TL;DR? Is your garage door remote working intermittently? Did you recently switch the built-in lights to LED bulbs? That might be causing the problem…Continue reading
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Before LED lights were popular, my house had mostly CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs. One thing I liked about CFL bulbs was the warm-up time, they’d come on a little low and get brighter as they warmed up. This was especially welcome for any late night bathroom trips.
For the garage door opener, I did something different. I installed a “fancy” GE CFL bulb that had an instant-on feature. Here’s an example dual halogen/CFL setup. I don’t remember if my bulb was a hybrid, or if the ballast would just overdrive the bulb to achieve full brightness right away, then back down as the bulb warmed up. 💡
It worked OK, but I noticed my garage light wasn’t staying on for the couple minutes it was supposed to. Finally, in 2021, I got tired of 20 seconds of light in the garage and thought to change the bulb to see if my fancy one didn’t agree with with our Craftsman 3/4HP opener.
I went to Menards and got a couple of 100-watt equivalent LED bulbs. They looked great and the lights stayed on for the full timer.
The next day I noticed something. The garage door wouldn’t close using the keypad remote. Hmmm.. I had never changed the battery in it, so maybe that was it? It didn’t help.
Maybe I needed to put the opener into learning mode again to pair the keypad after I changed the battery? While I was re-programming the remote, things seemed a bit fussy. Finally I got it to pair. I went up to the opener and noticed the antenna was hanging down when it wasn’t previously. I moved the antenna and then things seemed to start working again. Was my antenna loose? Was I going to have to replace it? 🤔
Then I recall bumping into one of the door sensors while I was reorganizing the garage (which is when I decided to replace the bulbs). There were some cobwebs, so I cleaned them off and made sure the alignment was good.
In the past I’ve occasionally had problems with the door sensors when sunlight shines directly on one of the sensors which blinds it from seeing the actual signal. I thought maybe sunlight had something to do with it because the door always seemed to open, but not shut.
Brand Name LED Bulbs
My garage door opener had been functioning flawlessly for a decade – surely it was something I did. On a hunch I searched for “Garage Door LED Bulb Interference” and wound up at this article: https://blog.lightingsupply.com/blog/do-led-bulbs-interfere-with-garage-door-openers
Was it that simple? Was radio interference causing my issue? The antenna is right next to the bulb. I unscrewed the one bulb near the antenna – just enough to turn it off. And then everything worked. 💪
For the record I originally was using these FEIT Electric 100W bulbs:
I wanted a working garage door opener and working garage door lights. So I went back to the store and bought a set of General Electric 100W LED bulbs:
These work – I can open the garage and close it! The lights stay on for the prescribed amount of time. Even though both brands of bulbs have the same FCC messaging on the box, in this case it paid to go with the bigger brand name.
Weird to think that this was the cause the whole time – it was hard to wrap my brain around it. The garage would open because at that time the lights are off. When the door opens the lights stay on for a couple minutes and come on again if the door sensor is tripped. When the lights were on, there was enough radio interference (right next to the receiver antenna) to block the signal.
It’s fairly well known in the Bolt EV community that you can plug the included 120V charger into a 240V outlet and double the charging rate. I was wondering if the PHEV Pacifica could do the same thing 🤔 I did some research and found a Pacifica forum post that says you can.
We recently got a 240V outlet installed in the garage so we could buy a Level 2 charger, so I decided to make an adapter to test it out. The adapter instructions from the Bolt site recommends 14 gauge wire or bigger. I had some 12 gauge wire leftover from another project so I used that. All I needed to buy were the plug ends. I got a convertible 14-50 / 14-30 power plug and a female 5-20 end.
If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have 14+ gauge electrical cable laying around, you could just pilfer a short 14+ gauge extension cord.
I carefully cut the outer sheath off of the cable and left about 2″ of wire for the 240V plug and 1″ for the “normal outlet” side.
Normal Outlet Side
I stripped the ends of the wires and wired up the normal outlet side first. Green is ground. White goes to the larger port of the outlet, indicated here with a silver screw. Black goes to the narrower outlet blade, indicated with a brass screw.
I removed the bottom pin that is used to differentiate the 14-50 (50-amp) and 14-30 (30 amp) plugs. This gives maximum compatibility to use at a 30 or 50-amp outlet. The mopar charger will only draw 12 amps, so it’s safe to use with either style outlet.
I wired up the 240V plug starting with green for ground. Black goes clockwise from ground if you’re looking at the prongs (CCW when you’re looking from the back as shown here). White goes on the other side.
Because the 240V plug is made to have thick wires coming out for a big 50-amp draw, the comparatively thin 12-gauge wire just dangles loose coming out of the plug. To provide some actual strain relief for the wires, I used some pipe insulation foam that I had laying around from another project. I cut it to fit the wire diameter and used CA glue to affix it to the wire sheath.
Now when I fasten down the strain relief bridge, it actually grips the foam and wire.
