Monday, April 30, 2018

Road Trip With Altitude!

So everyone has read my previous road trip adventure that came complete with multiple QC options and relatively flat terrain, right?  Well that was hardly challenging. In fact, it was quite stress free other than the lack of stops because I didn't have to!

So I decided something a bit more challenging was in order and that was a 3000 foot climb to the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Complex outside Kittitas, WA about 170 miles away.  Now due to AV incompatibility with my 2018 LEAF, the QC luxury was not going to be an option on this trip. I already knew that several hours or L2 would be in order so the challenge became how to incorporate all that into the trip.

The Plan;

I would leave with a full charge driving to the North Bend Premium Outlets and the EVGO QC there.  Get a charge to at least 90% then hit Wild Horse which had Level 2 options available where I would plug in for the time I would be there which I estimated to be roughly an hour or just over then drop down to  Ellensburg, Home of Central Washington University and to several level 2 charging options where I would park downtown and take a walk around the town to grab lunch. I figured on close to 2 hours or so for this and that should get me enough to make it back to North Bend to QC again.

The Drive;

The batteries were warmer than I had hoped for. All week long, I was in the mid 60's due to my shorter commutes combined with no fast charging but I did do a fast charge at Tacoma Mall the day before so I started with batteries warmer than I wanted but also realized that the slowing of the charging speed starts in the 90's so I am good!   Batt stats aren't as high as I would have liked but realize this is first full charge Since March 29th so a good top balance was not expected or needed for the first leg.

I had missed the super warm weather we had had all week long but Ellensburg promised temps in the mid 80's so near perfect walk about weather but soon after I hit Highway 18, it started to rain.  It was a mild one generally with a few stretches of rain hard enough to actually get you wet but all in all a pleasant drive with CC set to 65 mph.

I was tracking my batt temps knowing I needed to be no more than the low 90's to get a full speed charge from EVGO and just as I hit the Highway 18 to I-90 jam up (its always there...) I had been on the road 102 mins and battery temps were at 89º  after 58.3 miles averaging 56 MPH which was great time.   I pulled into North Bend with batt temps at 92º which meant I was golden!!  But the elevation of North Bend is only about 450 feet so I still had over 3000 feet to climb so getting a good charge was paramount.

QC Charge rate declination starts in the 90's º F and its pretty steep.  In the low 90's, you will see all that the station can provide.  I started here at 121 amps but with the high SOC so the rate starts to drop right around 58-65% (temperature dependent) as expected but still able to leave the station with SOC over 90% and 145 miles on GOM.  Here is a GREAT example of the knee that happens when the  LEAF hits 90% SOC.   Charge time; 30 mins,  14.08 kwh gained.

So off I went to make the climb and climb it is!

Still maintaining roughly 65 mph as much as possible. It was Friday and the traffic was heavy plus there is the perpetual road construction going on but traffic flow was good with only a few slowdowns into the 50-55 mph range.  Although I had plenty of range to make it to Wild Horse, I got a nagging feeling that I should be preserving range so after summiting the pass, I decided to lower my speed to 63-65 mph to collect a little regen before the big climb ahead. I now only wish I had decided to do that sooner.

Wild Horse;

I got the Wild Horse and all was good.

The temps were actually in the mid 70's so not sure what LEAF was thinking but maybe the 30-35 mph winds were confusing her?  Definitely a great place for a Wind Generator! In fact several of them!

You will have to click on this pix to really see what is going on but the red approximates the pix above but notice the purple square in the upper left corner?  This complex is HUGE!!

Hard to show you what 35 mph wind is like but at least you can hear it!

