Volt 2+ year stats

Alternative energy sources
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The usual. As I have two large solar PV systems here, and my lab assistant just put one in, and others are interested in things like this, here's where that stuff goes. This is mostly for things that work now, not "gee someday a fusor will do this" -- we know that, but it's not someday yet.
The hope is to save anyone embarking on this sort of thing a lot of wasted time and money, as at least I have been off the grid since 1980 and have had a lot of practice (and made mistakes you won't have to).

Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Doug Coulter » Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:08 pm

It's been fun, and it keeps being fun! I'm racking up the free miles, getting better as it broke in, and I broke in in the sense of knowing how to get the most out of this - both in fun and miles per charge. I've decided to keep track of my stats insofar as the car makes it easy. Trip meter A was set Jan 1, 2012 (I picked up the car in October 2011, and drove it using too much gasoline, since I didn't have the amount of solar panels required to keep up then). Trip B was set Jan1, 2013, and reset after I took these pictures of the car's recorded stats.
We can do a bit of math and figure out the yearly numbers from the data in these pix, and a movie I took of the same.
VoltTripB.JPG
2013 stats

As you can see, I used 10 gal of gasoline in 2013, but still attained more than 250 mpg. I bought the last tank around July, so it's "summer gasoline", eg, has a lower vapor pressure and more energy than "winter gas" does - it's a better deal per dollar. I took only a couple of trips outside battery range, never really running the engine past about 2 quarts of gasoline per - and didn't see the so-called 40mpg doing that - more like 20 mpg. But that's deceptive too, as sometimes not only does the engine not warm up fully and get to max efficiency, but it's also charging the batteries - net - in mountain mode. A couple times it was dodgy if I could climb that last long steep hill as I got home, and went ahead and went into mountain mode a few miles earlier to put some extra charge into the batteries for that, and wound up with net extra in the batteries when I hit my driveway. No one has figured out how to report those numbers accurately so far - it's a pretty hard problem - if I've got X in the battery - how much came from the engine, how much from the plug? After a time, how to update that (which to amortize and so on).

At any rate, last year, I did 342.7 mpg...could be worse. The engine force-ran in "maintenance mode" once - I used it enough to avoid that mostly, and once in "it's too cold" mode, for a little while. It really was too cold, and since the waste heat helps heat the car, I didn't mind that one like many Volt owners obsess about - hey, for once you're getting all the energy in gasoline - the waste heat, and the shaft power running a generator to the batteries.

My average for 2 years wasn't quite as good, as that first one I used more gasoline while installing the new solar array, instead of just having it leaning on the walls half the year, and me not knowing how to drive the car as well as I do now. On top, I ran gasoline more than required, as I wanted to break the engine in and get that assembly lube (about 50 weight net) changed out for real synthetic 5W-30, which I've now done.
VoltTripA.JPG
Since Jan 1 2012


Crunching some numbers here: 8150.4 (miles in both years) - 3427.1 (miles in 2013) = 4723.3 miles in 2012. Yeah, I don't drive that much. Even my truck used less gasoline than my mower and tractor - I hardly drive it other than to take out the garbage (or buy lumber to mount solar panels).
Subtracting the gasoline we get 28.3 gallons used in 2012, or 166.9 and change mpg net. That was with the thick oil...and a little less driver restraint and knowledge of how to get the best out of things. Not shabby, even so.

For the pukey total life miles. Well, not all are mine - the dealer's salesman put on 100 miles himself, and at that time, I didn't even have the solar panels on the ground wired up, so I could rarely charge the car at all - other than at the dealer when I bought it, this car has *never* been charged from grid power, just solar.

We see 10747 on the odometer total, minus 8150 recorded on the trip meter, so that interval between October 2011 and Jan 1 2012, was 2597 miles I don't have detailed record for. We'll have to calculate from the life miles per gallon. We are showing 127 mpg lifetime.
VoltLife.JPG
Lifetime stats, kinda

