One Workplace’s Electric Vehicle Charging Solution

We have 2 level 1 chargers at our office but with a short commute, this is more than adequate. Level ones are fine for many short stops as long as there is always some place to plug in. I sympathize with people having longer commutes. I just wish our church had a charging station or at least an available outlet.

My Husband's Electric Car

2013 Nissan LEAFUntil now, employees at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were not allowed to plug in their electric vehicles while at the facility run by the U.S. Department of Energy ( the same department which oversaw the government grant program for home & workplace EV chargers).

Today, however, SLAC, based on the Stanford University campus, announced that it will allow employees to plug their vehicles into available 120-volt outlets for a fee of $15 per month which will be deducted from the payroll checks of participating employees.

For Nissan Leaf drivers, a full work day of charging on these Level 1 chargers will bring them only to 70 percent of capacity.

The SLAC story explains that it is considering adding Level 2 chargers later this year. These would allow employees to drive home with a full charges.

This seems like a victory, but it also underlines that not all workplaces are…

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Credit Where Credit is Due – Nissan

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I would like to recognize the Nissan dealerships for leading the way in installing DC fast chargers but especially for being nice courteous and generous in allowing open use of its charging stations. I do not own a Nissan Leaf but I have never had anything but good  experiences when pulling up to use one of their stations. The salesman seemed more interested in looking at my Mitsubishi for comparison to the leaf than anything else.  That is smart.  I do; however own a Nissan, a Nissan NV shown above. It is a nice vehicle for anyone with a lot of kids.

Now Mitsubishi, how about stepping up and installing some fast chargers also and posting them on Plugshare.

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Range Test

ChadeMo

Everyone’s 1st question when they find out that the car I drive is full electric is how far can you go. The I-Miev that I drive has a computer calculating range based on current driving conditions, how far you can drive at that rate. It is reliable until you reach modern highway speeds. From the informal test I did this weekend, I found that up until 55 mph, the computer tracks the mile makers on the highway accurately. At speeds of 60 mph and above, the computer miles remaining drop faster that the miles consumed. At 65 mph I lost range about 30% faster than the computed miles stated. The I-Miev has a top speed of 80 mph but I have never tested my car up to that speed.

This is critical knowledge when traveling on the interstate and your goal is to make it to the next DC fast charger. Until recently, most production electric cars were effectively landlocked due the lack of fast chargers available that make cross county travel more feasible. The only option was to tow your car, all wheels up, to the any location more than 70 miles away or wait 4 to 7 hours at a level II charging station before being able to move the next 70 miles. Now, this should not be the case due to the number of DC fast chargers that are available or are soon to be available. Travel from the Charlotte area to as far as Raleigh will soon be easier for short range electric car owners. I would add about 30 minutes per stop for detour and charging time. This can really stretch the travel time but now we all have the option if we need to take it.

Of course, your car has to have the DC fast charge option installed to utilize the fast charging stations. Tesla models have adapters and their own supercharger network while the rest of us primarily rely on CHadeMo Chargers for fast charging. The Charger shown above is the ChadeMo charger at the Modern Nissan dealership in Salisbury NC, very nice and friendly people at this location. There is a SAE standard for charging but I have not run across one of those yet.

The Pros.3

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A plus for electrics that most may site as a deterrent, is that with electrics and consideration of range, you have to actually know where you are going. You have to plan ahead, know your route, know the round trip miles, consider highway vs secondary roads. After awhile these considerations start to become instinctual, where you don’t think about them anymore. Electric owners naturally become more aware of the road enviroment, hills vs flats, pedestrians and cyclist who can’t hear you coming, high and low daily temperature, recharge points that can be incorporated into your errands and wait times, vendors that provide those recharge opportunities.  When driving an electric car, you become more aware of the posted speed limits but not for the upper limits but for the lower limits. These cars prefer to be driven on 45mph roads as opposed to range killing highway speeds.  Faster means shorter, slower means farther. I find I enjoy a more leisurely pace. The Miev can do 80 easily but I seldom even go on roads where the speed is posted at 55. When I do have to go fast, the Miev responds nicely with quiet, unassuming power.
Its ironic that I think of the Miev more like a animal than a car. I make sure it is plugged in and charging before I go in the house. I check its tire pressure more often than my other car. I worry about overloading or how much weight I am putting in it and what range limitations it may have at different levels of output.  This high tech vehicle I have named Blue requires care that it returns with loyal service much like the days of old where a well cared for horse performed better for its owner. My other cars were machines, the Miev gives me a connection back to nature where things are not just tools with parts that can be trashed and replaced, but where things are partners in our journey and how we treat them contributes to their longevity and enriches our lives. Blue is not alive but it has caused me to see differently, change habits and probably grow as a person.
Hmm, should I refer t the mechanic at the dealership as my vet… ?

Next, a more technical look at electric cars, specifically the Miev, for the non technical.

The Wife

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The picture above shows my daughter not my wife, but we are at the Cabarrus County Recycle Center because of my wife. She is an advid recycler/conservationalist. We are here to get paint from their paint swap station, where you can pick up unused paint for free or drop off your own unused paint. We often come here to recycle any electronics or other hazardouse materials. Its a great program but its not every Saturday so call the city offices to get the hours of operation for which materials. As you can see, having a small car allows me to squeeze into out of the way places while I am waiting for her. Just in the short time we have been here, I’ve seen other people pick up paint for both art and redecorating. People have dropped off paint, televisions, paper, cleaning chemicals, oil and other  substances that would probably hurt the enviroment if dumped on the ground in peoples back yard. This is a great service that I hope many people take advantage of.

That being said, it is an experience only available to electric owners, to be able to take a leisurely morning drive and be able to hear birds and other sounds of nature that would normally be drowned out by a combustion engine. Only when I drive our gasser, do I realize the amount of noise pollution caused by cars. Its a gift from God to be able to enjoy days like these and see His glory reflected in nature. Perfect time to reflect and meditate.

Just A Thought

They don’t like us, you know. We are a threat to big oil. Even though electric cars are in the micro percentages, they want total dependance on them. Seeing cars drive without fossil fuels flies against their world view. Electrics will never rule the market but it is an all important option for those whose needs are not met by the traditional gas car or as an option for the eco-friendly populace. Cost seems not to be as much of a barrier as before, as there are inexpensive to high end models available now. I drive a fully loaded Imiev that is less luxurious than the Leaf but cost $10,000 less. That much more for a Leaf even with the added options was a deal killer. It was just outside of the budget that I needed to generate the savings I wanted based on my driving habits. The Miev, itself, just barely satisfied my requirements. Other’s situations would have different requirements. People need to thoroughly investigate available options and network with other electric owners to get their feedback on utility, problems, and challenges.