But my joy at the awesome display of how green we can be if we want to be was soon tarnished.  Wild Horse has several places to plug in including 14-50 outlets so I brought my trusty (and tested successfully)  EVSE with me and plugged in and it started to charge!...or so I thought. The lights came on for a second but after about 5 seconds, the EVSE faulted.   Well, that sucked but there were 2 more to try and... no dice!  Well after checking several things including error codes and finding nothing, I went inside to ask if the breaker needed to be turned on since that is what the instructions on the breaker implied and both hosts looked like Deer in the Headlights kinda thing.  Well, they called around and determined that the breakers were always on and finally ponied out their EVSE that hooked up to the 6-50 Outlet.   I was able to plug in and charge on that at 5.3 KW but the whole process lost me about 20-30 mins of charge time.

But I had contingencies in place and the place really was amazing!

 Solar Powered Ferris Wheel. I sooo wanted one!! But this was the only one there and guessing
it probably wouldn't take long before they noticed it missing

Despite its heft, this turbine can be spun by hand. It takes a bit
 to get it going but it will spin for a few mins 

These transformers are pretty decent size!
Seeing the parts of the generator at ground level was astounding because the reality is they are so tall even when standing under them, its hard to understand the true scope of them

Despite their size, the edges are actually pretty sharp!

After a great walk around the area (past signs that stated "No Public Access") it was time to unplug and head for lunch.  It's a steady downhill all the way to Ellensburg so planned to have more than half of what I needed by the time I got there so off I went and as I pulled into the lot where the charger in the middle of downtown (and lots of food options) was, I immediately felt that my day was to become challenging...very soon. 

One thing I always tell people is review check ins on Plugshare to insure that the charger you plan to use is in good shape because a lot the ones listed are simply not functional and most of the ones in Ellensburg are non functional.  The one downtown had a good check in a week prior so I was confident I would be fine.  And don't get me wrong, expanding to add plugs is a great idea but do you have to pull out the one that works??? WTH! 

There are only two others within reasonable walking distance to downtown but decided against wasting my now precious electrons on them for some reason...

This was a bit of a disappointment. There were still other options but I had several recommendations for good food in the area plus it was now becoming a time factor. In desperation, I pull up to the last option likely in Ellensburg and I found this

To make it worse, there is no lights or any indication of life whatsoever but I plugged in anyway... and it worked!  5.8 KW!  But now I was stuck on fast food row.   A quick glance up and down the street did not reveal anything tempting. There was a Mexican food restaurant with a very large parking lot that had one single car in it. Guessing its reputation was built on the drinks they served at night more than anything.  After 4 blocks or so, I eventually stopped at Arby's and was pleasantly surprised that they had Gyro's and they were 2 for $6.  Well, not expecting much, I tried them anyway and they were actually pretty good!    After eating, I had no intention of running back to the car since I needed close to 2 hours to charge  to make it 80 miles back to North Bend with a pass to summit in between.  

Parked in Ellensburg to charge. Temps would rise to 86º by the time my charging was completed

While sipping water and enjoying Arby AC, I noticed out the window I was only a block away from both a Thai place and Mexican restaurant... Oh well. Missed out again.  To ease the pain, I "forgot" to check Google for ratings...

After about 90 mins of killing time, I wandered back to the car and decided that I needed a bit more so crossed the main drag and grabbed some fruit from the stand.  Got a pretty good deal on Apples and finally back to the car and I had 42% and 93 miles of range.   Sounded good so I took off.  

But it didn't take long for me to have concerns. There is NOTHING on this side of Snoqualmie Pass to charge other than Suncadia which is a 5 mile detour or a total of 10 extra miles. AV has a QC station there that would have made all this drama mute but Nissan has not yet seen fit to replace a resistor to make the 2018 compatible so we continue to suffer. 

Not being totally sure of how my range would affect by the climb and despite my LEAF Spy saying I would have enough range, I decided to stop at Suncadia after all.  As luck would have it, a Honda Clarity was parked in front of the DCFC not using it so it sat there grinning at me as I plugged in the Level 2 at 5.9 KW... Worse yet, with batt temps at 102º, I would have had about 2/3rds max power...

