Jul 27

Taking care when plugging in the Chevy Volt

 

A story has been making the rounds about Chevrolet Volt charger cords discoloring because of excessive heat, even melting and burning owners.

We know these anecdotes are not new to readers here, as one publication has cited GM-Volt owners and even based its speculation of the ultimate cause – one that is not GM’s fault – on a GM-Volt forum member’s post.

But before we get to that, as background, the cord in question is the standard one included to plug into household 120-volt outlets, not a dedicated, 240-volt Level-2 line.


A volt recharges in one of the Carolina states, where Chevrolet reports the car will be available through dealers next week.

All Cars Electric reported another Volt driver wrote on Facebook that the temperature of his Volt cord was well past the point of coming down with a fever.

“I actually measured the temperature of my unit and reported it to GM directly. I measured 51 degC (124 degF) on the [short] cord and the plug when the plug was connected to a 20 Amp rated 120V socket,” he told the Facebook Chevy Volt Owners group. “GM stated that was within their specifications and OK.”

GM otherwise knows about these issues, and is replacing them under the three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, but they have not been updated to a new design, said GM Spokesman Rob Peterson. An unknown number of the earlier cars came with a cord believed to be more susceptible to overheating.

Another GM-Volt member All Cars Electric quoted reported being burned by a cord’s metal plug.

“My 110v cord got so hot it caused a 2nd degree burn to my wrist when one of the prongs brushed against me while winding it up,” wrote a GM-Volt.com forum member from Delaware. “I didn’t notice discoloration, the plug is close to the car so I usually had about 2 winds left around the EVSE and the day of the burn I was preconditioning the A/C immediately before unplugging the car.”

Further mining GM-Volt reader comments, All Cars Electric, speculated the ultimate concern may not be GM’s fault at all, but may be simply faulty wiring or overloaded circuits. Following is the account the publication based this on:

“Last Friday I parked the Volt in my carport and plugged it into the same 120v outlet that I have been using for the last month. An hour later the house experienced a power surge. Seeing that a pair of (ganged) 70 amp circuit breakers that feed the sub panel in the carport had tripped, I went to the carport. There I smelled smoke and saw that a slot, 1 1/2″ long and 1/4″ wide, had been burned through the steel faceplate of the sub panel.
When the responding fire fighters removed that faceplate we saw that a feed wire had partially melted its insulation and had completely burned through under the slot.
My electrician replaced the burned out feed wire (black, No. 6 size) and determined that the failed wire had been supplying not only the Volt’s outlet, but two air conditioning units, resulting in an imbalance, such that the black side of the circuit was carrying almost 20 amps more current than the red side. The Volt’s outlet has now been re-wired to the red side and I have used it for an uneventful charge cycle.
I certainly do not blame the Volt in any way, as it was simply the (big) straw that broke the back of the electrical system. Clearly I had too much on one circuit. No one, so far, has been able to tell me why the feed wire burn through occurred prior to the circuit breakers opening.
I plan to have an independent electrician review all circuit loads and I offer this only as a cautionary tale to other Volt owners and welcome feedback from this group.”


One poster showed this discolored cord.

This same poster later followed up, as follows:

“Member 719 was indeed correct in that my 6 gauge feed wires were too small for the subpanel load. I have upgraded to 4 gauge wires which the electricians say are good for 85-90 amps. To be conservative I have kept the original 70 amp circuit breaker that protects these wires and also downgauged the breaker that protects the Voltec Charge Cord outlet from 20 to 15 amps (in accordance with the recommendations that come with the cord set).”

The moral of the story?

“The condition (worn, damaged or age) of the electrical outlet in the wall is often the culprit due for the increase in temperature to the UL certified cord,” Peterson said. “If the AC wall plug feels hot while charging, then the owner should simply unplug the charge cord and have the AC wall outlet replaced by a qualified electrician.”

So, in sum, make sure your household outlet is not overloaded and to code. A Level-2 charger with its own dedicated line may be worthwhile too, but is not strictly necessary.

