Five Years of EV Ownership

February 23 is a special day for me. It’s the day that we took delivery of our first EV in 2012. This means that five years ago, today, I joined the rEVolution and picked up my BMW Active E from Long Beach BMW.

IMG_2626

I didn’t even have Level 2 charging installed in the garage on that day and had to plug in the car on 110V.

IMG_2630

IMG_1020

In fact, it wasn’t until several weeks have passed until I got our Level 2 charger installed under a grant that covered the charger, but not the installation. It’s a 30A J1772 charger from Chargepoint (CT-500) that is still going strong today (I use this for the Model S predominantly). It’s lost it’s networked feature as the modem in the device is no longer supported.

IMG_1047

IMG_1044

What this also means is that February 23 is also a bittersweet day for me as well… As that same Active E was taken from me quite unceremoniously on this same day in 2014.

Time does heal old wounds and I don’t pout when I say Active E anymore.

IMG_0158

Then again, we did add the Roadster and Model S to our garage as we wait for our Model 3 and whatEVer else will take our EV future.

It helps that I can borrow the Roadster when my wife feels generous in letting me use it.

These next two pictures are from when we first picked the Roadster up…

IMG_2672

IMG_5008

and how it looks a week ago.

IMG_20170216_173505

Here’s the Model S when we picked it up at the Tesla Factory

Untitled

at its first Level 2 charge on our delivery weekend first roadtrip (in Sonoma for this shot).

Untitled

And this recent shot when I was using the CHAdeMO charger near the Fountain Valley Supercharger from almost two weeks ago.

IMG_0901

And a little nostalgia for those few months that we had more EVs than drivers in 2013-2014.

IMG_5395

IMG_5396

IMG_5397

That was all three cars scheduled to charge at various times throughout the night on their own chargers.

Unfortunately, didn’t have a better shot of all three cars… Here’s a classic shot of the Model S and Roadster on the Model S first day home.

Untitled

In fact, for the past five years since we picked up the Active E  With all three cars (and various loaners and the few EV rentals we’ve done), we’ve added approximately 204,000 electric miles vs. 24,000 gasoline miles (both our own use, and when we lend our lone ICE car to visitors, as well as our use of ICE rental cars).   What’s funny is how much fanfare I had when I first hit 100,000 electric miles, and 200,000 went by and I didn’t even pay attention to it.

I’ve documented the challenges that we’ve had with all three cars and they’ve all pretty much “behaved.” In fact our Model S just replaced its first 12V battery earlier this week. We’ve actually just replaced all four tires on the Model S a few weeks prior (still around 69,000 miles on the Model S).

IMG_0903

To be fair, we did replace ONE of the four tires about 30,000 miles or so ago for a tire failure from driving over a road hazard. But the wear was pretty even, and we replaced all four tires when the tread was around 4/32 for two of the tires, and kept the other two (at 5/32) as “back-up”. The tires are “special order” and I would hate to have a failure and not have a pair ready to swap out (at the same tread.)

I guess what’s really special with driving EV is how “normal” it is for us now.  In the beginning everything felt like it was going to be a challenge.  How we managed to get 54,321 miles in the Active E in the two years that we had it depended a lot on available Level 2 charging.  The infrastructure was there and we planned our trips so that we can recover miles when we got to our destinations.  With the Roadster, we didn’t need to plan as much.  We often had enough range to get back home.  Now with the Model S, it’s even more interesting.  We went Here, There, and EVerywhere as well as the Long Way Round to the Gigafactory Party.  But the fact of the matter is, we picked up the Model S at the Fremont Factory.  Went to Sonoma for wine and then back down to Southern California in November 2013, without much planning.  That’s what EV ownership should be like.  Pick up and go.

Are we there yet?  To me, I’m there.  But to the rest of the world, perhaps we’re getting there.  It’s been a great 5 years and 200,000 miles of EV driving, and I’m looking for more and more EV adventures.  Stay with us and see where electricity will take us.

Tesla Solar EVent

On Friday, October 28, 2016, approximately a year and a half since the original Tesla Energy launch EVent on April 30, 2015, Tesla improved upon the PowerWall and PowerPack, Tesla revisited Tesla Energy with the launch of the Tesla/Solar City product launch for the Solar Shingles.

Tesla Energy 2015 Launch

I did a bunch of tweets during the original Tesla Energy, PowerWall and PowerPack launch event from April 30, 2015…

(Here’s a link to the Flickr album from the Tesla Energy event.)

Tesla PowerWall

Some selected tweets from the original Tesla Energy Event:

 

 

 

 

Tesla Solar Event

The focus of the event held by Tesla this past Friday, October 28, 2016, at Universal Studios Hollywood was on the newly unveiled Solar Roofing products that were developed in conjunction with Solar City.  As impressive as this product line is, the Solar Roof is definitely not a financial fit in our current configuration.  Many who follow this blog will note that we just achieved our break-even point this past year (the fourth year of our twenty year agreement for Solar power) and paid less than $20 for all of the fourth year of energy (not counting taxes.)

One could say that neither the PowerWall nor its succeeding product, the PowerWall2 really makes economic sense for our use case either.  With net-metering still in effect in California, the economics of the PowerWall2 is not the reason to go ahead and purchase one.  However, coupled with time-of-use, and the whole-house backup capabilities of the PowerWall2, it looks like a great solution for a whole-house backup system.  With our summer peaks generating power at 40 kWh, two units may be all we’ll ever need.  I intend to recharge the system during the super off-peak time of day and get more bang for our buck by feeding back our solar production to the grid at a higher rate. Southern California is known to be very seismically active, and a whole-house backup system might just be something that would be really cool to have.