I had thought about walking around Suncadia a bit since I had never been there but the wind was treacherous and worse than Wild Horse, I had to struggle just to get my door open to plug in.  The car was rocking so much with the gusts, I honestly thought I would get sea sick... But instead it rocked me to sleep.  I napped for a short period of time and unplugged just at the one hour mark. 

I now had way more than enough charge to make it to North Bend. 

Ok this graph needs a bit of explaining. (notice the temp bar disappeared?) For one, the time line is off.  North Bend charge started at 91 amps (88 amps on LEAF Spy but had to keep car on or LEAF Spy would lose focus)  which starts to the left of the 4.5 hour timeline. Starting temp was 101º ending at 113.3º.  Charge started at 32 KW ending at 31 KW so obviously a charge controlled by starting temperature since SOC was low enough to not play a role.  30 min charge,  15.49 Kwh gained. 

Now I was home free! Well, sort of. The lateness of the day along with charging frustrations had eroded most of my patience so instead of tooling home at 65 mph, I basically weaved in and out of traffic on Highway 18 at 70-80 MPH which saved probably not a lot of time but raised my batt temps to over 121º and despite it being an elevation drop.  Despite the temps dropping to just under 120º by the time I hit Tacoma Mall, I already knew i would be getting a SUPER slow charge. 

In fact it was so slow, my batt temps DROPPED to 118º!   I started the charge at 61 amps (20.6 KW) finishing at 58 amps.  Charge time 30 mins, 10.86 Kwh gained. 

Then home.  


There are a lot of ways I can take this.  This trip hardly went off as planned and the missteps by me and the network all caused delays.  But I did not get stranded so as long as you have time, you are good.  As long as you have chargers, you are even better.  So I can't blame the LEAF especially since I have already made the 3 year lease commitment and that would mean I made a mistake which as we all know, can't be true!  

I took this trip already knowing it would be a long day of waiting while my car sipped electrons from a very VERY small straw.  I already knew that the unfamiliar territory of incompatibility would make this and potentially any other trip a challenge.  So did this when I knew I had plenty of time to kill.  

But the real problem is the lack of public charging infrastructure beyond the Western Washington metro areas.  On my return while charging at North bend, there was a Bolt charging getting ready to go over the pass and the lady was concerned due to lack of CCS heading East so the knee jerk reaction of getting a car with more range is not going to work either. 

Luckily Washington's soon to be restarted West Coast Green Highway Project will have Central WA as a focus point for station deployment and it couldn't come too soon and yes, they will be dual format so even Bolters will have cause to celebrate. 


Speed kills especially going uphill at 70 mph. My pack was already hot (113º) but got hotter and LEAF Spy logs shows several hits in the 60-70 KW range which likely happened going uphill. 

I should have saved elevation pix between each driving session  since the CSV file did not come out as expected.  A better shot would have been the sprint from North Bend to Tacoma but unable to create any graphic from the data I got...  Next time. 

Elevation Profile from Wild Horse to North Bend

Compatibility would have helped a lot.  Not wasting time with trying to figure out why my EVSE wasn't working, etc. was significant.  This is likely the reason I had to make an unplanned stop at Suncadia although I must admit I didn't mind taking a look at the place and a walk would have been wonderful (if the wind had been under 35 mph that is!)  This will become a very serious issue for many come Summer when heat will play havoc with charging temperatures especially in Oregon where AV has a huge presence. 

The pack temps did not heat up nearly as bad as I expected them to especially on the climb from Ellensburg to Wild Horse. Mind you, over the pass the temps immediately jumped 20º but the LEAF did just fine driving 60-65 on I-90 and 50 mph on the road to the farm (which was speed limit) I was surprised to see a temperature rise of just a few degrees never getting over 102º.  Even later in Ellensburg when temps surpassed the mid 80's the LEAF did well.  I will say the steepest part of the trip the roads were the twisty kind and speed limit was 25 mph which was a good thing. It would be easy to go up at 35-40 mph (which I did) as long as road was empty but going down, 25 mph was the place to be.  But even the climb to the pass on I-90 from the steep side (see above) at 60 MPH did not heat the pack at all and most of that climb was the low 80's to the upper 70's with a LOT of side winds. 

