Friday, June 22, 2018

Oops! Forgot To Plug In Last Night, Or WHO CARES!

My new job has me working 10 hour shifts which has its good points and bad.  Obviously I get a 3 day "weekend" every week.  Mandatory overtime (which will happen) is not as bad when you still have 2 days off.  I have 2 weekdays off which is good as my Son is starting the orthodontia phase of growing up and while not a lot of appointments are needed, its still nice to be able to take care of them along with other things during the week as opposed to doing errands along with everyone else on Saturday.  Costco is never not crowded but at least its tolerable on a early Thursday afternoon.

But the bad things is you have little time to do much of anything else on those work days. Being blessed by living so far North, it is light for several hours when I get home after 6 PM which is a good thing so I can still enjoy some of the day but other than a quick BBQ, the options are limited.

So maybe it was a prelude to the first day of Summer but the weather during my 4 day workweek was absolutely outstanding! Temps in the mid 80's even touching 90º.  I already decided early in the week it was time to get the canoe out and check it for leaks and do a lap or two around a local lake.  For 3 days, I daydreamed at work about which lake to go to. I have half a dozen less than 10 miles away so choices abound.  I was simply building up excitement without doing my proper preparation ( like checking the weather forecast) and that was a mistake.

So I am up early on my first of three days off Thursday morning nearly an hour before I would have had to get up on a work day and go busting out the front door to.... Clouds.... MILLIONS  of Clouds.   I have lived in WA 3 decades now and I know single layer wispy  clouds that burn off by mid afternoon and this was not those kinds of clouds.  Now I am surrounded by trees so I can't see even a smidge of horizon anywhere but if I could, I am confident that there would not have been a spec of blue sky anywhere.  The quiet of the morning may seem like a blessing to most, but to me it meant no wind so the clouds weren't going anywhere!

Visions of the lake faded as I rummaged thru the medicine cabinet looking for my Vitamin D and even before I shook the empty bottle, I had a sudden realization that forgetting the shopping list never turns out well.

Well, in my job which is very physical, maintaining my health is very important so I decided if Vitamin D wasn't coming to me, I would go to it!  With Ellensburg getting a new fast charger and being a place that is nearly ALWAYS Sunny, it was a win win.  ROAD TRIP it was so I gathered up some water on ice, filled up the coffee mug,  jumped into the car and...

Well... not the "ideal" situation for a 300 mile road trip...

Funny thing about unplanned road trips, EVs and the heat of Summer; For rational people they just don't mix. But then, I have rarely been accused of being rational so OFF I WENT!

Truth be told; the Summer heat is not a good thing for batteries especially the LEAF pack. Now the real killer is high SOC. The higher the temperature, the worse it gets and since batteries are simply chemical reactions, the detrimental effects of high SOC are accentuated by heat which also acts as a catalyst in most chemical reactions.  Now, its quite easy to avoid high SOCs; but heat? not so much but being perfect is not really needed as long as you are very good most of the time so I have a standing policy to keep my SOC below 70% until the weather changes so NO full charges for me.

If you remember, I did the Ellensburg trip in April when it was cool so did leave with a full charge that morning which is also the last time my car has seen a full charge.  But that trip was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

GOM Drift

In several previous entries, I have tried to illustrate how inaccurate LEAF dash readings are and there will be several examples here.  Notice the above claiming 45 miles of range.  Since I do a reset every morning, we don't know the history of my recent past that would lend to this estimation although I will say my 23.6 mile round trip commute generally averages between 4.6 and 5.0 miles per kwh.  For this trip I figure to average 4.6 to 4.8 miles per kwh.  Elevation changes means I will adjust LEAF Spy a bit to insure range to make it to next charging station with a buffer (if possible)

So I arrive at Tacoma Mall and first thing you see is 4.7 miles per kwh, 22 estimated miles left after driving 24.3 miles so now the estimate is 46.3 miles which is really pretty much the same as when I left home, but....

Arrival EVGO Tacoma Mall

Here LEAF Spy range estimate at the same 4.7 miles per kwh to 1% SOC says 36.1 miles. That is a significant difference especially if you are using the last few miles in your range calculations. Which is right?

LOL!! Kidding! We all know what the answer to that question is!

Arrival EVGO Tacoma Mall. Notice batt temps already elevated. This is due to sitting in
 an open parking lot the day before with temps over 90º.  Normally batt temps would be 
upper 60's to low 70's. 

