Eco-Trip Day One

A "throttled" charger. Even throttled fast-chargers are fast, though...

A “throttled” charger. Even throttled fast-chargers are fast, though…

We’re off! Day one is behind us, and it went super-well. The Leaf is impressive as always—quiet, quick, smooth, and enjoyable to drive. We drove from home to Danbury, Connecticut (we’re having to come several hundred miles south before we head west; that’s the line that let’s us hit the most fast-chargers). Not a long day, we probably went 250 miles, and charged five times, four of those at fast-chargers. And, I must be getting better at this, because it seemed easy, no “range-anxiety” at all, except for a brief few minutes where we thought we might have to do a long detour in the middle of the longest leg. But, even then we had a backup charger we could go to. And, like the trip the other week to Albany, I’m still learning some things. A very quick rundown—

— Tonight we’re at a hotel, but the remaining nights we’ll be camping, and charging, at campgrounds. So last night I looked up what the most common 220v plug was for RVs, and, drum roll– there seems to be only one common one, and it’s not the same as the plug on our Level-2 charger. In short, chargers come with NEMA 6-50 plugs, and RV’s use NEMA 14-50 plugs. So, brought a few tools, and we stopped by a Home Depot today and picked up what I need to make some short adapter cables. I’ll make two during the stops tomorrow, one for the Level-2 charger, and another for the Level-1 charge cord, because I also figured out that when campgrounds say “30 and 50-amp hookups”, the 30-amp part is 110v, using a NEMA TT-30 “travel trailer” plug. More on that tomorrow..

— The car batteries do heat up after many hours of driving and fast-charging. Outside temps were moderate today, between 60 and 75, and we started the day with 5 bars on the temperature gauge. It bumped up steadily all day, and by the time we got here it was at 8 bars. It doesn’t hit the red zone until after 10 bars, so I don’t think it will be a show-stopper. In general, though, high temps are a bit harder on the batteries. I will continue to observe…

A good lunch at the Brattleboro Co-op, a block from the chargers.

A good lunch at the Brattleboro Co-op, a block from the chargers. (Ignore the wadded up napkin!)

— The GPS is a life-saver. I don’t use it to tell me every turn to make, but I do keep the current map up. It’s well-thought-out, and gives the current speed limit of the road you’re on, and at the bottom  the name of the highway or street, both of which are very helpful. The display has grids on it, so you can tell quickly about how far away a location is (if the setting is on 1 mile per grid, and a town is three grids away on the map…). Anyway, good job Nissan. I missed a turn in a tiny town today, and realized the error within a minute or so.

— Not all chargers are created equal. Some of the fast-chargers are throttled to 50 or 60 amps, which is quite a bit less than the 107 amps or more that the car can take from a full-power DC fast-charger. All fast-chargers are pretty darn fast, though, compared to all the alternatives.

— Plugshare.com is by far the best site for charger information, in my (continuing) opinion.

Anyway, as in our trip the other week, it was a fun day. If I had to generalize—drive for an hour, walk around somewhere for 30 minutes, repeat. Really relaxing, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. A quick post here, excuse any typos, more tomorrow.