Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More about charging (recharging).

The city of Rockford, IL just recently approved an aggregate program beginning in September for the billing of residential customers of ComEd, our local electric utility company.  Currently, there are six individual charges that combine to equal $0.0911 per kilowatt hour (9.11 cents/kWh).  The new rate will be 4.66 cents/kWh.  That is a 49% reduction!  A list of other Illinois cities that are pursuing aggregation programs can be found at http://www.pluginillinois.org/MunicipalAggregationList.aspx.  The rate is constant so there is no incentive to try to recharge only at night during off-peak hours.  If smart meters are installed, the timing of the recharge may be slightly effected.  However the car is garaged at night so by default, that tends to be the time to recharge.  The i-MiEV does come with a remote for recharging.  It is a separate remote from the key.  The key remote controls locking and unlocking the doors as well as enabling a panic feature.  The recharging remote can be used to control the delay until charging starts and the duration of the charge.  So someone with a smart meter for their electric service could plug in the charger at 7:00 PM, then set the remote to start charging in 2.5 hours, then stop charging 8.5 hours after that.  As time goes on the plan is to try to determine if the battery provides a better driving range between a certain range of energy level bars.  For instance, instead of charging to the full 16 bars every time, a target of 14 bars may be experimented with.  Then the car will be driven until a certain number of bars remain.  The estimated range will be compared to the actual miles driven.  I've read somewhere that the last four bars (quarter "tank") will deplete at a faster rate than any other range of equal bars.  Another feature of the charging remote is the ability to program the car to be heated or air conditioned while plugged into the charger.  The beauty of this feature is the car can be set to a comfortable driving condition without having to use the car's stored battery energy (shorten the driving range).  Another novel feature is the standard feature of a heated driver's seat.  By keeping the driver heated, it uses less energy than trying to keep all the air in the cabin warm.

The remote for setting charging times when the vehicle is "plugged in".

Other than home charging.

There are currently three types of chargers available.  They are Level 1, Level 2, and Quick Charge (Level 3).  The Level 1 and Level 2 ports are both available as standard equipment.  The  Quick Charge port is a $700 option on the Mitsubishi.  Level 1 uses standard 110V household current and a dedicated wall outlet with a 15 Amp circuit is recommended.  The purchase of the vehicle includes the Charge Connector.  That is the device that goes between the car's charge port on the passenger side and the 110V outlet.  The Level 2 port on the car is the same port as the Level 1 port.  To have a Level 2 charger installed in the house is estimated around $3,000.  Most of the public charging stations have Level 2 chargers.  The Quick Charge port is located on the driver's side.  There are not many public charging stations yet that support the Quick Charge.  As mentioned before, Level 1 uses 110V household current.  With this method a fully discharged battery would take about 22 hours to charge.  Level 2 uses 220V, and would take about 6 hours to charge if fully discharged.  Quick Charge stations require 480V, 3-phase DC 80 Amp circuit.  The Quick Charge will take 30 minutes to charge to 80% capacity.  But that doesn't mean the last 20% will be filled in less than 10 minutes.  The Quick Charge won't fill beyond the 80% for battery longevity reasons.

Level 1 and 2 charger on passenger side. (Standard equipment)

Quick Charge port on driver's side. ($700 option)

So, Where can "Other than home charging" be performed?

One of the first web sites to search should be the one that is maintained by the US Department of Energy.  It is http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html.  A user types in their location and the map updates with nearby locations.  Some of the helpful information that is provided is the Electric Charging Type, the distance, and the address and phone number of the establishment.  A couple more clicks on the location will reveal the number of chargers and the hours of availability. 

Another site worth researching is http://www.chargepoint.com/chargepointnet/.  There map shows the number of charging stations for a clustered area.  Picking the numbered balloon will zoom to that area and provide a further breakdown of the chargers location.  This site provides plenty of information.  It will tell if the station is Available, In Use, or a Future or Unavailable location.  The access is reported as either Unrestricted or Restricted.  The price is shown, even for the Free locations.  Users can create an account and can then reserve stations online.  I'll have to report back after trying this myself to evaluate all the nuances.  I've already ordered a ChargePoint Card and it should arrive any day now.

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