But again this proves that the LEAF is a smack dab in the middle of the "Medium" range EV class and that goes for road trips as well.  Regional travel is a piece of cake simply because you have 160 miles of range leaving your garage so its a simple thing to plan stops where you can grab a boost.  Right now there are a few places that do not have convenient QCs on the way there but that will change beginning this Summer or sooner (if Nissan gets on the ball)  so again, I say 250 miles is easy.  350 miles like I did Friday "will be" easy when the AV issue is cleared up but for others who do not have a good QC coverage, plan on some down time since recharge times will exceed to boundaries of  normal breaks/rest times from driving.  IOW; go somewhere where there is something to do!  But then again, isn't that why we take the road trips in the first place? 

Finally the other thing to "re mention" is throttling of quick charging which can be severe in severe situations like my 120º charging at Tacoma Mall Friday at the end of the trip. 

But realize this situation will be more common come Summer.  Excepting the few areas where ambients reach that temperature neighborhood,  only the 2nd QC will hit that range but the previous 2 QCs is something that most of the country will on their FIRST QC so instead of getting that 100 or 120 amps, you will be getting 80 or 90 amps (depending on top speed of the station) which means not getting 20 kwh but getting 14 or 15 kwh.  

Realize that is only 60-70 mile bump in range. Add some destination charging and this is how I come up with the 250 mile statement.  As always YMMV but one thing is clear in all this; Most areas of the country including mine, remain in the Dark Ages of Public Charging support. 


The Ellensburg DCFC is NOW OPEN!!  So will probably be repeating this trip, stopping at the restaurant I had planned to visit and still have a MUCH shorter and more enjoyable trip!

Monday, April 2, 2018

March 2018 Drive Report; 100% Electric!

As mentioned in an earlier blog, the Corolla's role has been shrinking in direct correlation with the increasing range of the LEAF.  With the 30 kwh LEAF, the Corolla's contribution dipped below 4,000 miles a year with probably a quarter to a third of that usage simply to keep the car from sitting too long.

Well, this month I gassed it ZERO miles.  The Corolla is now being used daily by someone who needed it and simply could not afford to buy a car and maintain the expenses. My original plan to give it to a co-worker, a single mother, didn't work out as she realized the additional expense of insurance simply wasn't in her budget.  The thought she would be able to work more and make more money simply was not clear enough to her but I had another co-worker in the same boat who has a work ethic beyond anyone I have ever known.

He was also without a car in a job where 100% of the work is done at client locations so the efforts he put in to making meet times at the office or directly to the store's location was simply awe inspiring! So off the Corolla went!

So for the month the LEAF solo'd it  for 2527.2 miles costing $15.73 in combined home charging and public charging fees or .6 cents per mile.  NCTC contributed "a bit" at  478.185 kwh which at  "home" market rates would have put my cost at $60.20 or 2.34 cents per mile, still a very good way to travel!  But that is "home" rates. Even with EVGO's new reduced rates, the cost would have been a "bit" higher.  Thank you Nissan for that wonderful program!  (Now if you could get that AV situation squared away...)


Since the weather is still cool enough, I am ok with full charges overnight at home but still don't have a lot of them but the ones I do have are not consistent. The randomness is getting a bit better though

Looks like a likely baseline would be GID count in the mid 490's,  kwh available somewhat above 38 with SOC in the 97% range.  Still a bit high for my liking.  Its ok now while garage is still in the 50º range...

