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Showing posts from 2020

Electric Motorcycling - Pure Energy

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The ignition key turns - a click, then silence. With no clutch to release, all that’s left to do is twist the throttle which is not a throttle at all. The spring-loaded rheostat sends a signal to the motor controller to release the flow of electrons. With a high-frequency whirr of a Star Wars speeder, the bike weaves through the tree-lined city streets scattering a few squirrels that have not encountered this strange beast: a Zero.
An electric motorcycle lets me savor not only the sights and smells of my environment when freed from the metal and glass cage, but also the sounds.  Gone is the incessant drone of the engine and the click of the gear shift leaving the crashing of waves on the beach, a laughing seagull, the rush of wind.   
Enduro, dual-sport, or adventure bike - whatever the name - the Zero DSR seems to float across pavement, gravel, and dirt to my campsite. With only a standard electrical receptacle next to my tent, the bike gorges on electrons while I use a butane sto…

EV Road Trip Comparison: 2015 Tesla Model S vs. 2015 Chevy Volt

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In mid-August our 2015 Chevy Volt discussed in last month's essay on plug-in hybrids displayed an "Engine Maintenance" warning.   The message (see below) informs the driver that the car has used so little gasoline that it needs to burn some, presumably to keep the fluids in the internal combustion engine (ICE) moving, seals lubricated, etc.  From June through mid-August, the car was driven about 1,500 miles of local-only trips fueled primarily by electricity and only 0.4 gallons of gas.  
The on-screen message startled my daughter who was still getting used to the car.  After some time on Volt forums, I learned that this message is sort of a badge of honor among Volt drivers because it means you're using so little gas.Time to Burn Some GasThe end of university summer vacation necessitated a return trip to Kansas City.  In the past, we have either made the drive from Michigan with a rented minivan or with the 2015 Tesla Model S depending on the amount of stuff to be tr…

Plug-In Hybrids Need Love Too

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Good-Bye to Gasoline!
In November 2018, we said farewell to our trusty 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan.  This was the end of an era for our family, not only because our children were grown to the point of a minivan not making sense any more, but also because it was our last vehicle with a combustion engine.  With our garage then including a Nissan LEAF and a Tesla Model S, I told myself that I would never again buy a vehicle that burned gasoline.

I was wrong.

Daryl Elliott's CleanTechnica article "The PHEV Era Needs to End, Now" makes some compelling arguments that the Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) bridge technology to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) has run its course and those of us who are in the segment of early adopters should leave this crutch behind.

...Or Maybe Not All those arguments are valid except that as of mid-2020, there are very few BEVs that are suitable for cross-country travel by a teenager at a vehicle price of less than $30,000.  My college junior daugh…

Michigan Spring: Daffodils and Public Chargers are Popping Up

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Despite Michigan's quarantine for non-essential travel, Michiganders are still permitted to drive out for essential and even recreational motorcycling is an approved activity.  As such, my Zero DSR electric motorcycle has been a wonderful way to experience some fresh air and even run some essential errands like getting milk from my favorite milk source Country Dairy in New Era, MI.  
Another good excuse to get out is to find new public chargers.  Michigan utility Consumers Energy has been running the PowerMIDrive program that provides rebates for both at-home* and public charging infrastructure.  That means despite a slowdown in construction due to COVID-19, public chargers are still going in and will continue to pop up during 2020.
* For more detail on eligible home chargers, see the Consumers Energy Home Charger Rebates page.  
PlugSharePlugShare is still one of the best tools for finding public chargers for plug-in vehicle owners.  If you haven't downloaded the app, I encou…

Electrify America Level 2 Home Charger

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Charging your Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) at home in North America hasn't changed much since my 2018 Home Charging essay.  If you have your own garage or parking space and a way to add a circuit, I still recommend a 240V 50A circuit with a NEMA 14-50 receptacle (aka 50A RV plug) and a home EVSE charging unit that plugs into that receptacle.  Together with you vehicle's on-board charger of 6-10 KW, this a great combination to add 25-40 miles of range per hour of charging.

The market for EVSEs, particularly non-networked "dumb" EVSEs is fairly mature.  Rather than increasing power output, established manufacturers like ClipperCreek and EnelX (formerly eMotorwerks) are focusing on more features like two plugs for multi-EV households and smart charging that allows you to take advantage of time-of-day power rates and remote start and stop.

With that background, I was surprised that Electrify America was displaying its new Level 2 home …

EV Charging on a TT-30 30-Amp RV Plug

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Note: This is Tesla-heavy content related to the Universal Mobile Charger (UMC).  However, the discussion of adapters is relevant to other EVs.  

In my recent winter road trip, I visited a friend who informed he had "some kind of RV plug" behind his house from a previous RV owner.

If you prefer a video overview with less detail, jump to this short YouTube video on the topic:  https://youtu.be/m0gfpz_h100

RV Plugs Explained When we hear about RV power plugs, it's usually just in reference to a "30-amp" and a "50-amp" plug.  Unfortunately, amps don't tell the whole story because what we are really after is power (Watts) rather than flow of electricity (amps).  If the technical details are too much for you, skip down to the Bottom Line adapters section.

Roughly speaking:

Watts (power) = Volts (potential) x Amps (flow)

Watts or Kilowatts (KW) are what give an indication of how quickly we can charge for more range.

What's missing in the RV plug descri…