There and Back Again, a Sparks on the Road Tale… ( My apology to Mr. Tolkien)

Well as I mentioned in my last post, I recently took a trip from Brighton, IL to Carlinville, IL. This was a trip of 60 miles round trip. Normally this would not have been a problem. I regularly go 70 plus miles on a charge with mixed highway – city driving. This trip though would be mostly highway. That and the temperature was going to be in the region of 10-12 degrees Fahrenheit. I left home with a full charge around 4 in the afternoon on February 12 with the temps at 17 degrees. I got on the highway and set my speed to 55mph. My Guess-O-Meter started at 81 miles and by the time I was at the first turn it was down to – 7 miles for the first 5 miles of journey. I made the turn for next stage of my journey and managed to get the deficit from -7 to -2 miles on the GOM. I again set the speed for 55mph and cruised on into Carlinville. I managed to get there with  42 miles on the GOM by 5PM and talked with the folks about recharging Sparks.

After some fiddling around I found an outlet and got ready to charge the car. The first outlets did not have any juice and so I went hunting for another one, the sun has gone down by now and it is getting dark in a big hurry. I found another outlet, this time with power and I proceeded to plug in my EVSE Upgrade Charger into the wall. The Charger lit up showing it was ready to go, but when I plugged it into the car everything went dark. I reset the GFCI breaker on the socket and plugged it back in. Again the breaker popped. Apparently this socket was rated at less the 15amps. I was in a pickle. I knew that the trip home would require more power than the trip out because of the use of lights and limited heat to keep the windows defrosted. Also the temperature had indeed dropped to 12 degrees. 42 miles on the GOM might have seemed enough but I didn’t want to get stranded if the silly thing was wrong. I went in search of another outlet and was unable to find one in the dark. I was in a bit of a problem, I could reset the EVSE Upgrade Charger to a lower amp setting but I did not have the tool or instructions needed to do this. For whatever reason though I had the Ford charger also in the Car. I guess I never took it out when I got the new EVSE Upgrade Charger.

I took out the Ford EVSE and plugged it in. Everything lit up like it was supposed to. Then I plugged it into the car. Again everything that was supposed to light up did on the EVSE and on the Car. I walked away and hoped that everything would function throughout the night. I was charging from 6:00 PM to 9:15 PM and managed to get a charge up to 75% or what showed on the GOM as 61 miles.

I hopped into the car and began the return trip during which nothing remarkable happened. I pulled into the house with 21 miles remaining on the GOM. The charge in Carlinville was almost certainly necessary for me to get home. I guess I could have nursed the trip home without a charge but I would have had to reduce my speed and not used the heater at all.

What then have I learned…

  1. Always check ahead to make sure there will be a place to charge, even if you think you won’t need it.
  2. Have all the necessary tools and or instructions needed for your EVSE equipment.
  3. Always have a Plan B (the Belt and Suspenders way of life) ( My Ford EVSE in this case.)

I have another trip to Carlinville in March. I will be going about 10 Miles further than the last trip and this time will be going to a convention hotel. I need to call them soon to see if they have a place I can charge. Otherwise I will need to rent a car to get there and back, or then again maybe I don’t need to go to this conference anyway…

All-in-all this was a great trip and I am very glad to have made it all electrically. I continue to be very happy with my Focus Electric and I look forward to pushing forward the boundaries of its use in the months- years to come.


Fr. Bill