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Periscope and Electric Cars

One of the entertaining aspects of Periscope is that, very unlike Twitter, you make contact with people who randomly choose your live stream and watch for a bit.

These people can be from anywhere on the globe, they are watching at different times of the day and, as I have discovered not surprisingly they have no idea who this old bloke is who’s waffling away and why so many people are asking him questions.

I get asked ‘who are you?’ and I’m told ‘you’re old!’ or ‘you’re ugly’ or most amusingly the other day ‘you’ve got bad teeth.’

Thankfully I’m thick skinned enough not be offended, in fact I’m highly amused by such accurate observations.

However today I did a Periscope session from the motorway services on the M40 just outside Oxford while my car was charging.

I got asked so many questions about the car, the charging system which was not surprising because I had titled my session ‘A short waffle while I charge my car.’

What that could mean to a 16 year old from Arkansas who might be sitting in a hot attic room in mid morning America is anyone’s guess, I don’t imagine ‘waffle’ means anything other than a pressed dough product covered in corn syrup and whipped cream.

Anyway, I thought it only polite to explain about charging electric cars in as basic terms as I can.

I drive a Nissan Leaf, this is a pure electric car, it doesn’t have an engine, i.e. it’s not a hybrid or plug in hybrid, it only uses electricity.

I normally charge it at home using a dedicated socket I had installed 4 years ago, this is fed (during daylight) by a 2.6 kilowatt array of solar panels, which, on a sunny day produce around 24 kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s more than enough to fill the battery on the Nissan Leaf.

However in the last two days I have driven 304 miles with the electricity mostly coming from public charge points around the country.

On Wednesday I drove to Hay on Wye, a distance of 67 miles from my home. While I was there I used a 32 amp charger at a wonderful bed and breakfast guest house called Westview, this was installed by a charity that fits the sockets and the owners don’t charge for the power if you stay with them.

I’ve stayed with them in the past and they very kindly let me charge while I attended the festival to take part in a discussion panel about the general public attitude to renewable energy.

When I got back to the car it was full and I drove home.

Today I drove from my home in Gloucestershire to a meeting in Denham, just outside London.

I stopped about half way there and used a rapid charger that had been installed by a company called Ecotricity.

They are a renewable energy company in the UK, they have installed hundreds of these chargers at what we call motorway services or highway rest stops.

I charge the car for about 20 minutes and that gives me about 70 miles range.

Ecotricity don’t charge for the use of this service, you do need a card to use it but there is no charge for the card.

They produce a great deal of electricity from wind turbines and solar panels and are currently not demanding payment drivers to use the system. I am confident they will charge eventually.

I had charged the car the day before I left for Hay on Wye using power from the solar panels.

I have a meter on the wall that tells me how much power is used.

The panels produced 19.4 kilowatt hours, the car consumed just over 8 kilowatt hours. The Nissan Leaf has a 24 kilowatt hour battery but when I plugged it in, it wasn’t empty.

I didn’t pay to charge during the day while I was taking part in the discussion at Hay festival.

I came home and charged again overnight.

I plug the car in but the timer built into the car only starts charging after midnight when I pay 5 pence per kilowatt hour on a night time tariff.

I used 14.1 kilowatt hours to fill the battery.

That cost me 70 pence.

Today I used 3 rapid chargers to complete my journey, all free, one of those was while I attended a meeting, so yes, I had to wait for 20 minutes two times, one of those times was when I was Periscoping and being asked if I was famous.

To sum up, I drove 304.9 miles for a total fuel cost of 70 pence.

I agree this is absurd, financially unsustainable and temporary, however it is possible at the moment.

But even if I had to pay the current daytime average amount for all the power I used, about 73 kilowatt hours, it would still only have cost £13.87, still, considerably less than any petrol or diesel car.





Reader Comments (8)

"in the last two days I have driven 304 miles"

Sounds like a challenge!!! (My best day so far is about 105 miles...)

