

$120 for public charging

$345.75 for home charging (Public charging adjustment calculated using Electrify America's 41 cents/kwh averaging 4.0 miles/kwh) 

So that is $690.75 or 4.605 cents per mile.  

There you have!... "it?" Hmmm?? Ok, so EVs are cheaper but something seems "off" in this comparison... How many of you have done that radio promotion that goes something like "For the next two  hours KXXX 91 on your FM dial will be selling gas for 91 cents a gallon if you pull into XX station with us playing!" 

In reality, free EV charging is not uncommon and many EVers use it extensively to the  point where many have no home or public charging costs.  I used to be that way but the added range of the Plus has me not seeking out free charging unless its simply convenient to the day's agenda but I would feel amiss if I didn't mention it. Now, it will not be part of the "My tab fees are unfair" argument but it "is" reality...

After a year  and 14,726.1 miles,  my "real" cost is $141.39 cents and to be fair, that does include NCTC to Feb of this year, the $250 credit for the Plus lease and current price reduction thru EVgo to 20 cents/min until the end of the year.  Include in the total above is $60.53 in public charging fees paid mostly to Electrify America.  So my cost will go up on year 2. My guess; it will approach but not exceed the scenario above. Again, it won't be used as ammunition in the tab fee wars but just so you know what is possible. 

Glitches

Like any computer, even one on wheels, glitches are a thing and my LEAF is no different. Like several versions before, this one also redirects airflow randomly. I also notice that occasionally, my steering wheel controls for the audio system don't work. So can't change channels or adjust the volume. But then again, up until 2004, couldn't do that with any previous car I had. Like driving a stick; once you learn, you never forget so a small thing, this audio bug. 

Another recurring issue is improper charge termination. This can be fixed by simply power cycling the car a few times or resetting the fault codes with LEAF Spy or disconnecting the 12 volt battery for a few seconds. Hard to blame this on the car considering the abuses public charging stations take both by EVers and outright vandalism but it happens so here it is. 

Wants

Seats

Recently I had the chance to drive the most iconic LEAF in the Pacific Northwest; Steve Marsh's 100,000 2011 SL.  Peppy with a new pack, I have to admit it was then that I realized two things; 

The power in my Plus is EXTREME and

The seats have taken a step back.  I did realize my hip issues were less the seats and more a drawback of one pedal driving. Using cruise control more (I never used it before as it is not the way for best efficiency) goes a long way towards fixing my issues but those 2011 seats were simply AWESOME!

Steering Wheel Heater

Another thing I would love to see is a high/low switch on the steering wheel heater. A lot of people didn't like it when the 2013's came out with them because they would cycle from very warm to cold. I loved the very warm part. Some thought it was hot but then again, some don't like coffee. Shocker, isn't it!!   Now my steering wheel heater gets warm and stays that way...warm. So give me the "very" switch! 

Drive modes

E Pedal has memory. In settings, we can set it so its on all the time or controlled by the switch next to the Eco button which also has memory.  So why doesn't B mode have memory?  I don't do D. Its too caffeinated for my tastes. I want the caffeine in  me, not driving me. 

Horn

I don't know what I am doing but lately it seems like I am a "distracted driver" magnet. Experiencing two very close incidents in less than a week made me realize my horn isn't cutting it.  One incident had me moving over TWO lanes to avoid someone redesigning the side of my car and I had the horn "bleeping" the  entire time. I began to wonder if they could even hear the horn? Expect a blog on addressing that concern. 


LEAF Spy, Batteries and Degradation

Finally the BIG thing and as I frequently do, this post has rambled on way too long which means many of you won't make it this far so looks like I will have to make this a two parter. 

Although I won't likely post it until tomorrow, I can tell you it is the deepest dive into LEAF Spy data I have done so if you are into that, you might like part two better. 




Thursday, November 5, 2020

To Pump Or Not To Pump?

 A Facebook post on one of the LEAF groups asking about the low tire pressure symbol on the dash. More than a dozen chimed in that they also saw it as well and its Winter which is a bit concerning. Like all dash warnings, they come on when the situation is quite dire. Since Nissan already low balls the tire pressure recommendation is it imperative to check those pressures EVERY time you drive the car. 

The new LEAFs makes it easy. Starting in 2018, Nissan started listing individual pressures on each wheel and these are self registering so no need to keep track of the changes in position when rotating tires.  Like all TPMS systems, it takes a few seconds for the tires to measure the pressure but this is something you should do before traveling too far. 