As mentioned several times before, my ahr and SOH continue their downwards trend while my HX has apparently not hit its ceiling posting a new high this morning of 115.75%  Again, no alarms yet as the drop in stats is hardly steep or alarming as of yet.  If I were to extrapolate my SOH loss over the 44 days I'd had the LEAF, I would be losing 3.85 % a year. I guess the big question becomes is my loss faster on a new pack or would it slow down? My previous packs sat at full stats anywhere from 8 months to 1½ years before showing any decline.  The diverging SOH/Hx issue is also a bit strange.  Stay tuned.

Aerovironment  AV
As mentioned, the AV QC is not compatible with the 2018 LEAFs... well, sort of.  We now have confirmed reports that Lincoln City, OR,  Bellingham, WA and Castle Rock, WA do work! So does this mean AV has started the fix?  Probably not.  It would appear that the AV network is simply inconsistent.  So this means we need a call to arms!  We need volunteers to go to each AV QC on the network and test their 2018 LEAFs and report back here and on Plugshare!

Quick Charging

Lots of talk over "QC Gate" where the LEAF is slowing its fast charge rate way way down as temps rise.  We even have one in Arizona already seeing 22 KW charging speeds on her first QC stop and its only April!  This Summer will not be good for her!  As for me; temps seem likely to play a part and determining the effective range of the LEAF with public charging come this July should be interesting. I am guessing 250 miles with one fairly decent QC.  I did a QC on Friday starting with batt temps at 105º and got a respectable 109 amps (of 124) and over 20 kwh in 30 mins. That is something I could easily live with.   My bigger concern is the early ramp down.  I only got 20 kwh due to very low starting SOC.  On LEAF it was "_ _ _"  but LEAF Spy said 8%...

Yesterday, I hit the QC and started at a full charge of 124 amps and got 22.4 Kwh but still saw the ramp down at the end of the session for the last 3 mins. Not the end of the World but with my pack at 112º, I needed a few hours of parking time to be able to get another QC at a decent speed.  Now the pack does seem to cool off when its real hot but the cooling rates drops off considerably in the mid 100º range.  This makes it a 50-50 chance of another decent QC.

This will add another level of trip planning to the mix. Now, estimated battery temps along with SOC will be critical if a tight schedule is needed.  I don't do trips IN ANY CAR with a strict time schedule. Traffic is simply too unpredictable here. So yeah, I arrive an hour or two early..."sometimes" but I am ok with that.  Being on time has been a lifetime priority for me.

I have started collecting data on QCs for another blog entry.  I am waiting on a chance to do more of a continuous run.  Right now,  my driving pattern is mostly drive 40-90 miles, park it to work, then return.  Too much time to cool off in all that.  I have a trip I do to Salem OR area every year and the extra range of the LEAF means I can ignore AV and just do Blink and EVGO for the trip quite easily. I think I am going to wait for a warmer Sunny day for that. I hope to do that trip within the next few weeks though.

Random Observations
Anyone notice Blinks are working?  Guessing most of you don't since you wrote them off a few years ago like I did.  Then Blink changed their name... again.  Kinda wrote that off as well.  But things started happening.  The Hoyt Road Walgreens QC, broken OVER 2 YEARS...maybe 3, was fixed!  In fact, nearly every Blink QC is working now.  Well, I happened to run into Rick and Julie from Durst Energy at Tahoma Market last weekend. They are the people hired by Blink (and other public charging companies) to maintenance the stations.   They said the calls from Blink are on the uptick!  This couldn't have happened at a better time.

EVs are quickly moving up to a newer and wider level of acceptance which means competition for that plug is set to get intense!  Our planned QC buildout is slow, underwhelming and is already insufficient to handle what I see as a banner year for EVs in WA.  The VW settlement is looking to be too late and too little when it does get here to matter.  We need someone to step up big.  One or two stations is not going to work here anymore. We will soon be way beyond that.

Its Baseball Season again and did you see that catch Ichiro made to steal that home run? It ended up being the game winning play!   Now the reason I mention it is because my previous LEAFs when quick charging, created too much interference on AM radio. But now I can charge and listen to the game!! Life is good.