Today I needed to go from my home in Saltash to Brixham. This is a round trip of 73 miles and right on the edge of the range of my Nissan Leaf so I might have chosen to use my Vauxhall Ampera. Instead, I decided to see if I could do it easily in the Leaf and looking at Zap-Map ( http://www.zap-map.com/ ) I saw that there was a POLAR charging stations at the Asda Supermarket in Paignton and so I reckoned that I could get a top up charge there making the trip possible. That assumed that the charge station was actually working so I checked the ChargeMaster web site and it was showing as available – I thought I’d take the chance.
As with any trip in an EV it is always wise to have a plan B and my plan B was to go straight from Paignton to Exeter instead of Brixham and at Exeter I could rapid charge and return home. OK, I wouldn’t get to Brixham, which was the point of the trip, but I could do what I needed to do tomorrow if push came to shove.
So starting out with a full Nissan Leaf I set out for Paignton.
My heart sank a little. I was expecting the bays to be blocked but I was still disappointed. It was strange though because the charging station is no where near the customer parking and as it was right by the staff entrance I immediate guessed that these cars were staff and this turned out to be the case.
In the meantime I saw that if I drove onto the pavement then I could still charge and so that is what I did but had I been in the Ampera then the height of the curb might have made that risky without damaging the front skirt.
I was pleased to see the blue lights and so I tried to charge. This is when I had my second disappointment. The post wouldn’t start the charge because it was asking for the flap to be closed. When using the 13A socket this makes sense because the plug is small and it is designed to only operate when the flap is closed. With a type 2 socket the plug sticks out the front and the flap physically can’t close and so with the post wanting me to close the flap I couldn’t start the charge.
I have heard of this before. It is because the software for each socket can be defined individually on the post and if they are both defined as “13A” then both sockets behave as if they are 13A even though one of them is a type 2.
With the delay I decided that before contacting anyone I would see if I could charge via the 13A socket and if it did then I would get it charging while I sorted out the flap issue. The 13A socket was working and so at least I was charging. In the end I was charging for 1:20 and added about 15 miles.
The ChargeMaster support centre said that the post was configured correctly and they would reboot the post once I had finished charging, which they did. As a side note… when is POLAR/ChargeMaster going to put a normal telephone number on their posts. Everyone will be using a mobile to report issues and 0845 numbers are expensive from a mobile.
I spoke to the Asda manager about the staff parking in the bays and he assured me that this won’t happen from now on and whilst I was still there one of the cars was moved. The owner seemed to intimate that they were allowed to park there and whilst I have no evidence that they were parking there with the management permission it sure seemed that they regularly parked there. Anyway, at least one was moved and I had the assurance of the manager that staff would not park there any further.
So off I went off to my Brixham appointment and an hour later I returned to the Asda Paignton to try the post again. Clearly the post had been rebooted but the fault remained so ChargeMaster have agreed to send an engineer to fix it.
My third disappointment of the day was that the car that moved from the charging bay whilst I was there and after being specifically told by management that they were not to park in those bays any further WAS BACK!!!! So much for management keeping the bays clear! What hope is there is Asda management allow their own staff to park in the charging bays? It is almost enough to make a grown man weep 🙁
I returned home with 5 miles estimated and one bar remaining. Clearly I would not have made this trip without the top up charge and so in spite of the flap issue forcing me to charge at 10A instead of 16A, and in spite of the charging bays being blocked by Adsa staff (not once but twice!), I still considered this trip a qualified success.
Just another day of adventure with an Electric Car!