To access this menu option, use the steering wheel buttons to scroll horizontally thru the options. The one you are looking for is the one just left of the options menu or the "Information" screen.  Notice the vertical dots on the left side of the display? Those represent how many subcategories are contained within that menu. 

The information button has 4 subcategories and two of them should be used frequently. The Trip computer is my default screen which makes checking tire pressures that much easier since its just a single click up to see the TPMS screen

Notice we are now on subcategory "3" 

Why is it important to check pressures right away? Tire pressures should be set during the coldest part of the day. That is hardly convenient but the general idea is to check them before driving too far because tires heat up unevenly.  The heating of the tires is directly due to flex. The more the tires flex, the more energy is robbed from the motive force used to get you down the road so your efficiency drops. Well, that energy has to go somewhere and it goes two places; degrading the tire and heating up the air inside it. Obviously, the goal here is less flex. This means longer tire wear and better range but there are caveats.  A less flexible tire has less traction. In most cases, you will be fine unless you are a tailgater or speeder, or...something. 

So balance is the key. Many choose the Nissan recommendation of 36 PSI and this is the least efficient option. You will have less tire life and lower range.  Others choose the maximum tire pressure listed on the sidewall; typically 44 PSI and this gives you the best tire life, the best range, and the least traction. 

So what's the best option?  That is for you to choose. But this is also why I am writing this.  The #1 cause of tire failure is low pressure. The ideology that a tire will "pop" if inflated too much is actually quite laughable. Those days all but ended when steel belted radials came along.  

So the real danger happens when you stray outside the range set above; below 36 PSI or over 44 PSI. Since we are talking "cold" pressure, seeing 46 or even 47 PSI on your tires after an hour of timing laps on a roundabout is not only normal but expected. Its all about the law of reality AKA Physics. 

So we need to be not too low or not too high.  So are we looking at the lazy way or the smart, diligent and much harder way? 

Well, the easy way is to set it and forget it. We really only need to adjust when the temperature changes so if you haven't already, now is the time.  We really only need to do this twice a year. The pressure inside the tires changes roughly one PSI for every 10ºF.  In the northern tier, maybe 3X a year. 

Lowballing It

If 36 is your lucky number, you can make it work but it is a lot more work.  The problem with living on the edge is you have to be diligent...half the time....and you picked the edge that should get 100% of the attention.  Tires work by creating pressure inside that holds the tire to the wheel by its bead. That tire pressure maintains the bead and only a minimal amount of air escapes and can take several days if not weeks before we notice it but it WILL leak.... PERIOD.  So checking the pressures EVERY time you drive the car is very important and luckily we now have a process that takes 2 seconds (if you are slow) to check them.  Of course, the lower the tire pressure, the lower the integrity of the bead and the faster air leaks out.  The #1 cause of tire failure (as mentioned above) is...well, the #1 "avoidable" cause of tire failure is low tire pressure resulting in a bead that loses its integrity easier over bumps, etc. 

Bottom line; expect to boost the pressure frequently. 

Smartpressuring

44 PSI may seem like living on the edge but its not. Again, driving will push the pressure above 44 PSI but that is ok. Tire engineers already accounted for that. Now, just because tires don't have the "this is not a toy, do not place over mouth and nose or suffocation might result" warning doesn't mean they have the same BS legal ramifications to contend with. They do so the "maximum" tire pressure listing is a very very VERY safe thing to do.

as mentioned above, tires leak. Some leak slowly, some leak faster but they all leak. Now everyone here will contend that theirs don't leak because they have had a set of tires where they set the pressure one time and never went beyond the "look to see if one is lower than the other" method for the rest of that tire's life. FYI; most of these people also complained how bad their tire life was as well. Coincidence? Who knows...

Ok so just because there has never been a recorded incidence or air sneaking "IN" to an inflated tire doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't happen but as I understand it; the circumstances that would be needed is quite rare here on Earth. This means "one" car might have an issue but the rest of us should be fine. 

So yeah, even if in the "44" crowd, occasional airing up on the tires is needed. I wish I could say that I have added air less than a half dozen times since the early 90's (when tire pressure became important to me) but I didn't actually start tracking it until 2004 but discounting major intrusions of the screw variety, I have only added air "off schedule"  13 times and all 13 of those times was before I got my 40 kwh in February 2018.  But that was when I had my under 100 mile LEAF and my "trigger" point was 43 PSI.  Nowadays, I don't adjust until it gets to 40 PSI which is one reason why I haven't. I do adjust twice a year to account for Summer and Winter temperature changes but that is all. I guess my range concerns have "diminished"  😎

Spread The Work!

