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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here is one for @Grumpy-b @donald and other EV guru's whose names escape me for the moment to muse over....

I got home after driving in sub zero blizzard conditions and after doing a successful rapid charge earlier in the journey only to discover that my Ion was refusing to Level 2 charge on my Rolec charge point. (n)

I would plug it in, the red charge light would flash but then the generic warning light (yellow car with an exclamation point through it) would come on and after a few seconds it would abort with the Rolec opening it's contactor. It was doing it every time I tried.

The only other charge problems I've had at home with this car in the year I've had it was a problem with the gear lever not sitting quite right in the park position due to the cable needing lubricating, but it wasn't that as that was causing the fault light to stay on all the time.

First thought was ice in either the plug or socket (as it's -3C and blizzard like conditions with icicles hanging from the cars bumper...) which has been reported on here before but they looked OK. I grabbed the granny charger and tried that - same problem. At least the Rolec is eliminated as a culprit...

With no real leads to go on, heavy snow still falling and me wanting to get inside for the evening I grabbed my Diagbox laptop and scanned for fault codes, and was presented with this, which I confirmed came back after clearing and attempting to charge again:

Charge error.png


AHA! I rushed upstairs and grabbed a 3 pin voltage monitor and plugged it in on an unloaded circuit to monitor the house mains voltage - 248v. Technically still within spec but that is pretty high, normally it's pretty consistently around 242-244 volts here and I don't think I've ever seen it go above 244 volts before.

I tried turning the electric shower on which pulled it down to 243 volts - success! The car now charges. Phew! :eek: I decided to experiment a bit further with different sized loads to find out where the threshold was that the car refused to start charging.

A toaster's load dropping the mains to 247 volts was not quite enough to help but a 3.6kW kettle was enough to pull the house voltage down to 246 volts and successfully start a charge. So 246 volts or less it is happy, 247 volts or more it will refuse to start charging.

Once started I was able to turn the kettle off and it still continued to charge, however because the load of the car itself charging was 3.6kW and able to hold the voltage down to (just!) within its acceptable voltage range, I don't know whether the voltage test is done once at the beginning of charging, or whether the voltage rising to 247 volts would abort a charge that has already been in progress for a while...

If the latter that is very concerning when you might come out in the morning to find the car stopped charging due to a night time voltage peak! (n)

I'm very surprised by this after a year of flawless charging (apart from the gear lever park position issue) but I guess in that whole year the voltage has never strayed that high.

Everyone is home from work since yesterday due to the red snow alert so if I had to guess I would say that there is a heavy load on the circuit in my street that has resulted in the DNO bumping the local step down transformer up to the next tap to avoid voltage sag, with the result that when the load is light the voltage is higher than it's ever been before the current crazy weather conditions.

The question is - why can the car not charge at or above 247 volts when the mains voltage in the UK is allowed to go as high as 252 volts ? That seems to be a pretty serious shortcoming if you ask me! Was the car properly tested for type approval in the UK ?!

Are there any other EV's that suffer from being unable to start a Level 2 charge because the mains voltage is on the high side but still within acceptable UK limits ? :confused:

Could this be an explanation for some of the inexplicable failures to start charging on public charge points that some people have reported ? Who knows what the mains voltage is at some of the commercial locations where charge points are located...!

Edit: It occurs to me that this thread might be of more general interest if other EV's are likewise affected so if a mod wants to move it to the general charging discussion area of the forum please feel free to do so.
 

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Tonight perhaps an alnighter drinking tea and having showers just to make sure :)
That is pretty weird behaviour by the car, we never had any issues in 2 1/2 years with the ion. Hopefully a one off.
 

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The Twizy also cannot cope with Voltages 248V and over. In fact it can even discharge is left.
The charges are not designed for the UK even though they should legally be able to cope.
 

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The UK is normally very close to 230v but I fear that with the current huge demand that the voltage has been upped to maintain the frequency under heavy loads.
I have never seen my local supply go over 240v (not that i check it that often) I might have a look later on.
It is s trange issue but not a totally surprising one, and one Im sure will go away as the huge demand for power drops in the next few days, as hopefully the snow moves off and the temps rise.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't know whether the voltage test is done once at the beginning of charging, or whether the voltage rising to 247 volts would abort a charge that has already been in progress for a while...

If the latter that is very concerning when you might come out in the morning to find the car stopped charging due to a night time voltage peak! (n)
I think I have the answer to my own question - I noticed from my loop monitor that the car appeared to have stopped charging sooner than I thought it should have.

I went out and checked and sure enough it had stopped charging at 15 out of 16 bars. :( (which it has never done before) Mains voltage was 247 volts again. I disconnected it and plugged it back in again and it is charging, mains at 246 volts, but for how long...

