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Zoe plus Fluence
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We charge at home mostly. We've slow-charged our Fluence for almost three years and it's worked fine, I don't think we ever needed to top up anywhere else than at home.

So, when the Zoe arrived we charged both from the same power supply, opting to have the Zoe on at 3kw rather than the 7kw supply offered. With electric showers, electric heat-pump central heating, and washers, dryers, and cookers all on together, we were beginning to worry about blowing the incoming fuse one Christmas morning if the cars decided to take 7kw plus 3kw.

So the Zoe has been toned down. It seems not to mind, and it makes no difference to us. I cannot imagine any situation where we needed to refill an empty battery in three hours rather than seven, since in either case it would be done overnight, and we sleep a lot.

But we've now charged away from home about a dozen times in the six weeks that we've had Zoe, one of the last of the cheapie deals.

It's been almost fault free.

On the motor ways the Ecotricity pumps have been excellent. I understand they were being clogged by those horrid hybrids, so a payment was used to frighten them off. It's a tad expensive for the electricity, but it's cheap for the facility which involves equipment that must cost tens of thousands to install. And we get reserved parking. And everything is expensive at motorway services, and pretty cruddy.

I'm really glad that it's been reliably and available, because hunting about for a working pump is pretty vexing, to say the least. So, full marks to Ecotricity.

Off the motor ways we have used Polar chargers at ADSA stores and in NCP car parks. These are slower, but end up costing the same for the electricity and you have to pay for the NCP parking on top, something that you might escape if there is free parking elsewhere.

With Polar there are problems. It takes ages for the app to connect, and apps are now the method preferred. In a concrete carpark the mobile phone signal is limited, but it appears to be more of a problem with the Polar systems than with the signal. I've often had three attempts fail. In one case I phoned the company and they've also been unable to switch on the supply so I've had to go to another carpark.

Only at one Polar pump did it connect in under a minute, and I was so surprised that I didn't have the cable ready. But that was probably to the good, in one ADSA I jumped the gun and plugged in early only for the pump to complain and start flashing red.

It can be done, Polar, so get the back office system spruced up!!

As for charging, when it's all switched on, the electricity flows and we get what we ask for. It's the switching that causes the problems.

Which takes me to the switching off.

For good safety reasons, you can't just pull the plug out and put away the cable. It's locked into the car socket, and into the pump. You can probably get the car to release the cable from the key fob or the button on the dash, so on a tied Ecotricity cable, that's all you need to do.

But polar are again the poor relation. You need to use your own cable in any case, so that's a extra job. But to get your cable released by the pump you have to again make contact with the company via the app on your phone or tablet. Same problem, connection and speed.

Yes, it's quicker than the start up, but it's not instant either, so you have a pregnant pause waiting to see whether you or your cable will stay here indefinitely. Cables are not cheap, so abandoning one miles from home is not to be welcomed.

So it all hangs on having a smart phone with you, and ensuring a decent signal strength in a place you may never have visited before. And a good phone battery at the end of the process in order to disconnect the car.

This is the point of early-adopters, we test out the systems and give feedback. So, Polar, I hope you are listening.


On the bright side, it's still feeling very special to be plugging in. People come and chat. We get parking spaces near to the entrance to the store, services, or parking garage. And the spaces are reserved for us, so there is no hunting around. Sure there are Audi drivers pretending to have plugged in so they can get a good space, but it's mostly good. And the spaces are wide too.

And the apps are good at keeping us informed about charge progress. It's not such a rush either, we don't feel the need to get back on the road as quickly as possible, it's not dead time, we're charging!! And no smelly and slippery petrol station to suffer either. Once we've got going, we keep going.

Plus the car: smooth, quiet, relaxing, swift, and cheap. But you don't need telling.
 

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MG EZS 2020
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3,955 Posts
Which Zoe do you have, a Q or an R? What level of percentage charge did you get on an EcoT pump in your 30 minutes and how many kWh's?
 

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Zoe plus Fluence
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Which Zoe do you have, a Q or an R? What level of percentage charge did you get on an EcoT pump in your 30 minutes and how many kWh's?
  • Mine charges at 22kw peak
  • Each Ecotricity pump ran for 33 minutes and gave 10.5 to 11.5kWh, more when the battery was warm.
  • On that run we were recording 4.8 miles per kWh, so we added 50 or 60 miles to our range for each charge.
For the 185 mile run to Nottingham we could have coped with two stops amounting to 84 miles at the start plus 50 miles and another 60 miles. It was feeling more confident by then so the range meter said we'd have 11 miles left at our destination.

In fact it was lunchtime and we were ahead of schedule so we stopped in Donnington for a sandwich, and a third Ecotricity charge. We arrived with 80 miles range remaining, almost as much as we had started with.

We usually stopped at 40% battery remaining and the charge took us to 90%

I've never taken less than four hours for that trip sitting alone with a three litre SAAB engine buzzing away up front, and without stopping. I've taken more than eight hours on occasion when road congestion and an interesting restaurant have provided delays.

The Zoe trip took six hours, and was more relaxing than most, so we didn't need a nap when we got there.

On the return we travelled down the M50, notorious for having no useful chargers. In fact we managed a long run from the M42 to the M4 without any problems, and felt pretty fresh afterwards, surprising considering the Zoe is a city runabout.
 

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Glad you enjoyed your journey. You seem far more relaxed than I do about the fact that if you had done the journey in a Leaf, i3 and others, you would have paid half the price for that journey. Being a 22 kWh charging car, we can only charge at half the rate that others do and so pay twice as much charging away from home for the mileage we do. Hopefully EH will recognise the dis-service they are doing to Zoes by trying to keep the PHEVs off the chargers. Still there is always a silver lining: as you said the chargers were clear of other users and so the wait to charge has gone.

