26 November 2009

Rain strategies and charger sharing

I have had three visits now from other Mini E drivers stopping by to charge up, two of the three were traveling for business. I expect to start calling around to charge at other locations soon. Thanks again for the charger sharing site, whoever did that.

Since the heavy rain last week and drizzle since, I have been having a little trouble getting the Mini E to start charging at 240 volts again. For quite a while while it was dry I had no trouble. But whenever it refuses by blinking a few times and then stopping, I can always get it to charge from the 120 volt cord right away. After a few minutes of that (when I assume the damp connectors are drying out) it will continue charging when I switch back to 240 volts. So for me this continues to be little more than an annoyance, althogh I know other driver are quite frustrated by the same or worse troubles.

Mini, have you figured out which cable is causing the problem yet? Hmmm? Is engineering working on this? I might have to get out my hair dryer and figure it out for you soon.

A word about the windows fogging up in the rain when using the recirculate button to keep the car warmer: One big advantage of preheating the car with "shore power" and a small 900 watt car heater is that it really dries out the car. It also takes a lot less battery power to maintain warmth in the car than it does to heat it up from cold, so there is little range impact.

But when the windows eventually fog up as the car cools down, I have good luck simply using the fan on lowest setting with no heat and the air directed to the windshield. It has been raining for days in NJ and PA, and still I can complete my one hour and 40 minute drive to work without using the heater at all,and keeping the front and side windows clear by only using the fan about 20% of the time or less. The rear defogger is another matter, I am finally starting to use that. I need to measure the rear defogger power consumption one of these days...


  1. Trouble is, these things you're prepared to do like toggle the fan, heat the car at home, are things that most car owners simply would never do.
    Somehow, they need to get the range about triple what it is now, so there's enough power for a reasonable trip, and energy to keep the car comfortable as well!

  2. Most people would never want to try any prototype or beta release of anything. That's fine, but if everyone was like that, we would still live in caves.

    And then there are engineers.

    By the way, all "production intent" electric car designs that I have heard of include built in preheating of the cabin from "shore power" via timer. And the other minor issues will likely be fixed before the trial is over.

    There is more than enough range for 90% of all "reasonable trips", and we have piston cars for those cross country trips that we take a few times a year. But we really dislike the stinky old gas cars now, we are "spoiled" by the electric.

    I don't feel these minor and temporary inconveniences are anything compared to the burden on our service people in the oil fields of the middle east. I don't like giving money to people who hate us by buying petroleum form them. But it is a free country. your choices depend on your time of life, and many other things.

    Economics 101 says that alternatives to a commodity will drive prices down and stabilize markets. I have used the alternatives of biodiesel and now electricity, and I find it to be fun. Electricity is more comfortable than combustion on many levels:

    1) I never waste time at a fuel station
    2) My long commute is much quieter and less stressful
    3) The lack of carcinogenic fumes is relaxing, as new research supports
    4) Moral reasons as mentioned above.
    5) And oh yea, probably better environmental potential in the long run.

    For me it is a very easy choice. You can account for your choices as you like.