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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all, I've just bought a BMW i3 120 version. It'll be our first EV.

I've done a fair bit of research but I have a few questions around the car itself, general EV etiquette and charging that I couldn't find answers to when Googling. I'm hoping you can help.

Charging

- I have read that the i3 has a max charging input of 11kW - does this mean if I use a Rapid (?) 50kW charger I will only be able to charge at 11kW?

- What's the maximum time you're allowed to park in a charging bay? Does this differ from an on-street charging spot to a service station one?

- Where we live (Wandsworth Borough), can we use the Source London bays and just leave the car there without incurring a parking charge?

- When looking at a home charger, I think a 32A 7kW option looks best. Is there a 'best' charger for the i3 or are they all much of a muchness? Is there an advantage to the BMW one in terms of the car's warranty, etc?

- Would you buy a used wall charger (from eBay) and get your local electrician to fit it or a new charger with a grant? Both work out at roughly the same price.

- Say we charged up at a friend's house for a few hours - how would I work out how much of their electricity I've used up?


Charging Apps

- I have downloaded Zap-Map and can see some 'Free' charging spots but there must be a catch. Are these always full or broken? Why would anyone allow you to fill up for free?

- Zap-Map shows charging stations that always seem to have 'just' become available, the message says 'Source London - Available 2 minutes ago". Does this mean it last checked 2 minutes ago or someone just unplugged 2 minutes ago?

- We'll do a majority of our charging at home - is it worth getting a charging app/subscription or do you tend to use PAYG. I can't figure out how expensive they are compared to home costs. I think around 2 - 3x, does this sound right?

- I am pretty sure BP's Chargemaster says you pay a monthly sub and then you can charge as much as you like for free - is this right or does this only apply to a super slow charger?


i3 Specific

- The car has 2 years left on the warranty - is it sensible to extend this when it runs out?

- Anything I should change in the settings for this model?

- Are there any must-have accessories?

- Are there any tips / settings to maximise battery life?

- Should we drain the battery as much as possible before charging or are regular top-ups from 80%+ fine?

- Can I see the kwh/mile historical data somewhere on the dash? Can this be setup for 2 people (so I can compare my usage to the wife's)?

Thanks in advance for your time.
 

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Crickey that's a lot of questions. Most of which I cant help with as despite having run an i3 for 18 months I've not tried to (or needed) most of the things you ask.

If you are going to mostly charge at home, then yes useful to get a 7kW charger (although I haven't bothered yet as the granny is fine for our usage - about 6k miles/annum on mostly shortish trips). Its good for us as we have ecomony 7 and we very rarely need charging outside of the cheap 7 hour window. So that's something just over 10p/kWhr or about 3p/mile. Lots of the commercial chargers are expensive in comparison (10x?) - I've seen 20p and 35p per unit with minimum charges. I've currently got a subscription to Polar so their points are either free or 9p/unit to me - plus the subscription which I wont renew because I've only used it a handful of times.

Any 7kW charger will do. If I get one I'll probably get a Zappi because I want to set a total current draw limit and they've got the smarts for that but if yours is a simple installation (ie no linking photovoltaics, batteries, etc) any basic charger will be fine. Current charger installation costs are daft as they're simply inflated by the value of the grant. Prices will get better once the grants disappear - just as they did with PVs on the roof.

Friend's leccy - assuming you're using the standard granny that comes with the car. You need to know what they pay per unit for the time of day you're using it. The car will take <2.5 kWhr/per hour - so hours x rate x 2.5 would be generous - even at peak times its can seem trivial when thought of in terms of car fuel or buying a mate a pint, but can seem a bit of a spike on an otherwise lowish leccy bill.

Don't know much about the apps but probably not worth getting a subscription until you need to do some longer journeys and can see from your recharge planning which would be the most useful.

Warranty is just about your appetite for risk. There's not really that much to go wrong on a BEV (different for the Rexs). A warranty will deffo cost you a grand but may save you more. No warranty costs you nothing so you can look at the first £1k as free... or reckless. We've got 18 months to go with ours, but if it continues to perform as it has, and I get no better knowledge when it goes for its (first and only) service in June...then I wont be extending my warranty.

There's lots written about battery life. I don't think you need to worry. We just use ours like any other car - in comfort mode (which is fastest). We know we loose range if we go fast, so moderate if we need to go further, but generally just use it as we want and recharge overnight if its fallen below 80%. Early days, but there's been no range reduction thus far.

