Cold weather operation

My leaf has been through the Jan 2014 Polar Vortex here on Long Island, NY. The pre-heat from the grid power has been a great feature in this weather. Love getting in a toasty car. I have some concerns that it goes a little overboard in heating the car costing more than I would like though. A work around is to set it to finish later than you are planning to start using the car, however. I will try to get some number on how much it is costing me.

I took some data on the worst case weather experienced. To give the Leaf an acid-test I left it out in the cold overnight, whereas I usual garage it. The morning of Jan 4, 2014 the temperature was 0F on my home thermometer and 1F on the Leaf display. I drove 18.1 mi with a mix of highway and local (30.7 MPH average in 34 min.) Heat was used liberally for comfort. This consumed 48% of the battery on the charge percentage display. Extrapolating this gives 37.7 miles of range. I don’t know how much goes to heat but I feel it is quite significant. I will be trying to determine that soon.

The battery temperature was 24F at the start and 33F at the end. The battery heater apparently does come on to keep the battery warmer at these very low temperatures. The battery was still showing 80% charge on the display as I had left it when it finished charging the night before.

The recharge of the battery was done with L1 charging so that I could measure the KWHs with my kill-a-watt meter. It used 10.65 KWH which at $0.20 per costs $2.13. This is 11.8 cents/mi. which is a big increase from the 6.5 I calculated last April.

For a more typical cold weather trip I took data a few days later for my commute, 16.2 mi round trip. The temperature was 9F/21F for the 2 legs. Preheating was used in the morning and the car had been garaged. The Leaf was kept comfortably heated on both legs. I used 33% of charge which would give a range of 49.1 mi. The cost was 10.9 cents/mi. The next day I measured a preheating cost of $0.18. This was done using L1 power and the car wasn’t as toasty as with preheating with L2 power.

Enough with the flippin’ data now! In general the car has many cold weather advantages. The battery weight and weight distribution gives decent driving in the snow. Following the worst ice storm the car has sat out in a parking lot for, the near instant heat started melting the ice long before I had finish scraping it. I love the heated steering wheel. Last year I was having problems with numb hands when driving in cold weather in my 2002 VW Passat ICE. The bad thermostat I later found probably didn’t help that situation though. The heated seats are great too. These seem accentual in an EV since you don’t want to blast the heat to warm up your freezin’ a** like you might in an ICE car.

The longest trip I regularly use the Leaf for, round trip to NY City, appears to be practical down to about 40F without charging on the road. This is a 76 mi trip, preheating was used, a minimum of heat used during the trip and highway speeds were kept low by intent and traffic. At 40F I had 15 mi left on the GOM (guess-o-meter) at the end. It the summer, with A/C and higher speeds I will have 20 to 30 miles left.

This weekend Sept 28/29 2013

Went to my first EV event on Saturday. National Plugin day in Melville, NY. Was glad to see plenty of interest in EVs and to see other EVers from Long Island willing to spend time promoting the future of autos. Got to see several EVs that I had not seen before: We had 2 Tesla Model S, 2 Think City, Honda Fit EV, Ford Cmax Energi and Fusion Energi, BMW Active E, Zero motorcycle and a couple conversion vehicles. And of course the more common Leafs, Volts and Prius plugins. Got to hear plenty of stories about finding charging and other EV issues. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other EV events.

My daughter Sophie was with me at the event. She thought the Delorean (conversion) looked cool, but not very practical. I commented that I would probably keep hitting my head on the doors if I had one. Being a big fan of cute cars, she liked the Think City. And they don’t get much cuter than that. I didn’t realize that the Think City has molded plastic body panels. Now that’s a spartan car. Although after having repaired a dented fender on the Leaf I don’t think plastic body panels are a half bad idea. There was an all electric plugin food truck at the event so I go Sophie a grilled cheese sandwich and water there. She commented that she liked the artistic painting that covered most of the truck. The food they had was kinda exotic for kids liking. She commented later that she didn’t real like the grilled cheese very much. I tried the cold half she left and liked it. The cheese was probably a cheddar instead of the standard american and the bread probably wasn’t white bread. There was another truck selling ice cream which used batteries for some of the refrigeration and a cold plate freezer which will hold the cold for the day without power (didn’t know they had those).

Also installed my level 2 EVSE (charging station) on Friday. Schneider EVlink being on sale for $699 (Home Depot website) finally brought me to choose an EVSE. I soon learned it was back-ordered and thought I’d be waiting for it, but it was delivered only 11 days after ordering. I’m waiting for UPS to show up with it on Thursday evening, so I go check the tracking and find it was delivered an hour earlier. Search the front of my house check the neighbors front doors and no package! Recheck the tracking. Uh-oh, I had a typo in the address, 27 instead of 37. Go down the street hoping my neighbors will hand me the package. Not so simple though. The house is being renovated and only some workers are there. They no nothing about the package but say the owner will be back soon. Two women show up soon and they no nothing too. But they called some who they think had been there at the time of delivery and he pointed us to it in the garage. Thanks for the tracking UPS, it was a life saver!

I highly recommend the EVlink EVSE. It is an attractive design, easy to install, has a separate cable hanger which allowed flexibility in my install situation. I measured the standby power using a Kill-a-watt meter before the final connection and found the power to be quite low (< 2W). This compares favorably with what others have measured for other EVSE models. One geeky feature I found the EVlink has, that I didn't know about before buying it, is an indication of the problem that it detects when the failure indicator is on. Surprise it has that I, since it would encourage people to attempt there own repairs. I suppose they are thinking they can minimize the number of returns for simple problems or problems with the EV or supply connections.

I also ordered an OBDII Bluetooth adapter which will provide battery status info to my Android phone. I installed the Leak Spy Lite app already and am waiting for the adapter now. US post office is meeting my low expectations of them with the delivery. Don't they realize if they have tracking they can't delay the package for no obvious reason and not piss off the customer. The package arrived at a regional sorting center on Thursday and they failed to get it here by Saturday. That's not very good, is it.

On Sunday I took the Leaf to the Ocean to Sound (long Island) Relay race. We leave the car at the start of our leg of the race and someone from the support team vehicle will drive it to the end of the leg. The runner (Pat V.) had no problem using the car without me being there but I did give him verbal instructions and left detailed instruction in the car. After my run I followed the race route in the Leaf to cheer-on the next runner (Mike R.) on our team. It was nice having an emissions-free vehicle that wasn’t fuming all the runners I past on the way.

I got everything right for my run this year. Last year I felt like one of the 3 stooges. At the start, when the earlier runner was finishing I had paperwork in my hands and wasn’t ready to start until I gave them to someone. Then I forgot to start my watch right away, although I have made that mistake every year I ran this race until this year. Last year while running the same leg I got lost at one turn but luckily someone corrected me within 10-20 seconds. I also have been known to forget to scan the baton at the finish of my leg as required, but remembered to do it this year.

On the way back from a race I spotted a Volt on the road. I don’t think I have seen that one before and don’t think it was at the event on Saturday. There is a red Volt that I have seen repeatedly in Melville but this one was grey and was in Huntington Station

Love my Leaf

Leased a 2013 Nissan Leaf S on 3/19/2013. It has quick charge/6.6KW charger and backup camera options.
Started charging with Schneider Electric EVlink level 2 EVSE on 9/27/2013.