Thursday, September 8, 2016

Office / Shop: Reinforcement

Progress continues on the shop building - an additional beam keeps the new wall stable, the new wall has gotten plywood on one side, and the roof purlins have been doubled-up for more strength.

Support Beam

I was originally going to put in a ceiling at 9', but I've now decided to open the room up all the way to the existing roof structure. That necessitated a few changes, but ultimately it will be better.

The new wall has many bolts tying it into the concrete floor at the base, and it's securely attached to columns on either end, but it's spanning 24 feet so I wanted something to brace it in the middle.

The new bracing beam is a double 2x8.

On one end it's attached to the center column of the exterior wall (not going anywhere).

I do have blocking in the middle to keep it from twisting. In addition to the structural support, this will be a great mount for lights.

Plywood Wall

Next up was to get plywood on at least one side of the wall. I'm trying to get everything organized and having 24' of finished wall makes a huge difference.

Already started putting up shelves on the finished side...

Roof Reinforcement

Now that I'm opening my room up to the existing roof, I want to reinforce its structure so it doesn't sag with weight of insulation, plywood, and solar panels. This is definitely overkill, but I doubled up every 2x6 purlin.

Also cleaned out the room; get it ready for some floor work!

Wow, I just noticed how well you can see the light rays coming from the window to the floor. I had just finished sweeping so there was plenty of dust in the air. :-)


I'll have to add a cat door at some point.

I'm narrowing down my solar panel system purchase. The goal will be to have a small system in place by this winter for emergency power. (And it will be a good test to see how well the panels perform with the short winter days.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2013 Ford Focus Electric: Range Update

The all electric Ford Focus is still running great.

Some updates on the range...

Recent photo, 95 miles!


The 95 miles was after some heavy stop and go traffic driving home during Friday rush hour. If you're typically commuting in medium to heavy traffic, you're going to be well within the advertised range of the car. The car really shines at lower speeds. If you typically cruise 75+ to and from work, you won't be reaching the advertised range.

It's 60 miles one-way to the airport for me - essentially all highway driving, and I charge my car there. (I've never had a problem getting an outlet to charge from.) I try to keep the climate controls off / minimal for that long trip, and I don't speed. Range is much better driving 55 vs 65. If I don't hit traffic, I usually arrive with about 10 miles remaining. With heavy traffic I've had 30 miles estimated range upon arriving.

Automatic Climate Control

Cold has an effect on range, but running the heater to warm up the cabin really has an effect on the range. As in I'll easily see the range drop 10-15% when the heater is operating. If it's not too cold, I just max out the seat heaters which doesn't even budge the range.

You would think running the air conditioner would have a similar major effect on the range. Surprisingly, that's not always the case. If it's in the upper 70s outside, setting the temperature to 72 in the car may reduce the range 15%. Adjusting the temperature down to 68, and the range actually increases with an overall reduction of only 3-4%! After some Googling, it sounds like the car will actually engage the heater alongside the A/C to modulate the temperature; my personal experiences match what they're saying.

So the best options seem to be...

  • If it's hot outside, run the A/C.
  • If your target temperature is at/near ambient temperature, disable automatic climate control (set the temperature to "Low" or "High" and manually control the fan) or crack the windows and enjoy the weather.
  • If it's cool outside, just run the seat warmers.
  • If it's cold outside, run the heater.

Cold Weather ** UPDATE 20 Jan 2017 **

So I'm in my first real winter with the electric car (Texas winters don't count). Cold weather definitely has an effect on the range. With the temperature at freezing and heater off, the car's range in miles reports in the low 60s. If I turn the heater on, the car's range has dropped to as low as 42 miles! If I need to go over 40 miles on those cold days, I'll periodically cycle the defroster on/off manually while driving just to keep the windshield clear.

Battery Life

The car is 3 years old now, and I haven't noticed any appreciable degradation of the battery. The airport drive is a good test as it uses the bulk of the range; it will be interesting to see how it performs next year!

Range Anxiety

I did have "range anxiety" for the first couple weeks of owning the car. (Basically worrying if I really could make it to my destination and back.) That hasn't been a problem though for a long time. I check the car's range before driving, but I've never run out of juice or had to make an emergency stop to charge up.