Source: AllCarsElectric

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 60


  1. 1
    Raymondjram

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (7:20 am)

    As an EE, I understand what the problem is. The wire supplied with the charger is at the minimum specifications size, so if the voltage was normal, the current will not pass 15 amps, and the wire resistance will be cool or hardly warm enough to be sensed. But having other loads on the same circuit will lower the output voltage, causing the charger to increase the current. The wire resistance will convert part of this higher current flow to heat and create a new voltage drop. This cycle will slowly heat up the wire, the contacts at the plug and at the outlet. So, everything that is heating up will increase its resistance, cause a larger voltage drop, which will increase the power loss, and create more heat. Basically, this is the main reason we could have an electrical fire since it is slow and may not be noticed until the components begin to smoke.

    As recommended, the charger circuit should be isolated from other loads, preferably as a direct 20 amp feed from the main panel, with a local 20 amp beaker and panel box, and ending with a 20 amp-rated outlet. It may cost more, but if someone invested $40,000 in a new electrical appliance, its care and feeding should be the best in the home. Upgrading to a 230 VAC uses both feeds and allows a faster charge with less power loss. But if you only have a 120 volt outlet be sure it is alone and upgraded. And I believe that the Volt can use a lesser charging current, so for those circumstances that you don’t know if the outlet is good enough, use a lower current charge, and prevent any damage. If you have a current measuring device, such as a Kill-A-Watt, you can also measure the voltage at that outlet. If it drops below 110 volts, that is a significant voltage drop and the load is greater than expected,

    The Volt is a very hungry vehicle (more like a large mobile appliance), and we know that the electrical infrastructure was not designed to handle it yet, so we must do out part to improve it for the future of all EVs.

    Raymond


  2. 2
    nasaman

    +7

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (7:22 am)

    “Further mining GM-Volt reader comments, All Cars Electric speculated the ultimate concern may not be GM’s fault at all, but may be simply faulty wiring or overloaded circuits.”

    Like Raymond above, I’m also an EE. One very critical matter not touched on by either the above article, AllCarsElectric, or post #1 is contact resistance at the wall socket. Wall sockets in older homes often have sockets that have increased contact resistance due to 1) a corrosive or even non-
    conductive surface film build-up or 2) slightly sprained or widened internal socket receptacles —OR BOTH— that can significantly increase the contact resistance between the prongs of the plug and the wall socket. For example, if a partially-conductive film raises the contact resistance to say 0.1 ohms, the power dissipated at 120V & 12A will be 14.4 watts, which is enough to make the plug & cord at the wall hot to the touch! And a mere 0.3 ohms of contact resistance would dissipate over 42 watts, which may be enough to discolor the cord!

    After plugging your Volt in, feel the wall plug & cord near it, and if it’s too hot to touch, replace the wall socket with a new one.


  3. 3
    Eco_Turbo

    +2

     

    Eco_Turbo
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (7:28 am)

    The cords of many appliances which approach the 15 amp limit get warm with extended use. Our vacuum cleaner cord gets warm during use. Discoloration of the cord may be a concern, but getting warm probably is not, in my opinion.


  4. 4
    nasaman

     

    nasaman
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (8:09 am)

    nasaman: After plugging your Volt in, feel the wall plug & cord near it, and if it’s too hot to touch, replace the wall socket with a new one.

    BE SURE TO WAIT ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE YOU FEEL THE WALL PLUG & CORD

    ATTN Jeff Cobb: Please release my post #2 from moderation —thanks!


  5. 5
    Mark Z

    +4

     

    Mark Z
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:06 am)

    I had one of the early “charge cords from hell” and it drove me crazy. While it didn’t melt, that was the ONLY choice in the voting where you can agree that it had to be replaced under warranty.

    The entire unit ran hot. When it overheated the fault lights would occur and charging would stop. The Volt blasted the pedestrian horn in the middle of the night, so it was easy to discover the problem. When plugging the overheated charge cord into a GFGI circuit, the local GFGI would trip. I correctly operated the charge cord on a dedicated 20 amp NON-GFGI circuit with a new wall socket. Electricians checked the house wiring and found everything perfect. New circuits were installed elsewhere in the house and the charge cord failed using those circuits.