Ever wonder why birds fly in formation?  Its all about efficiency. If you had to flap your arms for weeks at a time, you would understand.  The lead bird faces the most resistance due to air currents.  When breaking that resistance, the bird creates a wake of lower air pressure where birds following are able to work much less to follow along.  Each bird takes its turn leading so no one isover fatigued and the entire group benefits.

Your tires also see this imbalance. Your front tires guides your car. This means all the inertia your car has is applied to the tire every time you change direction (which in the case of the typical WA freeway driver is every .4 seconds!) which means they wear out faster. They are also the drive wheels and as we know, the new LEAF will spin them tires like crazy. So I would be amiss if rotation was not mentioned.  To get the best tire life, you should rotate your tires regularly. 

So the only real question is how often? The answer is "often enough to maximize tire wear but not often enough to be an inconvenience"  Now what this doesn't mean is rotate them when its convenient. It means setting a schedule based on something.  The easiest way is by mileage interval. The LEAF even has a maintenance setting where you can set reminders to rotate when a certain mileage is obtained. 

Since I average 15,000 miles a year, I rotate every... 4, 5, or 6,000 miles.  Why so inconsistent? 

Miles are only equal in length. The wear on the tires is not. Freeway driving provides a lot less wear on the tires.  A good example would be Steve Marsh; the "100,000 Mile LEAFer" whose OEM tires lasted him over 70,000 miles! And he kept his tire pressures between 38 and 39 PSI so not even an "extremer" 

So based on that; in Summer, I rotate every 6,000 miles due to a MUCH greater portion of freeway driving due to road tripping. In Winter, its more around town driving which wears out tires faster so it 4,000 miles so it averages to 5,000 miles a year.  How you do it is up to you but do it! 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

September 2020 Drive Report; My All Electric Furniture Hauler!

 For September 2020, I went 729.3 miles @ 5.0 miles/kwh. Nearly all the charging done at home and no cost yet as the power bill has not dropped yet. Guessing tomorrow. If you are wondering, yes this is one of the lightest driving month in DECADES. I have tracked daily driving statistics since Thanksgiving weekend, 2003. Only in July a few years ago (599.3) was lower and mostly because I was gone for 21 days so car sat in parking lot near Seatac Airport. Even months when I had a gasser did my total never drop this low.

A better picture would be January 2018 which we all know is when my S 30 was murdered the 19th of the month. I had done over 1100 miles. Took FOREVER to replace her. Didn't get the 40 kwh until Feb 16 so only 12 days left in the month but still managed 866.6 miles.

Now, the full force of CV didn't slow me down (Apr 1668.2, May 1324.2, Jun 1396.9) but smoke stopped me dead in my tracks. Unlike the smoke situation of 2017, I could not drive myself out of harms way. There was simply no place to go. At least at home, I had two room air purifiers including one that claimed an AQI of "good."  (about one third the level outside my house)

Another lesser factor was the end of Summer. Ok, yes its October 1st and its 76º and gorgeous right this very minute. What I meant was school is in session (not in classroom) so roadtrips with Ryland are now restricted to Saturday our only mutual "day off" Either way, I am currently on a 10 day decline for Hx which I think may be a good thing. Adjustment day in 3 weeks!

Bad Seats Issue Resolved! 

Ok, it should be "solved" since it was never the seats at all. I had gotten to the point where even a 30 minute drive was getting painful so bit the bullet, whipped out the insurance card and headed to the local Ortho clinic for an eval.  Luckily Olympia has "Rapid Ortho" a walk in no appointment clinic so the process was quite expedited.  Then COVID happened.  

But when getting my initial evaluation and X rays, the Dr suggested that my "single" foot driving could create a situation where muscles get fatigued quicker due to holding a relatively steady but unnatural position. Apparently moving the foot back and forth from throttle to brake was just enough exercise to keep muscles from tightening up. I must say, I never realized how much Washingtonians were into exercise as a lot of car tail lights resemble strobes.  He also suggested therapy which was also derailed by CV which ended up being a good thing.  During my enforced wait I was also labor sharing which meant a 50 mile one way drive which really aggravated the hip situation so I decided to start using cruise control. I normally avoid it because its not very efficient but this was during the worst infection rate period in WA and I-5 was all but abandoned so it was easy to set a speed and go. I was working the night shift 6 PM to 4:30 AM which meant moving the opposite direction of the major traffic flow as well. 

Well it worked! Within a few weeks, my hip pain was gone. Not wanting to jump to conclusions as I was also taking muscle relaxers from the clinic but well after they ran out, the hip pain did not return. What was even better was that I didn't have to use CC all the time to prevent the pain from returning.  Apparently, it took quite a while to build to the level of pain I was having so random hypermiling here and there didn't result in any discomfort returning. 