10747 total mile divided by 127 = 84.6220472441 total gallons of gasoline. Now we subtract 2012 and 2013 - 36.3 gallons and we see that I burned 48.3220472441 gal of - gas from Oct (early, don't remember the exact date) through December of 2011. In that period I drove 10747 - 8150.4 miles = 2596.6 miles ( a lot for me, I was showing this off to everyone, and using mountain mode a lot to put energy into the batteries with some round-trip loss so my victims could try it all-electric) for a pretty horrible gas mileage number 2296.6/48.3220472441 = 53.7353060992 mpg - still better than a Prius (and a heck of a lot faster, quieter, and better handling) even under those rotten conditions - little to no access to electricity. The numbers kind of stink, but just try this with a Leaf or Tesla. You'd still get infinite miles per gallon - but almost no miles at all, it'd be a driveway ornament. Yes, I'm a true believer in having that efficient gasoline engine still - even with the added weight and complexity. It makes the Volt possible as an "only car" whereas with the others, not so much. I could drive the Volt to, say, Tesla headquarters, while they drove one of theirs here - and I'd get to theirs first, even though the Tesla has performance more like my old Camaro - you have to stop and charge it. Even with superchargers, which don't in the main exist yet along that route from VA to CA - I'd beat them handily in average MPH. Even if we were both speeding. The Volt limits at a "mere" 100 mph, but obviously that's the computer - it's like hitting a wall, it's still pulling hard, then oops - that's all I'll give ya.

It's going to take awhile to get up to the reporting limit it seems - I've got to drive a heck of a lot of all-electric miles (which is now the norm) to get up to the limit at 250. I'll have fun doing it, though, and now I have the electricity, even in winter, more often than not - I only have to go out for groceries as things stand, mostly, anyway, and if the weather is truly nasty - well, that's why I also have that 4wd big truck - safety wins over money for that, even though the Volt has shown itself to be a pretty good snow car, heck, it's still got the new on it and doesn't have a heck of a lot of ground clearance, so if it's deep - truck.

Here's a couple vids I took at the same time I took the pix.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftU--ogG2Kk


Note that the extra power consumption per mile on a standard trip in winter DOES NOT include my running the heater - I didn't. I preheated the car on shore power with a portable ceramic "foot warmer" heater and didn't use the car's heat at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83WnrZYcOuk

In this vid I show the sorry winter sun at noon here. I have trees to the south, both on my own land, and across the road (which I can't cut). These shade the main array to some extent till around 2 pm, by which time the sun is way over to the side and not that long before setting near the winter solstice around here.
This is therefore my worst period of the year for energy. As a bit of backstop, that building behind my main one also has two racks of my oldest panels, and at least they aren't shaded after about 10 am...but those are old, and not many and not as efficient as the new ones. Their main value is that they put out power at a time earlier than the main array, when the homestead batteries need it most.

And, oh yeah, happy new year to all! It's been a mixed year here - good on fusion and cars at least. Hope everyone (myself included) does even better in 2014.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby solar_dave » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:39 am

Looks good Doug.

We are so ecstatic with our Volt pair, it gets hard to remember the last fueling with them. The wife's 2011with about 9680 miles on it shows 464 mpg on the voltstats.net web site and my 2012 with 17K+ miles shows 345mpg. The 2012 has been used for a few trips so we have used about 51 gallons of fuel since it was new. The wife tried to game the fuel maintenance and ended up not understanding the burn cycle on the old fuel, it cost her some mileage because the small amount added wasn't enough to really reset the fuel counter and the maintenance burn came right back, she then burn most of the tank off to get to the point where a few gallons added was enough.

Solar? He Ha! been a good couple years with it as well. Got our settle up from APS a few days ago and it amounted to a measly $46 as they got the utilities commission to reduce to reduce the pay out from $0.065 to $0.028 a kWh. So we have been on a quest to burn it instead of worrying about the payback. Still out annual outlay to the Utility was only about $500 for night time consumption, fees and taxes. A 90+% reduction from those pre-solar years where we paid $5500 to $6000 annually, and we added loads as you know. New shop/office building and the pair of Volts the most conspicuous. APS is on a campaign to not have more grid tie solar added to the system. You can search APS and solar and it is all over the web on their attempts to influence the utilities commission.

Happy New Year!
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http://phx-solar.no-ip.info:8081/Footprints.html
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Doug Coulter » Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:54 am

I thought of you when I heard that on the news. I think you have it backwards. In nearly all places where I've "followed the money", the state corp commision (rate setting guys) have a fairly interesting revolving door policy - they are owned by the power co, almost in fee simple. The rest is just publicity, pretending to resist the power co's demands for the public's benefit. After awhile, you see this pattern, and don't have to check that the SCC chair worked for the power co, or has an offer to move to the power co when he retires from the state. Stuff like that is why I have to fight to not be so cynical, I've just seen too much scum pretending to be human.