EVGO charged me primarily at 46+ KW for my only "fast" charge of the day.  I posted tidbits on line yesterday advising my trip was not typical but I also don't want to be typical. This trip proves that range and planning is important but without an effective charging network, plans can only go so far.  In reality, I penalized myself 100+ miles by not charging last night but blogging about easy stuff is boring. 

Departing EVGO Tacoma Mall

My 30 min 16 second charge session netted me 22.23 kwh.  But that was enough to heat the pack. The pack would not see temps as low as this for the rest of the day. 

EVGO Tacoma Mall Charge Curve;  30:16  22.23 kwh

Depart EVGO Tacoma Mall

Notice the difference between GOM and LEAF Spy has shrunk to a mere 5 miles?  Remember that. 

Anyway, on to North Bend!  Despite the cool temps in low 60's, including a bout of rain while crossing over Tiger Mountain Pass, the drive did nothing to cool the pack. In fact,  mountain climbing does almost as good a job of battery baking as QCing does!

I arrived at North Bend just in time 2nd guessing the coffee mug for the last 15 miles. I wasn't expecting much of a charge but was pleasantly surprised.  

Arrive North Bend EVGO

As we can see, the pack cooled a little but not too much. But it was enough that I got 24 KW.  Not the 46ish I could have gotten but still not real bad.  Fighting the crowds and ICE'rs is something we all deal with but North Bend's location of the chargers right out front away from the main mall traffic makes for a quick in and out. Its dual stations makes it that much more reliable. Notice GOM drift is 16 miles? 

North Bend Charge Curve EB  30:25  12.49 kwh

Leaving North Bend, we were now in for the fun stuff.  Notice the GOM drift is down to 8 miles. 5 more kwh and I could have closed that gap to under a  5  mile difference between GOM and LEAF Spy but the higher charging speed was not in the cards. 

Departing EVGO North Bend EB

Now for the real climb.  Snoqualmie Summit isn't really that high compared to the Rockies but its also all at 70 mph. Road construction and congestion slowed me to 60 mph for brief stretches but I could have zigzagged the left lanes to maintain speed if I chose to join the people doing just that. I simply wasn't in that much of a hurry.  Besides, sometimes spending a smidge more time is not all that bad. 

Cresting Snoqualmie and dropping down into Central Washington isn't like another state, its like another planet! Surprisingly, the 20º rise in temperature isn't the most noticeable difference.   The terrain likely prevented lava flows from the east from progressing all the way to the Pacific so unlike Western Washington that is simply overloaded with natural beauty, Central Washington primarily had to create their own beauty.  Without Human intervention, the area would resemble the Moon. 

I arrived in Ellensburg; home of Central Washington University and like most college towns, the town boasts a variety of restaurants far from the expectations of a town with a population of 20,000.  Not sure of which of the half dozen recommendations I have heard about, I decided to stop at one of the first as you arrive in town;  Findelina's Taqueria.  It is a very unassuming local place that might be able to seat a dozen people. The food was great and cheap. 

After the meal, it was time to recharge, explore Ellensburg and head home.  The brand new Evita DCFC in Ellensburg does require a Greenlots account to activate but the station is currently free and best of all; There is no apparent time limit. A great stop for a LEAF with a hot pack (unless you are lucky enough to have a 30 kwh LEAF which charges at full speed all the time below 80% SOC at ANY temperature!)   It is in an uncovered parking lot which means your pack will suffer a double whammy. I arrived and temperature was 84º just after 1 PM. By the time I left, it was 87º bu the car was much hotter than that after baking in the Sun for nearly an hour. 

Arrive Evita DCFC Ellensburg WA

My LEAF getting its "Vitamin E" fix while I get my Vitamin D fix!

 Amenities. Don't know if they are open 24/7 but there is no signs mentioning hours.
 A VERY nice add!

Tesla's are welcome. A good place to top off after the SC session just up the road.
FYI; the food options here blow away the food around the SC! (Apparently, this station only good for Roadsters...Oh well!) 

It took all of 2 minutes for me to question my lunch choice because Ellensburg has a LOT OF OPTIONS!  The charging station is in the parking lot that serves the "Panda Garden."  Within a block is also "The Pita Pit", "Rodeo City BBQ", and "The Wild Huckleberry"

There is also another half dozen options if you are energetic enough to walk TWO blocks. Monster Melts, Local Winery Outlet, etc.  This town has a lot.  I have done walkabouts at several charging stations and I have to say I cannot easily think of a better walk than Ellensburg. I literally have to come back. There is simply too much to see here!

