Well, it got cold.
And the cold did affect the range. First, from just sitting in the cold, overnight. I left the Lightning with 120 miles of range indicated; this morning, that had fallen to 113 – a not-insignificant loss.
So I took the Lightning back down the mountain – and back to the same commercial “fast” charger I hooked it up to the day prior – in order to recover charge enough to have margin enough to try pulling a trailer tomorrow.
Margin is important with electric vehicles, because if you run out of it, you have run into a problem. Even when it’s warm, I have found the range indicated to be more than the range you actually have – or get, at any rate.
But the cold was more of a problem.
After I drove back home from the “fast” charger – after having spent about an hour and 15 minutes there to recover about 100 miles of indicated range – the indicated range had fallen to just 160 miles remaining, a loss of 40 miles of indicated range.
But the trip from the “fast” charger to my house is less than 30 miles.
This drop was much greater than the drop I experienced the day before – probably because the day before it was 20 degrees warmer and I wasn’t using power-using accessories such as the heater (and the heated seats).
You could probably decrease the losses (and increase the range) by not using accessories such as the heater and electric seats. But you can’t do much about the cold – even if you are willing to be cold.
Or rather, about the effect of cold on the battery – which amounts to the effect on the actual vs. indicated range.
I could have spent more time waiting at the “fast” charger – and put more range into the Lightning, to compensate for the effect of the cold on the battery. But I’d already spent more than an hour there – which is a long time to wait when you have other things to do. So I unplugged from the “fast” charger – still no idea how much it cost me – and headed back home with 200 miles of indicated range, which I figured would be enough margin to try hooking up a trailer tomorrow, to see what effect that would have on the actual range.
But I used up 40 miles of that getting the less-than-30-miles back home – with the majority of the using-up occurring during the climb up Bent Mountain, an elevation gain of some 2,000 feet over a distance of about 2.5 miles.
If you don’t live in a mountainous area – if most of your driving is on level ground – the range drop you’ll be dealing with will likely not be as dramatic, as it takes a lot more energy to haul 6,000-plus pounds up a steep and continuous grade than it does to maintain speed already attained on a level road.
Of course, if you don’t need to go very far – or rather, not so far as to push the envelope of the electric vehicle’s actual-vs.-indicated range – the cold’s effect on range may not be a problem for you. If I lived say ten miles from the “fast” charger, I would not have to “fast” charge as often – and I could spend less time “fast” charging.
I might not even need to “fast” charge at all – because it might be enough to trickle-charge at home, on 120-240v AC (rather than high-voltage DC) electricity because there would always be enough range/charge remaining such that adding say 20 miles of range overnight to a battery that still had 150-200 miles of indicated range would be a simple topping-off operation.
This would be “preferable” – for the “health” of the battery. Ford’s words, not mine.
But I live about 30 miles away from the “fast” charger and so the drive there and back is about 60 miles, round-trip – assuming no side trips. In the cold, that trip eats up a lot more range than the actual miles – and that leaves me with the choice of either spending more time at the “fast” charger or waiting even longer at home, for the vehicle to trickle-charge.
So, when I got home, I hooked it up to do just that. And this time – unlike the first time – it worked. Or rather, I figured out why it didn’t work the last time I tried to trickle-charge the truck (on 120V household AC current; so-called “Level 1” charging). It was because I tried hooking up the Ford’s supplied home charger apparatus (you do not use this at commercial DC “fast” chargers) to an extension cord, because the supplied power cord wasn’t long enough to reach the 120V outlet in the garage.
As it turns out, you cannot use an ordinary extension cord. The supplied factory charger apparatus has a box attached that prevents charging if the unit is not directly plugged into the outlet or (I assume) an extension cord made of heavier gauge cabling (such as you’d use to connect a portable generator to your home panel) because of what I assume to be a fire risk of using a standard gauge extension cord cable. So – if your outlet is too far away to connect directly, you will need to buy a cable that will work with the supplied apparatus.
I will report tomorrow about how much charge accrued from trickle-charging overnight, in the cold. I hope it will be at least enough to give me margin enough to risk hooking up a trailer to the truck, so I can report the effect of that (plus the cold) on the actual vs. indicated range.
See Part V here.
. . .
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