You can set different features for each driver if you want - my wife and I have a couple of differences from each other on the screens. We each have our "own" key. Haven't bothered to look at the data at all so no idea if it will track us as different drivers.

HTH
 

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You should get a home 7kW charger. We have the ChargeMaster but there are lots to choose from. With the charger you can pre-condition the car and set departure time. You can also set charging time to take advantage of tariffs such as Octopus Go (5p per kWhr).

In the car menu make sure that the charging currents are set to maximum.

Use EcoPro all the time when driving to maximise range. You won’t notice any performance difference and it reduces auxiliary power such as heating but not to a noticeable extent.

Don't worry about when to charge. The i3 battery life is substantial and 6k miles a year will hardly make a difference to battery life unless you keep the car for 50 years.

The i3 has a double CCS charging socket. The high power chargers (50kW) uses dc whereas the ac charging is limited to 11kW. At a public CCS charging point the plug fits the double socket and will provide either ac or dc depending on the facility. If planning a long journey search with Zap-Map and find a charging location. You may need to load an app to use it.
 

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Hi all, I've just bought a BMW i3 120 version. It'll be our first EV.

I've done a fair bit of research but I have a few questions around the car itself, general EV etiquette and charging that I couldn't find answers to when Googling. I'm hoping you can help.

Charging

- I have read that the i3 has a max charging input of 11kW - does this mean if I use a Rapid (?) 50kW charger I will only be able to charge at 11kW?
A/C charging at home the maximum you will get is 7kW, on a public A/C charger rated at 11kW or higher you will get 11kW, on a DC charger you will get up to 50kW. In all cases the charge rate drops as the battery gets full so these are maximums. For public rapid charging make sure you are using a DC charger with the connector that uses the bottom two pins: if it doesn't use those two lower pins it is A/C and will only give a slowish charge. Don't use the A/C connector on a rapid charger except in an emergency.
- What's the maximum time you're allowed to park in a charging bay? Does this differ from an on-street charging spot to a service station one?
Read the signs, it varies. With slow chargers you can usually plug in as long as you want but not always. With rapid chargers just stay as long as you need to get to your next charger or destination. Do not attempt to get a full charge on a rapid charger, it will get very slow to the end and you're just wasting time and money.
- Where we live (Wandsworth Borough), can we use the Source London bays and just leave the car there without incurring a parking charge?
No idea.
- When looking at a home charger, I think a 32A 7kW option looks best. Is there a 'best' charger for the i3 or are they all much of a muchness? Is there an advantage to the BMW one in terms of the car's warranty, etc?
Doesn't matter for warranty. Rolec has a poor reputation, zappi has a good rep. Otherwise get whatever you like.
- Would you buy a used wall charger (from eBay) and get your local electrician to fit it or a new charger with a grant? Both work out at roughly the same price.
Probably not. If you can get the grant you might as well get a new one. eBay 2nd hand chargers might be a bit dodgy.
- Say we charged up at a friend's house for a few hours - how would I work out how much of their electricity I've used up?
Rough guesstimate, if you use the 10amp brick to charge that's 2.4kW so multiply hours x unitprice x 2.4 and round up a bit.
Charging Apps

- I have downloaded Zap-Map and can see some 'Free' charging spots but there must be a catch. Are these always full or broken? Why would anyone allow you to fill up for free?
Free probably means somewhere you can go and buy food and drink or do some shopping. No catch, may or may not be busy or broken.
- Zap-Map shows charging stations that always seem to have 'just' become available, the message says 'Source London - Available 2 minutes ago". Does this mean it last checked 2 minutes ago or someone just unplugged 2 minutes ago?
Probably means it was just updated 2 minutes ago.
- We'll do a majority of our charging at home - is it worth getting a charging app/subscription or do you tend to use PAYG. I can't figure out how expensive they are compared to home costs. I think around 2 - 3x, does this sound right?
I tend to use PAYG. Instavolt are good because you just use a credit card. Others have apps but I don't use any that need a subscription. If you use a subscription (e.g. Polar) regularly it can be good value but if you plan to charge at home you almost certainly don't need it.
- I am pretty sure BP's Chargemaster says you pay a monthly sub and then you can charge as much as you like for free - is this right or does this only apply to a super slow charger?
Monthly sub plus varying amounts to charge.
i3 Specific