I was involved in tweeting out details for the event this past Friday through both my own account and my friends at Teslarati’s as well.  The guys at Teslarati had family commitments to attend to during the event and I was approached to see if I could possibly cover their Twitter feed for them, so I embed those tweets that I sent out here.  Hope those of you that follow Teslarati and my Twitter accounts enjoyed the coverage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I committed to cover the event for Teslarati, I figured that we should arrive a little early.  No press pass for me, but covering it as an owner was fine for them.

The valet at this event provided sent us a text with a mobile website to handle the request and retrieval of our vehicle, it’s a lot more greeen than handing us a paper voucher.  I don’t remember whether they had this system at the last event we drove in for. It’s been a while that we valet parked a vehicle at a Tesla EVent since the last Tesla event for us was the Gigafactory Party that was the subject of our Long Way Round Round trip.  However, we took a loaner to the event. So, I photographed the vehicle and key to ensure that I know what I’m looking for.  Just in case this SMS ticket method were to fail.

IMG_20161028_163252

IMG_20161028_142859

We were among the first ten cars through the valet and had been asked to wait in a lounge area to the right of the check in desk until they opened the “neighborhood” area.

IMG_20161028_163330

I think that the folks were unprepared for the number of people forced to wait in this area. It was standing room only.

IMG_0546

IMG_3640

Luckily, the wait was not too long before the “neighborhood” was opened for us to enjoy. Fans of the old “Desperate Housewives” set will recognize the set as “Wisteria Lane.”

IMG_3642

IMG_0548

IMG_0549

Tesla’s catering services were the best that we’ve had in the various parties that we’ve attended. The neighborhood setting had enough seating, the food and drink was plentiful and did not run out as they have in the past.  There was a mix of self-serve sections as well as server provided locations.

IMG_3644

The bar lines were manageable and had a good selection of wine and other drinks.

IMG_0553

IMG_0554

A few panoramics of the first neighborhood, before the section with the four remodeled houses was opened for the presentation.

IMG_0555

IMG_0557

And right around 5:30pm, they let us into the neighborhood with the new Solar Tiles.

IMG_0558

IMG_0559

IMG_3646

Here’s the stage with the sun shining brightly on it.

IMG_3647

I was able to take one panoramic shot of the stage and the two closest houses to it.  On the left side of the stage is the house that the Model 3 prototype will emerge from later in the presentation.  I didn’t actually notice it emerge as I was closer to the right side of the stage.

IMG_0562

Here’s a closer shot of the house with the Model 3 in the garage before it emerged during Elon’s presentation.

IMG_0563

The house on the right’s shingles was more obviously solar shingles.  However, aesthetically they were quite pleasing.

IMG_0566

While waiting for the event to start, we were looking at the two houses on our left and were wondering whether they were solar shingles.  Something that Elon revealed as fact during the presentation.  The Tuscan Solar Tile, as this model was revealed later, is ideal for many homes in Southern California.

IMG_3650

IMG_3651

IMG_0569

I even tweeted my suspicions just prior to Elon’s talk.

 

The Presentation

Since the presentation was a joint Solar City/Tesla Event, it started off with a few minutes with Lyndon Rive, Solar City’s CEO and Elon Musk’s first cousin.

IMG_20161028_174422

Afterwards, Elon spoke.

IMG_0572

Here’s Tesla’s official YouTube video of the event:

Needless to say… The Solar Tiles are impressive. However, as I previously mentioned, we recently re-roofed when we installed our Solar Panels four years ago. So, that’s just not going to happen. We paid less than $20 for last year’s power and have recently hit our break-even point for our solar panels.

We did take a few good close ups, but a lot of the pictures can be seen on our Flickr Album of the event.

Tesla Solar Roof

Here are some of the pictures on the album above.

IMG_3660

IMG_20161028_175313

IMG_3665

IMG_3669

Even though we’re probably not going with the cool solar tiles, the whole house backup thing though is VERY tempting. So tempting that we put in a deposit for a few of them.

How many you may ask? Probably more than we needed… But here’s a hint.

IMG_20161028_185831

Especially since the new version can be more efficiently mounted and stacked this way.

The original PowerWall had to be installed side by side and mounted on the wall.

IMG_7642

Looks really cool, but I think it’s probably more efficient to install it stacked.

One other thing about that Powerwall… It’s capacity is doubled in the same amount of space at less than double the price, considering the fact that the AC-DC Inverters are included. I also did the iPhone 4 width test that I did with PowerWall 1 with PowerWall 2.

PowerWall 1 compared to an iPhone 4.

The Home solution is slightly wider than an iPhone 4s #TEatTesla

PowerWall 2 compared to an iPhone 4.

IMG_20161028_191904

Color me impressed.

Model 3

The surprise for me was the appearance of the Prototype Model 3 at such close proximity.

The album for the event has a lot more pictures of the Model 3, but here are a few more shots.

It’s bigger than I had hoped.  It is smaller than the Model S, but bigger than the Active E. We got a few great shots in before security cordoned off the vehicle from closer inspection.

IMG_20161028_180820

IMG_20161028_180824

IMG_3672

IMG_3673

Still a great shot that the better half took of me with the Model 3 in the background.

IMG_3676

We didn’t get any good interior shots, but this was the best shot of the Model 3 interior… Security was starting to cordon off and was kicking us out.

IMG_20161028_181009

It may be bigger than what I expected, but I still like the Model 3.

A multi-Tesla neighborhood… Sounds like a nice, clean environment.

