Monthly Archives: June 2014

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How much electricity does the Go Times use on a mild day?

A couple of weeks ago I had noticed that when I had the Go Times set (even with the climate control set to off) there was a very slight reduction in battery usage for my morning commute (like 1%-2% or so). My thinking at the time was that the Go Time was doing something before unplugging that would be happening while driving if the Go Time wasn’t set. Apparently someone else was thinking similar thoughts in the forums. This morning I setup a test:

  • Car fully charged, parked in the garage
  • Garage ambient temperature 72F as measured by the opener (got me why my opener can read the temperature)
  • Set up a Go Time for 6:15 am with climate off
  • When I walked out to check on the car at 6:10am or so the Juicebox relays had already clicked on but it was showing no power draw from the car
  • At about 6:12am (or ~3 minutes to go) the car’s fan turned on and the Juicebox read 7A draw (1.7kW)
  • At the Go Time of 6:15am the car shut off
  • The ending Juicebox display was showing 0.0 kWh of power consumption

If we do a little math using the 3 minutes of 7A power draw (3 minutes is 0.05 hours, and the car was using 1680 Watts–7A * 240V) we can conclude that the car used roughly 84 Wh during that 3 minutes. 84 Wh is really not that much power–on a really good day it can take 200 Wh just to go a mile but it is non-zero. Over the course of a summer it could add up to a “tank” or two (only summer because as the temperatures get colder using the Go Times gets more important).

Update: I’ve left the Go Times setup for the week configured the same: Climate off. I noticed the cooling fan on high this morning so I glanced over at the Juicebox just before unplugging the car: 24A! for 4 minutes, 0.3kWh consumed (Doing the same math as above: 384 Wh). The only weather differences: Slightly warmer at 77F but the humidity is much higher (very foggy out). Interesting, I’ll have to continue watching it…

 

In the event of an emergency…use public charging

Well ok, not exactly an emergency but: This afternoon we had some heavy storms come through. Enough to knock out power to the house. Now normally this would be a minor inconvenience, but with an EV with limited range: If the power stays out, I can’t work from home and may not have enough charge for another round-trip to work on the battery.

Well thank AAA for installing those two chargers near our house not just weeks ago!
AAA To the rescue

At the time I made the post above I didn’t think I’d be using this charger much. Now I’m happy its there. I never thought of the case where we didn’t have power–we lose it maybe once per year for very short times.

(Other alternatives exist: Like bringing the RV home and using the genny, but I could only Level 1 charge off of the RV’s genny–its only 4kW. If the power is out long enough we may end up using the RV for powering the refer’s and/or the sump pump anyway..we’ll see.)

You may be asking: How did you make this post if your power is out? WiFi hotspot from my phone to my laptop–at least until these batteries deplete…

Update: Just as My Ford Mobile indicated that the car was charged…the power came back on. Funny how that works.

Juicebox after 5 days…

Its been 5 days since the Juicebox arrived. So far all has performed as well as expected. The Juicebox is reporting 43 kWh charged lifetime.

At this point I haven’t made use of the Juicebox’s charge timer, just using it like I used the other EVSE’s. So far I’ve noticed the following about it:

  • The clock doesn’t seem that accurate: Since this one doesn’t have WiFi it can’t sync to a time server so I wouldn’t expect it to keep perfect time (was off about an hour today when I checked–will have to monitor that more closely)
  • When the FFE is set for Value Charge (timed charge) I’m getting a charge fault right after plugging in. I’ve seen this occasionally with the other EVSE’s. It seems that the Focus gets out of sync with itself (like the charge module thinks its time to charge but the MyFordTouch timer says no it isn’t resulting in a fault). This clears itself up after a few minutes (Pressing “Update” a few times in the mobile app also appears to clear up the condition).

It still feels like a higher quality design/build than the other EVSE’s I have–this is mostly due to the case and the construction of the J1772 plug.

 

I saw another..

Today I saw another FFE on the road but this encounter was slightly different..backing up a bit:

On any given day I usually see a few plugin cars: Lots of Volts–like one every two or three miles–a couple of Leafs (I see two in my city all the time with the same people driving them), the rare Tesla (there is a gray one near my work and just saw a red one near my home last week), and occasionally an FFE. You’d think I’d see more FFE’s being that I live only a few miles from the plant where they are built (I see more C-Maxes than FFE’s). In fact I do see the odd manufacturer plated FFE from time to time.