    Strangely, I found that the charge cord would work if outside in the cold. That’s when I started using a fan to blow air at the back end of the charge cord case (with the wall bracket removed.) This reduced the faults to about two a month until GM made corrective changes and the dealer was able to replace it with a correctly operating model. I wasn’t about to go through the frustration of replacing it with many charge cords as Rusty reported months ago.

    The newer design works great. The supply cord runs slightly warm, but never HOT as the original model did. No more overheating. No more faults. No more horn honking. No more frustration.

    Safety is a subject that deserves repeating. Jeff has done a great service for those ordering 2012 Volts. Even though the new design of the charge cord should eliminate the overheating, you must have good wiring for safety. Use a dedicated circuit if possible. Replace the wall outlet if it is overheating. Hopefully the supply wiring for your Volt charge cord outlet is 12 gauge or larger (ie: 10 or 8 gauge.) Have an electrician check the circuits if in doubt. Above all, consider a 240 volt charge station for best results. Having the Volt charge with more amperage gives superior winter remote starting and cabin warming. 240 volt charging offers speed and convenience that is worth the effort.


  6. 6
    joe

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    joe
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:12 am)

    If the conductor (wire) is fused to the proper size and gets too hot, I can tell you the problem is with a bad connection, plain and simple. Either the connection is not tight enough or is dirty. Once it has overheated, the connection has to be redone and more than likely, replace the discolored parts. No mystery problem on this one.

    PS: If the conductor were too small, the breaker would simply trip because the current draw from the Volt would be too much.


  7. 7
    Tim Hart

    +5

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:36 am)

    Thanks for this information. The good news is that I have a dedicated 240 volt, 30 amp line in my garage, but the even better news is that I just ordered a 2012 Volt from my local dealer here in southern Iowa and am getting the only one he has been allocated! I’m getting the base model in summit white at the MSRP of 39,995. So the long wait is getting closer to being over. Thanks to everyone that has been so helpful and supportive for all of us that have longed to own this car since the beginning. Go Volt!


  8. 8
    Loboc

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    Loboc
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:38 am)

    nasaman: replace the wall socket with a new one.

    I work with my master-electrician father-in-law on many occasions. We have found that the actual outlet for a 20-amp circuit is sometimes only rated to 15-amps. Also, the el-cheap-o (29c) outlets that are used for new construction are not up to the task of a dedicated circuit.

    There are HD outlets available that are much better and have better grip on the cord prongs. We always use these in garages and for dedicated circuits such as microwave ovens, washing machines, and refrigerators. (And Volts.)


  9. 9
    Jim I

    +2

     

    Jim I
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:06 am)

    My house is 55 years old, and originally had one poor little 120 V outlet in the garage that is tied in with outlets to the room on the other side of the wall. I ran a new circuit out there for three outlets when we were remodeling the house. But I think the best option is to put in a new 240V circuit for the charger before my Volt gets delivered. I will have to drill though about 15 floor joists to get to the breaker box, but other than that, it is a straightforward installation.

    Now, if I could just get GM to release pricing and delivery info on MyLink, so my dealer can either go with that option for me, or change the order back to the BOSE unit, I could get my Volt!!!!

    :-)

    NPNS


  10. 10
    George S. Bower

    +2

     

    George S. Bower
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:10 am)

    I want a Volt and I am not worried. I swear there was a Volt in my rear view mirror driving from Pine to Payson yesterday but it turned off. Can’t wait to see and drive one. Yesterday’s Ampera video made it seem like getting into the space shuttle.


  11. 11
    N Riley

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    N Riley
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:22 am)

    Absolutely good “food for thought” for all of us. Especially for those of us yet to purchase a Volt. Now we have been forewarned to check the house wiring even closer. I will probably get a separate line run to be on the safe side. Good luck to all.


  12. 12
    Jeff Cobb

    +3

     

    Jeff Cobb
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:36 am)

    nasaman,

    Got it nasaman.