IMG_3686

There was also a nice, blue Roadster there.

IMG_20161028_192441

IMG_20161028_192450

There were a few Xs there, but just didn’t take pictures. There’s just so many of them around now. 😉

It was a fun event. The food and drink was the best service of the ones that I’ve been to. The valet had a wait, but I think that it was better than previous events that I used valet in. Take that last sentiment with a “grain of salt” since I used the bus at the Gigafactory Party, and I found that to be the most relaxing way in and out of a Tesla Party. The party may have been free to attend, but I walked away with a very expensive deposit for some batteries for the house. We’ll have to see how long before we get these installed.

National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Santa Monica, Long Beach, and a wrap-up

I usually attend two or three of the National Drive Electric Week (formerly National Plug In Day) events a year. I’ve always found them to be fun and key to confirming me as a member of the rEVolution.

This past year’s events in Diamond Bar and Los Angeles were published on this blog pretty much as it happened.  I wanted to cover the other two events that I attended in the same manner, but also wanted to share our Long Way Round Trip with readers two months from when the trip happened (and, intentionally, as a way to celebrate National Drive Electric Week.)  The trip won out and so, here we are with Santa Monica and Long Beach coverage weeks later.

Santa Monica, September 16, 2016

The Santa Monica NDEW2016 event was held on Friday and Saturday (September 16-17, 2016) in conjunction with Alt Car Expo.  I actually went to Santa Monica to attend Alt Car Expo, and was pleasantly surprised by the NDEW2016 event that was being held at the same time.

Drove to Santa Monica in the better half’s Roadster.  We’ve been having some challenges with its charging and I wanted to test the car and see if it faults with the chargers at the parking lot in Santa Monica.  Luckily (and yet frustratingly), for the test, it did not.

IMG_20160916_083559

Untitled

The City of Santa Monica is one of the most EV friendly cities and many of the municipal lots have free charging and the one at the civic center is no exception.  Additionally, these Level 2 chargers were also powered by a solar carport.

IMG_0476.JPG

At 30A, charging was going to take a while, but I’m here for the whole day, so I put my contact information on the EV Hangtag, checked into Plugshare and gave a status on when I expect to be done with charging, and went inside to the Alt Car Expo conference.

IMG_20160916_092155

The NDEW part of the conference was set up in a cordoned off section of the parking lot.

IMG_20160916_144529

The check in table for the Alt Car Expo was apparently where one also signs up for the Ride & Drive portion.  Something which I did not fill up at the time, and turns out, I should’ve.

IMG_20160916_144603

The Santa Monica set-up was a mix between EV owners and drivers demonstrating their EVs to the public (no Ride and Drive.)

IMG_20160916_144612

The Coda Sedan that was at the site was owned by the same gentleman who owns and operates several Codas and Coda gliders. In talking with the owner, it turns out that he was the same Coda that I spotted at the Los Angeles event as well.

IMG_20160916_144621

The Corbin Sparrow that was at Santa Monica is also the same exact one that was in the Los Angeles event.  I guess, I’m not the only EVangelist who enjoys talking EVs with the public.

IMG_20160916_144624

At this location, only the car manufacturers were the only ones providing Ride and Drive events at this location. The participating vehicles were more than just BEVs, there were several hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well.

IMG_20160916_150451

The Honda Clarity,

IMG_20160916_150456

the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell,

IMG_20160916_150502

and the Toyota Mirai was there too.

IMG_20160916_150613

I was surprised to spot a Diesel Volkswagen at the site, it was part of the Zipcar car-sharing program and I suppose that Alt Car considers this to be an acceptable solution.  I’m not too keen on any more diesel vehicles.

IMG_20160916_150513

Personally, I think the service from Waivecar.com is a better candidate as it provides car sharing AND an EV (Chevy Spark EVs, to be precise) for no cost for the first two hours is quite an amazing deal.

IMG_20160916_150528

There were other exhibitors here as well.

IMG_20160916_150507

It looks like the same Chevy Bolt EV that was in Portland for EV Roadmap 9 was in Santa Monica as well.

IMG_20160916_150642

The only plug-in that was at the site that I have yet to drive was the Audi A3 E-Tron.  Unfortunately, I did not sign up for the Ride and Drive portion of the event in front, and I wasn’t that thrilled to drive a plug-in hybrid anyway, so I skipped it.  I spent the time at the event talking to and catching up with EV friends and decided to pass on the evening reception for the conference.

Leaving Santa Monica during rush hour is often an exercise in futility.  I decided to take some surface streets South through Venice.  Had an interesting sighting on my drive.  I spotted some manufacturer cars being driven around.   Unfortunately they were not EVs, but still a thrill to spot these camouflaged vehicles on the road.  I’m guessing its a new BMW 7 series, but could be a 5 series, I suppose.

IMG_0485.JPG

IMG_0481.JPG

IMG_0482.JPG

Hard to see, but click and zoom in on the rearview mirror. Can’t mistake the “kidney beans” on the front grill.

Untitled

I know that BMW is working on further electrification, but it would have been cool to spot a new EV on the road.

Long Beach, September 17, 2016

The following day, Saturday, September 17, I attended the NDEW gathering in Long Beach, CA.  This event was the closest to the traditional NDEW events that I have attended in the past. This one had less manufacturer involvement in it and more public-facing event. It was more traditional in that we were welcomed by some politicians and spent the time just “hanging out” and talking to folks.

NDEW2016 - MF - 1

There were a lot of Teslas at this event because the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County had identified this particular NDEW for its annual NDEW event.

