Confusingly, the charge points which are now cropping up all over the UK belong to a wide variety of competing operators and not all include a Type 2 Mennekes socket which is what Heulwen-the-van requires. The best available map which includes all operators and charge point types is here.
To use most of these public charge points requires registration with the operator and the use of their swipe card. We are currently registered with Chargemaster/Polar and with Charge our car/SourceWest and I have also just registered us with Ecotricity who are opening up numerous charge points at Motorway service stations. At the moment, all these are offering free electricity. This will not last!
Currently, the different charge points can be confusing to operate, they are not 100% reliable (but getting better) and the car park spaces they require can be taken by non electric vehicles! It’s also increasingly likely that you may encounter another electric vehicle already charging. It is rare for the host location (a supermarket, hotel or office) to know anything about how their charge point operates. The charge points do usually display a Helpline number.
From our limited experiences, if you are planning to venture out of Heulwen’s 70 mile range, I would recommend the following:-
1. Don’t (!) unless you are up for an adventure and are relaxed about time. However, this project is all about pioneering a new technology and way of eco-travelling so enjoy the experience and give us any feedback. Pioneering can be fun!
2. Check route mileage (Google Maps) in advance – don’t guess!
3. Reset the trip mileage on Heulwen before you set off and then monitor both H’s range estimate and how many of the 8 sectors on the battery gauge you are losing given how many miles you have travelled.
4. Operate the Eco button – this will help limit your acceleration and thereby reduce power consumption .
5. Dress warmly, the heater in the van takes energy and cuts range!
6. Check out the charge points you need to use (Type 2 Mennekes) and contact the operators to check their current status if you are nervous. Heulwen carries a convertor and can charge from a 13amp socket but this takes MUCH longer.
7. Remember that charging will take serious time – 4-5 hours for a complete recharge.