    In addition to ensuring the wall socket is not overloaded, robustly made, not damaged, what is your thought on a more corrosion-resistant interface like gold electroplate or some other technique on the contact surfaces?


  13. 13
    nasaman

    +1

     

    nasaman
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:39 am)

    Loboc: nasaman: “replace the wall socket with a new one.”

    I work with my master-electrician father-in-law on many occasions. We have found that the actual outlet for a 20-amp circuit is sometimes only rated to 15-amps. Also, the el-cheap-o (29c) outlets that are used for new construction are not up to the task of a dedicated circuit.

    There are HD outlets available that are much better and have better grip on the cord prongs. We always use these in garages and for dedicated circuits such as microwave ovens, washing machines, and refrigerators. (And Volts.)

    Excellent comments! I agree, and as I say in post #2 (& #4), I think many folks have overlooked the very common problem of high contact resistance at the wall socket itself! I bought a new house 7 years ago and invested $500 in thorough “Engineering Testing” beforehand. Among many other things, EVERY wall socket was tested at a load current of 20A to be certain none had a “poor grip on the cord prongs”, as you say. So I want to again urge everyone to…

    After plugging your Volt in, feel the wall plug & cord near it, and if it’s too hot to touch, replace the wall socket. BE SURE TO WAIT ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE YOU FEEL THE WALL PLUG & CORD!


  14. 14
    kdawg

    +1

     

    kdawg
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:44 am)

    Would it behoove GM to put a charging port on both sides? That way you wouldnt have to worry how you parked, and you could use 2 plugs/chargers at lower currents? Or at higher currents and charge in 1/2 the time?


  15. 15
    Nick D

    +1

     

    Nick D
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:47 am)

    Tim Hart: Thanks for this information. The good news is that I have a dedicated 240 volt, 30 amp line in my garage, but the even better news is that I just ordered a 2012 Volt from my local dealer here in southern Iowa and am getting the only one he has been allocated! I’m getting the base model in summit white at the MSRP of 39,995. So the long wait is getting closer to being over. Thanks to everyone that has been so helpful and supportive for all of us that have longed to own this car since the beginning. Go Volt!

    Tim – I am in Des Moines and the dealers will not sell yet – what dealer/city did you purchase you 2012 from?

    Thanks!


  16. 16
    George S. Bower

    +1

     

    George S. Bower
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:47 am)

    Raymondjram,

    Quote: “”But having other loads on the same circuit will lower the output voltage, causing the charger to increase the current. “”

    Raymond I would have guessed that lower supply voltage would cause the charger to DECREASE current not increase it. What is in the charging logic that would cause that?? Is the charger really programmed to output a constant kw ??


  17. 17
    DonC

    +4

     

    DonC
     Says

     

    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:55 am)

    Lots of good information in Raymondram’s and nasaman’s posts. Personally I encourage everyone getting a Volt to plan for a 240v charger. You don’t realize how long it takes to recharge at 120v until you start doing it, and, while you can use the gas engine, I don’t think anyone buys a Volt so they can fire up the genset. If you can charge at 240v you can travel even 100 miles a day and never use a drop of gasoline. That just won’t be practical charging at 120v.

    The good news on the charging front is that prices are coming down and we’re seeing more choices in product. My favorite at the moment is one that SPX has just begun to ship. It’s a portable that will plug into 240v outlets as well as 120v outlets. You can use it at home and, with an adapter that allows use of the charger with dryer outlets, use it at Grandma’s over Thanksgiviing. It’s slightly larger than the included Voltec charger but you can definitely carry it with you. Also a small company is upgrading the charger that ships with the Leaf to work with 120v and 240v with adapters for various plugs. That charger is definitely mobile.

    FWIW for most of the time I’ve had the Volt I’ve used the Blink charger. Zero issues. I’ve not used the mobile charger since the Blink was installed. Part of the reason for this is that I haven’t had a need, and part is that I just haven’t found many opportunities to charge. Maybe the last part is simply that where you don’t have a will you don’t find a way. Last night my wife drove in with 2 miles of range left on the Volt — she had to make an unexpected stop — and her comment was “it’s great not worrying what happens when you run out of electric range”.