An unlocked dumpster is not completely unheard of...

But an unlocked storage shed?? WOW, its been decades since I've seen that!

Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce is located in the house here

Very highly rated. One day I will L2 here and really explore the town!

One of many many eating choices within a few hundred yards of the charger

This is just a shopping mall of sorts but this picture does it no justice. 
This building is simply SUPER COOL!

Moose Lodge Ellensburg WA.  One of the many old brick buildings here. 

Well, the plan was to charge 40-45 mins or so (didn't want to be piggish) so I returned to the car but it wasn't quite up to the SOC I wanted and it was getting "warm" so I decided to sit in car and get some AC going. That was quite a hit on my charging speed. 

Ellensburg  Evita Charge Curve

After catching up on Facebook and 52 mins of charging, it was time to unplug and head back. I barely won the battle over switching to level 2 and eating a 2nd lunch somewhere...It was not pretty.  I would not find out til much later that had I delayed even a short time, I would have been caught in traffic Hell.  FYI; traffic is ALWAYS bad on the route I was taking home but the whole point of this trip was to do the same route as the previous trip. 

Below, the effects of a Sunny day in an uncovered parking lot resulting in first ever 10 bar temperature reading (Yeah, I know they aren't "bars" any more but I decided to use terms people are familiar with. Substitute "segment" if that makes you feel better) 

On my S30, I saw 10 or 11 temperature bars A LOT!  The steeper fast charge profile pretty much ensured that but the pack also cooled off much faster so the pack "might" have suffered less degradation because of its seemingly better ability to shed heat.  FYI; that temperature reading is not my body heat!

Depart Ellensburg Evita DCFC

Ellensburg Evita DCFC.  Despite what the charger says, Greenlots email says I got 20.21 kwh

The drive to North Bend was uneventful other than hitting 129.6º just before the Summit. Realize I was still on the warm side of the summit heading west.  The descent did do wonders for my pack though. 

Arrive North Bend EVGO WB

Well, as you probably already guessed, my charging "speed" would be limited. Remember this is the same station I got 24 kwh earlier. This time it was a bit less.

North Bend EVGO 16 KW Charging

Soon AV will be compatible with the 2018 making the North Bend to Ellensburg jump no longer necessary but my 30:55 (Notice EVGO gave me almost an extra minute? Even they felt sorry for me!)  minute charge session took my SOC from 18% to 40%. (For LEAF Spy fans, I went from 28% to 48%...)  8.88 kwh gained.   Some people don't like to stop as much as I do. In fact some people will do anything to prevent having to take 15 extra steps including parking at a charging station because its 50 feet closer to the door.  I am not one of those people. Sitting in a car at my age is one of the worst things I can do so I walk on my charging sessions mostly because the stiffness in my legs is telling me that I need to get out and do something!  I like that the bathrooms are at the far corner from the stations.  Very refreshing! and it being in the upper 60's also felt GOOD!

Traffic Hell

Depart  North Bend EVGO WB

Departing North Bend, I took a deep breath to gather the patience I would need to fight traffic back home. I now realize that with additional stations coming back online, the "long" way home on either 410 or Highway 12 will have MUCH nicer scenery (I know you are thinking "Is that possible!!") along with a much more mountainous drive on single lane roads which will be slower but at least they will be MOVING!  So yes, expect another Ellensburg blog with some super cool scenery shots! :)

One of road planning's greatest mistakes is the I-90 to Highway 18 interchange.  The time to put in at least 4 lanes for this vital shortcut to central Puget Sound is decades overdue. The explosion of North Bend and Issaquah has blown up the traffic that circumvents Seattle area traffic.  Granted, a 4 lane expansion would be expensive but the bottleneck at this interchange happens because a 2 lane left turn shortens into a single lane in a few hundred feet.  Extending this to two lanes for even as little as half a mile would GREATLY increase traffic flow here.  

So as expected about a mile from the interchange, I am at a dead stop on I-90 as the light to turn left allows only 4-10 cars thru it at a time. It will take 32 minutes to travel this 5000 feet thru the light.  I finally get thru the light onto Highway 18.  I am now 60.6 miles and 132 minutes from home according to Google maps. I wish!

Despite my pathetic 20% SOC charge at North Bend, I have enough (via LEAF Spy) to make it home despite the LEAF saying I will be 2 miles short.  To prove LEAF wrong, I decided to bypass home to push the limits. Traffic made the "pushing effort" rather minimal. 