PS you have a Zoe R240 like I do. The one that doesn't rapid charge.
 

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Zoe plus Fluence
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Glad you enjoyed your journey. You seem far more relaxed than I do about the fact that if you had done the journey in a Leaf, i3 and others, you would have paid half the price for that journey. Being a 22 kWh charging car, we can only charge at half the rate that others do and so pay twice as much charging away from home for the mileage we do. Hopefully EH will recognise the dis-service they are doing to Zoes by trying to keep the PHEVs off the chargers. Still there is always a silver lining: as you said the chargers were clear of other users and so the wait to charge has gone.

PS you have a Zoe R240 like I do. The one that doesn't rapid charge.
Yes, you are right, I'm relaxed. Perhaps I have more important things to worry about than whether I'll complete my journey at 60mph or a more fuel-effective 25mph. I think that I worry a great deal about too much, but two separate groups of chums see me as the most chilled-out person they know!! Bizarre. Shakespeare had a quote about that.

Anyway, it's my hobby, I enjoy the novelty of electric cars. I've drive ten or twelve different types from the absurdly crude Wiz to the absurdly over complicated Panamera Hybrid. I've even drive the Roadster, and few Tesla people I meet have seen that one. I've also have numerous electric scooters over the last twenty years, and I've tested an electric boat on the Thames. I'm the electric equivalent of a petrol-head, although I admit to having a Bentley too.

I know we are at a staging post where only the early-adopters should be playing, and that's what I'm doing, just as I did with computers at home in 1978, and mobile phones thirty years ago. The avalanche is yet to come, and the 2017 Zoe will be welcome, but the extra range will make it all to easy to go cross country, and take away some of the fun I'm having right now.

I'm hoping that the mental calculations for distance and battery that I do at the wheel will stall brain fade later in life. I was out this week in the Fluence for two trips that each left me with 10 miles range remaining. In both cases the battery was still at 25% when I plugged in, so the dash range gauge was being too conservative. I was pretty safe. In three years, I've never had to call the tow truck. But I enjoyed the brinkmanship, and the calculations I was making.

As for the cost of Ecotricity charges, it's not as bad as you think for the R240 With the 22kw charger in our Zoe, we can put in 10 to 11 kWh in our allotted 30 minute charge. Going from 40% battery capacity to 90% is not going to be improved by charging at twice the rate since there isn't much spare space to squeeze in any more juice. You'll do it quicker, but I'm finding already that the thirty minute stop is only just long enough for a small coffee and cake!!

I don't like to go much below 40% on the motor ways because there might be a non-available pump meaning that I'd need to move on to the next set of services. So we keep some electrons is reserve. Unlike in France where they have more frequent service stations, in British conditions we need to keep 25 miles range in reserve in case we need to move on to the next pump.

We haven't needed that, but we did find a dud charger in Bristol last Friday and had to move on. In cities it's not a problem, we had something like 15 alternative chargers within 3 miles so it was no problem to be down at 10 miles of remaining range. But on a motorway we need more.

Yes my calculating brain is enjoying this period of hyper activity. But then, with the new Zoe, we will simply extend the journeys and end up in the middle of Sweden wondering how to plug in.


When the new Zoe arrives I will be getting the big battery and the fastest charger. This will have a 10% shorter range but by taking more juice from the Ecotricity pump we will be able to cover more distance. If I still leave 25 miles in the battery when we stop, I can then charge at the full 40 odd kW rate and put in 22 kWh for each 30 minute stop. That takes the battery from 6 kWh to, say, 28, enough for an extra 100 miles, easily. After that, its time for the driver to take a break, so we'll also plug in.

Do you notice, I'm already enjoying the calculation process and I've not even seen the new Zoe, let alone got one!!!
 

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Co-author of CanZE. Q210 nov 2013
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4,398 Posts
There are chargers that throttle back your car's intake if the combined house + charger approaches the maximum. So if you really want, you can still do 7kW if you want.
 

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Zoe plus Fluence
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
There are chargers that throttle back your car's intake if the combined house + charger approaches the maximum. So if you really want, you can still do 7kW if you want.

That might be useful. I had a long gossip with the electricity meter reader this week and he confirmed we had an 80amp fuse in the meter cupboard. If my mental arithmetic is close, that comes to 18.4 kW total.

That might once have sounded huge, but not today. I'm not likely to want to lay a new cable up the drive or get a three phase supply, so I'll have to live with it.

Take Christmas morning. We may have the oven, kettle, toaster and two 7.5 kW showers running. That means we can't charge the two electric cars or run the 20amp heat pump.

So, five years ago we burned oil in the cars and electricity in the central heating system. Now we are heating the house using oil, and driving using electricity.

Not the step change I was hoping for!
 

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Co-author of CanZE. Q210 nov 2013
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4,398 Posts
Not wanting to sound like a prick, but in your situation it really is useful. Said chargepoint controller monitors the total power intake, either from a smart (spy) meter, or a current-coil to be installed in the mains line, and throttles the car charger when things get out of hand. For your situation, when i.e. the house's heat pump stops or the kettle is hot, the car will get it's full share again, so all in all, it will charge up much quicker than a slow and somewhat less efficient 3.x kW.
 

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Zoe Q210 Dynamique Intens, Kia Niro PHEV
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1,414 Posts
We had a 60A fuse (in a bacolite 60/80A holder) when we had the 7kw charger installed. As we have an electric double oven we unplugged the car when cooking to save any risk.
The local electric network company (not who we pay our bills to) upgraded us free of charge to a 100A input fuse free of charge, so contacting them may be an idea.
 
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