110V vs 240V charging. What efficiency? - Ford Focus Electric Forum
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 110V vs 240V charging. What efficiency?

It's a little hard to remember what went through my mind some months back when I let myself seriously entertain buying the Focus. I came to the conclusion that it would be the Focus or none. I allowed as such that the Focus could accomplish 99% of my driving that it would be a practical investment I would use. A key component of that was the promise of "3-4 hour charging".

I suppose I will find out tonight now that my Level 2 Leviton is installed. What I did experience was that for sure, 110V charging from a standard wall plug is very, very slow. I could plug in at 10 pm and by 8 am the next morning there had been quite a few miles added, but nowhere near full. I plugged in a couple of afternoons randomly in a parking deck at work (MORE ON THAT IN ANOTHER THREAD) for a couple of hours and it added a little bit.

Clearly, doing 50 - 60 miles a day would be difficult with only 110V charging, and the very concept of the practicality of an EV would be suspect. I have only had to live with 110V charging for one week, Level 2 here we come.

Interesting, although I set my charge times to 0100-0500, I believe the Focus estimated how long it would take to complete an entire charge and would begin charging immediately if I plugged it in at 8pm, and would indicate "8pm - 2pm" for a complete charge. It would bracket my programmed charge time with the extra time needed to complete a charge on 110V.

I will find out tonight if indeed the 240V Leviton will help it charge in under 4 hours, my 0100-0500 window. I hope so, this was a key factor in deciding that the Focus EV was practical. I think I'm 30% "full" at the moment.

Related, as I screw around, I mean work with electronics and batteries in my job in wireless communications, I borrowed a "Kill-A-Watt" meter that I bought for work. This measures instantaneous Watts used and aggregate KWH for whatever device is plugged in to the 110V receptacle on its front, and it plugs into a standard wall outlet. It is useful for measuring exactly how much power your devices really use. I was surprised that my Samsung 2 zone refrigerator only uses just above 200W when cooling. My plasma TV, 52", uses about 450 watts, although that bounces around a lot as the picture is always changing.

When charging on 110V, the Focus consumed right around 1450W, hour after hour, or about the same as 3 large plasma TVs.

Another observation, starting from a full charge with the "Trip 1" display reset to zero, I completed one complete trip to work and then back in the evening. Total KWH used was 8.8 KWH. I reset my Kill-A-Watt to zero and plugged it in on Friday evening. I let it go into Saturday until it was finished. It showed just over 11 KWH used.

It equated to an inefficiency of 33%. I believe my figure was 1.332 or similar. This would mean it takes 33% more juice to charge, your real cost, than what is actually used by the Focus to complete the travel. If I was figuring $6 a week to charge based on Focus usage at ~ 260WHr, it would actually cost me $8, or one third more.

Has anyone else measured or estimated this? I knew there would be inefficiencies due to heat and other loss in the charging process.

This is what the Kill-A-Watt looked like on another day after charging.



I'm hoping the 240V charging will be more efficient, but as I can't run that through the Kill-A-Watt counter I won't know. I could look at the digital display on my power company meter but that would include all devices running in my house.

My bare bones estimating, and my actual minimum distance to work and back is about 38 miles, the Focus now tells me, is that it would cost about $4 or less a week to charge the Focus if I could do it between 0100-0500 at 5.5 cents per KWH, ridiculously cheap, which would replace $35 a week in unleaded for my 20+ mpg 2001 Saturn sedan and 2002 Saturn Vue 4 cylinder ICEs, both with which I have an unhealthy respect and emotional bond as Saturn owners will do.

My electric bill will surely go up, but even with whatever inefficiencies in the charging process will be a fraction of what I have been paying in gasoline.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think my charging efficiency has mostly been better than that when I use Value Charging at 240V.

I've checked my SoCal Edison site a couple of times for usage numbers starting at midnight (my Value Charge window) and mine lines up pretty well. That is, my 55 mile commute is reported to take about 6 kWh one way and about 8 kWh the other, so my recharge should take about 2 hours at 6.6 kWh. I look at the hour data on the SCE website, and it shows ~7 kWh for 2 hours exactly (and I have a few other items running as well). I have not tried any other type of logging to confirm.

I expect if the garage is hot or cold, the car will use charge energy to adjust the battery temperature to optimize the charge and battery capacity lifespan. I'm in California near the beach where the temperatures are more moderate, so perhaps my efficiency is better. Have you tried to track the temperature of your garage during your charge window?
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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That's some good info, Evo. I'm really at a novice stage right now. My car has been left in the driveway. The temperature range in the 9 days that I've owned the car has been very moderate, almost Costa Mesa - like, 58-60 at night and 76-80 daytime. I expect to clear out space in my garage to park the car in it as we approach winter, which in Virginia does get colder than many are aware, nights in central Virginia are usually in the 20s.

