Embracing an EV+PV lifestyle
Guest post: Tim Edmonson, JuiceBox Pro 40 with JuiceNet Green Owner
Greetings from 6,200 feet up here in Castle Rock, Colorado, county seat of Douglas County, situated about 30 miles south of Denver. It’s also about 1,000 ft higher elevation, so we’re up even higher than the Mile-High city.
Many people know that at high altitudes, combustion cars are less efficient and less powerful than they are at sea level, because there’s less air to feed the engine. In fact, internal combustion engines lose about 3% of their rated power for every 1,000 feet of altitude. So here in Castle Rock, gasoline and diesel cars are close to 20% less powerful and less efficient then their EPA rating would suggest.
However, that doesn’t apply to my all-electric 2016 Nissan LEAF. Electric motors don’t require oxygen for operation, which is also why they are used for propulsion on vehicles sent to the moon and Mars. Therefore, my LEAF performs as well here as it does at sea-level, which is just another reason to switch to electric if you live in Castle Rock.
I’ve had a long running interest in fuel efficient vehicles, going all the way back to a very young age. In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, my father was building a high mileage vehicle (HM Vehicles Freeway) that could get 100 MPG with a small three-wheel vehicle designed for a single passenger, and potentially a small second rider in back. In addition to the gas versions, he made about a dozen battery-powered vehicles as well. My grandfather also had a CitiCar that was a low speed neighborhood electric vehicle, and I remember him taking me for joy rides in it when I was about four years old. It was the coolest thing ever. I loved how quiet it was, and that it just plugged in at home to charge! My first real car I bought was a 2001 Honda Insight Hybrid, and later traded up to a 2003 Civic Hybrid which I drove till 2013 when I decided to go electric, and leased a 2013 Nissan LEAF.
Back then I had heard of the LEAF, but I didn’t know anyone with one, or any EV for that matter. I dreamed of having a Tesla since 2008 when the Roadster came out, but it was out of the budget. Before buying the LEAF, I had started researching electric vehicles a bit on the internet - mostly InsideEVs.com. I then test drove the Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota Prius V, and the LEAF to decide which one would serve my needs best. The final decision came down to the LEAF or Prius V, but after test driving the LEAF, internal combustion vehicles I drove just felt underpowered and loud, like antique technology in comparison to electric drive!
We moved to a new home in Castle Rock in 2014, and installed solar panels shortly after, so I’ve been driving on sunshine ever since. I then traded in my 2013 LEAF for a 2016, also purchased two Tesla Powerwalls to store all the excess electricity from my rooftop solar array. Now we can use our solar production when the sun isn’t shining, and also during power outages. I’ve fully embraced the EV + PV lifestyle, and some of my favorite EV moments are watching the Tesla launch events.
One of the things that has surprised me about driving electric is how infrequent I need to charge anywhere but at home. I work mostly from home, so the majority of my daily driving is local so leaving home with a fully charged car every morning provides more than enough range for my typical daily driving needs. I also knew that I wanted a level 2 charging station for a quicker charge at home. Having the ability to charge on level 2 at home allows me to get the most out of my LEAF, especially on the days that I drive more than usual.
Why did I choose a JuiceBox? Before I had the JuiceBox, I had bought chargers from two other brands. However, after getting the solar array, I had a personal goal of “self-consuming” my solar power and none of the other chargers made it possible or easy to do so. So I began looking into other options, and seeing if there was any better way to “self-consume”. I eventually sent a few questions off to eMotorWerks describing what I was trying to do, and asked if it was possible the adjust the charge rate to coincide with my array’s production. The eMotorWerks support representative informed me that it definitely was, so I then ordered the JuiceBox Pro 40.
With the JuiceBox, I was easily and quickly able to adjust the charge rate of the car, thus allowing me to achieve my goal, and “self-consume” the high majority of my solar power. Between using the JuiceNet app and my Tesla Powerwalls, my 100% “self-consumption” goal was totally achievable. I used the JuiceNet app to adjust the charging rate on occasion, in order to match the excess solar available. This entire time, I have been extremely impressed with the functionality that was built into the JuiceBox, an affordable, high-performance smart charging station, and how easy it was to maximize my renewable energy consumption with JuiceNet Green, I’m a big fan, and applaud them for their wonderful work. No one else is doing this with EV charging.
I’m so happy with my JuiceBox, and all of its smart grid charging features, its long 24’ cable and giving the Amazon Alexa voice control a try in the future. I know that I’ll never go back to an ICE vehicle, and I expect to be charging with clean energy, stored in my Powerwalls, and delivered to my EVs by the JuiceBox, for many years to come!
To my fellow Coloradans in Platte River Power Authority communities in Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland: Buy your JuiceBox Nissan Leaf charger while you can score the rebates from Platte River’s EfficiencyWorks store.