  18. 18
    nasaman

     

    nasaman
     Says

     

    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:55 am)

    Jeff Cobb: nasaman,

    Got it nasaman.

    In addition to ensuring the wall socket is not overloaded, robustly made, not damaged, what is your thought on a more corrosion-resistant interface like gold electroplate or some other technique on the contact surfaces?

    Thanks, Jeff! I doubt that even Heavy Duty wall sockets use gold plating. At the high grip levels needed, my guess is that even fairly thick gold plating would wear through fairly soon (because of gold’s softness). The present approach is to use high-quality solid brass contacts, maximize the contact area and use high contact force. As I say in post #2, the only threat/concern then would be 1) a corrosive or even non-conductive surface film build-up or 2) slightly sprained or widened internal socket receptacles —OR BOTH— and these can significantly increase the contact resistance between the prongs of the plug and the wall socket. But the short-term use of a toaster oven or a blender at a 15-20A kitchen wall socket might not reveal either problem 1) or 2), while the 8-10 hours needed to charge a Volt might, in part because long-term heating will roughly DOUBLE the contact corrosion rate for every 10 deg C rise in temperature.

    PS: If you replace the wall socket, buy a HD (Heavy Duty) one, not a bargain-priced one. Better yet, install a 240V charger as DonC suggests in post #17 above!!!


  19. 19
    DonC

    +1

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:04 am)

    nasaman: After plugging your Volt in, feel the wall plug & cord near it, and if it’s too hot to touch, replace the wall socket.

    Aren’t some outlets more reliable than others? I think I remember reading that somewhere.

    kdawg: Would it behoove GM to put a charging port on both sides?

    I think this would create a nightmare scenario for the charger (the real charger in the car not the external things we generally call chargers) since you would have two supplies with potentially different current. FYI you can buy a product that you can plug into two separate outlets which will combine the power from two 120v outlets into one 240v supply. I understand your reasoning but this whole charging business is probably too complicated as it is for some people. I don’t think I’d want to give them one more way to mess things up! LOL


  20. 20
    Noel Park

    +2

     

    Noel Park
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:24 am)

    I use both the supplied 120v charger and a Voltec 240v charger every day and have had absolutely no problems. Was the 120v unit upgraded after some know VIN? maybe GM should think about replacing all of the early ones. #1756.


  21. 21
    Loboc

     

    Loboc
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:36 am)

    George S. Bower: Raymondjram,

    Quote: “”But having other loads on the same circuit will lower the output voltage, causing the charger to increase the current. “”

    Raymond I would have guessed that lower supply voltage would cause the charger to DECREASE current not increase it. What is in the charging logic that would cause that?? Is the charger really programmed to output a constant kw ??

    Watts = Volts x Amps

    If you lower the voltage, the amperage must increase to yield the same wattage.

    An increase in amperage will generally cause more heat (as loss) in the circuit. The more resistance in the circuit (such as nasaman’s poor outlet example), the more heat increased amperage will cause. If you keep the circuit working (such as a 10-hour charge time) the heat build-up will keep increasing until something fails (hopefully a circuit breaker trip) or it reaches equilibrium with ambient cooling.


  22. 22
    Adarondax

    +1

     

    Adarondax
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:39 am)

    I use the SPX charger w/o a problem. The coiled cord gets a little warm but not hot. Recently a friend had a Volt for a 24-hour test drive. She plugged the 110V cord on an outlet in her garage that had a six-outlet adapter plugged into it. The six-outlet adapter melted. I suggested she use a dedicated outlet and use the button on the 110V charge cord to reduce the charge rate if there were any signs of overheating. The SPX level 2 charger is really the way to go.


  23. 23
    pjkPA

    +2

     

    pjkPA
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:56 am)

    Where is the cord for the Volt made?

    I hope it is not made in China.

    I’ve had trouble with poor quality Chinese electrical products.