So yes, apparently if the voltage gets "too high" during charging it will abort the charging process. This is very bad news indeed because now I can never completely trust the car to be fully charged in the mornings, at least unless mains voltages come back down to "normal" levels again. (n)

The problem is the voltage is still within the UK tolerances so the power company aren't going to be interested in any complaint I might have, and I can't see Peugeot doing anything either. So if voltages don't come back down I am kinda screwed as I can't ensure that the car will charge to 100% without constant nannying.:(
 

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Its worth raising it with UKPN (if you are in their area) as issues like this can cause problems with other kit. It may evn be some sort of localfault. Worth checking what the normal voltage is though when normal service resumes.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Our DNO is SP energy networks, who cover central Scotland.

My worry is that the voltage is still within the normal acceptable range, it's the car that is being overly fussy, so they may not be interested in doing anything about 247 volts. Will keep an eye on the voltage over the next few and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just checked at 11:30 tonight and the voltage is down to 234 volts from the 248 volts earlier today! That seems like an unusually wide variation in one day ?

I must keep a closer watch on this across the day the next few days.
 

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You've flagged me on this thread, and glad you did so as it is an interesting read.

All I have to say about it is that you've done an excellent job researching the causes and taking notes of the issues, you seem to have the answer well-proven already!

If you want to take this further now, then you need to discuss this with your supplier and Peugeot, though I don't think you will get very far.

Certainly it is 'unfit for purpose' if it cannot charge on legally supplied mains. Looks like you will need to keep your 2kW fan heater nearby and be ready to make use of it every so often to pull your voltage down.

The only other thing that springs to mind is (contrary to all good advice, but this is 'adversity') get yourself a long extension lead and use that with your granny. This will drop the voltage nicely! Still, you will need to monitor it and make sure it doesn't get too hot at the plugs, because you're basically using it as a big resistor!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
This morning I've checked the voltage a few times and it has been between 234v and 237v so I'm hoping it was a freak occurrence due to extreme weather causing them difficulty in balancing the load.

I noticed on Gridwatch both last night and today that the grid frequency is consistently on the high side instead of fluctuating either side of 50Hz as it should which suggests that they are deliberately over generating. The coal plants have also seemingly been running at full power since at least yesterday which is also unusual, but possibly because they're trying to save gas due to a potential "gas shortage" that was reported yesterday... (CCGT output is a lot lower than usual)

So I think the national grid control room are having a difficult time the last few days and one side effect is less closely controlled voltage!

I think you're right - although the car is at fault for rejecting valid UK voltage I think I'd be between a rock and a hard place with the DNO and Peugeot, I doubt either one would do anything, especially when the car isn't even made by Peugeot - their ability to do anything about a design problem is probably nill.

I'll have a quick check on Diagbox later to see if there are any region configuration options for the OBC although I don't recall having seen anything of interest when I've poked around before.

The problem with the long extension lead suggestion is that there is no voltage drop before the car starts drawing power - so the initial voltage is still too high for it to start charging, it would only help once it was already charging.

Also the Ion has a charging characteristic where if you start charging from a low percentage - about 25% or less, it charges for a while, then "pauses" for up to 20 minutes where the charge point is still active but power draw drops to about 20 watts before resuming. (I'm guessing it is doing some sort of cell balancing) When this happened the voltage drop across the extension would go away again and the rise in mains voltage would trigger it to cut out again. So not a workable solution.

Maybe I need to carry a large Variac in the car ? :ROFLMAO:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Typically, just after I posted this there has been a sudden drop in the reported grid frequency - and quite a large one. It was on about 50.04Hz before I wrote this post, it is now at 49.892Hz - the lowest I think I've ever seen it! Not sure how frequently gridwatch updates though, but I think it is something like half hourly or hourly.

I think both voltage and frequency are going to fluctuate more than normal for as long as this severe weather and "gas shortage" lasts...
 

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AFAIK the grid is still bound to generate an "average" of 50Hz. So if it's been high for a while then it has to be low for a while to compensate.
 

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Gas shortage has been cancelled!

How does the 12v battery voltage variation affect this? If it is using the 12v as a reference point then if that's below a certain level then it might be deciding the mains voltage is too high but in actual fact it's the reference that is too low.

Tolerance is supposedly 230v + 10% and -6% so if measured voltage is within that then it's the car being intolerant not the supply being a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
AFAIK the grid is still bound to generate an "average" of 50Hz. So if it's been high for a while then it has to be low for a while to compensate.
Yep, which is why I was surprised it was consistently on the high side all of yesterday and until this morning. Definitely an unusual situation with Coal on full power, CCGT so low and high demands.

What better endorsement for having large scale rapid response grid storage to help balance out fluctuations ? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Gas shortage has been cancelled!
I don't know how the supply and demand works for the UK gas supply, was it ever really a true shortage or was it just a "if it keeps up like this we'll have to phone the Russians and pay a lot more for extra gas" ? :p
How does the 12v battery voltage variation affect this? If it is using the 12v as a reference point then if that's below a certain level then it might be deciding the mains voltage is too high but in actual fact it's the reference that is too low.
If the 12v battery voltage could affect the sensitivity threshold for mains voltage it would be a very very poor and shoddy design indeed. I'd rate that as exceptionally unlikely. The electronics that measure the mains voltage are going to themselves be run from regulated supply rails. It's not rocket science.
Tolerance is supposedly 230v + 10% and -6% so if measured voltage is within that then it's the car being intolerant not the supply being a problem.
Yes the car design is at fault as far as I can see. It's probably made with the EU market and their lower average voltage supply in mind and nobody gave it a second thought when the car was brought into the UK. The "harmonised" voltage standard between the EU and UK is just a paper work of fiction and tolerance fudging, nothing really changed, and on average EU voltages will be about 10 volts lower so extremely unlikely to trigger this issue.

