Tag Archives: Charging

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.


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.

Quiet around these parts…and unplugged? really?

Yeah haven’t posted much lately. Fortunately there hasn’t been much to post about!

Ok here is something to talk about: BMW i3 Road trip. The item I’d like to discuss in that lengthy piece is the fact at the hotel he overnighted at the owner unplugged his car twice without communicating anything to him. I certainly hope he does follow up with Hampton Inn’s national customer service line. He was unplugged even after calling in and asking if he could plug in. That was likely the worst thing the hotel owner could do.


Win one for the Zipper…

Detroit really is a sports city: There are few other alternatives for entertainment other than movies, the occasional concert, travelling shows (Stomp, Mythbusters, etc.) and the rare play that makes its way here. Above all Detroiters love their sports teams (yes, even the Lions!). What better thing to do on a Sunday night, then take a trip downtown to see a Red Wings game.
Go Wings

Joe Louis arena, where they play, is right next to Cobo Hall where the North American International Auto Show was held. This proximity also makes the same parking structure/chargers convenient to going to Red Wings games as well.
Chargepoint map
(The blue “C” on W Congress St.)
Instead of turning left when leaving the parking structure to walk to Cobo you turn right and climb the ramps up to the arena.

Reading online about areas with a lot of EV adoption (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta) gives you the impression that there are more EV’s than public chargers can accommodate. Looking at the map above ~10 chargers are available in the dozen or so block area. Joe Louis arena seats approximately 20,000 people and these days is usually about 1/2 full. Given that EV adoption is a few percent of overall vehicle sales you’d think that there would be 10 to 20 plug-in vehicles attending any Red Wings game.

Knowing the above, we left plenty early to get to the game in order to snag one of the two spots at the Millennium Garage. Turns out I didn’t have to do so: The other charge spot remained free throughout the duration of the game. I guess the intersection of Red Wings fans and plug-in vehicle drivers is exactly one: me!
Chargepoint map
Further evidence of this was the large group of people ahead of us as we exited the arena and entered the parking garage. As they rounded the corner in the garage and saw my car I could hear one of the party loudly exclaim: “ELECTRIC!” (She said it very loudly almost shouting it).
When we made the trip down to the auto show it was a very cold January morning with a strong headwind for the ride home causing us to burn 22 kWh:
Trip Display
For this trip the temperature was a bit warmer (in the 30s instead of the 20s LOL) with very little wind resulting in us only using 20.5 kWh:
Trip Display
For some additional figures I reset the 2nd trip meter before returning home: This way I can break out the two trips:
Trip Display
The trip down to the arena used 9.1 kWh and the trip home used 11.4 kWh. On the way to the arena I was driving very conservatively, using minimal heat, etc. since I didn’t know if I could charge at the game or not. For the drive home I was free to use as much heat and speed as I wanted.
In addition, since the car was charged up when I started, I charged to full in the parking garage, and the charge station was a Chargepoint station I can also use this to calculate the efficiency of the charger in the FFE. According to Chargepoint the car consumed 10.887 kWh during that session. Thus the efficiency should be at least 83%. I say at least because I had remote started the car when the game ended so that the car would be nice and warm by the time we got there which means some of the 10.887 kWh was used to heat up the car for the 15 minutes or so it took us to get there.
In the end, though, the Wings lost in overtime. Although not the best outcome they still did get 1 point to try to keep the playoff dream alive…

How to charge?

Chargepoint just recently redid their website. Included with the refresh is this fancy video on how to charge:

I see a few posts now and then in the plugshare app where people aren’t familiar with how to turn on/off a chargepoint station. It really isn’t that difficult, although I learned something watching it: Typically I just unplug the car when I’m done–instead of turning off the station first (it would probably complain less if I did turn it off first! LOL).


Electricity consumption for November…

Just found out I can download my meter readings from my electricity provider as an Excel spreadsheet. In addition, the readings data is down to the hour. As a result I can produce pretty graphs like this: My Focus Electric’s electricity usage for the month of November:
Pretty Graph

My total electricity from 11/1 through 11/30 was 393 kWh. Since I have the car scheduled to charge up at night you can see from the above that the vast majority of that charging happened between 12am and 12pm. The largest single charge was 13 kWh and the largest hourly charge was 7.08. Now this 7.08 figure is interesting as the car only has a 6.6 kWh charger. Thus it can be deduced that the extra 0.48 kWh is overhead due to the EVSE and internal car inefficiencies.

Another pretty graph: This one is the daily electricity usage per hour average, and maximum:
Pretty Graph #2

Note the peaks at 2:00 am and at 7:00 am in the average data set. The 2:00 am peak is due to value charging (timed charging) and the 7:00 am peak is due to the car preconditioning itself for my morning commute. This data being in November the precondition is taking a lot of power to heat up the car and melt some snow. I’ll have to post some summer data–that shouldn’t have the 7:00 am spike.