Boy, do I hate to say this - they actually have a case. Not as big as what they are getting, but for some. They don't exist to be free batteries for you, they have some expenses other than just generation, which if you're hooked to them, you should share. In a fairer world, those would be honestly broken out separately. But we live in the world we live in. Our power co does break those out, but at their whim they change the numbers to suit. When they are busy being anti-solar (most of the time), it's all the grid cost, and rates per kwh are very low. Once they get the law changed back into their favor (this has happened 3-4 times since I set up here) so they don't have to pay well for power you make - it's all high money per kwh, and the grid is "free".

This has significantly hosed a few neighbors, who put in things like huge electric hot tubs and so forth when the kwh were cheap...and now they understand me a little better.

I hope a lot more people will get Volts, though. It's just so hard to describe to people how cool it is to drive - and how cool driving it for essentially the cost of tire wear is - the money just piles up. I know my 2012 was built like a "bet the company" car - I've never seen anything superior in build quality, ever, and I've checked out a huge number of cars. Certainly nothing close in this price range. And doggone it, it's a real sports car on top. I hope GM keeps the build quality this high, I have no idea how the newer ones are. Mine was the first Volt in this market - GM had only sold the earlier ones in test markets. I assume they paid extra attention to the build for that first-release-to-world-at-large production run. Everything is just perfect on mine. I've found no way to get all this across (not that I've not done better than GM marketing) other than putting "butts in the driver's seat". Even that isn't enough for some - any prius owner is shocked how much nicer a Volt is, and I've converted a few. But those who haven't paid attention to all this say "nice car, too much trouble to plug it in" and dumb stuff like that. They just won't "get it". No point talking to someone who refuses to listen, you have to get them asking, then they'll hear the answer.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Jerry » Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:08 am

Be sure to use a fuel stabilizer in the tank if you are using that little fuel. Gas is mixed to last 30 days and really goes to hell after about 90.
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Doug Coulter » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:54 pm

You're totally correct in principle. GM handles that pretty well. You are forced to burn gas at intervals by the car's computers, for a variety of reasons, and it actually tracks the average age of the gas in the tank (among other things) to enforce that, as well as running a completely airtight fuel system (the tank is pressurized and you can't even open the door without the car's permission after it's bled that down).

You get maintenance burns (real short, about .07 gallon) every few weeks to keep the engine oiled - you know engines are a use it or lose it proposition, but not everyone does. You also get "stale gas" burns once the average age gets too long, as well as "engine running due to low temperature" below 25f. Many Volt owners whine like crazy about this, because if any of those burns happen when you're not planning for them, they make your numbers suck.

I'm not one of those. I realize that's a good plan, and can generally predict a burn. I make sure that happens at times when it's not wasted, is all, so it doesn't crud up the numbers while sitting in the driveway or going 35 mph when the engine can't run hard and be efficient. I just went for a drive when it was super cold here lately, let it run the engine as that is the one case you get it all outa the gas - both shaft power (it can clutch it in directly too if conditions warrant) as a generator, and waste heat heats the cabin - so net efficiency is super-high, vs the usual 20-30% in a regular ICE type car. Else you'd be running that ignorant 6-7 kw electric heater off the batteries anyway, which seems like the single dumbest design decision in the entire thing.

This engine doesn't really even have a throttle - it's all handled via variable cam timing (separately for intake and exhaust cams). At "full snot" it runs 13::1 compression..on 93 octane, and I try to get the stuff w/o ethanol which DOES last longer. To run at less than that, the intake timing is adjusted to just not let it get a full intake charge, instead of running manifold vacuum. Kind of cool (as long as it works - seems a bit fancy for uber-reliability).

At any rate, even with that one burn so far in 2014, my yearly mileage (well, I don't have a lotta miles yet so it's not statistically great) is over my lifetime number, so I'm still improving on that one. Another trip and I should change the 127 to 128. As we come out of winter solstice, the solar is kicking in a lot better, especially with the upgrade (panels mounted higher out of the shade) and I'll use less gas this year probably - I'm getting smarter about that.

