12 Jan Len’s Tips for Future EV Owners
Who is Len? Len Beck is a Senior Rate Analyst at PHI. Len has been a Nissan LEAF owner since February of 2012. Keep reading to learn about Len’s experience and tips on owning an EV!
About the Tax Credit
Q: How long did it take to receive the federal tax credit?
LB: My Leaf purchase qualified for the $7,500 federal tax credit. I bought my Leaf in February 2012. When I filed my income taxes in early 2013, my tax bill dropped by this amount. I received the refund check in April 2013. This took about 14 months from the time of purchase. Had I bought the car closer to the end of the year, the wait would have been shorter.
About the Leaf
Question: What’s the longest distance you drove your Leaf on a single charge?
Len Beck: 84 miles. To conserve power, I drove on roadways that had a top speed limit of 55 miles per hour or less. I also limited the use of heating and air conditioning to extend the range and drove in ECO (economy mode).
Q: How many miles have you driven the Leaf?
LB: To date, I’ve driven the Leaf about 33,400 miles (about 7,000 miles per year). We own two cars. Since the range is limited in the Leaf, I drive it to work and as much as possible for local errands. Our second car is a Toyota, and we use this car for long distance travel, such as to Canada or Florida.
Q: How quiet is the Leaf to drive?
LB: We joke about the first time we rode in the Leaf during a heavy rain storm a few weeks after bringing the Leaf home. The noise was deafening inside the car. We felt the roof and wondered why the soundproof was so “cheap.” Only later did we realize the lack of engine noise was the reason the rain sounded so loud. It’s very quiet. It can be startling to people outside the car since there’s no noise. You must be extra cautious as a Leaf driver when moving at low speeds.
Q: What maintenance costs have you had for the Leaf in five years?
LB: Nissan recommends a battery analysis once a year. The first two are free. Then you pay $115. I incurred no other maintenance costs related to the electric systems. I did have standard maintenance costs that gas powered cars also incur: I replaced the key fob batteries twice in five years ($7 each), and the wipers and tires. I also had the alignment checked and rotated the tires.
About Home Charging
Question: How long does it take to plug in, or unplug after charging?
Len Beck: It’s really fast and easy to recharge at home. I noticed that the time is equal to the time it takes for my garage opener to open the door, or about 10 seconds.
Q: What’s the cost of electric to recharge the Leaf?
LB: The Leaf is rated at about 3.5 miles per kWh of electric. If you drive 50 miles on a charge, the typical power needed for this range is about $2. (50 miles/3.5 x $0.14 per kWh). I bought a kill-a-watt meter and watched how much electric it took to recharge my Leaf. With my previous car, a Dodge Stratus—a sedan that got about 25 miles per gallon—I paid $100 per month for gas. With the Leaf, driving the same miles per month, my electric bill went up $25 per month (based on my meter study). You can expect to save about half of what you currently pay for gasoline.
Q: How do you charge at home?
LB: For the first three years, I only charged with the 120-volt charger that came with the Leaf. It took overnight to charge. About two years ago, I bought a Level 2 (240-volt) charger.
Q: What happens if you forget to plug in at night to recharge?
LB: I’ve only forgotten to plug in a couple times in five years. Fortunately, Delmarva Power has a Level 2 charger at the facility where I work.
About Public Charging
Q: How often do you charge your Leaf away from home, including using a Level 3 DC fast charger?
LB: I recharge at home about 95% of the time. In five years, I’ve only used a DC fast charger about 10 times (two times a year). I have also used Level 2 chargers away from home about 10 times in five years (two times a year).
Q: What are the three types of chargers you use to charge your Leaf?
LB: Level 1 is a 120-volt charger. The Leaf comes with this type charger. With it, you can recharge at a rate of about five miles range per hour. If you drive 50 miles in a day, it will take about 10 hours to recharge (overnight). The Level 2 is a 240-volt charger. The plug is similar to an electric dryer or oven plug. This type charger is faster than Level 1, with a charge rate of about 15 miles of range per hour. If you drive 60 miles, it will take about three to four hours to recharge. (The speed of recharge will vary based on the amperage of the power source.) The Level 3 is the DC fast charger. To recharge 60 miles of range takes only about 30 minutes.
Q: Are all chargers created equally?
LB: No! The charging speed from a Level 2 charger directly depends on the amperage of the electric service to the charger. I once used a free charger at a local community college. The power feed was likely 15 amps, which made the recharge a three- to four-hour wait to capture enough power to drive back home.