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Monday, December 10, 2012

Fast Charging at Spirit Mountain

DC Fast Chargers in Oregon

Oregon has more than 40 DC Fast Chargers. These chargers can add 80 miles of range to a Nissan Leaf in 30 minutes. Charging stations were recently installed in Newberg, Oregon at Newberg Chevron and in Grand Ronde, Oregon at Spirit Mountain Casino. 

I have been avoiding fast charging. Maybe "avoiding" is the wrong word. I bought my Nissan Leaf in 2011 as a commuter car. This meant that the bulk of my charging happens in my garage, overnight. As such, I have no need for fast charging in my day-to-day driving.

However, these two stations allowed me to drive my EV to Spirit Mountain Casino.

DC Fast Charger in Newberg Oregon 

I have been going to Spirit Mountain Casino with a small group of friends once or twice a year for several years. It is a fun evening and, if you are lucky, you can leave with a little more money than you arrived with. On each of these prior trips, I have been a passenger. These two charging stations now allow me to take my car and drive the guys there in an EV. So last weekend, I did just that. 

From my home in Beaverton, Oregon, the door-to-door round trip drive is 110 miles; far beyond the range of my Leaf given the freeway speeds and elevation changes. The Newberg station breaks the one-way trip there up nicely into a 17-mile leg and a 38-mile leg. Each of these legs is well within the car's range. The charging station at the casino means that the battery pack will be filled long before we are done playing and we'll be starting out the return trip with a "full tank". 

The trip went off without a hitch. We passed the Newberg Chevron and had to turn around to find it. But once we were there, I plugged in and swiped my membership fob to start the charging session. We went into the convenience store and bought soft drinks for the road. Since we had not driven far yet, the was not much need to charge for very long. When we returned from the store, we unplugged and got back on the road. We made it to the Grand Ronde charging station with 22 miles of range to spare. We plugged in and headed to the casino. 

Beaverton to Grand Ronde via Newberg

About an hour later I checked on the car via Nissan's smartphone app. I saw that the car was 80% full and had stopped charging. Opps, I have the car set to "Long Battery Life" mode. This means that it stops charging at 80%. I went out to the charging station and moved the car over to the level 2 charging station that is next to the fast charger to complete the fill-up. This freed the fast charger in case someone else showed up and wanted to use it. I also had the "EV Card" on my dashboard so another EV driver could contact me if they needed me to move the vehicle for some reason. 

After dinner, I again used the smartphone app to check on the car. The charge was complete and the car was 100% full. We still had a couple more hours of fun planned, and I could enjoy them knowing the car was ready whenever we needed it. 

We left the casino in the wee hours of the morning and headed home. We again stopped in Newberg for a quick charge. We are now only 17 miles from home. And the range meter shows more than 30 miles of range remaining. I didn't need to fully recharge the batteries, I only needed enough to know that I could make it home. A quick leg stretch and I unplugged the car and we were back on the road. This stop was shorter than your average gas station refueling stop. 

When I pulled into my driveway, I had 18 miles of range remaining. It was nice to know that I could have skipped the Newberg station and still made it home but it was even better knowing that I could make it home with range to spare such that I was not stressing the batteries by deep cycling them. 

So we made it there and back again in a 100% electric vehicle. We had a fun time and our brief stops were for drinks and a bathroom break, during which time we also happened to charge for a few minutes at a DC fast charger.