IMG_3329

IMG_3330

IMG_3332

All manners of Teslas were represented.

IMG_3333

IMG_3334

The red roadster was for sale and is VIN #5.

Of course the Falcon Wing Doors have to go up with the Model X in the crowd.

IMG_3347

It is the latest Tesla around.

and we had three Roadsters at this event.

IMG_3348

There was representation from members of the EV community as well.

From other vehicles like the Zero Motorcycle and Smart ED.

IMG_20160917_105626

IMG_3350

To several Leafs and a Porsche 912 conversion that gets around 150 miles.

IMG_20160917_105738

IMG_3354

NDEW2016 - MF - 2

NDEW2016 - MF - 3

NDEW2016 - MF - 4

There was a Fiat 500e and a Coda (same owner as was in Santa Monica the previous day and Los Angeles the previous week.)

IMG_3355

Even the Honda Fit EV made an appearance.  Three times, to be exact.

IMG_20160917_105723

I don’t believe many of the Tesla owners allowed the public to take a drive in their vehicle.  The owner for the Red Roadster #5 did take a few interested parties out in that car, then again she was also taking the opportunity to see if anyone wanted to buy her car.

The other manufacturer’s car was different.  I saw a few take rides in the converted Porsche and I believe one of the Leafs took a drive around.

IMG_3336

IMG_3337

Conclusion

Around Southern California, National Drive Electric Week is celebrated in many places and some get a lot of car manufacturer support, whereas others are sparsely attended by the manufacturers. It’s great to see all the participation in these events and I hope that more and more and convinced to go electric as a result of attending these EVents.  As for letting folks drive our EVs, I was a lot more forgiving when I drove the Active E for this event, but when we moved to the Tesla, not so much.  Besides, in California, Tesla does a great job providing folks with a nice long drive at their retail locations. Some of the events seem well attended, whereas others are more sparse. The one in Diamond Bar was much better this year, but the Los Angeles one seemed to have less people. Either way, I hope that we’ve convinced more people to go electric.

I often look forward to September because of this week and am looking forward to when it becomes every day that we celebrate Drive Electric Days.

Home Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions

We had the opportunity to upgrade and make some changes to our home Electric Vehicle (EV) charging setup and thought to share that with you.

I went back to look at my posts to see if I could update what I thought I had written about in the past.  It turns out that I must have shared this information to the public via forum posts and not on the blog, so I figured to go over home charging today.

As a long-time multi-EV owner, one of the things that we’ve setup at our home is the ability to charge our EVs at the same time. This can be as simple as running several 120V plugs, but when you drive the miles that we had on our daily commute, 120V service is just not enough.  As a result, we’ve made accommodations to upgrade our EV charging to varying grades of 240V service.

So, to explain what I mean by varying grades of 240V service, I need to go off on a short tangent, I’m not an electrician, but having been involved with EVs for over four years has made me understand some EV basics.

1) Battery capacity and EV range is measured in kWh of storage (your consumption rate determines what that range is in miles or kilometers.)  This is why the Model S and Model X is sold with differing models corresponding with battery size.

2) The speed to re-fill this battery capacity is measured in several ways, but basically in kW of power.  The higher the number, the faster that a car can charge. So, this kW maximum for a charger is the amount of Volts multiplied by the Amps of the service.  Furthermore, an EV charges at 80% of the total Amperage that the circuit is rated for, so a 40A circuit can use a maximum of 32A to charge.

On a basic, common North American plug outlet, 120 Volt x 15 Amp service, an EV driver can use 120V x 12A = 1.44 kW of power.  (On Model S, this is a maximum of 4 miles per hour charge rate, under ideal conditions.)  It is interesting to note that many early EVs of this current generation (2011 and 2012 Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volts) had a 3.3 kW charger.  Even though, I believe, previous generations of EVs (GM EV-1, RAV4 1st gen, etc.) had 6.6 kW charging.  Many current EVs now provide at least a 6.6 kW charger.

Our old ActiveE was rated at 7.2 kW (originally, but by the end this was de-rated closer to 5.5 kW by software because of some issues.)  My wife’s Roadster has a 16.8 kW charger and our Model S is equipped with dual chargers for a total of 20 kW charging capability.

That being said, the higher the voltage one uses the amperage of the wire has to increase to give you a quicker charge.  So, to get a 16.8 kW service for the Roadster to run at full speed the Electric Vehicle Supply equipment (EVSE/i.e. electric vehicle charger) has to have a 90 Amp circuit to run at 70 Amps continuously over 240V.  (Remember the 80% rule for charging.)  So, to get the 20 kW charger to work on a Model S, a 100 Amp wire and breaker needs to run to get that going (19.2 kW, but who’s counting.)

I digress… Back to the point…  The higher the amperage for the circuit installed, the thicker AND more expensive the wire will be.

I am sure that for my North American EV readers, many have one EV plug to provide 240V service charge their car. How many places to charge 240V do you have at home? When we first took delivery of our BMW Active E in 2012, we didn’t have a single 240V service installed in our garage.

We actually spent a few weeks charging the car on 120V.  Something that those of us that follow Thomas J. Thias (the Amazing Chevy Volt) on Twitter see him espouse the greater than 1.5 Billion charging locations at this voltage in North America – 120V regular outlets (at 1-4 miles per hour, not normally relevant to me, but as Thomas reminds us, it’s a “good enough” solution for 80% of the drivers on their average commute.)