I don't think I can check my usage numbers with Dominion Power, but I do have a digital meter installed as part of Dominions EV program, it measures, reports, and bills in 30 minute increments.
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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One more note on charging, when I parked the car after work just now and plugged in the 240V plug, the Focus apparently recognized my timer settings and displayed that the car would charge from 0100 - 0205. The car was at about 50% and I programmed my timer settings to charge beginning 0100 to coincide with Dominion Power's 5.5 cents per KWH "EV plus Home" off-off rate. When I had the 110 power supply it would back up the beginning charging time to 8 pm and indicate charging through 12 noon or something, 110V charging being so slow.

This is only my second night with the 240V Level 2, so I'll double check everything but I'm thrilled that apparently this will work out as advertised, so few things actually do.

Already after 1 week I'm shaking my head at the concept of cranking up an engine on gas and it having to run all the time, compared to the efficient direct drive of the Focus. Even with some extra energy factored in, with the Level 2 completing all charging easily between heavily discounted 0100-0500 my cost per week to go to work and back may be as low as $3 compared to $30-35. That's just stupid.

Last edited by billsblots; 09-21-2012 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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"Even with some extra energy factored in, with the Level 2 completing all charging easily between heavily discounted 0100-0500 my cost per week to go to work and back may be as low as $3 compared to $30-35. That's just stupid."

I couldn't have said it better!!! I have a similar commute and the savings in real $$$$ adds up very quickly... Plus it really is a fun car to drive...
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I haven't tried to charge my Focus in yet, which I just have been just purchased it later this afternoon. I think it is not that difficult to find something that is compatible with it. I have been searching and finding some information about the charging cost on my electric company and I have found out that it was really efficient, as I have read it through here.
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have been thinking that when my FFE is parked unused for more than a day or two that it's probably better to take it off the GE WattStation and put it on the 110v standard charger for "maintenance" charge duties.

Is this correct?
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JAG View Post
I have been thinking that when my FFE is parked unused for more than a day or two that it's probably better to take it off the GE WattStation and put it on the 110v standard charger for "maintenance" charge duties.

Is this correct?
I would like an answer also, if there is one. I do not know the circutry in the FFE, how it keeps 'topped up'. Might be when it senses a lowering of charge at some point it switches on recharging. Now sure why 110 would be better than 240 for this purpose. The only thing I intuitively believe is that slow (110 and probably 240) charging would be better than fast charging (those DC fast chargers) as most batteries prefer slow charging to fast charging but I do not know whether that would apply to 110 Vs 240.
A lot of learning going on with these electric cars, unfortunately we are part of that process, no central data base to look up al the answers in
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:46 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers View Post
I do not know the circutry in the FFE, how it keeps 'topped up'.
Given the troubles reported with low miles charging during the cold weather months I begin to wonder what the battery temperature regulation range might be; High-Low.

I have left my FFE unplugged and unused for 10 days in our garage that hovers around 32 Deg. F day after day. I then plugged it in and the battery was at 99% charged with the miles reading at 71 miles. Like this it seems the battery is not consuming energy to keep itself say at 50 Deg. F or higher.

Thus, I begin to wonder if the battery is only being cooled if it rises above a certain temperature - but is never being heated (unless it falls below freezing?).

Operating a FFE in steady 32 degree weather would mean the range would be lower than if it was operated in 70 degree weather because the battery cannot hold as high a charge when charged in a cold state.

I guess if one kept the FFE in a heated garage range would not be impacted by cold weather because the battery would warm up and be able to hold more charge.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Update On Battery Temperature Range and Charging Loss Questions

I called Ford’s CustomerRelationshipCenter at 800-392-3673 today to inquire about the 33% charging loss in order to charge the FFE battery using the 120 Volt charger that came with the car. Also about the operating temperature range of the battery.

On the later question they said the specifications are that the battery does not exceed 140 Deg F. If the battery tries to exceed that temperature they turn on the cooling loop which would pull some energy from the battery. They do not have a lower battery temperature limit they try to protect against. Like this the battery can drop to lower and lower temperatures in colder climates like the poor folks in upper Canada experience. Like this range will be affected because at cold temperatures the battery will not hold as much charge as it would at room temperature. Having a heated garage would help limit this potential range reduction problem in cold weather.

Regarding the 33 % charging losses – Ford said this is proprietary information and cannot give out where that loss is occurring. I reacted saying that seemed unnecessarily restrictive because anyone can measure the loss like I did. They would not discuss it further.

I am still interested in learning if the 240 volt charging might reduce this 33 % loss. If anyone can measure it that would be of interest. This can be done easily enough if your house has a “power monitoring system” like that shown in the following link. For about $135 one can purchase this whole house power monitoring system. $129 for the EnviR Wireless Home Energy Savings Monitor w/Transmitter - and like this nail down exactly how much power a 240 volt charging system uses. Be sure to also purchase the data logger cable for $6, APC USB cable ( AP9827 ), so you can plot the information on your computer screen.

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