    I just reciently plugged a window air conditioner that takes about the same power as a Volt charger… the chinese plug adaptor that was labeled 15amps.. melted.
    I replaced the adaptor with a old made in USA adaptor and it heated a little but did not get nearly as hot and did not melt. I needed the adaptor because my daughters old apt only has
    2 prong outlets.


  24. 24
    Evil Attorney

     

    Evil Attorney
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:57 am)

    As I documented on the forums many months ago, my 120v plug would get very hot, ultimately damaging and cracking the black, molded portions until the plug essentially fell apart. My replacement 120v charger’s outlet plug is much better, not getting nearly as hot. So my issues seemed to point to a poor connection in the black molded portion of the plug.


  25. 25
    Jeff Cobb

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    Jeff Cobb
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (12:16 pm)

    Rob,

    RE: The survey is missing:
    “I don’t have a Volt, would like to get one but am worried about the charging cord overheating.”

    I just added your survey answer at 12:15 a.m. EST (9:15 a.m. PST). Should not be too late to get started, but may skew results slightly.


  26. 26
    pjkPA

    +1

     

    pjkPA
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    As a former electrician and now a electrical designer.. I know there are many degrees of quality when purchasing 120v outlets.

    15A cheap outlets are not close to the quality of a good Hubbell 20a outlet that looks almost the same when installed. The construction is much better in a high quality outlet and can handle the rated current with less heat.

    I would not plug the Volt charger into a cheap 15A 120v outlet that is standard in a lot of homes.

    I would only use a dedicated high quality 20AMP outlet.


  27. 27
    jeffhre

     

    jeffhre
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (12:45 pm)

    kdawg: Would it behoove GM to put a charging port on both sides?That way you wouldnt have to worry how you parked, and you could use 2 plugs/chargers at lower currents?Or at higher currents and charge in 1/2 the time?

    Wouldn’t that just be useless without paying close attention to phasing?


  28. 28
    kdawg

     

    kdawg
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (12:51 pm)

    DonC,

    I think before I drop the cash for a 240V charger, I’ll just wait for the wireless chargers to come out and spend my $ there. My car usually has 10 hours of downtime at night to charge, and I drive less than 40miles/day, so 120V is fine. I’d want the wireless just for the convenience of not plugging in (and not forgetting to plug in).


  29. 29
    kdawg

     

    kdawg
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (12:53 pm)

    jeffhre: Wouldn’t that just be useless without paying close attention to phasing?

    Not if the plugs were from 2 different 15amp circuits. (obviously you couldn’t use the same outlet that just has the prongs in parallel)


  30. 30
    kdawg

     

    kdawg
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (12:57 pm)

    What AWG are these charge cords? Why didn’t they go large enough so that there are no heating issues? Cost? Size?


  31. 31
    Loboc

     

    Loboc
     Says

     

    Jul 27th, 2011 (1:13 pm)

    kdawg:

    jeffhre: Wouldn’t that just be useless without paying close attention to phasing?

    kdawg: Not if the plugs were from 2 different 15amp circuits. (obviously you couldn’t use the same outlet that just has the prongs in parallel)

    In most rooms (including garages) all the outlets are on the same leg and are on the same breaker. There would be no advantage to having two 110v charging ports in this case.

    It may even be against code to have two 110v outlets on different legs in the same room for fear that you could get 240v by accident (using two extension cords on different legs).


  32. 32
    gwmort

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    gwmort
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (1:14 pm)

    I’m the guy that got burned and was quoted in the article from my forum post here (FWIW they never tried to contact me to verify the story).

    In the case of my incident, I was using a dedicated circuit on its own 20a breaker and a GFCI. I unplugged the cord during pre-conditioning, so the draw may have been higher for a short period just before unplugging.

    GM replaced the cord with a new one, which developed a fault and was replaced by another one. The new ones are slightly different dimensionally (they fit a little snugger into the compartment in the trunk than the original) so I believe there was a redesign at some point.

    The latest EVSE has been problem free and is much cooler to the touch under the exact same circumstances.