Just this evening, September 27, 2016, Thomas Tweeted the following out (in reply to a ZeroMC tweet)

New BMW ActiveE first night at home 2/23. 5

New BMW ActiveE first night at home 2/23. 4

We’ve even used the same Level 1 charger when we visited family…

Visiting family with our new @BMWActiveE and using the included Level 1 charger stretched to the limit!

Needless to say, that got old FAST…

So, two weeks later, we took advantage of a grant in 2012 and got a Chargepoint CT-500 (back when the company known as Chargepoint was called Coulomb Technologies.)

There was a grant program available for new EV owners/lessors to take advantage of that covered the cost of the EVSE and some of the installation.  The Chargepoint CT-500 was an intelligent/networked EVSE that connected to the Internet over a mobile network (2G?!?) connection and part of the bargain was that the government and researchers can glean the information about the habits of the participants in the grant program.

Since EVSEs in 2012 were over a thousand dollars, we opted to participate in this program and had our first charger installed.  We expected it to be a 32A EVSE, (80% of the 40A circuit that was installed) but it was actually a 30A Level 2 station. The total cost of the EVSE and Installation was $1,640. However, there was a state program that covered $1,200. Which meant that we were liable for $440 (plus $150 permit) for a total of $590 for the cost of our hardwired Level 2 station (plus the loss of privacy by participating in this monitored program.)

Here is the CT-500 when it was first installed.

CT500 EVSE Install 1

To install the units, we had to use Clean Fuel Connection and their sub-contractors for the work and it was a pretty painless program. After signing the contract they were at our house two days later with the EVSE and our days of charging Level 1 was put in the back burner.

The charger was hardwired and the installers did a great job.

CT500 EVSE Install 5

Untitled

Here it is on the day we first installed the EVSE and we charged the Active E on that first Level 2 charger.

IMG_1044

With this Level 2 setup and public Level 2 charging we were able to drive the Active E 54,321 total miles during the two years of the lease.  Several years later, the intelligent features of this charger became unsupported because the mobile network that the signals rode on was being decommissioned by AT&T.  So, today, we’ve lost the “smart” functionality of the charger, but it still works great with the Model S.  So, our first dedicated EV charger was installed in March 2012.

A year and a half after we started driving the Active E, we purchased my wife’s Roadster and finalized the order for our Model S.  Since we were already “experienced” rEVolutionaries.  We had a good idea of what it takes to charge a car and how long it took to do so.  We decided to install several NEMA outlets in the house, two NEMA 14-50 outlets and one NEMA 6-50.  We picked the NEMA 6-50 because, in 2013, the first “plug” ready non-Tesla EVSEs were being produced and we wanted to be able to charge “anything” off that and didn’t feel the need to recover miles faster than a 50 Amp feed on either the Roadster that we took or the Model S that was soon to arrive in November 2013.  The approximately 25 miles per hour that we anticipated to recover on a 50 Amp circuit (40 Amps usable) was going to be enough for our drive.

When we originally ordered our Roadster, we were unsure as to what sort of charging we would get with it that we ordered a Leviton 40A EVSE to deliver the wire speed of the NEMA 6-50 at full speed.  Here is that Leviton being installed for the Roadster to use on its side of the garage.  At the time of the purchase, this EVSE was selling for approximately $1200 elsewhere and Amazon sold the same model for $1050.  In 2016, this same EVSE is now $699.

Untitled

The EVSE powered up.  However, we ended up returning the Leviton EVSE as it was incompatible with the BMW Active E and made some WEIRD noises and sounded like it was having a BAD time, electrically speaking.  Furthermore, it turned out that we were going to get a Roadster MC240 with my wife’s car, so that can take full use of the NEMA 6-50 that we installed for the Leviton EVSE.  (We just needed an adapter to go from NEMA 14-50 to NEMA 6-50 that we had made for us.)  We charged the car on this MC240 for a short while (Tesla actually stepped down the charge from 40A to 30A on the MC240 on a 50A circuit) because we wanted a faster recharge time, so we found another Roadster owner selling their Roadster UMC and purchased that unit with a 6-50 Adapter to fit directly onto the circuit that our electrician installed for the Leviton.  And used that equipment to continue to charge the Roadster until today.

Here is a photo of the NEMA 14-50 outlet on the other side of the garage from the NEMA 6-50 installed for the Roadster.

IMG_7426

We wanted to makes sure to protect it from the elements.

IMG_7425

When we were having our electrician wire up the outlet for the Roadster, we wanted to future-proof  that location and asked to have 70A service pulled in.  To maximize the 70A breaker, we split that wire to two NEMA connectors the one (NEMA 6-50) in the garage for the Roadster and another one on the outside wall of the garage (a NEMA 14-50.)  This sharing of the one breaker is not really the “code” for these connections.  However, as long as we manually manage the Amperage on the line when using two different vehicles on each of the NEMA connectors, we should be fine.  (Remember the 80% rule, so a 70 Amp breaker means that we don’t draw more than 56A continuously on the circuit.) One of the benefits of driving any Tesla is its ability to be managed “downward” on the amount of current to draw from a circuit.  So, if a newer 6.6 kW Leaf were to be plugged into that receptacle and draw 32A, we still have 24A to use for the Roadster or the Model S.

As I mentioned earlier, we lucked out when we took delivery of our Roadster, we were provided with an original MC240 (which works only with the 1.5 Roadster) and we shortly thereafter got the Roadster UMC which is the pre-cursor for the Model S Mobile Connector (MC) and its replaceable terminals.  The Roadster one continues to be more flexible than the Model S MC in that it still has ten choices for different terminals for the product, we bought the NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 adapters to work with the plugs that we have in our garage.