The max peaks pretty much just indicate that at some point throughout the month I’ve charged at those times (the max peaks during the day would be weekend charges).



Long trip planning, the Tesla way…or is it the EV way?

I found this article quite interesting for a few reasons (take some time to go read it…I’ll wait):

  • The current lack of Tesla Super Chargers on the east coast forces the driver to plan a bit more–like having a Focus Electric, or a Leaf (or any other <100 mile range BEV)
  • The driver comes to the conclusion at the end that is better to be more efficient than to rush (determining that driving slower and using less electricity actually saves time in the long run)
  • His reported “burn rate” for electricity is really not much higher than the FFE “burns” (300+ Wh/mile in the cold with the heater running, ~270 Wh/mile in milder conditions without heat from the article).

The ability to quick charge the Tesla does make for a much nicer experience when taking a long drive. In the above article he gets 190+ miles for 45 minutes of charge–short enough that a simple stop for dinner fills it up. I certainly hope that the next generation of EVs (FFE included) has a provision for fast charging (the J1772 Combo Plug option is already available on the Chevy Spark, and Ford has pledged to support it on future BEV and PHEV vehicles).


Misc thoughts and ramblings

So here are a few miscellaneous random thoughts:

  • I’m kind of surprised at the extent Nissan Leaf owners go to monitor their batteries. Is this due to the lack of a TMS? I know you want to eek out every last little mile out of the battery but really: extra power monitors, etc.? Granted I’m sure there are FFE owners doing the same thing. To me that all just sounds like so much more work! LOL You can get % charge remaining on the FFE (an approximation on the dash via the green bar on the battery and an actual value on one of the MFT display screens)–this has been sufficient for myself…?
  • Speed: I had a post about 0-60 times for the various models of Focuses. That isn’t where the FFE really shines though as far as acceleration (which is probably also true for all the EVs on the market today). It really doesn’t matter how fast the motor is going you will still have almost maximum torque available instantly. This makes small short accelerations seem much faster than what you get starting from a stop. Passing cars on the freeway is just a toe dip away in the accelerator. Perhaps I’ll figure out a safe way to record some times (10-30, 30-60, etc.) and post them (most likely by mounting a video camera at the dash). Should be interesting..


Some numbers on the cold

Last night I took some data down on how much electricity the car used overnight while charging (should have done this in the summer months as well!).

To start with I recorded my power usage for the day (at least what the car thought it was using, this value corresponded with 59% of the battery remaining):
Trip meter display

These numbers are somewhat typical for my daily commute. Ironically this commute was on a rather cold day with just under 1/4″ of snowfall overnight. Preconditioning the car combined with everyone’s cautious driving caused me to only use 7.2kWh of electricity! These past few cold days I’ve been using closer to 8kWh of electricity for my 31 mile commute.

Right when I arrived home I grabbed my meter reading (the car’s EVSE has its own meter):
Meter reading 1

At the time I plugged it in the outside temperature was 35F and thus the car stated “Waiting to charge” with my normal start time of 1:00am. As the evening went on the temperature dropped–when it hit freezing the car switched from waiting until 1:00am to waiting to start at the current time–it was starting its warming/trickle charge cycle.
This morning I recorded the meter right before driving away (with no preconditioning, outside temp: 20F):
Meter reading 2

So overnight the car used a total of 10kWh to keep itself warm, and charge up to 100%. Thus 7.2kWh of that went into the battery along with some burned up in the charger due to the charging efficiency (according to the EPA charging efficiency is roughly 80%) which would be about 2kWh. This leaves about 1 kWh used overnight to keep the car warm. (I’m being purposely vague here because I don’t know the exact efficiency of my EVSE + car combination. Doing the math directly yields 1.36 kWh which is close enough to my 1 kWh value.)

The numbers above align rather nicely with the daily average power consumption reported by my electricity provider. The daily averages per month also seem to be reflecting the additional power usage as the temperatures drop:

  • September: 9.9 kWh/day
  • October: 10.1 kWh/day
  • November: 12.8 kWh/day

Around here the temperatures took a dive in November which is reflected in the numbers. There are other factors in those numbers as well: In September and early October we were driving around a bit more each day due to various school/sporting activities (which may be the reason that there is only a 0.2 difference between September and October).

At this point, with our early blast of arctic air, I’ve been very pleased with the performance of the FFE–I was expecting a much greater drop in total range as an affect of cold weather.

Update: Power required for a precondition. Prior to driving the car across town for Thanksgiving I had set it up to precondition to 85F. This was the perfect opportunity to measure how much that takes. Before the car started the meter looked like this:
Power meter
Just before leaving I grabbed a picture of the meter (when the car was done preconditioning):
Power meter
Thus the car used about 5kWh of electricity to warm itself up from the ambient 25F.