This last bit is optional, but extremely important. I put a label on the plug that says 240V EV ONLY! Just so no one tries to plug something else in and winds up letting out the magic smoke.
Even though it was stated from another PacHy owner that it works, I was still nervous trying it out as the included charger only indicates 120V – and it’s $350 to replace from the dealer.
An EV owner that lives nearby me remarked that the Level 1 and Level 2 chargers are really just fancy extension cords – the charging circuitry is located in the vehicle itself. So I crossed my fingers 🤞 plugged it in, and got all green lights on the charger.
Then, I plugged the charger back into 120V power to do some testing. With 41% charge it was going to take 8 1/2 hours to charge using the normal wall receptacle.
When I plugged it into 240V power, the van thinks it’s hooked up to a full Level 2 charger because it sees the high voltage, but hadn’t drawn any amps. This was because I set the van to charge from 9PM-9AM during off-peak times.
Pro-tip: if you want to skip the charging schedule and charge immediately can you do a double plug. Plug the charger into the vehicle and then unplug immediately, then plug it back in within 10 seconds.
Once the van was actually charging and drawing amps, it updated the charge time and settled in at 3 1/2 hours.
Not bad at all! Switching to 240V doesn’t get you a full charge in 2 hours like a 30-amp Level 2 charger will, but I estimate it could do a full charge in less than 6 hours.
I said it before, the 30-mile electric range doesn’t necessitate a Level-2 charger at home because it can do a full charge on 120V in 12 hours overnight. But this is an incredibly cheap way to double your charge rate if you have a 240V outlet available. It’s also a great portable solution if you find yourself somewhere with an RV-style outlet – like a campground ⛺
It cost me less than $30 to make! If you’re thinking about a Level 2 charger and don’t want to shell out a bunch of cash for an electrician to install a 240V outlet and spend a bunch on a Level 2 charger itself – this is a great bridge. Call the electrician first and make this cable. You’ll be ready for Level 2 and can charge fast(er) in the meanwhile ⚡
However we’re not completely out of the weeds yet. I talked to a friend who works in an rural school district. He was the first person I knew personally to get vaccinated. But when I talked to him last week, he said the school published the percent of school teachers & staff that had been vaccinated. It was a paltry 44%. Clearly people are making a choice to not get vaccinated. 😠
Did they not just live through what is hopefully the worst year of their life? Do they want to live like this forever? Some think the vaccine is just sugar water. If it is, it’s the strongest sugar water I’ve ever had b/c it kicked my ass. Others think Bill Gates put microchips in it
I.JUST.CAN’T. Rant over, let’s get back to baseball ⚾Continue reading
It was a sad realization, but the the last date night Jessi and I had was to a Twins game in September of 2019. She bought us tickets in the upper deck on the first base side, between home and first. If you’ve ever been to Target Field, the upper deck has an open view of the field and flexible seating for people in wheelchairs, etc. You can go up to the upper-upper deck, Or go down to the lower-upper deck and sit in the few rows that are in front of the limestone deck walls. We were in that lower section of the upper deck, in front of one of the limestone walls.
Sitting there was exciting because several foul balls came up to our deck and bounced off the limestone walls in the adjacent sections. Keep alive and be sure to watch the game. 😳
It was a tight game, by the 3rd inning it was tied at 3. Sano came up to bat. He hit a foul ball that was careening toward our section. I watched it the whole time. As the ball grew in my vision I could tell that it was slowly listing to my right. I thought, “I’ll just lean over to the left and let the ball hit the limestone behind us.”
Then the guy sitting directly in front of me stood up, reached out, and snagged the ball out of the air with one hand, no glove. WOW that was close! My adrenaline was pumping. The man who caught the ball was middle-aged, attending the game with his dad. His dad remarked to us that he played catcher in high school. Holy crap, what a grab. I was so taken aback that I missed Sano’s homer to the upper-upper deck:
We got 4 tickets to the Twins game on May 15th, 2021. Taking the whole family isn’t a date, but it would still be fun. With the mask mandate recently lifted for outdoor gatherings, it would maybe seem like real life. I still wore mine getting to my seats and buying food (even though I’m fully vaccinated) – mostly out of respect for everyone working the food stands.
By the 5th inning, we were down 4 to 1 against the Oakland A’s. It wasn’t looking good. I even thought about leaving the game early 🤔 Sano would prove his mettle again… In the bottom of the 8th he helped the Twins rally, scoring a three-run homer to make it 4 runs total – putting the Twins ahead 5 to 4. The team stayed calm in the 9th to hold onto the lead and win the game.
My daughter was excited that Minnesota won. They played music and shot off some fireworks. I tell you it felt like real life. 😍
In 2019 my wife and I went to a Discovery Dinner at the local nature center. It was a presentation about electric vehicles. The presenter, Jukka Kukkonen, was an automotive engineer by trade. He switched his focus to hybrid and electric vehicles as he knew clean energy would be the way of the future. We left the dinner with one major point in our head:
If you’re going to buy a hybrid vehicle, make sure it is a plug-in hybrid.Jukka
At that time we had a Toyota Highlander Hybrid (not a plug-in). It was fantastically reliable with over 250,000 miles on the clock. Never had to replace the batteries. No major engine or drivetrain issues. Consistently 20-27MPG – not a stunner, but much better than most other SUVs of that era. Every time we drove that car over 200,000 miles it felt like a gift.