We also ordered Quick Charge Power’s Jesla, however this was before it was even a QCP product.  Tony Williams worked with me to customize a Model S MC to be a Jesla. I wanted something that would work with ANY EV out there and the Jesla would plug into any of the other outlets in the garage and in the exterior of the house for when we have visitors, like my mom and her Nissan Leaf.

Here’s a picture of the Roadster charging on one of our exterior NEMA 14-50 outlets.

IMG_5007

IMG_5008

IMG_5009

We had the same protective enclosure for the NEMA 14-50 that we installed on the exterior side of the house.  Additionally, should we ever decide to get an RV, we can plug an RV on the side of the house as well since this plug is dedicated to its own 50 Amp circuit.

Here is that outlet without the Roadster plugged into it.

IMG_7427

IMG_7428

That is the MC240 that the Roadster originally came with.  It has a hardwired NEMA 14-50 plug on the end of it.

IMG_5010

IMG_5011

IMG_5012

It’s just on our driveway, but away from blocking the garage. This was convenient, but not the ideal place for the Roadster, the noisiest that a Roadster gets is when it is CHARGING, so we make sure, in the interest of keeping the peace with our neighbor, to have an outlet ready for the Roadster in the garage.

During the months between November 2013 and February 2014, we kicked the Active E out of the garage and it ended up charging on the driveway.

Here are a couple of pictures I took when we used to have all three cars, all plugged in and charging.

IMG_5394

The J1772 EVSE that is plugged into the Active E during this duty cycle is the Jesla that I had asked Tony Williams of Quick Charge Power make for me.  It is great to see all the business that he has since built from the time that he made this product for me.

IMG_5395

IMG_5396

So, for several years we’ve had a great set-up at the house that allowed us to charge four EVs at once and not sure if we’ve ever have needed to do this… I do remember my mom visiting with her Leaf and charging it. The Model S was already charged, so I could just plug her Leaf into that J1772 (the original Chargepoint CT-500 from 2012). This photo was from Thanksgiving 2014, and the Active E was already back with BMW for at least 9 months at this point.  You can see the Roadster UMC plugged to the wall beside the Roadster (using a NEMA 6-50 at this point.)

Looks like the Family is complete... we can start Thanksgiving lunch! (3 EVs in our garage/driveway)

That’s a long way to catch you up to what we just had done this past weekend… in 2016.

Well, a short while ago, we’ve had some charger challenges with the Roadster.  During testing, we kept swapping chargers to see the effects, and as a result of one of these tests, the MC240 that came with our car died and was not repairable.  Our service center provided us a replacement as a result of this failure because we still had our CPO warranty in effect. The MC240 is quite rare, so the service center provided us with a second Roadster UMCs.

When we took the “new” UMC home and plugged it in, it turned out that the new one was “flaky” (or, I suspect that there’s something with the Roadster, but we’re still figuring that out.)

Now, it has been difficult for Tesla to track down the UMC to begin with, and they are quite pricey, so, instead of trying to find ANOTHER Roadster UMC, I asked if they could just replace the dead MC240/flaky Roadster UMC with a new Model S/Model X High Power Wall Connector (HPWC.)

My point was that they were producing more of these HPWCs, the price for the unit has dropped significantly and is about a third the cost of another replacement Roadster UMC. The retail price for the Roadster UMC is $1,500 without a NEMA 14-50 connector, and adding that connector is an additional $100 for a total of $1,600, and the Model S/Model X HPWC is now $550 for the 24 foot model. Luckily, my logic was deemed to be a sound one, and we were able to get a 24 foot Tesla Model S/Model X HPWC (ver 2? (the one that can be daisy-chained)).  I figure that between the Roadster UMC, the Jesla, and our CAN SR and CAN JR, we have enough portable Level 2 capability for the vehicle.

Several weeks later, mid-last week, we get word that the replacement Tesla Model S/Model X HPWC was at the service center ready for pick up.

We went to pick up the box from the service center and take it home.  It wasn’t going to fit in the Roadster, so we took an S (the service center’s loaner as the Roadster is in the shop for its annual service) to bring this box home.

IMG_20160921_173153

One thing about the Model S/X High Power Wall Connector is it is glorious and aesthetically pleasing EVSE.

IMG_20160921_173212

Unboxing the HPWC…

IMG_20160921_173233

IMG_20160921_173237

In order to install the unit, it had to be hardwired, and I’m not an electrician, remember.  I scheduled our electrician to do the work this past Sunday, September 25.

As I mentioned earlier, we ran 70A service to the garage for the Roadster and the two shared NEMA outlets (the NEMA 6-50 and NEMA 14-50). I figured to have him use that feed for the HPWC.  Since it seems that we’re now predominantly a Tesla family, I also had one other change that I requested.  Between our Tesla bias and the fact that there are now more EVSE providers that are selling NEMA 14-50 plug-in EVSEs, not just NEMA 6-50 ones, I went ahead and asked our electrician to replace the NEMA 6-50 outlet for the Roadster with a NEMA 14-50 one.

IMG_1205.JPG

IMG_1211.JPG

IMG_1206.JPG

The new HPWC can go to 80A on a 100A wire, but it was cost prohibitive to run that wire three years ago.  I was glad that we ran 70A because we are now able to take advantage of 56A power for charging (when we’re not using the NEMA 14-50 outlets) we’re able to charge a Model S (with dual chargers, or enabled for greater than 48A for the newer ones) at 34 miles per hour.  The Model S normally uses the old reliable Chargepoint CT-500 at 30A and approximately 18 miles per hour of charging.  So, if we’re in a hurry or if the Chargepoint “misbehaves” we now have the means to “charge quicker.”

