Mapco NRG eVgo Rapid Chargers activate instantly, but parking spaces often blocked during busy periods

Less than 20 minutes to get to 80% charge level.

Less than 20 minutes to get to 80% charge level.

NRG eVgo Rapid Chargers in the Nashville Tennessee area are very reliable and activate instantly using an RFID card and thankfully don’t rely on finicky touch screens. Other charging networks such as Blink also use RFID cards, but the activation process can take up to a minute, more if the touch screen is not working. The eVgo Rapid Charge units are can be activated for up to 30 minutes at a time which allows a Nissan LEAF to reach a full charge rather than stop at 80% as some units are programmed to stop at.

Fresh salad while you wait

Fresh salad while you wait

I’ve been trying out the eVgo stations at area MAPCO gas stations. There is plenty to do while you wait for your car to charge. In addition to the convenience store, MAPCO’s have a deli equipped to make fresh salads and sandwiches to order and a beer cave stocked with good variety of craft beers. I have taken to eating a yogurt/granola breakfast at the MAPCO in Brentwood, on the way to my workplace in Cool Springs.

More often than not, its an SUV blocking access to EV charging spaces.

More often than not, its an SUV blocking access to EV charging spaces.

While activating is instantaneous, getting access to the right parking space can be challenging. Judging by comments on Plugshare other LEAF drivers face the same challenges.

Other drivers comment about having trouble getting an open parking space ar MAPCO stations.

Other drivers comment about having trouble getting an open parking space ar MAPCO stations.

Thankfully the space often opens up within 5-10 minutes, though this can double the time you need to charge your vehicle. Better signage would help deal with access to the parking space, its not obvious that the space can be used to charge an electric car, the gas car drivers can be excused for not realising. Once you pull in you typically won’t back out even if you do realize you did something wrong.

Positioning charging units between two parking spaces would increase access to the charging station. In the photo below if the unit was between two parking spaces the Blue Pickup truck would not be an issue since the space to the right is free.

Truck blocking the space needed for EV Charging

Truck blocking the space needed for EV Charging

Posted in Blink, CHAdeMO, Electric Car, eVgo, Level 3 EV Charger, Mapco, Nissan LEAF | Tagged | Leave a comment

Forgot to Plug-In tonight – No big deal

I forgot to plug my car in when I got home this evening. No big deal, the car emails me when I forget. Went out and plugged it in at 8pm, in plenty of time for tomorrow’s commute.

How much does this reminder service cost? Nothing. Thank You Nissan!

Forgetting to plug-in isn't possible with a Nissan LEAF

Forgetting to plug-in isn’t possible with a Nissan LEAF

Even if the unthinkable happened and did forget and also ignored my emails I have two rapid charge stations within 10 miles of my home on my route to work.

Posted in Nissan LEAF, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, CHAdeMO | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Replacing a Faulty Blink EVSE with a Clipper Creek HCS-40P

Old Trusty started displaying self-test faults. Time for a new unit before it starts a fire.

Old Trusty started displaying self-test faults. Time for a new unit before it starts a fire.

My trusty Blink EVSE which I have had for 4 years as part of the government sponsored EV Project started acting up, displaying several self-check faults. It still worked after power cycling, but I was uncomfortable with the frequent self-test faults, I didn’t want to burn the house down.

The Blink was installed using a 6-50R NEMA outlet. I purchased a Clipper Creek HCS-40P EVSE that came pre-wired with a plug that would fit the outlet to eliminate the need to hard wire the unit thereby preserving the codes compliant installation also saving the need to re-apply for building permission.

It seemed like a very straightforward thing to unplug the old unit and plug in the new unit which only required two screws to attach it to the wall. For some reason quick weekend projects tend to expand to fill the available time. What I thought would take 10-15 minutes took several hours.

Outlet Reconfiguration – Easy

Rotating the outlet was aasy

Rotating the outlet was easy

First I had to reconfigure the orientation of the 6-50R outlet. The Blink’s cable exited from the left side of the unit and plugged into the wall. The Clipper Creek cable exited from the right and the cable was too short to run left under the EV cable to the outlet, it needed to exit to the right requiring the outlet to be rotated 180 degrees. This operation was easy and took 15 minutes and I thought I was home free.

Attaching to the wall – Fiddly

I got a 'Third Hand' by plugging in the unit, the stout cable supported the unit while I marked screw holes.

I got a ‘Third Hand’ by plugging in the unit, the stout cable supported the unit while I marked screw holes.

The Clipper Creek comes with two huge lag bolts to attach it to the wall and for hollow walls they advised screwing it into a stud or plywood back board. Given the short cable to the outlet a convenient stud was not available and I didn’t want to fit a plywood back board and paint it.. I chose to use a hollow wall fixture instead. I had one which saved me a trip to the store in the busy saturday morning traffic

The hollow wall fixture seemed ideal until I put the screw through the EVSE mounting hole and realized due to the thickness of the plastic case, the screw didn’t quite reach the hollow wall anchor. A trip to Home Depot was in order to find a longer #6 coarse screw and a larger washer. Saturday traffic was heavy and the trip took over 30 minutes.

Mounting the unit directly under a wall cabinet made the job fiddly. The screw holes to anchor the unit are angled to allow a screwdriver to reach the screw at an angle. However the cabinet prevented a screwdriver from fitting and I had to resort to a stubby screwdriver in tight quarters. That took way too long. The bottom anchor and screw went in quickly, I plugged the unit in and switched the power back on at the breaker and now I have a fully functional EVSE with 3 year warranty.

