Sunday, March 25, 2012

First con - still haven't bought a charging station

So lets examine one of the cons.

When I went to buy the Leaf I put off the charging station. What this means is I use a very slow trickle charger that came with the car. Very slow.

About 19 hrs is the published number - my experience with my new car is closer to eighteen but the simple fact is I rarely charge from anywhere near empty. If I can I opportunity charge from chargers that are mostly free around the area, and I mostly just plug in at home.  Unlike my charger which is a brick with 120v on one end and a J1772 on the other, most car charging stations are 240v Level 2.

I'm in a basement apartment where the 120 outdoor outlet is available under an overhang.  So unlike a lot of apartment dwellers I'm fine for a 120 volt 12amp outlet.  One thing I notice is the 12 amp requirement is serious - too long of an extension cord or a cranky breaker at someones house and - no or little charge.

I have two faster options I've haven't paid for yet.  The first is installing a Level 2 (L2) 240volt charger - this is like a dryer circuit in your house and cuts charging down to seven hours for a completely discharged Leaf back to full charge.  I can't take that with me if I move though - although my landlord is fine if I install the unit.  The original Nissan unit was 3-4 grand installed but on the net I'm hearing about people paying a grand for a charger and installations as low as another thousand for a about $2000.

Another option is upgrading the trickle charger to use a dryer or RV 240 outlet.  That is about 400 or so with a 16amp option and your original charger but is not UL covered.  I may go this route.

Sooner or later I'll have to look at this because in the fall my commute increases from 28 miles to 65.  Right now if I have an exercise class after work no problem.  In the fall though it will be more tricky with a trickle charger.

Generally though I always have extra charge now.  Even a trip to near empty gains ~ 44 miles back in the 8 hours I have to sleep - more then my commute.  As long as I always plug in when I get home - no worries.  Most days - when I take the car out it's full.  With an expensive car, putting off the charger has been helpful. I'm grateful Nissan has been including the trickle charger standard on the leaf. Decision time is coming though....


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