Many Volt owners "solve" the stale gas "problem" by just not filling the tank all the way when they go to the pump. But I don't think that's a winner, even though it means carrying a few less pounds, as that average will now include (especially over the longer term) some REALLY old gasoline that as you say, won't be great stuff. I just fill it all the way and burn it. At least that way, once it's empty, it's really removed all the really old stuff and any nasty byproducts of decomposition, rather than mixing them in with fresh stuff. A purge if you will. I also like knowing I've got 100 miles worth of gas, more or less, just in case.
(the tank is only about 8 gallons anyway)
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats - the ongoing saga

Postby Doug Coulter » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:39 pm

Well, another year has gone by, and I have new numbers for the Volt, so here they are. I realize this is a bit late, but as luck would have it, I've not driven it yet this year, I take the truck for getting wood and so on.
The numbers are pretty good and getting better with time. It was a big deal getting enough solar to run this more on electricity, since most of my errand loops don't require gasoline at all, though I've been bitten by "stale fuel" burns and since learned not to keep too much gasoline in the car so it's easy to cut the average age of the gas in the tank, and not have to burn as much. This past year, I was lucky in the sense that the major fuel burn was a gas maintenance burn, but happened during bitterly cold weather, so I got the waste heat as a bonus for that (long anyway) trip.
Here's what I now see on my dash. The "A" trip meter is since Jan 1 2012, the B is since Jan 1 2014 (2013 should be above in this thread, I only have two trip meters, and B is just now getting reset for 2015 stats).
Volt2014.JPG
Most recent year

VoltFrom2012.JPG
Since start of decent solar system, Jan 2012

VoltLifetime.JPG
Lifetime since early Oct, 2011


Along the way, I've just loved this car more and more - it's really fun to drive and dust off ricky rice racer on the mountain twisties where I live...They think guys like Ken Block know how to get around a course quick. Heh...old age and treachery know a lot more about how to go fast - and have your tires last a bit longer as well. This year I managed to prove something neat about the engineering in the gasoline engine. Yes, Virginia, octane and no ethanol make a HUGE difference. As luck would have it, the car forced a fuel maintenance burn on me just as I was taking my one "road trip" of the year, when it was bitter cold and I enjoyed not only the extra heat - but 40 mpg on 93 octane pure gasoline (vs 20-something in the past on cheap 91/ethanol).
Evidently, it self-tunes for this, and this wasn't a hypermiling situation - it was full bore on Rt 81, high speeds on an interstate where most confuse the road number with the speed limit - and then exceed that - in the mountains where just after every hill climb, there are usually a few overheated vehicles right after the hilltop.

I burned a fair amount of gasoline early on, both to break in the engine so I could get rid of the thick breakin lube, and because I simply didn't have enough solar power then to handle my driving needs, which were more then than now. I think it's all good, though it kind of spoils the lifetime numbers - they're going up at this point anyway.

This car has not been connected to grid power since I bought it. I've had almost zero maintenance issues - I've changed the oil and rotated the tires, had an antenna snapped off by a few feet thick re-frozen snow (replaced free by GM), and the usual charge door issue, which has stayed fixed since the first time I fixed it with the same sort of moly lube one uses to coat match bullets (powdered molybdenum disulfide).

At this rate, the car might outlast me, without any major maintenance. One big change - OnStar went off the free trial, and for 1/6th of the requested renewal price, I simply bought a Garmin Nuvi GPS with "forever maps", which also happens to work in the truck. They have to be kidding on their pricing, but I don't care - I shut them off.
http://youtu.be/Pbn_wcLOffQ
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Jerry » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:08 am

You might try using av gas, it has a lot longer shelf life than generic gas station gas.
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby solar_dave » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:10 am

You know Doug we are loving the 3+ years on both our Volts, virtual maintenance free. Only oil changes and tire rotations here with one trip to the dealer for the low coolant issue on early Volts. I think mine has just short of 30K miles on it and only 75 gallons of fuel for long distance treks. Sure is great charging them off the Solar system! Ya baby, drive for free, no OPEC fee! LOL

Onstar on the 2012 is gone but the 2011 has 5 years!
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Doug Coulter » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:09 am

Yeah, Dave, even with cheap gasoline (for the moment*) the Volt is still about the only car I'd wish to have. And I have one - couldn't be better. It's nice that it's cheap, but it's more important that it's fun!