Most 230 volt appliances will work with a higher than normal voltage - just with a higher risk of blowing up or wearing out faster (especially bulbs) however an EV is one of the few things that will do critical checks on the voltage and refuse to operate if the voltage is outside its "acceptable" bounds. (n)

Now I think back I remember someone who was reporting their Ion/C-Zero kept stopping charging randomly or rarely managed to charge all the way to 100% without stopping prematurely - in hindsight I'd say there is a good chance their mains voltage was too high! (Potentially too low could cause the same issue, although unlikely to happen with our higher than EU average voltages)

It could also explain some charge failures at public charging points. If only there was an easy way to measure the voltage at public Type 2 charge points... Hmmm....
 

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One option is to have what they sell as Voltage Optimisers that are supposed to save money by lowering the incoming grid voltage.

Never understood how that save money as the wattage something users is fixed and lowering the voltage just ups the current.

Might be an advantage to people with Solar panels as it will ensure the invertor doesn't stop due to high voltage on the out going side.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Also thinking aloud here - is there any regulating body that should be made aware of the inability of certain models of EV to charge from voltages that are still within the UK's prescribed limits ?

Is any testing of the ability of an EV to charge reliably across the full range of mains voltages provided in the UK made at the time an EV is submitted for type approval for sale in the UK ?

For the Ion I'll give it the benefit of the doubt - it would have originally been submitted for approval in 2009 which is a while ago now and around the time the voltage harmonisation work was in progress.

However are all new EV's sold today tested to ensure that they can charge reliably on any UK socket/charge point that is within the current prescribed voltage limits ? I'd place a wager that this testing has in fact not been done, or is not part of the type approval process in practice.

If so this is something that needs addressing because the last thing we need with mass deployment of EV's is "random" charging failures either at home or on the public charging network that are due to voltages near the UK's maximum tolerance limit which the car cannot handle.

Any avoidable source of charging failures, especially ones that are seemingly random from the owners perspective need to be nipped in the bud before they become a bigger issue.
 

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Is any testing of the ability of an EV to charge reliably across the full range of mains voltages provided in the UK made at the time an EV is submitted for type approval for sale in the UK ?
Definitely not in 2009 when it was originally homologated. IIRC there weren't actually any EV-specific requirements when it came in.

It would only fall within contractual 'fit for purpose' questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
One option is to have what they sell as Voltage Optimisers that are supposed to save money by lowering the incoming grid voltage.
You mean like one of these ? ;)


The theory of what they do is sound in principle, but the implementation leaves something to be desired, to the point where they are more or less a scam and don't do what is promised, and are also woefully made and underrated to the point of being dangerous. Watch the tear down video above and be prepared to be horrified. :confused:
Never understood how that save money as the wattage something users is fixed and lowering the voltage just ups the current.
That actually depends entirely on the nature of the load. For large passive loads this is not the case. Incandescent light bulbs, electric showers, electric heaters and heating elements of all kinds, oven etc, will all use less instantaneous power if you drop the supply voltage.

Anything with a thermostat will however stay on longer on average to compensate - if an oven is trying to stay at 200C and the heat output of the element is reduced by the lower voltage the element will need to have a greater on-time duty cycle to maintain the same temperature - so average power consumption will be the same.

Likewise a fridge compressor would draw less power while running but would have to run with a greater duty cycle to keep your food cold - so no gain there either.

A kettle would draw less power but would take correspondingly longer to boil the water so use about the same kWh.

Even a toaster would have the same issue - the elements would draw less power and wouldn't get as hot, but the toasting time would have to be increased to get the same degree of crispiness of your bread! :D

Anything using a switch mode power supply will as you suggest automatically draw more current to compensate for the lower voltage as the electronics it is running will still see a regulated voltage from the output of the power supply and draw the exact same amount of current/power, which will have to be provided by increased duty cycle of the switcher and thus increased current draw at the mains.

So among household devices the only things I can think of which would have a genuine reduction in the kWh that they use are incandescent bulbs and electric showers. So all in all not worth it, unless your mains voltage was abnormally high and devices were being damaged because of it.

In short these devices as sold are scams.
 

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Gas shortage has been cancelled!

How does the 12v battery voltage variation affect this? If it is using the 12v as a reference point
:LOL::ROFLMAO:

I'm not laughing at you, just the idea that a battery could be ever used as a voltage reference point.

In mass produced electronics, which EVs fall into, voltages are typically determined by voltage drops across semi-conductor diodes, which can be designed to be very precise and stable within set conditions.
 
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