For our next vehicle, had set our sights on the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid. I always wanted to go straight to minivan ownership when we became parents. I understood a van’s utility and could look past the soccer mom image, she couldn’t.
After Jessi got a new job in 2020, it was time. We shopped for used Pacificas as the new ones are upwards of $40k. We wound up getting a deal on a 2017 model that had 120k miles on it – am I concerned? Nope, and I’ll explain why…
Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs) are the best of the two worlds we currently live in. You plug it in and get up to 30 miles of driving all-electric. You really don’t need a level 2 (240 volt) charger, as the 30 mile range will recharge in 12 hours overnight with the included 120 volt charger.
When you run out of battery, the gas motor kicks in and the two work in concert to get better mileage than a gas motor alone can’t. There’s no range anxiety, but you can still plug in at the mall or the grocery store (usually for free) to extend your electric range.
In the first 6 months we had the Pacifica, we put on 5,000 miles: 3,000 electric and 2,000 gas. If the previous owner had the same experience, that means out of 120k miles, the gas motor was only responsible for 48k of them. 120k miles doesn’t sound too scary then, eh? Worst case scenario the gas motor worked 2/3 of the time so it effectively has 80k miles.
The bottom line is the Pacifica is an excellent hybrid. Even when the battery reads 0%, it’s not fully depleted. There’s always some reserve to operate in a traditional gas-electric hybrid mode. And when it’s in that mode it uses electric drive way more than our Highlander did.
These are just some of my thoughts on what you can expect as a first time PHEV owner, and some of the quirks of the Pacifica. One thing I want to note is that when the car is in electric mode you hear everything. Tire tread, road grooves, the steering rack – if it makes noise, you’ll hear it b/c there’s no engine noise to cover it up. 😀
In our 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the sure way to get the gas engine running is to turn on the heater. When I’d do oil changes on the HiHy in the summer, rather than following the ridiculously complex “force the internal combustion engine to run” procedure, I’d just turn on the heat.
Pacifica Hybrid in Freezing Weather
The Pacifica is similar, but not as bad. One thing is for sure, the internal combustion (IC) engine is going to run from a cold start on cold days. When it’s freezing (below 32°F) the IC engine will run until the coolant temp is 130°F – even if the climate controls are off. This is because the battery coolant, which also acts as a battery warmer in cold weather, is connected to the engine coolant. My suggestion is to run the heater during this time because the IC engine is going to run regardless.
After 130°F if the climate controls are off it will switch to all-electric. Maximum battery power delivery will be limited – lithium batteries can’t sustain high amp draw without severe voltage drop when they’re cold. So if you stomp on the accelerator, the IC engine will kick back on.
If you keep the heater on, the IC engine will continue to run and heat the coolant up to 165°F. It will switch to all electric drive once it’s above 165°F, and then run the IC again when coolant goes below 150°F. On a cold day (0°F) at highway speeds with the heater on, this will mean about 1-2 miles with the IC engine on and then 2-4 miles with the IC engine off. Mostly because the wind chill is very effective at lowering the coolant temp.
I may try putting some cardboard in the grille like Minnesotan’s used to back in the day. 📦
Touchscreen & Software
The center console touchscreen is capacitive, so if you want to operate it in winter, you’ll need to be wearing touchscreen compatible gloves.
I had an issue with navigation system. I don’t actually use the built-in nav, I use my phone. But the problem revealed itself through the compass. I noticed it was wrong a lot of time, sometimes showing the opposite direction I was traveling.
When it was happening, I switched to the navigation map and it showed an icon of the van in the metro area, but it was not on the road I was on. It was sort of “floating” over the map, through fields and neighborhoods. It wasn’t just a compass issue, it was a GPS issue.
I updated the software and that took care of the issue. BTW, plan for 30-45 minutes for the software upgrade. If it’s cold out when you perform the update, bring a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate. ☕
Battery Life & Electric Range
Even with the number of miles on the clock – estimating that the battery pack and motor have traveled 72k miles, it still has good range. In warm weather (without the electric heater running) it will get 25-30 miles. You should probably cut those numbers in half if you’re running the electric heater w/o assistance from the gas engine.🔋
Best Minivan Ever?
I never thought I’d own a Chrysler. But I think they did a great job and other owners I’ve talked to say the company put a little more care into this vehicle than their normal offerings. We’d be more likely to go with a Toyota, but the Sienna hybrid came out in 2020, and not as a plugin (see above). The 2021 Sienna Hybrid is a plug-in with EV range, but at $40k+ I’d have to wait for someone else to buy it and sell it to me later 😂 Perfectly happy with the decision we made.