Friday, March 06, 2015

Nissan Leaf Winter Heating: Save your battery like so

Disclaimer: Don't do it. There, I told you not to. :)

This mostly applies to the 2011 without heated seats or steering wheel. Here's the items I use.

Heated Seat Cushion

Amazon Search here:

This goes in and out of stock. If you see it, get it. YMMV on other brands. Has a high and low switch. I use low with the heater below. From Amazon: High setting draws 3.5 amps, Low setting draws 2.7 amps. A customer actually benched it on a power supply (!).

Roadpro Heater

Disclaimer: if you keep it on the floorboard, don't blame me if it makes you wreck or melts something. I have the rubber mats and this thing doesn't get that hot. (Make sure it's far away from your brake pedals!)

A note on this: it blows a little warm air around your feet if you put it there or will defog a portion of your windshield. A tiny hair drier is 1000 watts, this is 180. Manage your expectations. I think it works ok as a foot zone warmer. Don't expect more than that.

Why use it? The Nissan Leaf heater I have seen draw 5000 watts. That's a LOT. 1000 watts for an hour gives me 4.7 miles of range on average. So if you're heater runs on low at 2000 watts for an hour or 4000 watts for 30 minutes, etc. you can lose almost 10 miles of range. The 2012/2013 IIRC are supposed to be more efficient. Also, if you live in colder climates, get the heated seat and steering wheel options.

Socket Expander

DISCLAIMER: To set this up, you need to replace the fuse in a Socket Expander with a 20A fuse, same as the Leaf has for the socket. Let's just say you will catch something on fire, so you won't do it. I did it and it's fine. The socket in the Leaf has a big piece of ceramic in it for heat dissipation, the Leaf fuse blows at 20A, and I only use 17.7A with the heater on and the seat cushion on low.

So to sum:
Really, you should be able to run the cushion on high along with the heater but I recommend just the low setting if you run both. Obviously, you can run the cushion on high without the heater if your feet don't get cold or you need it to defog the windshield.

Another disclaimer: Don't do it! :)

Another warning: This MAY have led to me having to repair my socket, but it's also possible it was defective.

How I did that is written up here:

I hope this helped. Please visit my Amazon blog for more Leaf item reviews and tips:

That's how I get paid to write up all these little repair and informational articles. :)

Nissan Leaf Cigarette Lighter / Power Socket repair

If your Nissan Leaf cigaretter lighter stopped working but the fuse isn't blown, here's how I fixed mine. Probably also works on other Nissan power sockets.

DISCLAIMER: Assume I'm an idiot and any guidance you find here will cause a fire, hairloss, and render you sterile.


Soldering Iron 
I like this little one. I use mine often. It will melt solder on the lowest temp settings, and it's butane so it works everywhere. Cool gadget. Not for fine soldering, but great for wires and ugliness like we're about to do. I aim to misbehave.

And a screwdriver. Longish, with a wide flat blade.


Ok, so I was running a mini heater and the heater seat cushion from my Nissan Leaf power socket (cigarette lighter) and all of a sudden it quit working after I wiggled the plug expander (gives me 3 sockets).

By the way, PLEASE if you want some of these items use our Nissan Leaf store on Amazon to buy it or really, anything you buy on Amazon counts. MOST of the things in the store I've tested, use and own, or have something similar.

Link to my store, Leaf section :

This is how I get paid to write the articles fixing the weird issues I can't find solutions to anywhere else.

Ok, so moving on.

The fuse was not blown. By the way, it's a 20Amp fuse so it should be enough to run the mini heater and heated seat pad on Low with a couple of amps to spare. The two together should be under 18 amps according to the info on Amazon and the mini heater specs.

I decided to dig into the dash and see where the problem was.

I took apart the dash to get to the socket using this guide

That's pretty simple. It was a lot easier than I thought.

DON'T think that little panel that holds the socket can be removed by removing the screws at the top. It can't. There's something at the bottom that holds it also. Plus those top screws are a major pain to get in and out without undoing a whole lot more stuff and you'll drop your screw or screwdriver and then you're fishing.

Just don't.

Not that I did. Or anything.

Just do this:

1. Pull the connector off (pic above) and measure the voltage. Should be around 12V. Polarity doesn't matter we just care if it's getting power so just put the voltmeter leads to both lead connectors. May read -12V if you have the leads reversed. Again, doesn't matter. In this case, I was getting power here. If you don't have power, then you have a weird problem somewhere else. Not this weird problem.

2. So, take the socket out. I carefully used a screwdriver so I didn't tear up the plastic. GENTLY, and use a wide blade, unless you like scratches. Maximum area to spread the pressure out. Minimum force, so you don't make gouges. I put my blade across the top and it was wider, this pic is from the guide above.

Notice the socket cover says 180W? That's 15 Amps. The mini heater and pad run how much? Just less than 18. But the fuse is 20. Again, don't blame me if you melt something.

A note on that: the socket has a LOT of open air around it inside the console, so nothing touches it. Also, there's a big ceramic piece inside the socket to help with the heat generated in the socket. Worst case, if you melt it, it's just a power socket. Cheap and pretty easy to replace after you learn your lesson.

I never do, that's one of my problems.

Now, remove this screw off the socket:

Then, take this part

and scuff an area closest to the blade and the side so you can add some solder. This is where my problem was: something in here lost continuity between that blade and the housing part of the socket. My guess is a spot weld or something broke because 240W isn't enough to melt metal and the fuse would blow past that amount.

Make it look prettier than mine:

Reassemble in reverse order.

Now, wasn't that fun?

Pardon my shameless PLUGS to use my Amazon store. PLUGS, get it? See what I did there?

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