I drove down to Montpelier last week and found a lovely parking space next to the new charger at the State House. It was in the single digits when I pulled in and activated the charger. The cord however would not release. I called the service number on the charger to see if they had any suggestions, I didn’t want to accidentally break it. The woman at the other end said they do sometime freeze in place in cold weather and I just needed to pull on the cord really hard. It was clear to me though that the frozen in place was not the plug but the metal release button on the top of the handle, it wouldn’t budge, so I whacked it and heard the magical sound of the plug releasing. So, when it’s frozen it’s not so much “pull on it real hard” but “whack it good.”
Another trip meant another stop at BTV. This time there was a Volt in one of the two spots and the other EV spot was open. The volt was plugged in to one of the outlets so I figured I’d take the other outlet. I pulled out my charger and went to plug it in to the second outlet. I opened the covering and found a 240 volt plug. Well my 110 charger plug wouldn’t fit and yes I did try. So, I hung my charger next to the Volt plug and left a note on the Volt windshield asking that they plug me in when they returned. I was gone for 4 days so I thought there was a good chance they would be back before me. I kept checking my status on CarWings hoping to get the signal that it was plugged in and ready to charge. The signal never came.
When I got back to BTV late Sunday night – that’s a whole other travel story, the Volt was still there. I packed up my charger and removed my note and found that even though it had been 4 plus days with single digit nights I had only lost 2 miles of range. The car started up just fine, and since I still had plenty of range I cranked up the heat. I suspect that we were both happy to get home and get plugged in.
On Wednesday I traveled from Jericho to Montpelier to Burlington before catching a plane to DC. The new charging station next to the State House was a great place to park and charge during my meeting. My flight back was scheduled to arrive at 11:40 p.m. and knowing that we were expecting one more near or below zero night I wanted to make sure that I would have plenty of juice for a heated ride home. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been ICE’d out of the great EV parking spaces at BTV three times previous so this time I decided to email my contact at BTV and inquire about the possibility of reserving one of the spots.
In less than 5 minutes I got an email back with a photo showing them both available and an offer if they weren’t when I arrived to use some of the other plugs they have for block heaters. “Just let me know the make, model and color of your car and I’ll let them know.” So, I now feel confident that I’ll be able to access a plug at BTV.
Now if they only offered a car wash as well.
I’ve noticed what seems like an odd phenomenon in these cold temperatures. When the battery only has one bar of warmth there is no regenerative braking. This morning when I drove down the hill to the interstate which is normally done in almost entirely regen mode there was no regen occurring. Could it be that a cold battery can’t absorb this power? Once I got two bars of battery warmth I got some regenerative power but not the same level as I have seen on milder, as in above zero degree, days.
There is also no question that the cold weather does zap range. I’ve been charging it up to 100% which gives me enough to keep the cabin warm and make it to and from Burlington even at 11 below, which was this morning’s trip. The dealer had recommended that on below zero nights (and days) to charge to 100%. There also seems to some missing correlation between temperature and the GFI tripping. Now, I’ve seen it do it even at 5 above while other times it will be ok at 5 below. Maybe there’s some humidity factor that needs to be considered. The last two nights I have just brought the extension cord indoors and it’s been charging fine.
And unlike my sister-in-laws Subaru that didn’t start this morning my LEAF started just fine.
Average Energy Economy: January*: 2.9 miles/kWh
August – December 31*: 3.6 miles/kWh
1352 kWh Electricity Consumption
153.8 hours Travel Time
3084 lbs. CO2 Tailpipe Emission Reduction
CarWings only has a month and annual by calendar year option so for the consumption values I just added the August – December 31 with the January to date numbers but for the efficiency I think I would have to provide a weighted measure to each number before combining. My abilities extend only so far as to know that I just can’t average the two since this is a measure of electricity used to miles traveled.
If some one out there would like to figure it out: For 2012 I consumed 1211 kWh and traveled 4369.2 miles (3.6 miles per kWh). For January to date I consumed 148.9 kWh and traveled 426.7 miles (2.9 miles per kWh).
This morning the thermometer read -8 and yet my GFI did not trip so I was able to pre-warm my car for the days travels. This is good news as I seem to be narrowing in on the true minimal temperature for outdoor charging – somewhere between -17.9 and -8.
BTV offers two EV parking spots with a connection to their Level 1 plug (bring your own charger though). Unfortunately several Prius (non-plug in) owners seem to think that they are driving electric cars. For the third time now I’ve arrived for a flight, knowing I would be gone for 4-5 days and hoping to keep the car charged, especially with forecasts below zero, only to find a Prius parked in the spot. I’ve pondered putting together a card I could leave on their windshield in those situations but haven’t been organized enough to design, print and bring them with me. Better yet would be for BTV to police these spots as they might the handicapped spots and leave their own note.