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Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:44 pm
by njsfx
I'm considering picking up a new Leaf in the near future. I live in the Phoenix metro area where it is above 100 degrees every day 5-6 months out of the year. I've recently test driven a Chevy Bolt and a BMW i3. in both cases it was approximately 110 degrees outside during the test drive. In both vehicles, the AC could not cool the cabin to a comfortable level. In my non-electric cars, the AC cools the cabin down in just a few miles of driving in 110+ degrees heat.

Question for Leaf owners living in extreme heat: Does your Leaf cool down to a comfortable temperature during the peak heat months? Does it take longer to cool down than a traditional car?

Thank you for any input.

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:04 pm
by hackdroot
I wouldn't consider myself living in extreme heat, but we've had some decent temps lately in California, so I'll chime in.

The last couple of weeks I've experienced ambient temps of 105 degrees on my way home and the AC in my 2013 SL has performed flawlessly (both in traffic and at speeds). I have black leather interior and park in the shade at work. After initial cooling down at full blast fan speed (takes about 7-10 minutes at those temps), I leave the fan at 2-3 clicks of fan speed to keep it nice and cool inside all the way home. I would dare say it would get too cold if I left it on full blast. Very impressed with my AC at idle and speed in the recent heatwaves here.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that I keep the temp set to 60deg (max cold) during the heat waves and moderate the fan sped only to regulate cabin temp. This has a negligible effect on my range (I doubt I could even calculate it outside of normal traffic and wind variables)

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:20 pm
by cwerdna
Can you update your location info via your user name in the upper right > User Control Panel > Profile tab? That way, we don't need to ask in future posts/threads or do sleuthing to deduce it.

What are your daily driving needs in terms of miles? How much city vs. highway? Will you have the ability to charge at your work/destinations?

You do realize you're going to suffer pretty bad battery degradation due to your high temps, right? If you're getting a new Leaf, assuming you're going to own, with luck, you might get the HV battery replaced two or more times under the capacity warranty. For whatever reason, it seems the 30 kWh batteries aren't holding up very well.

http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.p ... 69#p496269 has a pointer to some stats for a guy in Phoenix with a '13. In contrast, https://www.facebook.com/groups/seattle ... 036995594/ lost his 1st capacity bar in the Pacific NW on July 5th at 92,710 miles.

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:47 pm
by jjeff
FWIW I've read the compressor cooling of a "S" model Leaf is actually better for extreme heat than the heatpump system of post '12 SV/SL models. Note precooling a Leaf, which is easier than an ICE vehicle would also give you a head start, although I believe it's easier to impliment with a SV/SL models than non-internet connected S models. With the S model you'd have to know your departure time or go out to the car and turn it on, then lock it back up.

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:55 pm
by Phatcat73
Did the cars you test drove have tinted windows? With all the heat related degradation issues the Bolt and I3 have active cooling to better tolerate the AZ heat.

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:38 pm
by GerryAZ
When my 2011 was new, it had the best air conditioning of any car I have driven. It would cool down quickly even when sitting still. Unfortunately, the first software update (Nissan TSB or recall) included some revisions to the HVAC controller programming. The maximum allowable compressor speed while the car was moving less than 18 mi/hr was reduced so it reduced the cooling capability a little while stopped. The A/C was still quite good, but I am not sure it was still the best of any car I have driven because you can rev a gas engine to get more cooling while stopped (assuming the engine cooling system is up to that abuse). As far as I know, the reduced compressor speed while moving less than 18 mi/hr has been present on all Leafs after that initial software update. There are some settings which require Nissan's Consult 3+ system to adjust the maximum compressor speed while stopped and while using the pre cool function. The defaults are lower than the maximum allowed by the HVAC controller software so raising those settings to maximum does help (I paid my dealer to change the settings to maximum shortly after getting my 2015). My 2015 SL has black leather seats and black plastic interior trim so it absorbs more heat than the light color plastic trim and cloth seats (actually made from recycled plastic) in the 2011. Both cars were silver and had factory tinted glass without aftermarket tint so the difference due to interior materials and color was quite obvious. Even with the black interior, my 2015 cools down quickly if moving at least 18 mi/hr. It takes a little longer to cool down if sitting still, but it is still at least as good as most other cars I have driven. Once the interior is cooled down, the lower cooling capacity while stopped is not really noticeable (although you can measure the difference in outlet temperature with an HVAC thermometer in the vents). One nice feature of the Leaf is that acceleration is not affected by A/C use because it is completely separate from the drive motor.