Jerry, I don't think that despite the otherwise superior engineering in this thing (most of the owners are engineers for some reason, themselves...we found Dave for instance on the Volt forum) that they figured it out at that level...the fuel they made me burn might as well have been av gas.
They just do it to ya when it gets 6 months old average. So last time I just went ahead and burned out almost all the gas (since it was last winter and bitterly cold anyway and I was going long distances to boot) and then didn't put in but just enough to turn that silly thing off - as you can see in the photo above, I'm going around with a near-empty tank, so next time this happens...I'll only have to buy another gallon or so, just out of cheapness/bragging-rights kind of thinking. It's also a special trip to go to the one place that has the "good stuff" - no ethanol, no crap, just high octane gasoline, which this thing seems to love. I guess there is some thermodynamic advantage to having a variable and possibly high compression ratio if your fuel will take it.



*I suspect cheap gas is going to be temporary, but not as temporary as the chomping at the bit to go long again wall street thinks. This little geopolitical game has two sides (at least). One is, heck - crush all the high CAPEX competition from shale, tar sands, political enemies (russia and iran) and so on, and the Saudis etc have a lotta money in the bank and can hold their breath longer than anyone else. We will then see them perhaps cut their extraction rate and prices go back up, but only after all the competition for $70-100 bbl oil has capped it's wells, and that's if we don't have another recession or depression in the meantime so there's still any demand at the higher price anyway. The talk on the trader street is like palpable "this must go up and soon" but I kinda doubt that. Some of it is managers trying to justify how much money they've lost staying long oil, some of it is just talking book/unicorns farting skittles, and plain old greed. I suspect we've not seen a bottom yet. You should hear the electric car hater baloney going on out there, as if people were actually buying say, a Tesla to save money on gasoline....there's a lot of haters for certain. You find out all sorts of interesting things when you follow the money. But even the weakest hands are set up for 9 or more months - even pumping at a loss is SOME cash flow, rather than none, for projects that already have flow....no immediate changes except 100% cancellation of new projects (and those ripple effects on machinist outfits that make the rig special parts which is already happening).

I did, and in this case some of it's personal. I inherited a small share of an oil well in the northern US, mostly owned by Native Americans. It's a super illiquid investment if you can get the pun. The indians have first right of refusal if I want to sell my piece, and it used to pay a few thousand bucks a year in oil royalties....no way I'm going to sell it for their offer of one dollar! I just got a several thousand dollar check from a law firm doing a class action suit on the actual oil company (In collusion with BIA of course) that had been ripping off the indians (and me) for about a century - and it was thousands after the lawyers took the usual 99.9%. If you follow the money on the "there's no such thing as global warming, oil is abiotic and etc" types, they almost always have this kind of thing as their main investment. Talking their book is what they are doing, even if they actually believe that or only believe it because it's in their book and they are rationalizing. Doesn't matter, does it?

Of course, the falling price of oil could be the canary in the coal mine that all the governments in the world have merely been cooking books as we know they have, and real demand is down because with no job, there's no money and no place to require driving to anyway for a heck of a large fraction of the working age population. Couldn't be that, say it ain't so, Joe!

One thing for certain, while this low gas price saves the average person about a buck a day...nearly all the high paying jobs since 2009 have been in the oil patch, and most all fracking has yet to pay off its high risk bonds (only a few projects have actually paid for themselves), whose spreads are shooting the moon right now - a ton of them will be defaulting over the next 6 months or a year. Which will of course ripple through the markets, the banks, people's retirement funds and probably require yet another "bailout" except in the last spending bill, they now will just do a "bail in" from your bank account and retirement account. No wonder someone named it the "cronybus" spending bill....
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Volt 2+ year stats

Postby Doug Coulter » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:25 pm

And....we have a winner. I hit 250+ mpg today for an interval since Jan, 1, 2014. No grid charging has ever been done, though a couple of times when sun was marginal I did fire up a backup generator and burn perhaps a quart of gas.
https://youtu.be/eV4KAr6apm8


I really like this car - it's a lot more fun to drive than a slow buzzy econobox for certain. Auto tunes the engine to the gas you've got - 87 octane + ethanol gets 26 mpg, but 93 "Pure" (which is also the brand name) - 40+ mpg, and while on a superhighway hauling tail. I really only run the engine barely enough to keep it oiled, though, all my local errand routes this does on battery, except in winter, when I go ahead and run the heater a little which is a total range-killer. That, however, is the one time you really do get super efficiency on gasoline - you get the waste heat for the cabin, plus charge into the batteries in that case.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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