Seasonal Tire Pressure Plug

The change has arrived! Gone are the mornings in the low 50's and here to stay (for 6 months) are the mornings in the 30's.  I run my tires around 43 PSI in Summer dropping to 42 PSI in Winter. With the individual TPMS readings on the newer LEAFs, checking pressures is easy so I spend roughly 1.4 seconds on EVERY startup and check them.   

The reason we should adjust is tires should be set during the coldest part of the day. So like first thing in the morning before driving anywhere. Increased pressures as the day warms up is normal and ok. The reason we want to set tires before driving around is because the front tire wear faster which means they heat up faster. This can lead you to undershoot your target pressure.  As far as what pressure you choose, I will leave that up to you but NEVER exceed the max tire pressure on the sidewall.  Higher pressures do lead to less tire failure and longer tread life. 

Now the pressure in tires adjust roughly one PSI per 10ºF temperature change.  As we know, clear sunny Fall days have one common characteristic in nearly all parts of the country; In the Sun, its glorious but when the Sun drops behind a cloud, it gets cold FAST! 

The other day, it was a typical Fall day with temps in the fifties but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The Sun felt great and avoiding shade was highly recommended.  I was at the mall getting free food for the car (I had to pay for my food) so its not hard to tell which side of the car was facing the Sun



Reboot, Reset

Previously I mentioned that my climate control would change settings by itself. The most common is going from "Face" to foot/windshield when AC was on.  The 2nd most common was "foot" to foot/windshield when heat was on. Then again, as often as I use heat, maybe its the most common and I can't tell? 

Either way, the LEAF is very much a rolling computer and like all computers, it glitches at times. Be it the center screen spontaneously rebooting or the AC flipping out, they all boil down to annoyances than real issues.  

Recently I began to notice that occasionally my steering wheel controls stop working. Now, only the audio controls are affected so I can still change the displays on the driver's screen but can't change radio stations or adjust the volume.  Power cycling the car fixes it. One of these days, I might...nahh...probably won't. 

Per Minute Verses Per Kwh

Yeah, this debate rages on online.  So many people are happy with Electrify America's decision to go with per kwh billing where allowed which is something they obviously did not think thru or they are driving around in 15 kwh EVs. They also reduced per minute billing to 12 cents with plan, 16 cents w/o. Yeah, that's right. I was paying $4 a month to get 18 cents a minute but now you can get 16 cents a minute with no subscription fee, no connect fee if you are lucky enough to live in the right area I guess! 

Kwh 

The main argument here is that this makes it fair for people with slower chargers, smaller packs. As we know, the higher the SOC, the slower the DC charges. Some cars go full speed (on 50 kw) to 80% which is great but others like the Gen One LEAF starts slowing below 50% SOC. Combined with degradation in an already limited range vehicle; this means charging to a higher SOC which means a long time on the station. In this scenario, per minute pricing quickly becomes costly. So the remaining people still driving early edition EVs are benefited. 

Per Minute

Like any emerging technology, REV 1.0 quickly becomes obsolete and EVs are no different. Their resale value plummets to nothing, they can't do as much as fast or "as cheaply." That is the way of things. The solution is simple; get rid of it and get something shiny and new.  Not the cheap way to go for sure but the increased utility, decreased range anxiety and simply the joy of posting fast fast charging speeds online is the benefit.  Likely still not the wisest investment one can make so being derailed on one of the reasons to upgrade is simply unacceptable...or at least adds a cloud to the purchase process. 

The benefit of the bigger charger and the bigger battery is simply being able to cover your needs before the DC charge rate starts its decline. My S Plus charges at full speed on 120 amp machines (50 KW if you prefer) to 70% SOC, 200 amp machines (80 KW) to 45% (interestingly enough, at 70% SOC, I am still above the 120 amp rate) so yeah, it was nice to pay 18 cents/minute and see speeds up to 206 amps on Electrify America.  But then they cut Chademo to 120 amps (or less in some cases) This was lower than before as my 40 kwh charged at 125 amps on the nose at 3 different locations. Before the cut in speed, I was paying 16 cents/kwh usually cutting the charger off when speeds dropped below 60 KW. 

Favoritism

So there are arguments for both sides here and if that was all, then ok. Sucks, but that is life, right?  Well, that isn't all. In some areas of the country, Electrify America just decided to cut rates BIGTIME including a 33% reduction to its subscription base dropping the per minute rate to 12 cents/kwh.  Pay as you go was even better with a 16 cents/kwh rate and no connect fees. 