IMG_1209.JPG

Besides, the nearest supercharger to us is Fountain Valley and though it is a supercharger, it is easily the busiest one in the area as is evidenced by this photo around 1pm on 9/27/2016.

That’s six cars waiting and eight charging (there were seven cars waiting just before I took this picture.)

IMG_0492.JPG

Additionally, we still have the NEMA outlets (now all 14-50s). We just have to manage the load effectively, and safely. I could use the advanced features of the new HPWC and daisy chain them in the future, but I think we’re OK with the way we’re set up for now. In the meantime, we just have to do the math and run a total of 56A on the feed. One requirement currently is that all these vehicles will have to be Teslas because it’s difficult to limit each feed to only 16A…  We can, conceivably charge two Teslas at 20A and a Chevy Spark, Chevy Volt, or 2011/2012 Nissan Leaf on 16A of power.  As we mentioned earlier, many EVs now run at 6.6kW or higher and that’s 32A of power on 240V.

So, in 2016, we are now able to plug in five vehicles to charge at 240V service in our home…

Looks like we’re ready for the rEVolution and hosting an EV meetup…

Or to have family visit us…  My sister and her husband just added a Volkswagen E-Golf to their garage a few months ago and, as expected, my gearhead brother-in-law has been “digging” driving electric. (I think that he’s garaged his Porsche ICE and taken to driving the E-Golf places.)

Furthermore, once we get our Model 3 reservations delivered, we’re ready for those as well.  We might need a bigger driveway and garage!

National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Diamond Bar

For the past few years, I’ve always attended several of the National Drive Electric Week events throughout Southern California.  This year, the first EVent that we visited was in Diamond Bar at the Southern California Air Quality Management District.

Drive Electric Week is happening Internationally now and have started today, September 10, 2016 and continues on until next week.  Our club, Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (formerly OC Tesla Club), will be attending the event in Long Beach on September 17, 2016.  However, we, as a family, try to hit several throughout the week.

You can look up where the nearest one is to you on the driveelectricweek.org site.  With 241 sites worldwide, here’s to hoping that the event grows even more.

We took some great pictures of the event and set up a Flickr album.

National Drive Electric Week 2016

I chose our parking spot today to complete the Red, White, and Blue Classic Tesla Motors Model S parked on the edge of the event.

IMG_0466

We’re on the left, have to read it right to left to get Red, White, and Blue.

Previous sessions at Diamond Bar had a lot more EV conversions. This year, I spotted only one EV conversion (parked by the Chevy Volt.)

IMG_3287

The owner of the BMW i3 put his car in what he called “presentation mode.”

IMG_3290

Some crazy Smart ED owner put a different kind of Range Extender (wind up version…)

IMG_3293

IMG_3294

IMG_3295

Lots of Fiat 500es.

IMG_3296

IMG_3297

One of the OC Tesla Club member’s Model X participated at this EVent.

IMG_3299

We had hoped to bring my wife’s Roadster to the event, but we found a puddle of coolant in the garage and didn’t want to risk it. Glad to see a couple of Roadsters here.

IMG_3302

More of the pictures from this event are on the Flickr album.

Since one of the many questions that the public often ask at these events is “how far can you go with your EV.” Last year we went from Southern California to Maine, this summer, we went to the Tesla Gigafactory Party, The Long Way Round via Vancouver, BC.

Our fourth year of Solar usage.

SCE 2016-Year 4

This is our fourth year update. Click here for the Last Year’s (3rd Year) Summary.

It’s been four years since our PTO our solar array was approved, we originally estimated our savings on driving the Active E or a vehicle like the Active E. Since then, we moved from driving one EV to two EVs to three EVs and finally back to two EVs. We’ve also driven around a lot and our mileage has grown significantly since then. Our original estimation of a break-even was calculated with a one EV household.  Since then, we believe that we’ve achieved our break-even mileage for our EVs and home use of electricity between last year’s update and this year..

In our first year of Solar use, we had a credit. Which, as we found out, we could not claim. Because, it turns out, Net Metering means that though we’re credited for the production at a specific $ rate, customers are paid out on OVERPRODUCTION of power and not on the CREDITS earned. What this means is the system produced greater kWh of energy than consumed by the end user. If this is the case, the customer is PAID OUT the power times the wholesale rate of production. As long-time readers are aware, on our second year, we paid over $200 to SCE. For our third year, coupled with our nearly a month of travel to Maine and back in our Here, There, and EVerywhere roadtrip, we were out of the house for about three weeks that year, and a little over a month for that year. So, that created about a month of overproduction. As a result, Year 3’s bill was approximately $40.  This fourth year that just ended, we had about the same number of weeks away from home, but our annual net metering statement is about HALF of last year’s total with a nearly $20 bill for Year 4.

This full fourth year of solar production is firmly with the Model S and Roadster with a about the same number of weeks on trips as Year 3. Our 2016 Road trip to the Pacific Northwest, which we will be publishing on Monday, 9/12/2016 at 10:00 AM Pacific/18:00 BST/19:00 CET (UTC), was for only two weeks, however we’ve had a lot of other trips so that our total time away from home has been about the same as Year 3.

I considered the third year as a monumental year for having the $40 annual bill, I am just flabbergasted at the $20 year that we’ve had for the fourth year. Considering our average electric bill prior to going EV and solar was closer to $200 a month, it is incredible to get most of our transportation and home energy use at so little.  Additionally, I focused on the change in tariff from TOU-D-EV to TOU-D-A in last year’s summary.

