Friday, October 26, 2012

Battling Winter Range Degradation

The weather has changed!! Mornings are now in the upper 30's to lower 40's which is not good for the batteries in my LEAF. The batteries are very much like people. They do best at room temperature.  Hotter and they degrade quicker. Colder and they lose their ability to hold a full charge.

My off the cuff, antedotal evidence suggests my batteries are holding 18.5 to 19 Kwh as opposed to the 20.5 to 21 KWH of Summer.  Add to that the climate controls that use 150-300% more power to heat than to cool and we now have range anxiety!!

Well, actually I dont. But coming home during the Winter especially from the Centrailia commute of 64 miles roundtrip means pulling into the garage with only a few miles to spare. Now for me?? a few miles is fine. I am very ok with that. In fact, as long as I dont have to push the car to get it to the charger, I am ok with that so 5 miles left or 5 feet remaining is all the same to me!!

But my SO does not share that sentiment. She is much more "cold sensitive" and part of that is due to the fact that she does really dress for the weather. She works as an ER admitting Rep for Providence Hospital in Centrailia WA.  She generally wears sweaters all year long (fairly lightweight for Winter...a bit excessive for Summer)  but guessing the A/C works well there maybe?

Adding to her concern is the GOM that I strongly suspect is designed to "encourage" the driver to stop and charge up way before they really need to.  Either way, driving in Winter does require some additional preparations.  So, naturally we got one of those seat heaters.  Its the plug into the 12 volt power port kinda things.  It works great for warming the back and its relaxing (has vibrator too...) but its not all that great for keeping the core warm and its slow to heat up.

So, Casey a fellow LEAFer mentioned he got a heated jacket so I decided I would try it as well.  So after an exhaustive 10 minute search on Google, I settled for a "Milwaukee 2330 Cordless Heated Jacket"

Now a few reasons why I choose this option.

Cons for other options

1) most of the other options I found were companies that were not known to me (which really does not matter)

2) Used what I would have to consider as proprietary parts

3) Were a LOT more expensive.

Pros for Milwaukee

1) Obviously the price. The Jacket was  $115.89 on Amazon (of course) and the Battery charger was $19 and the battery $34.

2) Availability. Although I dont anticipate needing a lot of batteries since the Coat will supposedly run for "up to 6 hours" on a charge and the LEAF would be driven 40 minutes each way daily so a total of around 1.5 hours, the battery should be fine but if it isnt or when it degrades (its still Li!!) then I have to think that picking up a replacement battery locally should be easy.

Either way, it should be arriving today (the coat...batteries not expected until Monday/Tues...)  so I am excited.  It has 3 heat settings including a fast Preheat so sounds like it will work great for keeping us warm in the LEAF.

Now, remember my SO is heat sensitive so it remains to be seen how this goes. I am suspecting she will fall in love with the jacket and commandeer it so I will see it rarely.  The Price is right and if it works as well as I think it will, it might also be an Xmas present to myself as well

Oh guess what!! UPS was on the ball today.  Package just arrived so hold on!! Pix coming...

Ok, now its REALLY sucking that Amazon ships stuff separately and I have to wait all weekend before I can try this out. But what do you think? Have I wasted my money on this?  Will it be effective in getting me a bit more range in Winter for my LEAF? Keep in mind; This wont help defrost the windows.... feedback is appreciated even if just to say "Dave you crazy!"  (I am used to it!)

This is part one of three so make sure you read the rest to get the full picture!


  1. As a LEAF owner, in the winter for supplimental heat I use a "Harbor Freight" 12 volt (ceramic) heater/defroster with light, on sale for $14.99 @ item # 96144.

    We preheat the LEAF while plugged in charging and use the 12 volt ceramic accessory heater as needed. Works well. Cheaper than seat heaters.

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    2. YEP !! got one too! the little yellow one that also has a little light on it? I also found that to only work with temps in 40's. My SO works nights so her trip home is at 8 PM. it simply did not put out enough heat

  2. I like the heated coat idea. The Harbor Freight heater, uses the car's batteries, so you might as well just use the highly efficient heater in the Leaf. And you can preheat the car while it is plugged in, this will save you some range. Although, I have found (in my 2011) that running the environmental system means that the car does not honor the 80% charge limit setting.

  3. Patrick; the problem is no plug in Centrailia (at least not at work)AND no protected parking so LEAF is cold soaked for drive home.

  4. I hate driving my LEAF in the winter time. Range is terrible and climate control drains the heck out of the battery. So your options are to freeze and use a towel to defrost your windshield and get a little better range or run the heat and defrosters sparingly and watch your range plummet. Both options suck. I wont be buying another LEAF. The 24kwh battery is much to small to make this a practical car.

  5. Anon; bigger battery and preheating on line power is the only real option for total comfort but the coat works very very well especially for periods under about 30 minutes even in extremely cold weather. This morning it was 20ยบ and the coat worked wonders. After that, its the hands and feet that get cold but the body is very cozy.

    Or you could just do what my SO does and blast the heat and drive less than 50 miles on a charge

  6. So, Casey a fellow LEAFer mentioned he got a heated jacket so I ...