Today, however, was slightly different. Typically the other plugin cars I see are going in the opposite direction to me, or are on an intersecting street. This morning I was stopped at a light all by myself when I noticed a distinctive grile approaching me in the rear-view mirror. A black one. He pulled up next to me in the adjacent lane at the red light and looked over when I gave him the thumbs up. My gesture was met with a smile and a brief period of puzzlement until he noticed the “Electric” emblem on my door. It would seem that the FFE is so stealthy that even other FFE drivers don’t notice it! (Giving him the benefit of the doubt: It was early and from the back it is very hard to distinguish the FFE from any other Focus. The “electric” emblem back there is in the same spot as “Titanium”, “ST”, “SE” or any of the other trim line emblems thus if you are not specifically looking for it then you wouldn’t notice that its another FFE. It was easier for me as the front grille is a dead giveaway.)

 

 

Chargers are us…or rather EVSEs

I seem to be collecting EVSE’s lately! A year ago when I picked up the FFE–my first plugin car of any kind–I didn’t know what EVSE to get and just got the one the power company recommended as part of their installation deal. Now today I have a small collection of them:
EVSE Collection
On the left is my original Bosch/SPX PowerXPress unit which is proving to be a little troublesome. In the middle is a Clipper Creek LCS-25P. The far right is the newest of my four EVSEs (4th is the 120V one included with the car): An EMW Juicebox.

Now I didn’t really pay for all of them:

  • The Ford EVSE comes with the car (so yeah its cost is baked into the car)
  • The Bosch/SPX unit had a tax deal where my power company paid for almost all of it
  • I did purchase the LCS-25P as a Level 2 backup to the Ford EVSE
  • The EWM Juicebox I won right here for this blog!

Yes you read that right: I’m the winner of the myevblog contest from September/October last year. The Juicebox only just arrived today–I had expected it to take some time given that it is a Kickstarter project. So I finally have something to write about other than “I won!”.

(A note about the wiring in the picture above: The Juicebox is rated for 60A and thus its two cables are quite beefy. To get it to plug into my outlet and be “compatible” with some of my options I removed the 14-50P end of the cable and put a L6-30 plug on it. Since the cable was so thick I wasn’t able to put the strain relief on–yet. With the L6-30 plug it uses the same pigtail that the LCS-25 does. I only have it set for 27A.)

Lets take a look at the vehicle connectors for the four EVSEs:
EVSE Plugs
EVSE Plugs

Left to right the connectors are: Bosch/SPX, Clipper Creek LCS-25, Juicebox, and finally the Ford “convenience cable”. A few remarks about each:

  • Bosch/SPX: This one seems to be the cheapest design. A rubber overmold over some plastic with a small hole for drainage.
  • Clipper Creek: This is a very nice connector. In the second picture you can see the green O-ring used to seal the plug against the car. The cable has a Delphi tag and part number on it.
  • Juicebox: This connector seems to be the best of all four, similar sealing to the LCS-25 and a bit more solid feeling. It even includes a rubber dust cap.
  • Ford: The Ford plug is very similar to the LCS-25 plug in design and about the same quality.

On the whole they all get the job done, some quicker than others of course. The Juicebox stands out, though, because it has some extra features:
Juicebox display

The display shows the current power consumption and charge rate (above I’m charging at 240V, 27A and the Juicebox has put in 0.1 kWh into the car for the past minute).

You can set the max current level via a menu item (even adjust it while the car is charging–the “outC+” and “outC-” shown on the display above). If I had the WiFi adapter I could also setup a charge schedule in it similar to the Value Charge schedule in the FFE.

So far after about two hours of using the Juicebox it appears to be a very nice unit–albeit a little large case but does look cool like an AA battery.

More to come after I’ve used it a while…

 

Another funny/good EV commercial..

From the likes of VW:

This one comes courtesy of Inside EVs.

 

Michigan EV Show & Rally

Today was the Michigan EV Show & Rally (mentioned in a prior posting). This is an EV show given by a local community college. I went to this show about 3 years ago. At that time there wasn’t many production EVs available (I think the Volt had just been released at the time). The show resembled Maker Faire more than it did an EV show with all the custom conversions.

Today’s show was a lot different, there were may production EVs on display (and the mix resembled the mix of EVs that I see every day on the road here in Southeastern Michigan). They were handing out this chart showing available EVs (it looks a little dated).

