Help ! Being overrun by Renault Zoe’s !!

It seems ages since I last put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard but not a lot has changed of note. The Nissan Leaf Tekna is still running superbly, coming up on 10,000 miles now and not a blip out of it at all. I have noticed an alarming trend in the batteries tendency to drop like a stone once the temperature hits 3 deg C or below but apart from that its just been plain sailing all the way. My younger son then decided to buy a Renault Zoe, a great deal with only a £1200 deposit then £150 a month including the battery rental – its on a PCP anyway so I don’t understand why Renault just didn’t lump the two rentals together, maybe its a French thing ?. Anyway his came with the usual type 2 charger lead but then we discovered my Nissan tethered lead does not charge his car as its a type 1 connection so we ended up charging the Zoe on a 13a lead. As he only needs the car during the day it has ample time to charge overnight so ‘Job done’. Then my older son decided he too wants to save cash and invested in a Zoe. His house has my second charger fitted so we had to have the tethered lead changed to a type 2 lead at my expense of course. I also managed to pick up a Tesla 13a charger via EBay for a reasonable sum so he can charge when visiting family. So now I am hemmed in by Zoe’s and last week this came to a head when I got to IKEA Birstall only to discover …two Zoe’s on charge ..Sons 1 & 2 had effectively usurped my usual charging spot so I was reduced to hovering around until one of their cars finished charging before getting fuelled up !. How the mighty have fallen and as there are no other chargers within reasonable distance or on ‘free’ vend in Bradford or Leeds I had to suck it up and sit waiting for their Majesties to return.  On a more positive note Moto Birch Services on the M62 now have two ecotricity ‘pumps’ on either side of the motorway making trips into Manchester less of a worry. With Ferrybridge Services coming on line the month before we only need Welcome Break, Hartshead Moor M62 to get their act together and we can all cruise safely and quietly up and down the M62 to Hull to Liverpool without range anxiety …just queues of flipping Zoe’s in front of us no doubt !!. I’m still hovering about Solar for the house as I want Solar + Storage really so I guess I will have to wait until Elon Musk gets his gigafactory running and reduces the cost of PV and batteries to something more acceptable before sorting this out … incumbent energy suppliers please note you have about ten years before your world ends !.   Remember you heard it here first !! All the best and Happy Christmas !

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Battery Backed Up PV System

Wanting to reduce my reliance on the Grid as much as possible and also further cut our Carbon Profile, I’ve been looking at Solar systems that also have a battery part to the equation.
I want the PV’s to power my home during daylight hours plus top up a battery array, then feed into the Grid once the batteries are full. That way once the light goes an inverter can kick on allowing the battery array to power our home for a while failing back to the Grid system. This way we make full use of any Solar energy and do not end up feeding in at a lower tariff then buying back at night at the higher tariff. The theory being that we end up with a miniscule electricity bill plus when the power fails locally our lights will still be on for a while.
My thoughts are to get a basic system installed without batteries then pick up some part used EV batteries at a later date as these seem to be really expensive right now. So I only need the PV’s and ‘magic box’ right now with a termination point where I can add my batteries as I get them, maybe start off with just a couple and add them until I can see the PV’s are just about coping with the house daytime load plus charging the battery pack so nothing going to the Grid, everything going to our home.
Prices quoted range from £6000 to £10,000 and as I’ve got a slate roof the mounting kit will be more expensive as well. I did think about fitting it myself but I feel its worth getting a professional outfit in to do the work as its going to be connected to our home and the grid so electrical test certificates will probably be required. If I was going totally off grid I think I would give it a go though. Our Leaf may soon be joined by our son’s proposed Renault Zoe so our power consumption will be quite high although he only does a few miles a day so charging once a week will be his lot !. Any suggestions on my thoughts from the UK or US will be gratefully received, especially if you have already been, seen and done what I’m thinking about. RSVP

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Broken Charger

I had a bit of a panic today as the Main ecotricity charger at IKEA Bristall (Leeds) was still broken so its been off since last Thursday, I wonder where their engineer lives ?. Lucky there are two chargers at this location ! I depend on this IKEA location for my main away-from-home charging as we still do not have anything on the main arterial road between Hull and Liverpool. The M62 is totally bare. Apparently we are supposed to be getting something at Birch and Hartshead Moor Services in October but its all down to someone on Brussels, TEN-T signing off on our British Electric Highway. I guess everywhere possible in the South of England now has several fast chargers whilst we country cousins are still scratching around for somewhere to charge without leaving the M62. Once the 200 mile 2016 Nissan Leaf arrives I will be upgrading so then I guess its not going to be a problem getting around the North, meanwhile we will have to manage as best we can !.

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Halifax to Dover & Back

Having done a trip to Dover in our ICEr recently we decided to try another visit in the Leaf. I have to say that it was the easiest of journeys to complete. We used the M1/M25/M2 for the trip setting off from Woolley Edge with a 90% charge in no particular hurry we made six stops on the way down mainly to check out the ecotricity locations although we had a list of where they were already written down with distances and times.