    On the poll I use dthe replaced under warranty option even though it did not melt, also I make even use of my 240 v charger at home (no problems) and my portable one at work. Best option for me would have been “use both regularly but had to replace the 110 under warranty”


  33. 33
    Loboc

     

    Loboc
     Says

     

    Jul 27th, 2011 (1:16 pm)

    kdawg: What AWG are these charge cords?

    The cable should be marked along the length. Anybody with a Volt that can check that for us?


  34. 34
    Noel Park

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    Noel Park
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (1:38 pm)

    kdawg: My car usually has 10 hours of downtime at night to charge,

    #28

    I have a TOU meter. The “super off peak” rate is only good from 10 PM to 6AM, so getting charged on 120 is iffy. That’s the main reason I went with the 240v setup. It’s also really handy on the weekends. In between running around I can “top off” for a couple of hours and often avoid getting into the RE.

    During the week, I arrive at work with about half charge, and the car sits all day. So the 120v works fine for that. On the way home it’s largely up hill, so the battery gets a lot more. depleted.


  35. 35
    ClarksonCote

     

    ClarksonCote
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    Jul 27th, 2011 (1:56 pm)

    They should just up the gauge on that one foot of cord to the wall. That will help provide some tolerance for other issues of wiring not related to the charger, and overall, be a safer solution.

    Does anyone know what the “redesigned” EVSE units changed over the original ones?

    join thE REVolution


  36. 36
    ClarksonCote

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (2:00 pm)

    kdawg: DonC,I think before I drop the cash for a 240V charger, I’ll just wait for the wireless chargers to come out and spend my $ there. My car usually has 10 hours of downtime at night to charge, and I drive less than 40miles/day, so 120V is fine. I’d want the wireless just for the convenience of not plugging in (and not forgetting to plug in).

    I loathe the idea of wireless chargers. They’re extremely inefficient, all so you don’t have to plug in once a day. Might as well burn gas, as that would be more efficient. Though I realize some people buy EV’s for reasons other than efficiency.

    join thE REVolution


  37. 37
    Tim Hart

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (2:47 pm)

    Nick D, You might check Vaughn Chevy in Ottumwa and/or Shottenkirk in Mt. Pleasant. They are both authorized Volt dealers that I have talked to. My advice is to let them know how serious you are about purchasing and offer a deposit if they give you a good price.


  38. 38
    jeffhre

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (2:59 pm)

    Loboc: In most rooms (including garages) all the outlets are on the same leg and are on the same breaker. There would be no advantage to having two 110v charging ports in this case.
    It may even be against code to have two 110v outlets on different legs in the same room for fear that you could get 240v by accident (using two extension cords on different legs).

    Emphasis added…

    Isn’t that the intent in this case?


  39. 39
    MTN Ranger

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (3:25 pm)

    ClarksonCote: I loathe the idea of wireless chargers.They’re extremely inefficient, all so you don’t have to plug in once a day.Might as well burn gas, as that would be more efficient.Though I realize some people buy EV’s for reasons other than efficiency.

    join thE REVolution

    And very expensive. Plugless Power is supposed to cost around $2000-3000. They promise UP to 90% efficiency.

    pluglesspower.com


  40. 40
    kdawg

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (4:18 pm)

    ClarksonCote: I loathe the idea of wireless chargers. They’re extremely inefficient, all so you don’t have to plug in once a day. Might as well burn gas, as that would be more efficient. Though I realize some people buy EV’s for reasons other than efficiency.

    MTN Ranger: And very expensive. Plugless Power is supposed to cost around $2000-3000. They promise UP to 90% efficiency.pluglesspower.com

    MTN Ranger beat me to it. Pluglesspower is one of them, but there are others working on this technology. Some reaching over 95% efficiency. The cost is comparable w/a 240V Charging station, and the more players, the more it will go down. Like I said, when I get to that point (have to get my Volt first) i’ll decide if I want to buy a 240V charger, or a wireless charger. We’ll see what’s out there at that time.

    (Also, ClarksonCote, your comment on using gas; if you forget to plug in how much gas are you going to use?)