- The car has 2 years left on the warranty - is it sensible to extend this when it runs out?
Possibly but check how much the extended warranty will cost. Also check what it would actually cover as that might be less than you think.
- Anything I should change in the settings for this model?
Program those 8 buttons to useful things (not just for radio stations!)
- Are there any must-have accessories?
Phone holder?
- Are there any tips / settings to maximise battery life?
i3 will handle it all, no need to worry about battery life at all. Do try to leave it plugged in fully charged as often as possible: it will do cell balancing then to maximise life.
- Should we drain the battery as much as possible before charging or are regular top-ups from 80%+ fine?
If you can charge conveniently then charge. It will complain if you run the battery right down before charging so don't do that too often but otherwise just don't worry about the battery.
- Can I see the kwh/mile historical data somewhere on the dash? Can this be setup for 2 people (so I can compare my usage to the wife's)?
Check the Connected Drive website, that should have lifetime stats. Also the app. No, it doesn't keep those stats separately.

Watch out for the different driver profiles: it can be confusing if you have separate profiles configured and your partner unlocks the car then you find your preset buttons aren't where you expect. My wife and I have both keys set to the same profile for precisely this reason.
Thanks in advance for your time.


Sent from my Pixel C using Tapatalk
 

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To be 100% a pedant, there is no such thing as a 7kW charger. The i3's charger is onboard for 7kW. The thing that we all pay £00s for to put what on the wall is a charging point. The iDrive allows the user to set the rate of charge when charging from a 7kW charging point.

Whenever you use a public charging point with your cable it is important to remember the correct cable connecting and disconnecting sequence. Plug in at charge point and then the car. Plug out at the car then the charger. Why - because most public chargers have a solenoid locking pin that is energised when power flows locking the cable to the charge point. Releasing the cable from the car first, de-energises the solenoid the and the pin retracts. If you try to pull the cable out from the charger fist when it is still connected to the car the (a) the plug will not come out and (b) you will bend the pin. Sadly, not everybody follows this sequence and I have had two trapped cables over 5 years of ownership. In both cases, the charger had to be taken apart for the pin to be manually retracted.

If the cable fails to retract from the car's socket, then know where the manual release is located. I have had to use it once in my previous i3.

To get 3 phase 11kW charging on a 22kW charging point, a 3-phase cable is needed. A 3-phase cable will also work on a 7kW charging point at 7kWs. It is a heavier and more expensive cable.

Be careful of how you handle any public charging cable. Each cable also contains a very thin wire which is used as the means of communication between the car and the charging point. If the cable gets twisted or is run over then this link can break.

Some useful information:


This link explains the difference between battery and cabin pre-conditioning:


And Finally (both learned the hard way):

Do not get into the habit of putting the key fob into a tight trouser pocket or cluttered handbag. You could well return to an unlocked i3 with the windows wound down.

Do not leave the car with a passenger inside while you pop into the supermarket with the key fob in your pocket. The experience can be quite alarming for the passenger.
 

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There's a couple of other threads discussing warranty at the moment, I suggest you take a look around.

One more question I'd like to see if someone has an answer for is this: can anyone recommend a breathable car cover for the i3? What size works out for it? It's a small car, that's very tall ..
 

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Hi all, I've just bought a BMW i3 120 version. It'll be our first EV.
Welcome. Hope you're enjoying your new car. I'm sure others have answered a lot of these questions really well, but I'll put my version in as well, and you can compare them.

Charging

- I have read that the i3 has a max charging input of 11kW - does this mean if I use a Rapid (?) 50kW charger I will only be able to charge at 11kW?
The i3 can charge at 50kW on a DC CCS charger. The 11kW limit is for 3-phase AC charging. It has a 7kW limit for single phase AC charging. Standard places you'd meet each of these is:
  • Single phase AC: Home charger or at the shopping centre.
  • Three phase: AC part of rapid chargers on motorway services. Often labelled 22kW or 43kW.
  • DC CCS: Rapid chargers
- What's the maximum time you're allowed to park in a charging bay? Does this differ from an on-street charging spot to a service station one?
Some rapid chargers (e.g. Ecotricity) have time limits built into the charger of 30-45 minutes. Others have parking rules which need to be observed, but should be posted at the location.

- Where we live (Wandsworth Borough), can we use the Source London bays and just leave the car there without incurring a parking charge?
Unless you find otherwise, assume that parking restrictions / payments need to be observed. Be aware that Source London is per minute charging, and I don't think it matters if you're actually drawing power or not. I don't know for sure because I've avoided them like the plague because their pricing seems totally unfair to me.

