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How Far Would You Go To Charge Your Electric Vehicle?

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Tesla Roadster recharging at Denver International Airport, from SolarDave blog

Tesla Roadster recharging at Denver International Airport, from SolarDave blog

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A few years ago, finding somewhere to charge your electric car could be a nightmare if you were far away from the comfort of your own personal charging station.  

As a result, most early adopters carried around a set of charging cables in their car to charge from whatever power they could find. 

Even today, with public charging stations becoming more commonplace, the need to charge an electric car sometimes results in some...err... unconventional practices. 

Take this Fisker Karma owner for example, who thought nothing of dropping an extension cable from a second-floor balcony so they could charge his or her luxury sports car overnight. 

Or how about this Tesla Roadster owner, who managed to sneak a charge at the Denver International Airport parking lot while they were away on a trip?

Cable Out Of Window

Cable Out Of Window

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Officially, automakers like Nissan and General Motors advise against using extension cords or modified/unofficial charging stations, but most electric car owners we know use a modified charging station or an extension cord once in a while. 

In over five years of plug-in car ownership, this author has seen -- and practiced -- some extreme ways of getting power from an outlet outside to charge an electric car, but we’d like to know how far you’d go.

Perhaps you’ve dangled a cable through a tree to avoid tripping up pedestrians, or borrowed a high-power outlet at a restaurant to charge while you eat. 

Or perhaps you’ve seen someone else employ an extreme charging method, like combining two 110-volt power sources to create 240-volt power.

Let us know in the Comments below, along with any photographic evidence you have (be sure to put a link to the photo in your comment). We’ll choose the best ones and list them in a future post!

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Comments (13)
  1. With a Volt, I can travel on average 38 miles per gallon of gasoline, or some $4.50. I can also travel the same distance on approximately $1.34 worth of electricity, at $0.12 per kWh. So basically, if charging is reasonably convenient and priced competitively, I will run the car on electricity instead of gasoline. It's a simple price arbitrage adjusted by any discrepancy in the (in)convenience factor.
     
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  2. I still charge me LEAF at 120V every day (no problem at over 1000 miles/month) but sometimes need to run the extension cord from my dryer outlet to get it some extra juice during the day. When my EVSE was away in CA for an upgrade, I worked from my local Whole Foods Market for almost 2 weeks to keep it charged up :-)
     
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  3. With my Leaf, I just plug in while parked in my garage. No problem. With my old EV that only had a 40 mile range, I once ran an extension cord from my brother-in-law's basement to get a 240V charge.
     
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  4. Once a month or so, we take a 140 mile trip in our Think which has a best case range of 100 miles. We do this even in winter.

    The key is combining two 120 outlets into a 240 volt supply at the far point where we stay for a few hours. Here is an old blog post I did about the techniques when we still had the Mini E:
    http://www.minie458.blogspot.com/2010/12/multiple-power-sources.html

    An isolation transformer allows the use of the "Quick 220" safety box even with GFI protected outlets. The transformer also makes it irrelevant whether the two circuits are out of phase or not.

    The portable 220 volt EVSE from Think in Europe is VERY convenient. A switch on the front selects 12 amp or 16 amp. Only need to change the plugs to US.
     
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  5. I posted some updated pictures and description:

    http://minie458.blogspot.com/2012/03/guerrilla-charging.html
     
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  6. This would be one reason why Israel has actually prohibited unrestricted charging of EV's from domestic power. Nobody's really sure how or if this will be enforced because there are no EV's in Israel except Better Place cars that are all sold with a subscription to use BP charge points at the owners' homes and publicly wherever they are.

    For this reason no Leafs or Volts have come to Israel (though there is a Tesla Roadster somewhere but as that's owned by a founding investor in BP I suspect it's being charged on the BP infrastructure).
     
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  7. I wonder if the reason that Israel is the only country in the world that doesn't allow home charging is because it also happens to be the only country in the world that saw a complete Better Place roll out so far. I that's true than that confirms my fear for a charging network monopolist using it's influence to protect it's position in the same way oil companies are doing it now.

    Not that it succeeded BTW, Israel Electric Corporation offers charging services too now at domestic rates undercutting PBP's rates.
     
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  8. The fact that they're predicting we'll bump up within 3% of capacity in the summer especially if supply problems with Egyptian gas continue also makes uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) charging a bit of a worry.
     
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  9. Israel should just focus on destroying "illegaly-installed" solar panels on the Palestinian homes and make sure those people don't even know what the electricity is. I know you guys are our friends but what the gov't does is often f'ed up.
     
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  10. Side issue: panels were knowingly installed by a EU backed politicised NGO which knew they needed planning permission that they didn't get. Laws apply equally to all and plenty of illegally Jewish built structures have been taken down too.
     
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  11. I saw an outside outlet at Home Depot one day when my Leaf was pretty low, so I plugged in and wandered the halls for a long while. When I returned they were in the process of calling a tow truck, very agitated. If the car had been towed backwards it would have caught fire due to the motor generating electricity. After being scolded like a child by the manager I left with my car and now shop at Lowes. All for 9 cents of electricity.
     
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  12. @Eric: Definitely a disturbing and annoying experience. I'm told many electric-car drivers leave a placard on their dash while charging in situations like that, giving their cellphone number so they can be contacted if there are questions or concerns.

    However, where did you get the idea that a Leaf (or any electric car) catches fire if it is "towed backwards"? While I haven't tested it personally, that is highly unlikely. All automakers test their cars for towing in a variety of situations. I think you'll find you can tow a Volt just fine--under whatever limitations are described in your owner's manual.
     
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  13. I thought I had read it in the Leaf owners manual, but rechecking that it says only "serious and expensive damage to the motor" if towed with the front wheels down. The fire note was about a different subject, so I misread it.
    Still not a great situation.
     
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