29 June 2009

My first weekend with 339

Mini-E electric Mini Cooper #339 My Mini-E field trial battery chargers
Here's all the "other stuff" that came with my Mini-E #339. Clock-wise from the top left: Card with the list of Mini-E dealers in the Metro NY area, a "leather"(?) pouch to hold the books (and insurance papers, registration, business cards for dealer's sales and service people), two "smart" wireless keys, manual of "safety tips," quick "Getting started booklet (pages produced by my dealer using a color printer/copier), a folding "booklet" on how to operate the radio, a guide to service and maintenance, the full 116-page owner's manual, and (finally) a "Mini-E Insider's Guide." (Click to enlarge for a cruddy image. Sorry. Only have my cell phone camera!)
So, it was a beautiful (if muggy) weekend here in Neuva York. But alas, I couldn't drive 339 since I drained it so much after Friday's commute from hell. :-(

Given the sticky weather (and my own laziness), I really didn't want to go anywhere anyway. (Now if 339 were a convertible Mini-E... ;-))

Anyway, I spent some time with the fairly substantial (116-page!) owner's manual. A LOT of time! Wow... BMW/Mini really tried to cover EVERYTHING in a pretty substantial manner. Everything except that burning question I had yesterday:

Could I have charged 339 in the rain yesterday without worrying?

There's nothing in the manual about it, at least not about the 110-V charger.

I suppose that the cluegy charger wouldn't be covered in the manual. It is, after all, called the "Occasional Use Charger." (Uhhh.. it takes 26+ hours to charge a Mini-E with it. I'd call it something more accurate -- if a bit politically incorrect!)

No, BMW wants us all to be using the 220-Volt charger since it could completely recharge a dead Mini-E's battery in just 4 or 6+ hours.

Speaking of which...

I got a call from Clean Fuel Connection, the folks who are coordinating all the contractor work that needs to be done in pioneers' homes.

The good news: The local contractor wants to come over and install the box (and 220-V line) this Friday, July 3rd!!!

Woo hoo!!!!

Mini-E electric Mini Cooper #339 My Mini-E field trial battery chargers
This is the 220-Volt "wall box charger" that will (supposedly) be installed by my local contractor, tapped by Clean Fuel Connections to do the work. I don't know if this "Clipper Creek" box will be actually installed on the outside of my house. But it seems to be the wall box other Mini-E pioneers are blogging about (Click to enlarge.)

That's quite symbolic, now that I think about it... On the day I have time off from work (for the Saturday July 4th celebration of our nation's independence from tyrannic British rule), I'll be getting a box installed that frees me from the high price of gas and taking a step that might help our nation end our dependence on foreign oil!!!

More personally (and immediately) satisfying: Pat (my local contractor) will finally put an end to the whole mess that plagued me from nearly the beginning of the Mini-E program.

Will my house support yet another 240-volt line running 40- (or even a 32) amps? And will BMW/Mini pay for it all? The answer, thankfully, is "yes"... To BOTH questions! YAY!! (There were, as late as mid-June, questions about BMW's commitment to paying for the "long run" of cable to go from my electrical panel to where I want the wall charger. But we got that all worked out, too!)

Yes, getting that box will really free me -- especially from insufficient charges due to manually stopping the 110-V charger way short of the 16-26+ hours it really needs to juice a Mini-E's battery.

BTW: I didn't get a "100%" on 339 until Sunday. That's not to say my Mini-E needed a continuous 48-hours to recharge from 8% on Friday!

I spent some time during Saturday trying to isolate an indoor 110-V outlet with enough amperage to charge 339 without tripping a breaker. And, it had to be accessible from the outside. Thankfully, I found one in the basement laundry room that was close enough to my driveway (through a cellar window!) So, 339 spend almost all-day Saturday and all night Sunday, drinking down juice without "sharing." (Really, no one in the house could do laundry this weekend! What a shame! ;-))

Still... I can't wait until Independence Day!

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