Polar Network - Source London Confusion - Renault Z.E. Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2013, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
rob
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Polar Network - Source London Confusion

Maybe it's just me but beware assuming that Source London charge points are available to national Polar Network members. They aren't - only ones installed by Chargemaster can be used!

I made my first foray into London last Saturday, a Christmas shopping trip to Stratford Westfield centre. I did my homework and found out Car Park A had 21 electric charge points on level 4. 44 miles from home I got to level 4 to find all 21 parking bays occupied, none by electric cars! 15 mins later a car left, I pulled into the bay and plugged in only to find my Polar RFID card did not work saying 'invalid card', no answer on the telephone help line and only 40% charge left so couldn't make it home.

Eventually found out there was an Asda in Leyton 2 miles away that had charge points I could use. Drove there to find both bays occupied, again not by electric cars. 30mins later a car left and i pulled in and plugged in. Relief, my card worked. Walked to Leyton tube to travel back to Westfield to meet up with wife who I'd dropped off earlier only to find Leyton Orient football crowd had arrived on mass and I was at the back of an enormous queue. 2 hours after arriving in Stratford finally got to the shops stressed out and desperate for a coffee!

5 hours later got back to the Fluence to find it fully charged but noticed the Asda private car park had 3 hour max stay penalty charge notices!

All things considered a most unsatisfactory experience - think I'll stick to using the train in the future!

Joined Source London, paid another 10 membership fee and now received a second RFID card to clutter my wallet. Seams ridiculous to not have a single national system. So beware although Polar Network list Source London as a partner on their website that doesn't mean you can access all the Source London charge points!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 04:40 AM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

A sorry tale for sure but checking out the other EV forums your experience encapsulates the general experience. Only a couple of things you didn't encounter, charge points not working, and free charging but expensive parking charges. No doubt you'll experience these soon.

I always knew there was a reason not to go to London, thanks for confirming that my hermit-like way of life has its advantages.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 04:57 AM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

I was chatting to someone the other day at parkatmyhouse.com, the system that matches domestic parking spaces with potential parkers, and they are doing a big push to get householders offering the parking spaces to have charging points installed.

I suspect that this may become an important source of lots of extra charging points, and circumvent the problems of a) the charging space already being occupied b) incompatible charging cards.

BMW is investing in them as part of its i investments related to electric cars, so they clearly think it could contribute to EV take-up.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 05:59 AM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

There is an organisation "Plugsurfing" that provides charge point information via map at www.plugsurfing.co.uk or via smartphone app. It also has a member base of folk prepared to allow the use of their domestic charge points to other EV users. It's been around for a couple of years but gets little publicity. It's well worth a look, why not join and support the EV community? there's no commitment, indeed once you have registered a charge point you are at liberty to "switch it on" or "off" at will.

I am a member but have yet to register my charge point - being out in the sticks and with a captive J1772 cable that doesn't suit most makes of EV it's more likely to be used by friends rather than passers-by who are prepared to twiddle thumbs for hours with nothing to do! However, I will get round to adding it to the scheme as it will then appear on the map so you can find me. I'll be visible 5 miles outside Bicester, Oxfordshire just off the A41, in the village of Arncott.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 09:03 AM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

Just MHO .. I think the whole idea of public charging is ill-conceived. You can never demand to rely on them, the 'refuelling' time is too long to expect the point is unoccupied, the equipment may be damaged, or may damage your charging point or lead costing $mega and meaning your car is out of action because the point had a defective pin/receptacle that has damaged your charging port. I've tried it a couple of times and gone off the whole idea of public charging.

I'm also quite concerned about the vulnerability of the Fluence's charging position too, which is 'very sticky-out' and vulnerable to knocks and damage from careless passers by, and any such knocks and damage may render the port in need of repair. I get jumpy when visitors walk up our own driveway (!) when the car is on charge, in case they knock the lead.

If I can't make the round trip to a charging point under my [or host's] control I take an ICE.

For an 88 mile return trip, though, I would happily take my Fluence and simply drive in a manner to achieve that mileage. It shouldn't be a problem. Easier to drive in a saintly manner and use minimum juice to avoid using a public charger at all, than to blast to the destination simply in the expectation of getting a charge.

I do not believe public charging will be something for BEVs future. It will be through bigger and replaceable battery packs. There's just not enough commercial interest yet to justify the grander ideas for charging (the optimum is on-road charging) so at the moment we have this primitive 'plug-in' period of EV's evolution. At the very least, it will have to evolve into inductive charging under every parking spot.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 09:38 AM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

Leaf uses J1772 for AC charging.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2013, 12:49 PM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

You're absolutely right Donald, it's just not worth the hassle if you can't guarantee a successful charge.
And Thanks Andrew*Debbie, I'd forgotten the versatility of the Leaf.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
rob
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

An update on my eventful and stressful attempt to drive the 40 mile to London and re-charge at Stratford Westfield shopping centre car park before Christmas....

Last week I gave it another go having now got a Source London membership card as well as a Polar Network card. The trip to Car Park B level D went well - just over half a charge for the 40 miles. Found 6 free charging bays with only one out of order. The other 19 were occupied, one by a leafie, the others by ICE cars. After a bit of pfaffing around trying to work out how to use the card reader device on the charger I left my car hooked up and charging. After an hour I checked car was charging ok using ZE Services phone app that confirmed all was ok. 2.5 hours later returned to car to find it was 90% charged which got me the 40 miles home with just over quarter of a charge remaining. Car park cost 5, electricity free and less than 1 to recharge overnight when I got home. Comparable rail fare cheap day return to Stratford is 20, 40 if two are making the journey plus 4.80 to park at the station. Door-to-door took 75mins about the same as the train.

Overall a successful trip and one I'll happily do again whenever I next need to visit London. You can park all day and recharge for free at Stratford for 5 at Westfield! Provided the technology works it makes a lot of sense.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 06:32 PM
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RE: Polar Network - Source London Confusion

I hope you voiced your concern about ICE cars parked in the EV bays. The more phone calls and emails management of the carpark get, the more likely they are to police it.
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