Thursday, August 20, 2009

Charging Challenges

This is a follow up to my earlier post where I mentioned I was experiencing shorter range, due to heat and humidity, and real problems charging my car with the 110.

Well the humidity has relaxed a bit. It is still hot but my MINI E seems happier. My range is back, in fact, I should get around 123 miles according to the computer. I have not gone all the way to zero as I'm still on the 110 and I need the car daily.

As for my charging challenges this still goes on, however, I've been able to make it less painful. What was happening was the breaker on the 110 cable was popping every 15 or so minutes, especially if the batts were hot, 85 or higher. That batt fan would really blow and I'm sure #402 was asking for the full 12amps, 12amps the cable or my house was not willing to give up. I've also noticed charging does take longer, I'm sure due to the fan needing juice. As the night cooled with the batts I was usually able to leave the MINI E alone to charge, breaker free, but unfortunately it was not long enough to get a full charge by morning.....frustrating.

I tried another cable from the other cars we had, no difference, finally I just decided to open both windows all the way not just a crack, bugs were happy and there was improvement. The cable breaker popped but not as much and once the batts got to around 82 degrees I could close the windows and let the car continue sipping on the 110. Oh by the way - do remember to turn your vents to the open position, helps with cooling.

So what does this all mean, is my MINI E sick, no, am I having grid infrastructure issues, I think so. I'm guessing on these hot nights people in town still have home AC on which is creating increased demand on the grid, a time of normal quiet and when less power is produced. Probably there is 'dirty' power entering my house, uneven flow. It is just enough to cause the MINI E to gag a bit...theory yes, but not off base. I'm in a small historic town and like most of the small historic towns in North Jersey on a hot night the lights look a bit dimmer or flicker whether I have AC on or not. I have a 200amp line to the house but if there is not enough juice available it would not matter if I had double that. Imagine what could happen when the wall box is connected.

So this brings up a very good point. I've read statements from 'groups' about how there is plenty of energy around to power all the EVs the world can produce....really? What a pathetic and half ass statement. I agree there is enough energy, but, there is NOT an efficient way to deliver it to these cars yet. Think of the electric grid as our road system, or worse, our bridge infrastructure, load it up get the point.

If you have a number of EVs pulling 40amps or more simultaneously and continuously for hours while in close proximity to each other you have a real problem - the gird was not designed for it. EV manufactures will need to be aware of this and work with utilities to upgrade or implement techniques to manage that can be done...demand response is one of the technologies which requires little infrastructure upgrade, but that is for another post.

I love seeing bold statements from NISSAN on the LEAF and other future EV manufacturers about all the cars they will bring to our roads, that will be interesting.

BMW has a good head start, yes there have been some challenges with the wall boxes, but now BMW/MINI has a better idea of just how much it takes to set up a surface infrastructure, the other guys think they do. I look forward to more EVs on the road, I want an EV to drive after this field test, but I also look forward to keeping my lights on.

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