Logic tells me that I SHOULD have been paying more for electricity in Year 4 vs. Year 3.  And we didn’t even travel any more than we did in Year 3.  Our Summer roadtrip in 2016 (about our Long Way Round to the Tesla Gigafactory Party) was several days shorter than our 2015 Roadtrip.  I guess we’ve gotten better at shifting our energy use.

I wonder what we’ll be spending on energy next year?  I predicted an upward trend from Year 3 to Year 4 and was flat out wrong.  So, let me see if an upward trend will finally hit from Year 4 to Year 5.  After all, solar panels degrade and our guaranteed production on our solar agreements always step down year over year.

Interested in going solar? Get a quote from my solar vendor – Real Goods Solar.

Long-term Tesla Motors Battery Study from Plug in America

One of the things to consider when making the switch to an Electric Vehicle (EV) is the combination of the battery and electricity IS the fuel that is consumed to power an EV. As such, batteries and range degrade and may eventually need to be replaced. Therefore, one of the questions that these new Model 3 reservation holders ask is “how resilient is the Tesla battery?” or phrased another way, “how long will the battery last?”

The Model 3 announcement did not really cover how different or similar the battery technology in the Model 3 will be from predecessor vehicles from them. The Roadster has a different pack than the Model S and Model X. So, how does one get the comfort of knowing that “Tesla knows what they’re doing with batteries.” I suppose we can just trust them.

Fortunately, that is not our only option. Over the past few years, long-time Electric Vehicle advocate, Plug in America Chief Science Officer, and Tesla Motors Roadster owner Tom Saxton has been conducting several long-term battery studies hosted on the Plug in America site.

For those unfamiliar with Plug in America, they’re the folks that formed out of the advocates that tried to stop the “murder” of the GM EV1 and other Electric Vehicles of that era that was documented in the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?”  Or, as they describe themselves in their webpage:

Our Mission

Plug In America drives change to accelerate the shift to plug-in vehicles powered by clean, affordable, domestic electricity to reduce our nation’s dependence on petroleum, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our History

Plug In America is a coalition of early adopters. We’re the EV trailblazers – RAV4‐EV drivers, former lessees of Honda EV+, GM EV1, Ford Ranger and Ford Th!nk City electric cars – that passionately advocate for energy independence and clean air. Before 2008, we functioned as a loose network of individuals organized around various websites like dontcrush.com and saveEV1.com. We then coalesced into a chapter of the Electric Auto Association. On January 2, 2008, Plug In America became a separate California non‐profit corporation. On August 18, 2008, we became an official 501(c)(3) public charity!

The battery studies that Tom Saxton have been running for years rely on nearly semi-annual updates from respondents that drive Tesla Roadsters and Tesla Model S as well as the Nissan Leaf and the first generation Toyota RAV4 EV.  In email correspondence with Tom, he has indicated that he is looking to expand the study  in the near future to include the Model X as well.

Tom’s long-term battery study has been invaluable not only to the greater EV community but specifically to Tesla fans as well.  The take rate for participants for the Tesla Roadster study is close to a 7% sample, from what I gather and the Tesla Model S one had a healthy start, but could use more participants.

With the new range numbers from the redesigned front fascia of the vehicle, I am sure I’m not the only one to wonder what the long-term differences would be between a 90D classic fascia vs a 90D new fascia.

Providing a third party study of the effects of long-term battery health enables all concerned with a greater understanding and comfort to know “that Tesla knows what they’re doing.” Furthermore, it gives current non EV drivers a sense of comfort when making the switch to electrically fueled car ownership.

So, if you own a Tesla Roadster and haven’t participated in the study. Or perhaps you’re one of the lucky few to have upgraded to the new 3.0 battery from Tesla, please fill out the Tesla Roadster battery survey.

Perhaps you’re a Model S owner and you’d like to help add to the number of respondents to this study, fill out for the Tesla Model S battery survey.

What has Tom been able to share with the public so far.

Well, for the Roadster, he’s published an entire study three years ago including a paper entitled “Plug in America’s Tesla Roadster Battery Study.” The advent of the 3.0 battery upgrade may require a new study and the addition of almost another three years since the publication of that study might give more information to the study, but that’s entirely up to Tom and his cohorts at PiA.

The Model S Results page is more dynamic than the Roadster results publication.

I have taken screenshots as of April 27, 2016 of a few of the dynamic charts that are provided on the results charts page.

The first chart that caught my eye is the chart on the battery capacity vs. the miles that particular Model S iterations. With new EPA numbers with the launch of the new fascia should further complicate this chart.

Battery Survey - Model S Battery Capacity-Miles

This same chart can be used to also track how a particular respondent’s vehicle matches with the universe of respondents. The Vehicle in black on the chart below shows the performance of my vehicle in relation to other respondents’ cars.

Battery Survey - Model S Battery Capacity-Miles - Specific Vehicle

The third chart that was of interest is the reliability of certain components, namely the Drive Unit, battery, and chargers on the Model S. I wonder if the increased reported failures on chargers for 2014 vehicles resulted in the movement from the old chargers to the new 48A charger.

Battery Survey - Model S Major Maintenance - Model Year

Lastly, the inspiration to my exhorting fellow owners to participate in this survey was the chart of participant vehicles.

Battery Survey - Model S Survey Vehicles

For as many Model S are on the road now, I wonder as to the ability of this study, in its current count, to fully report on the vehicle with a small sample size. The Model S battery survey form is fairly straight forward and serves our common purpose. Tesla has been great, but it’s also good to have interested third parties run a check against what they claim and provide.