Battery capacity loss due to our extreme climate has been significantly less with my 2015 than it was with the 2011. At 29 months after purchase with over 43,000 miles on the odometer, it still has 11 capacity bars so there is little chance that it will deteriorate enough to qualify for a warranty replacement. The battery in the 2011 was replaced at 28 months (was at 8 capacity bars for 2 or 3 months) with less than 30,000 miles and the replacement was already down to 11 capacity bars by the time the car met its demise.

Describe your typical driving patterns and I will give you some recommendations as to whether a Leaf would be suitable for your needs in Phoenix.

Edited to add: The A/C compressor reaches full output once vehicle is moving above 18 mi/hr, but it starts ramping up above about 12 mi/hr. According to the energy use display on the navigation screen, it draws a maximum of 1.5 kW while stopped and it can approach 4.5 kW on an extremely hot day after being parked in the sun when moving above 18 mi/hr until it cools down the interior (power fluctuates to match cooling needs).

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:42 pm
by GRA
cwerdna wrote:<snip>
You do realize you're going to suffer pretty bad battery degradation due to your high temps, right? If you're getting a new Leaf, assuming you're going to own, with luck, you might get the HV battery replaced two or more times under the capacity warranty. For whatever reason, it seems the 30 kWh batteries aren't holding up very well.

http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.p ... 69#p496269 has a pointer to some stats for a guy in Phoenix with a '13. In contrast, https://www.facebook.com/groups/seattle ... 036995594/ lost his 1st capacity bar in the Pacific NW on July 5th at 92,710 miles.
Just to piggyback on cwerdna's post, for anyone living in Phoenix or other areas with sustained high temps, a LEAF, which lacks active cooling of the battery, would not be the BEV I would recommend. The Bolt and the i3 have actively-cooled batteries.

See http://www.hybridcars.com/2017-chevy-bo ... x-details/ and http://www.hybridcars.com/bmw-and-lg-ch ... anagement/

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:52 pm
by GerryAZ
Suitability of LEAF vs. EV with active cooling of battery in Phoenix really depends upon individual user needs. For me, active cooling would only help during charging (especially quick charging). I park at office or airport for extended time with no way to plug in so battery temperature of Bolt, Tesla, or i3 would be just as hot as Leaf and those batteries are designed to be kept cool so they would likely suffer degradation while parked. Air flow around the battery case during highway driving seems to keep Leaf's battery temperature close to ambient, although battery temperatures rise during surface street driving (my commute is mostly freeway in carpool lane). The "lizard" battery in my 2015 is doing much better than either the original or replacement batteries in my 2011. I have driven the 2015 for 29 months and 43,800 miles so far and it still has 11 capacity bars so I am satisfied with its performance and it is almost certain that the capacity warranty will expire before the original battery qualifies for replacement. In contrast, the replacement battery in the 2011 would likely have been down to 8 bars by 5 years and 60,000 miles to qualify for a second new battery.

I had a chance to move to a different EV in 2015, but BMW i3 had insufficient range and was too expensive, Ford Focus was not readily available in AZ (shipping all to CA for CARB credits), Smart EV had insufficient range, and Tesla was way too expensive to justify. This made the choice to stay with LEAF an easy decision.

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:29 am
by Philipr144
I live in Bakersfield ca, and while it's not Phoenix we get some hot 105 to 113 degree days. A.c. works great! Battery temp however is not so great lol it's not uncommon to see 8 or 9 bars temp. But hey, the cabin feels nice and fresh.

Re: Air Conditioning in Arizona Heat

Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 4:20 pm
by cwerdna
Phatcat73 wrote:Did the cars you test drove have tinted windows? With all the heat related degradation issues the Bolt and I3 have active cooling to better tolerate the AZ heat.
FWIW, just the other day, 2 Vegas i3 folks were encountering their i3 severely limiting output to the point of losing power or being unable to move.

Seems like folks those folks need to run the AC to cool the battery while sitting for awhile or preconditioning to cool down the battery. One of them showed an OAT of 122 F (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BMWi3/p ... 828105706/).

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BMWi3/p ... 008107788/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BMWi3/p ... 438104745/ - mentioned 113 F