The amusing bit was running at 50 miles an hour on the Motorways for about 150 of the 300 miles on the down trip, not because we wanted to conserve the batteries but because of road works and ‘traffic management’ systems. The M1 had three massively long 50 MPH restrictions so whereas the ICEr drivers were getting upset we were tootling along at about optimum traveling speed for an EV. I think the biggest mistake was stopping to charge at the Moto Essex services next to the Dartford Crossing due to the incredible amount of traffic on the roundabouts getting to the services and then back onto the Motorway to cross. You would have thought EV’s would be exempt from the Two Pound charge and have our own passing point but we didn’t !.

On arrival at Whitfield, Dover (our destination) we used our Nissan supplied 13a home charger so the next day we had a full charge for the homeward trip. We changed tactics on the way back stopping every 60 to 65 miles and only taking 20 mins max to charge. Dover to Thurrock was the first stop then all the way to the M1 North Toddington Services then Leicester Forest Services where we stopped longer for dinner then with a 96% charge up to Woodhall and all the way home to Halifax making 4 stops in total. I think we would have probably stopped twice in an ICE car so we added around an hour to the trip by using the EV. Again the M1 was littered with 50 MPH restrictions which gave us quite a good increased range arriving back home with 33% charge. Essentially the Leaf does about one mile for 1% of battery at the right speeds so if its showing 96% you get around 96 miles as long as you run in B and don’t hammer it. My optimum speed seems to be 68 MPH in B mode. Oddly enough we didn’t see one single EV apart from another of those beautiful Tesla’s charging on the M2 South. All in all a very uneventful trip which is what you want every time isn’t it ?.

I noticed that all the repeated fast charges and continues driving pushed the battery temperature right up to just below the two red segments but no further, just in case I left it off charge overnight to allow the batteries to cool down, I will plug into the house system today or nip down to Nissan for a fast charge …for free of course. The total journey distance was just a tad under six hundred miles all of which was for free…apart from drinks & food at the services … no doubt Mrs B will be making sandwiches for the next trip or two !.

 

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My First View of a Tesla – Fab-u-lous !!!

On a recent charging session at the Birstall IKEA I came back to my car to find a Tesla sat next to me !. What a fabulous looking vehicle and what a proud owner. Huge boot and lots of space in the cabin. He reported a realistic mileage of 250 to the charge although it does take up to 8 hours to achieve this. I could see the ecotricity fast charger was really getting stuck into his battery pack so maybe under half an hour to get a decent DC charge. The Tesla was using the Nissan DC plug side of the charger which was interesting to see as I thought they had their own special plugs.

Reading on the blog and LinkedIn this week there’s a few comments about how EV’s are not the way forward ….meanwhile just like a bumble bee thousands of us continue to get on with our lives driving our EV’s in just about every country in the World. I do love these ‘experts’ and their wonderful insight into the transport systems. Lets see what happens when the next hike in petrol prices arrives followed by Tesla’s less expensive entry into the Worlds market place in 2015.

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Trip to Dover in our ICEr

I had to make a fast trip down to Dover recently so was forced to use our Ford for the trip as I didn’t know what the charging situation was like on the M25 and M20. We stopped at a few services on the way back and were amazed to see just how many had more than one ecotricity DC charger or a combination of fast DC and Mennekes fast chargers. At one service area on the M1 we bumped into the engineers busy installing a second DC charger and the main man said they were putting two on each side at all the M1 services. Really impressed to see this but would appreciate a couple adding at Birch Services and Hartshead Moor on the M62 so we can get from Leeds to Manchester without worrying about running low on power or having to come off the motorway to find some juice. I guess eventually we will get the coverage as the ecotricity owner did say in the news recently that all service stations will have chargers by September 2014 so I guess its just a matter of waiting patiently for us northerners to get sorted out.  Just one note to everyone using the ecotricity outlets, I’ve swapped my home utilities to ecotricity to support this business which is supporting me, I feel we should all do this as a thank you to ecotricity for their sterling services, what do you think ?

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Traffic Chaos at IKEA, or A Storm In A Teacup !

IKEA2

We had been up to York – Monks Cross on Sunday via the ecotricity fast charger at Wetherby services and then the medium CYC chargers at Monks Cross near M&S as that’s where we where shopping. Coming home we decided to drop in at IKEA for a cuppa and a charge. On arrival all three EV slots were in use, An IMiEV using one space and the DC charger, a VW Golf Icing up a slot and another Leaf also using the other DC charger. After getting IKEA to turf the Icer out of the slot I drove in and suddenly realised I couldn’t charge as both the ecotricity ‘pumps’ were in use. Total Gridlock !! yeah right, but this is going to be the future isn’t it ? if you cannot get home to charge you will be at the mercy of queuing for fuel so amusing right now but this could lead to heated arguments about charging times. To top it off my wife noticed the other Leaf was at 97% and off, the owner then swiped his card again to get topped up to 100% and pushed off for another cuppa leaving us high and dry with a 20 minute wait. Very kindly the IMiEV driver unplugged early so we could get some power and nip off for a much needed brew. So the moral of the story is first beat off the Icer’s then beat off the miserable so & so’s who want to hog the pumps …. I wonder if this will change once we have to pay for the privilege of charging or will the Company Car users then hog them as their businesses will be paying the bill ??.
Anyway the lesson has been learned, not all EV’s drivers are your friend !

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