- When looking at a home charger, I think a 32A 7kW option looks best. Is there a 'best' charger for the i3 or are they all much of a muchness? Is there an advantage to the BMW one in terms of the car's warranty, etc?
Basically the "home charger" is a mains plug which only switches on when some safety checks have completed. The real battery charger is actually part of the car. There's not a lot to the wall boxes, and so they are all pretty similar. No advantage to the BMW one. The differences come down to how "smart" they are, but all they can really control is scheduling, and some will monitor/log charging data so you know how much you've used.

- Would you buy a used wall charger (from eBay) and get your local electrician to fit it or a new charger with a grant? Both work out at roughly the same price.
If it's the same price, go new. Why risk e-bay?

- Say we charged up at a friend's house for a few hours - how would I work out how much of their electricity I've used up?
The "granny" cable (because it's what you would use when visiting granny) draws 10 Amps. 10Amps at 240V (as we have in the UK) is 10*240 = 2,400 Watts or 2.4kW. Each hour, that will be 2.4kWh (Kilowatt hours). In the UK the price for a single kWh is about 15p. So it's about 36p an hour, but that varies with supplier / tariff / etc.

Charging Apps

- I have downloaded Zap-Map and can see some 'Free' charging spots but there must be a catch. Are these always full or broken? Why would anyone allow you to fill up for free?
They are an extra incentive to get you to visit their establishment. My local shopping centre and cinema has free 7 and 22 kW chargers, run by pod-point. 16 of them, which is enough for one to be available even though they are often blocked by non-EVs. Never seen more than 5 or 6 EVs charging.

Must admit, I've been known to go catch a film and charge up. For those ones you still need to use the App to claim the charge, otherwise it stops after 15 minutes. Guess that means they'd know if you were abusing it and could block your account.

- Zap-Map shows charging stations that always seem to have 'just' become available, the message says 'Source London - Available 2 minutes ago". Does this mean it last checked 2 minutes ago or someone just unplugged 2 minutes ago?
Last checked 2 minutes ago and it was available at that time.

- We'll do a majority of our charging at home - is it worth getting a charging app/subscription or do you tend to use PAYG. I can't figure out how expensive they are compared to home costs. I think around 2 - 3x, does this sound right?
PAYG for me. I don't do enough on the road charging, and certainly not at a single brand of charger, to make subscriptions worth while. Polar's £8 a month for 10p a kWh discount means I need to do 3 big charges a month at polar chargers to make it worth while.

Home is about 15p kWh, but choosing a good tariff can pull that down off-peak. Octopus do 5p for 4 hours a night (referral link in my signature). EDF do half price overnight and all weekend. Remember, lower prices also apply to everything the house is using, so do your sums, but the savings with an EV can be hundreds of pounds a year.

On the road things tend to be 30-40p a kWh, so your 2x-3x is about right assuming standard home prices.

- I am pretty sure BP's Chargemaster says you pay a monthly sub and then you can charge as much as you like for free - is this right or does this only apply to a super slow charger?
Only AC chargers are free. The others get 10p a kWh discount.

i3 Specific

- The car has 2 years left on the warranty - is it sensible to extend this when it runs out?
I still have a few months of my warranty, so I haven't got to this decision. Your battery is covered for 8 years anyway.

If you have the range extender engine in the back I think there's a better argument for extending the warranty. Personally I don't see myself doing it on a BEV, but I'm going to see if the final check before the warranty expires catches anything before I make a decision.

- Anything I should change in the settings for this model?
Not a lot IMHO. Biggest hidden feature I think is knowing that the number buttons under the central display can be customised as shortcuts to whatever you want. Navigate to the item you want, then press and hold the button. Useful for call your partner, or call up the trip computer.... or anything else.

Edit: Another non-obvious thing. The range displayed changes if you have your desination in the sat-nav. That's because it can then take the types of road, and elevation changes into account. So if you want more accurate estimates, use the sat-nav.

- Are there any must-have accessories?
Cupholder based phone/tablet stand. Now I can have a tablet with decent GPS / Charger maps on it.

- Are there any tips / settings to maximise battery life?
In general don't worry too much. There have been no battery replacements due to battery degredation on the i3 in it's 6 years on the market. BMW just increased the mileage limit on the batteries. Generally they are lasting well.

- Should we drain the battery as much as possible before charging or are regular top-ups from 80%+ fine?
I've heard stories from early Leaf owners that plugging in every time they got back from the shops hammered their battery in the long run. For that reason, I tend to only charge up once I'm below 40% or so unless I need a full charge because I'm doing something specific. I'm not draconian about it though.

