Thursday, December 15, 2011

Changes for a Better EV Life: The 6.6kW Charger (Part 1)

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

The LEAF Needs a 6.6kW Charger

I've written about this numerous times and even created a Facebook Group for it.  Put simply, there are two basic reasons I would pay a pretty penny for the 6.6kW charger.  The first has to do with situations like the one where I had to spend three hours at Rosenthal's Nissan/Mazda waiting for enough electricity to get home.  With a 6.6kW charger, that would have been a mere ninety minutes.  Put another way, with the 3.3kW charger, you only get about 10–15 miles (15–25 km) of driving per hour of charge.  Since my driving average comes out to 4.0 mikWh (6.4 kmkWh), this comes out to 11.52 mi (18.54 km) for me.  With a 6.6kW you double that!  And that means 45 minutes out at a nice restaurant like the Cracker Barrel in Manassas next to the IBEW Local 26/JATC ChargePoint stations would net about 20 mi (32 km), more than enough to get home on a near-depleted pack; with only 10 mi (16 km), I feel I'd be pushing my luck!

The other reason has to do with the new Dominion Virginia Power Time Of Use rate.  Specifically, by going to a 6.6kW Charger under Schedule EV, I estimate I could be saving $80 per year in electricity costs by limiting my charge time to the hours 1–5 am.  Now, if the 6.6kW charger costs $1,000 to retrofit into a 2011/2012 LEAF, as I once suggested I would still pay it gladly.  Sure, it would be a 12½ year return on investment, assuming current electric rates, but the time I don't have to spend at places like my local Nissan Dealer or Panera waiting for a sufficient charge to my car is quite valuable too.  By some estimates this could be as much as $40 per hour for a skilled software engineer such as myself, and at that rate it doesn't take long to equate an hour wasted waiting here, an hour wasted waiting there and before you know it, you've wasted a grand.