And gotta LOVE this: "I drove 304.9 miles for a total fuel cost of 70 pence."
Let's do the math - if you had a 50mpg diesel it'd have consumed 6 gallons. Here that's about $18 - not sure how that converts to pence. How many pence does 6 gallons go for where you are?

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTed Kidd

Does Ecotricty have SAE compatible level 3 plugs, or just the Chademo? Standards are wonderful (not), we have so many to choose from. Right now deployment of SAE is about 3 years behind the other two. So for me, the nearest level 3 is 177 miles away, but there are several level 3's I can't use, one less than a mile away (that Susan passes every day on her way to work).

So far we have gotten by with wimpy level 1 (US 1.5 kwh) at home, and occasional level 2 charging when on the road. The level 2 charger for the house is sitting in the den, awaiting me to get around to pulling a 50A line to the front of the house. (for the first 2.5 months, snow meant we couldn't get within 10' of the wall its going to be bolted to, then I had a couple of projects pop up). Our highest single day mileage so far was 65 miles, which left the battery at 7/16th charge, and an indicated 55 miles range left.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Del Papa

SAE compatible plugs? The great thing about standards is that there's so many to choose from. Even "standard" CCS DC charging has two different plug types : The one used in North America, based on J1172 type 1 plugs, and the one used in Europe and most of the rest of the world, based on the Mennekes type 2 socket. Since Ecotricity are based in Europe, where there are no vehicles on the market that use the SAE CCS connector, it wouldn't make any sense to install them. J1772 isn't common on public charging stations in Europe.

But to answer, your question, Ecotricity rapid chargers always have Chademo, and some have 43kW rapid AC charging, and some have CCS DC charging (with a Type2-shaped plug). Chademo is the most common rapid charging connector on electric vehicles in use at present. They also have some "medium" chargers, which have type 2 sockets, and can do up to 22kW AC, these aren't tethered - users need to bring their own type2 cable.

Tesla does their own thing, but we are starting to see them using the non-Tesla public rapid chargers now that they have adapters available.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hewison

Ted Kidd: Taking into account conversion from US gallons and a theoretical UK fuel price, I calculate 6 gallons to be about 2500 pence :-)

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIan Johnson

Er .. hang on.Diesel price in UK at the moment (June 2015) is around £1.20 (120 pence) per LITRE. That's around £5.50 (550 pence) per GALLON. If you had driven over 300 miles with your 50mpg car (using 6 gallons) it will cost around £33 (3,300 pence) and Robert only spent 70 pence!!
OMG - isn't that 47 times cheaper?
Somebody check my math before I go loopy

June 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRayR-G

Hello Robert
I'm considering buying a Nissan Leaf early next year, I can pull some money from a pension fund and part-ex our 4x4 to get it.
You now have 4 years on your Leaf did you buy the car "with the battery" or are you renting the battery?
I won't entertain a ZOE simply because you have to rent the battery & that, in France, is controlled by Renault Finance (DIAC) who
have a not too good reputation for flexibility. Also the specs for the Leaf are much better.
I've seen several articles on a "2016" Leaf having more battery capacity have you any info on this?

June 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Livewire

Neil you may already have bought your Leaf, but having leased a battery last time I'm just getting my second Leaf and buying the battery this time, mainly because the Lithium Ion batteries don't seem to be having any problem with degradation after nearly two years; and the battery is guaranteed for five years anyway. Having said that, a guarantee that kicks in only when the capacity falls below 75% and the range therefore falls to 60 miles (that's the real range) would seriously interfere with my travelling! However, as I said with about 17,000 miles (UK ones) on the clock there has been no fall off in capacity.
The new generation Leaf claimed an improvement over the first generation but it was entirely due to improved aerodynamics. For better battery life I'd suggest 2017 might be a more likely time

July 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Electric cars are not a recent innovation. They have been around as long as vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines. This is why i say you cant even imagine life without electricity these days.

November 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGolf Cars Oman

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