My Quest to Find a DC Fast Charger
So if you live in a decent sized city, you might expect to find a DC fast charger somewhere in town, but I live in Dayton, and as I write this, there are currently no “DC fast chargers” in the city of Dayton. There aren’t really all that many “level 2” charging options either. This is kind of ironic given to how “progressive” Dayton tends to be politically. In any event, I’ve had this Leaf since January, and had yet to fast charge it.
The closest DC fast chargers are north of Dayton in Huber Heights and Springfield, neither of which are places I need or even want to go. But I do like to go south and visit Cincinnati from time to time. The good news is that Cincinnati is only a 60 mile drive on the interstate. The bad news is that 60 miles on the interstate would pretty much drain my Nissan Leaf. Good thing Cincinnati has a few DC fast chargers in their greater metropolitan area, eh?
So that’s what Gail and I decided to do this weekend. We would take a trip down to see the Ohio river, and it’s a good thing there was a DC fast charger right off exit 21 on southbound I-75… Except it was out of order. Ah shucks. Fortunately, the slower level 2 charger they had was still working. I plugged the car in for 22 minutes. It wasn’t much, but it did give me an extra 10% on my battery for a whopping 55¢, and the confidence to continue to my destination.
So we drove through Eden park and stopped at the overlook. There we saw the majestic riverboats as they paraded along the Ohio. It’s quite a view from up on that hillside overlooking Kentucky. There were also quite a few people around me too. For some reason people were approaching me and asking questions like, if I come here often, or do I know how to find a certain trail. I’m not used to being that sociable so Gail and I got back in the car and drove around checking out the many amazing examples of Victorian architecture in the neighborhood.
Eventually I felt like it was time to head back. I still hadn’t found a working DC fast charger, so I pulled over and used my phone to search the area for one. Eventually I found one. It was 20 miles away in a Walmart parking lot. Not exactly “on the way” but not entirely out of the way either.
When I got to the location, I had 23 miles left on the “Guessometer”, and naturally there were a bunch of gasoline powered cars parked in front of the DC fast charger. It was totally ICE’d. Another Leaf owner drove by with an angry look of disgust, but to be fair, the entire Walmart parking lot was packed, and this charger was placed in a rather prime parking location with minimal signage. The paint on the asphalt had all but washed away too. I could understand how someone would pull in there and not think there was anything special about that space.
But I needed that charger. With only 23 miles of range left, and nothing else close by, I parked near that space, and waited. It wasn’t long before the Walmart shoppers came back to their car and pulled out of the space. I quickly pulled in. I plugged in my car and accessed the app on my cell phone. The charger came to life.
As this was my first time using a DC fast charger, I was surprised by how noisy it was. You could hear a rather loud fan motor running under the unit as if it were an electric leaf blower. The most concerning aspect was the occasional whiff of a fan belt getting way too hot. Perhaps this is why the working status of fast chargers seems less reliable than a McDonald’s ice cream machine.
Still I waited patiently as the battery was charging. It actually went really quickly, starting at 23% and ending 16 minutes later at 85%. For a mere $4.80, I gained almost 16 Kilowatt hours or about 60 miles of range. Not bad. That was more than enough to get home, and the price is comparable to what you would pay if you were driving on gasoline.
It was a warm day with temperatures in the 80’s. As I left the Walmart parking lot I was a bit startled by the fact that my battery pack temperature indicator had risen from 6 to 8 bars. I heard that these fast chargers generated a lot of battery heat, but seeing my battery that hot was momentarily alarming. It doesn’t red line until 11 bars, so it could probably have stood a second fast charge that day. The car drove fine, and I set in a course to my dad’s house. 20 miles and 30 minutes later we pulled into his driveway with more than enough left over for me to get home.
Of course the rest of the day was the usual visit with Dad. Gail got in plenty of exercise and we had a nice supper. I took a nap on his couch and drove home. All in all a pretty good day.
And Now For The Math
The trip odometer indicated that I had driven 140 miles and I still had 30% charge when I got home. Including the $1.40 worth of electric from my own home meter, it looks like the trip cost me around $6.75. With gas being around $3/gallon in most places, that would buy me 2.25 gallons of gas, which calculates to about 62 miles per gallon cost equivalent. When you do the math, it always comes out significantly cheaper to drive my Leaf than to drive my GMC.
Please keep in mind, the Nissan Leaf was intended as a short range commuter car. Long range EV’s such as the Tesla Model 3 or the Chevy Bolt EV wouldn’t even blink at driving 140 miles on a single charge. They also have active battery thermal management that can handle repeated fast charging as well. When you consider the battery capacity, the heat issue and a general lack of charging infrastructure, taking a Leaf on a road trip is kinda dumb, but I’d still do it again.
So thanks to TOR, and reddit for the jokes this week. Next week is another week of reddit jokes, but if you want to get a few jokes in for August, please jump on over to the submission page, and copy/paste or type in a joke or ten. I should have a comic ready for the 24th, so stay tuned!