I live about 45 miles away, 2000 ft above sea level. Drive is a mix of country road, few miles of city, miles of freeway, some stop and go, generally a good variety of conditions. The trip started at home at full charge. On the way to the dog beach, few stops were made at the post office, Home Depot, McD, Jack in the box. Because the round trip is almost 90 miles, I charged at Blink L2 when I got to the dog beach for 3 hours to get back to full battery. That was 8.97 kWh, $4.40 ($0.49/kWh) after 46 miles.
46 miles / 8.97 kWh = 5.13 mi/kWh
Since going to the beach is mostly downhill, one expects very good mi/kWh, and it didn't disappoint. But Blink public charging is very expensive. Using the value from MPGe table based on 4 mi/kWh and scaling to 5.13 mi/kWh,
$3.50/gallon at $0.49/kWh = 28.6 MPGe
28.6 MPGe * 5.13 / 4 = 36.7 MPGe
Even if the trip is going downhill, charging at public station is worse than driving a Hyundai Elantra. Going back home is mostly uphill, mix of conditions as with downhill, stop off at a friend's house for a total of 45 miles. Monitoring the charge with Kill-A-Watt (KAW for short) for around 15 hours charge at 8A, it showed 13.64kWh.
45 miles / 13.64 kWh = 3.3 miles/kWh
$3.50/gallon at $0.17/kWh (home rate) = 82.4 MPGe
82.4 MPGe * 3.3 / 4 = 68 MPGe
Even if going uphill, it pays to charge at home. This shows independent numbers for good case (downhill) is bit over 5 mi/kWh and bad case (uphill) is bit over 3 mi/kWh. But I'm always coming home, so what I need is aggregate.
(46+45 miles) / (8.97 + 13.64 kWh) = 4.025 mi/kWh, round to 4 mi/kWh
This is actual measured use of energy with respect to the wallet. The car does not measure this, but it does show the energy used from the battery to the motor while running. That number is meaningless in terms of cash out of my wallet, but it is useful to estimate the efficiency. This number was 4.8 mi/kWh. Assuming the number is accurate, the charging efficiency is roughly
(4.8-4) mi/kWh / 4 mi/kWh = 20% (loss)
100% - 20% = 80% (efficiency)
Note that these are all rough numbers. I have no idea amount of charge the battery is allowed to have; to extend the battery life, I suspect it's not 100% (19 kWh). But I also don't know if electronics would know exactly when to know it's full consistently time after time. I also don't know if the SOC (state of charge) is allowed to vary over time to account for my driving. The truth is somewhere close to this, and it gives a reasonable estimate.
120V, 8A charging
There are other fun things you can find out. Using KAW, I measured 121V when not charging, but 114.5V when charging at 8A. That means the house wiring plus the extension cord (100ft of 12 gauge) is
6.5V / 8A = 0.81 ohms (let's round to 0.8 ohms)
Measuring at socket where extension is plugged in was 117.8 volts
(121 - 117.8 V) / 8A = 0.4 ohms
But there's no way to connect the car to power without an extension cord. So let's use 0.8 ohms for energy loss through wiring. At 80% efficiency, charging 19 kWh battery at 120V and 8A will take
120V * 8A * 80% = 0.768kW (interestingly, about 1 horsepower)
19 kWh / 0.768kW = 24.7 hours, round to 25 hours
Note that 120V is used instead of more accurate 114.5V. This is close enough, especially considering I don't know exactly what the car is doing when charging / discharging and battery deterioration over time. It'll be longer in all cases, but it's close enough for
8A * 8A * 0.8 ohm = 51.2 Watts
51.2 Watts * 25 hours = 1.28 kWh
1.28 kWh * $0.17/kWh = $0.22
120V, 12A charging
I'm wasting about a quarter each time I go through full charge at 8A rate. But how will it be at 12A rate? Car allows for it, and it will be faster, but will it be cheaper? If we assume the charger efficiency at 8A and 12A is the same, electrical engineers already know it's more expensive, but let's do the math.
120V * 12A * 80% = 1.152kW
19kWh / 1.152kW = 16.5 hours, round to 17 hours
Assuming same wiring (which it is),
12A * 12A * 0.8 ohm = 115.2 Watts
115.2 Watts * 17 hours = 1.9584 kWh
1.9584kWh * $0.17/kWh = $0.33
I'll stick to 8A when using 120V and save $0.11 per charge cycle. That's about a dollar a month or a Big Mac every 4 months.
Commercial L2 charger
I'm not in any kind of hurry. But if I'm often in a hurry, I could buy L2 charger that charges at 240V and 12A (about 3kW) for about $600. Of course, installation will cost a lot more, because I have to dig trenches to pull the wires about 150 ft. But let's assume only $600 is needed and the wiring resistance is the same. Let's further assume charger efficiency is the same, although higher voltage should have better charger efficiency.
The charging time is half of 120V at 12A, 17/2=8.5 hours. Power wasted in wiring is the same, because the current is assumed to be the same. Because the charge time is half, the energy waste is also half, 0.33/2=$0.17 per full charge. Compared to 120V 8A charging, that's $0.05 savings per full charge. But how many charge cycles in lease period of 30000 miles? Assuming 80 miles per full charge,
30000 miles / 80 miles = 375 charge cycles
$0.05 * 375 = $18.75
Even if the charger with L2 is 100% efficient, I'm only getting a penny or two per charge cycle, still around $20 overall. Rather than spending $600 to save $18.75, I think I'll stick to 120V 8A charging and get a Big Mac every 4 months. For me, I wish they offer even lower current charging mode (2A for 100 hours), so I can buy that Big Mac sooner.
This is only true in my case where I'm on normal electric plan, because I use so little electricity to begin with. If one gets time based tier plan (aka, EV plan), this is definitely not true. In that plan, only about 8 hours are low rate, and the rest are very expensive. In such case, L2 charger may make sense to save money. Charging plans will be discussed in future blog post.
Edit June 2015:
Chevy offers $500 rebate on Bosche L2 charger. Bosche was nice enough to call me to take advantage of the deal. Their 3.3kW L2 charger is $500, their 6.6kW L2 charger is $625 ($125 more). I took the 3.3kW L2 charger with rebate, making it free!
I also found NEMA 6-50 socket in one of my barns. I made a short extension cord using 12 gauge wire and NEMA 6-50 plug for about $15. I looked into wiring cost, and it can get expensive! I was able to use 12 gauge SJOW wire, but 6.6kW would need much thicker wire, 10 gauge or 8 gauge. Since 12 gauge is far more common, price difference was substantial. Unless there's extreme reason, I think 3.3kW would be cheaper all around.
I'm saving $3.75 if L2 electricity savings add up to $18.75. But what I read is that L2 is more efficient than L1 (120V) since the charging circuit doesn't have to run as long. While I haven't measured it, it sounds plausible. Maybe I'm saving far more than $3.75 ($7.50?) Still, I'll continue to use 80% as conservative estimate for L1/L2 charging effciency.