All Done – Better unit all round.

Installation Complete!

Installation Complete!

The Clipper Creek HCS-40P comes standard with a 25 foot EV cable. This means I can now plug the car in either of the two garage bays. The Blink cable was too short to make this possible.

The Clipper Creek HCS-40P can also support up to 7.7 kW charging rate using 32 AMPs at 240 Volts. The Blink was originally rated for 30 AMP charging but due to a number of issues with overheating components, some of which damaged vehicles, the network operator reduced the charge rate to 24 AMPs. The reports of badly crimped EV cables overheating also gave me reason to buy a new unit rather than try and repair the old. I can now charge a new EV at double the speed than is possible with my older LEAF without fear of a fire or vehicle damage.

Unfortunately the Clipper Creek does not have on-board intelligence so I cannot easily meter the electricity going to my vehicle, so my monthly charging records on an Excel spreadsheet will be retired.

The Final Step. Turn the power back on!!

The Final Step. Turn the power back on!!

Posted in Nissan LEAF, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Blink, Clipper Creek | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

US Navy establishes policy prohibiting workplace charging

No EV Charging for you! So says Captain Chris Yanke

No EV Charging for you! So says Captain Chris Yanke

One thinks of California as a very progressive state that has wide acceptance of electric vehicles. The Naval Base at Ventura County California has established a policy of prohibiting employees from charging their electric vehicles while at the base.

On the other hand the Department of Energy has launched a program called “EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge”.

It seems the different branches of the government are at odds with each other.

The Navy’s reasoning goes thus.

“appropriated funds cannot be used for personal employee expenses, which fueling a personal vehicle clearly is. Whether that fuel is gas in a tank or electricity in a battery is irrelevant.”

When asked by employees if they could pay for electricity, so as not to use government funds. The navy responds

“Currently, there is no mechanism for reimbursement, nor is there a program authorizing such reimbursement.”

In order to enforce the policy the Navy says

“If you see a personal vehicle plugged into a building’s power grid, please alert the facility manager so the issue can be addressed and the user educated.”

Many large organizations such as the military or large corporations have a great deal of bureaucracy. This bureaucracy stands in the way of workplace charging adoption. As employees of large organizations the employee can be excused for giving up in their quest to educate their employer to the benefits of introducing workplace EV charging. I was recently told when enquiring about workplace charging at an office complex my employer leases space at that the building owners had determined they had looked into the possibility and determined they would never install a charging station at any of their properties. You may ask so what?

DOE EV Charging program

DOE EV Charging program

Workplace charging increases the chance someone will buy an EV 20 times. That’s according to the Department of Energy study into workplace charging.  Outside of the home, workplace charging is the best way to encourage EV adoption. Workplace charging is doubly important for people who have no way to charge at home, such as those living in an apartment complex or downtown highrise.

It is a shame the US Navy and the Department of Energy do not talk to each other.

 

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Padlock removed from DC Fast Charger at Newton Nissan

NewtonDCFC-GallatinCommon sense has prevailed and Newton Nissan have reversed their earlier decision to padlock their DC Fast Charge unit.

I noticed this on Memorial Day weekend and asked the staff inside if the padlock was gone for good. They confirmed that they will no longer padlock the unit.

If you need a charge at Newton Nissan and are a Nissan customer you are welcome 24/7. Owners of other makes of electric vehicle should extend the courtesy of asking first before using the DC Fast Charging unit. The staff at Newton Nissan pointed out that there is a 240v “level 2″ charging station in the front parking lot that anyone in any electric vehicle is welcome to use.

Posted in CHAdeMO, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Level 3 EV Charger, Newton Nissan | 1 Comment

NRG eVgo partner with Plugshare to report real-time charging station status

 

 

There is nothing worse than driving up to a EV charging station to find out it is out of service.

nrgandplugsharepartner To combat this NRG eVgo and Plugshare have partnered to make sure up-to-date status is available to drivers via the Plugshare app. plugsharewrench

If a charging site is out of service due to a maintenance issue or the site is new an not yet activated the usual Plugshare icon is replaced with a Wrench. This is an improvement over having to open up the details of a site to determine its maintenance status giving the driver an at-a-glance status.

Thank you NRG eVgo and Plugshare for making our lives easier!!

 

 

 

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Nashville Airport installs reasonably priced EV Charging including a Rapid Charger

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Two Level 2 charge units and one DC Fast Charge unit at Nashville AIrport Short Term Car Park

The Nashville International Airport (BNA) is installing several EV charging stations in their short term parking lot. They are housed underneath a solar canopy on the top deck. Two 240v Level 2 charging stations and one Eaton CHAdeMO DC Fast Charge unit will be operational soon.

The cost is very reasonable. $2 per charge session starting in June 2015, until then they are free to use once the installation is completed.

One very refreshing feature of these units is the inclusion of a credit card reader for activation. No ‘charging network cards’ are required to activate the units. I wish more charging stations followed the standard credit card model utilized at gas stations. I have no problem with an additional loyalty card(s) to get a discount or other benefits.

 

The first 20 minutes of short term parking is free at the airport. So it is conceivable one could rapid charge for $2 and not incur a parking fee!!

Well done Nashville Airport, you have a done a great job all round with this installation. It promises to be the best EV charging location in the Nashville area.

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Fast Charge Unit at Nashville Airport (BNA)

 

Posted in CHAdeMO, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Level 3 EV Charger | Tagged , , | Leave a comment