As far as the vehicles that were there:
Volts:
Volts
and more Volts:
Volts
Oh wait, there is a Leaf in there and waay in the back is an i3.
In fact there were two i3s there both were unsold and presented by a local BMW dealer (although the dealer’s location is at least 50 miles from the college–I strongly suspect that the two pickups with car hauler trailers in the parking lot was how the i3s got to the show):
i3
i3
i3 on the left at one of the College’s four Chargepoint stations (C-Max Energi on the right; there was 3 C-Max Energi’s there).
Ok but wait: Wasn’t there an FFE there? Well yes: mine but mine wasn’t on display–was there one on display?
Can you spot the FFE?
Well yeah its really easy to see the FFE, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (which is kind of goofy here: The show was mostly for EVs–at least the plugin variety. Lincoln doesn’t have a plugin yet).
What else was there? This cool converted S-10 pickup:
S-10 EV
A couple of full size hybrid pickups (presented by power companies interestingly enough)(Yes that is a Cadillac ELR in the background):
Dodge Hybrid
Chevy
Here is the aforementioned Cadillac ELR:
Chevy
Leafs were also plentiful:
Chevy

Like I said: The mix matched my daily observation of EVs on the road here in Southeastern Michigan: Many Volts, a few Leafs, one FFE, a few C-Max Energi’s, one Lincoln MKZ, a couple of i3s (although I haven’t yet seen one on the road). Strangely enough there wasn’t any Tesla’s there (either Roadster or Model S–I was there pretty early–I arrived just as it opened at 9am and cars were still showing up so it is possible that a Model S and/or Roadster showed up later).

 

Electric everything…

Can’t believe I haven’t mentioned my other electrical efforts before…

About the time Ford announced that it was going to produce an electric Focus in 2009 and I decided that I would get one eventually I also figured that it would be a good idea to start electrifying other areas around the home. At the time LED lights were just being introduced so I gradually started replacing the household lights with LEDs as they burnt out or when the LEDs went on sale.

Shortly thereafter our gas lawnmower gave up its last breath. I thought perfect just in time to get a new, electric one. Not being satisfied with dragging a cord around the yard with me I searched for a battery powered mower. At the time I think there was only two on the market, and not the least expensive mowers on the market. Of the two the Ryobi 48V one seemed to be the better option (I think the other one was a 24V Toro).
Ryobi Electric Mower

I went ahead and purchased the mower. Initially it was a little rough going as a single charge was just enough to cut all of our lawn (a standard 1/2 acre lot). In addition the included charger is a little finicky and you have to pay attention to when it should stop charging as it may overcharge and fry the battery–found that out the hard way. After picking up a spare or two I’m now pretty happy with the mower. About 1/2 way through the lawn I switch the battery and start charging the used one. A while after I’m done that battery is charged and I switch the charger to the other which finishes in a couple of hours.

Just like the FFE the lawn mower is very quiet with respect to other mowers. The only noise it does make is from the blades as they spin about twice as fast as a normal mower (when running it sounds almost exactly like a large fan on high).

Soon after the mower I also picked up a battery powered trimmer followed by a battery powered leaf blower. Sadly the only piece of outdoor equipment I haven’t been able to replace with an electric version has been the snow thrower (the only one I know of is prohibitively expensive).

So at least during the summer months I’m able to use only electrons for the weekly yard work…

Now if you look at the home improvement stores there is a little bit more of a selection of battery powered mowers including this “EGO” one (that costs even more than my Ryobi cost several years ago).

 

Doing your part…

The plugshare website and mobile apps are an excellent resource for finding public charge stations. It is crowd sourced which gives it the ability to cover any EV network’s charging stations. You can do your part as an EV driver by adding any public stations that you come across that aren’t already in the plugshare system. Such as the one below:

Public Charge station

This is a brand new Chargepoint station at our local AAA office. I had noticed this pop up in the Chargepoint app just today–and it wasn’t in plugshare (looking at the lawn next to it I’d say they just finished construction the past week and turned it on). From what I can see, at least for Michigan, AAA has been adding charging stations to all of its regional offices–great!

As far as this station: It is very likely that I won’t ever be plugging into it: Its far too close to home. In most cases if I can make it to this station then I can also make it to my house.

Hey! Speaking of AAA it also appears that they’ve added EV Charge stations to their mapping tools–great x2!
Note: I’d like to point out that I’m affiliated with none of the groups/companies mentioned above (AAA, Plugshare, Chargepoint) just a happy consumer.