Within a few miles of the I-90 interchange, traffic is flowing rather smoothly on a primarily 2 lane Highway 18 (Ascents gain a lane so trucks can trudge up the grade) and I am coasting as much as I can to help cool the pack.  But already the news is warning of several accidents on my route home including a police pursuit South of Tacoma that ended in a crash with several cars involved.  The area is overwhelmed with traffic on good days but there will be no good days until the middle of 2019 due to various construction projects in the area that are currently in the peak construction season so bad just became worse. 

Highway 18 eventually becomes a freeway and its smooth sailing until the infamous I-5 interchange.  Again, I am sitting in a line only a half mile long this time and this line moves freely since there are no lights involved but merging onto a "slightly jammed" I-5 is complicated by the fact that dozens choose not to get in line instead taking the "right turn only" lane to the head of the line then cutting back left which just slows my line down all that much more. 

Highway 18 WB to I-5 SB Interchange. Plenty of room to squeeze in, right!

well, I finally get onto I-5 and now my estimated total travel time from I-90 is now 141 minutes.  This crawl happens all the way to Tacoma where it clears up for a few miles until it hits the next big bottleneck; Highway 512 a few miles down the road.  The police chase mentioned above ended in Lakewood a few miles south of Highway 512 so the backup is now moving slowly so I hopped off and took Pacific Highway a few miles before hopping back on adding a few miles.  Jeopardize my chances at making that detour? Nope. GOM says I am now going to make it exactly while LEAF Spy says I have an extra 15 miles. 

Soon I am passing thru Nisqually completely unaware of the fact that in less than 5 minutes another accident will happen in that very spot which was result in an additional 25 minutes of travel time had I been thru there just a bit later.  

Welcome New Owners WEBASTO!

If you live in the Pacific Northwest you probably already know about this but yesterday AV announced they have a fix for the 2018 DCFC incompatibility and better yet, have already upgraded over a dozen stations mostly in Southwest WA and OR.   So instead of going home with my now "well done" battery pack, I decided what's one more DCFC!

So on to Tumwater I went but realize my GOM was thinking I was going home and sure enough within a few miles of passing my exit...

Sorry for blurry pix but phone holder to see dash must be extended to its max reach 
where its stability is not good.

The most robust ONE PERCENT EVER!

Ok, in case you need to hear it again, get LEAF Spy!  If you want to take road trips, you really can do without it but you need to tell me why you even want to!

Anyway, I pull into Tumwater DCFC with "no range" left... 

Well sort of... 

LOL!!! As I said; Greatest ONE PERCENT EVER!!

So I pull up, authenticate and plug in. First thing I notice is someone cleaned the machine. It almost looks nice. The 2nd thing I notice is the authentication process was not speeded up. In fact, I think its slower than before but, no matter!


AV came thr....Webasto came thru!! It was all I could do to not want to zip down to Centralia and check that one too and it if wasn't gonna take half a day to get enough charge to make it there, I probably would have done it!

 Well after charging enough to break even (don't want to park it with less range than it had this morning) It was time to finally go home.  Notice I am now at 9 TBs. I guess my pack was tired of being hot or that 68º was really working as I dropped a full degree  between the two shots  that were probably recorded less a two minutes apart!

Depart Tumwater AV

The End

I finally pulled in with 52 miles of range so after all that, I gained 7 miles of range from this morning which means it was a good day!

As mentioned before, no one would have done this in "real" life so I have to admit, this was all just another experiment.  As EVers we seem to microanalyze our usability and challenges while ignoring what is truly important.   Range is important but the real importance is the public charging network. I hear this all the time; "Give me an EV with 500 miles of range and I will have all that I want" and guess what? If that is all you need, you need to get a life!

The reality is a lot of us cannot afford to pay for range we might use a dozen times a year. So the statement that "public charging is expensive" is nowhere near as true as "my $50,000 Tesla payments are too high."  But I do not begrudge those who have worked hard and are in the position to pay that kind of money but realize "that" is not what will cause the tipping point for electric vehicles. 

The tipping point happens when the public charging network is robust enough to not handle a million 300 mile EVs but when it can handle MILLIONS of 150 mile EVs. THAT is where we need to be. 

Despite the challenges of slow charging, traffic Hell, etc. This was one of the most enjoyable road trips I have done in a long long time and I am already planning my next visit!


  1. 2 things... the tesla charger at the ellensburg location only works for roadsters. And it is far better for your car to leave with a full charge after charging overnight. Even if you need to sit at a high charge level for a few hours. The extra heat from the first quick charging session is way worse