So why didn't we have that option? Our rates were raised for nearly EVERYONE but a few and their rates were cut? IOW, we got screwed. EA's stated reason for the change was based on what customers wanted. But 31/43 cents/kwh for the area of the country with the lowest average electricity costs? How does that qualify as "what we want??"

The Bottom Line. 

In a perfect world, pay per kwh is fine. In my world, it simply is a major downgrade to what we had. 

"IF" there was enough chargers for everyone, pay per kwh would be fine. I wouldn't care if someone wanted to charge for an hour and 15 minutes to get that extra kwh because there would still be a charger for me.  

"IF" everyone was put on the same pricing everywhere (like EA said they wanted to do) then our price per kwh should have been a better deal than before, but its not. You literally have to be charging to 90% SOC on a degraded Gen One LEAF to pay that much money. Lets look at basic pricing; 16 cents/min verses 43 cents/kwh. You would have to get 1 kwh every 2.6875 minutes to break even or 22.32 kwh per hour on the hook. 

22.32 kwh an hour. Now that is an interesting number.  My highest charge received on my 30 kwh LEAF was 22.95 kwh but I was on NCTC which meant being on a 30 minute timer.  Now the 22.95 was on Webasto which didn't have a timer so I have to say the 22.95 probably happened because I was slightly over on my time. Back then, I generally did no more than 30 minutes as a habit especially on those one pump locations even if there was no one waiting. It was just a habit. 

In a nutshell, per kwh pricing helps about what? 10% of the current EVers on the road? Well, no. IF all 10% DC'd even occasionally, it would but my seat of the pants estimate from the aggregate data of several failed surveys says that "maybe" ¼ of them DC more than a few occasions PER YEAR. 

But Electrify America claims it was "what we wanted" so lets look at that. Our choice now is 43 cents/kwh here or 16 cents a minute elsewhere.  So I could charge for 60 minutes (something that would very very very rarely happen if EVER!) and pay $9.60.  Or I could spend that same $9.60 and get 22.43 kwh (EA appears to do whole kwh billing only so my choice is $9.46 for 22.XX kwh or $9.89 for 23.xx kwh.  Before the slowdown, I was getting 22 kwh in less than 20 minutes so my cost "there" would be $3.52.  After the slow down, it would be around $5.  

So why the HUGE difference? Even at the lower charging rate, my cost has nearly doubled.  What about the one forth of the 10% crowd that EA is supposedly concerned about?  What would they pay on each?  Well, the problem with Gen One LEAFs is they don't charge to 100% on DC. They charge to about 90%, give or take.  So if rolling on electofumes, they might get 16 to 18 kwh? Here, that is $6.88 to $7.74 but "there" they would be charging likely an hour so their cost is still higher but lower than the old pricing, right? 

IOW, at best a half assed solution no matter how you look at it.  So for the 90% of us which likely consists of 99% of the DC usage, we got screwed.  Yeah, that means the people cheering about the change. Yep you bud! 

If EA was DA

Ok, if "Dave's America" public charging was doing this. I would have gone with a mixed pricing scheme. To be clear; there is no requirement to bill by the kwh "anywhere"  Now, tiered pricing shouldn't be an alien concept since EA had it already. They also had customary pricing for certain cars who were being billed tier 2 rates despite the fact that their car could achieve tier two speeds. 

Obviously the ideal solution is simply build more stations and make them per kwh only but exactly how much money should we pay (yeah, its OUR money EA is spending BTW) to cater to the ¼ of 10%?

Now if EA's aim was more revenue, maybe they need to realize how much business they lose with one Chademo at each location.  Last Summer, I saw THREE at one location. One charging, the other two talking about which station to divert to. Believe it or not, neither used Plugshare and had no idea Tumwater Webasto existed. They did know about Olympia Nissan and were discussing failed charging attempts and workarounds when I walked up. Now EA supposedly closely monitors plugshare so I started doing failed check ins every time I happened upon a site where the lone Chademo was in use and other CCS only stations were sitting around bored with nothing to do. But after more than a year and a half of doing that, it doesn't appear to be working so maybe its time to bombard EA's customer service line with calls and emails complaining about the new pricing structure. 

Moving

I should have taken way more pictures but most of you have already been there and done it so I do have one. Because my move was two fold; one to storage and one to mi casa,  I did it over 11 days and several dozen trips. 8 to pack, 3 to unpack although the last day had nearly nothing to haul.  I did have one pickup truck load of help but the rest was all LEAF !