- Can I see the kwh/mile historical data somewhere on the dash? Can this be setup for 2 people (so I can compare my usage to the wife's)?
Don't know if it separates by profile. I don't use profiles.

The trip computer in the i-Drive system will keep an average figure for the current trip. This can be reset automatically is the car is idle for a few hours, or reset manually. There's no history of trips.

The trip counter on the display behind the steering wheel also has an average consumption figure which is useful for averaging out over multiple trips.

There's a page on the iDrive which has a graph of power usage over the last half hour or so. I think it's in 5 minute chunks. It's pretty ugly and hard to read in my opinion, but it's there.
 

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If the cable fails to retract from the car's socket, then know where the manual release is located. I have had to use it once in my previous i3.
When you use the emergency release, does it need to be looked at afterwards? There's a comment in the manual which says it does, but I just wondered if it was actually necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi all, thanks for these replies. I will read and digest them all properly tonight.

127069


Picked up the car today, it's fab.
 

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Welcome. Hope you're enjoying your new car. I'm sure others have answered a lot of these questions really well, but I'll put my version in as well, and you can compare them.

In general don't worry too much. There have been no battery replacements due to battery degredation on the i3 in it's 6 years on the market. BMW just increased the mileage limit on the batteries. Generally they are lasting well.

I've heard stories from early Leaf owners that plugging in every time they got back from the shops hammered their battery in the long run. For that reason, I tend to only charge up once I'm below 40% or so unless I need a full charge because I'm doing something specific. I'm not draconian about it though.
Early Leafs had no battery cooling/temperature control, so that's the main reason those battery packs have failed very quickly. As you've commented I think the industry is coming to the realisation that done right, the battery pack is essentially lifetime fitment to the vehicle. Tesla are seeing the same, and there's cars approaching 500k miles out there to prove it.
 

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Early Leafs had no battery cooling/temperature control, so that's the main reason those battery packs have failed very quickly. As you've commented I think the industry is coming to the realisation that done right, the battery pack is essentially lifetime fitment to the vehicle. Tesla are seeing the same, and there's cars approaching 500k miles out there to prove it.
Yes, I take those stories with a huge grain of salt, but at the same time I can go 2-3 days without plugging in. I'm also coming to the conclusion that the last 10-15% of the battery is the least efficient to charge (low current), and hence the most expensive. So I tend to only plug in when I have a decent lump to charge up, or I need to.
 

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When you use the emergency release, does it need to be looked at afterwards? There's a comment in the manual which says it does, but I just wondered if it was actually necessary.
The cord which is in the rear door pillar adjacent to the flap appears to be made of very flimsy plastic. It is stronger than it looks. It needs to be re-stowed with care. I had no problems after I used it. My issue was a stuck rapid charger plug (rapids are actually chargers and they control the rate of charge). A rapid goes through a termination process when end of charge is pressed. The rapid that I was using didn’t react as it should to the termination request. I was advised to press emergency shutdown. The charger shutdown but the charger plug wouldn’t release from the car. Often by simply locking and then unlocking the car, the car will release the lock. It didn’t - hence use of the manual release.
 

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People keep saying that you need a waterproof bag for anything put in the “frunk”. Maybe they fixed it because my 1 year old i3 has never got water in the front compartment so I wouldn’t bother to buy anything.
A good flexible extension lead may be useful if you need to plug into a 13 amp socket more than 5 meters away.
 

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BMW did not seal and make the i3 frunk watertight and their solution is... a couple of 4mm holes in the base. My 68 plate i3 frunk was full of moisture and even leaves. So they didn't fix it.

Also, I'd NEVER use an extension cable, especially one on a reel with the i3. I found out the hard way when it tripped all fuses for the sockets in my fuse box in the house, and burned out the external socket. The 10M extension cable wan't fully extended with about 5M still coiled around the reel. The cable was red hot to touch and burned out in places. Very lucky there wasn't an electrical fire, so please DON'T be a plonker like I was... if you have to use an extension cable, roll it all the way out. Better still don't use one!
 

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If both you and your wife want to use the BMW Connected phone App you cannot set up separate accounts for you and your wife. You can only have the car on one account so you will have to set up one account and you and your wife share it i.e. use the same login details and PIN on the App on both phones. If you try to set up two accounts the car will be removed from the first account when you add it to the second.
 

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The granny only takes 10 amps. An extension lead is fine if you buy the right one with the correct current rating but, of course, if you fail to unwind it fully then it may overheat but it’s not just EVs that do that.
 
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