  41. 41
    Loboc

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (4:30 pm)

    jeffhre: Emphasis added…

    Isn’t that the intent in this case?

    Maybe so. However, as I was saying, things aren’t wired this way normally. If you’re going to all the trouble to have two ports, you may as well just go to 240v.


  42. 42
    ClarksonCote

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (5:43 pm)

    kdawg: MTN Ranger beat me to it. Pluglesspower is one of them, but there are others working on this technology. Some reaching over 95% efficiency. The cost is comparable w/a 240V Charging station, and the more players, the more it will go down. Like I said, when I get to that point (have to get my Volt first) i’ll decide if I want to buy a 240V charger, or a wireless charger. We’ll see what’s out there at that time.(Also, ClarksonCote, your comment on using gas; if you forget to plug in how much gas are you going to use?)

    At 90% efficiency, that’s multiplied by your charger’s overall efficiency to result in your total charging efficiency. So if it takes 12kWh now, it’s going to take 13.2kWh with this wireless solution.

    I guess the thought of wireless power generally concerns me:
    1) Microwaves are wireless power too.
    2) Studies are still trying to determine if cell phones cause cancer.

    That additional 10% of energy (for a 90% efficiency inductive charging system) is dissipated in your garage or house if attached, and could possibly be another source of cancer. 10% of 12kWh is not an insignificant amount of power that you’re subjecting yourself to over a 4 hour period for the convenience of wireless power. Cellphones, by contrast, emit 3Wh of power over a full battery cycle, and they may still cause cancer.

    Granted we’re talking different frequencies versus cellphones, and different proximities to the radiation source, but it’s still enough to concern me, having worked on radars for the last 7 years.

    join thE REVolution


  43. 43
    Slapshot28

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (6:49 pm)

    ClarksonCote: They should just up the gauge on that one foot of cord to the wall.That will help provide some tolerance for other issues of wiring not related to the charger, and overall, be a safer solution.

    Does anyone know what the “redesigned” EVSE units changed over the original ones?

    join thE REVolution

    The idea of just “upping” the wire gauge, etc. has me wondering: could this lead to even worse potential problems? If discoloration or disfiguration is an early indicator of bigger problems in the wall, maybe that’s a good thing. Certainly I would not want discoloration (a high temp issue) where I could not see it, that’s for sure. Maybe right-sizing of wires is purposeful, as an early-warning indicator? (I’m not an EE, just a lowly ChE…)

    As another thought, would it be possible to integrate a temperature cut-off component in the plug and/or elsewhere in the system? Surely it would add to the cost, but maybe it’s worth it. In fact, maybe there already is some sort of temperature monitoring built into the EVSE?


  44. 44
    kdawg

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (7:30 pm)

    ClarksonCote,

    I have zero concerns about radiation from charging a car wirelessly (or cell phones for that matter). You are exposed to EMF’s from the moment you are conceived. You’ll receive much more radiation on you next flight, than you will standing next to a microwave. If you are actually that concerned about EMF’s, should you really be driving an electric car in the first place?

    IF, big if, there were any real concerns, it could easily be shielded.


  45. 45
    kdawg

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (7:32 pm)

    Slapshot28: The idea of just “upping” the wire gauge, etc. has me wondering: could this lead to even worse potential problems?

    No, it could only help things. You do not want the wire to be the point of failure.

    Slapshot28: As another thought, would it be possible to integrate a temperature cut-off component in the plug and/or elsewhere in the system? Surely it would add to the cost, but maybe it’s worth it. In fact, maybe there already is some sort of temperature monitoring

    Its called a circuit breaker, fuse, or heater element (bimetallic overload)


  46. 46
    WVhybrid

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (8:37 pm)

    Thanks, Jeff, for covering this subject. Electrical safety is a pretty important subject, and is probably something that should be brought up regularly. Better that 99 folks groan and say “oh, no, not that electrical safety story again,” than one who who house burns down from an electrical hazard.

    I installed a 240 v Voltec charging station just before we picked up our Volt. The Voltec has performed flawlessly. We were lucky, because the service panel comes into the garage about 10 feet from the left front of the parking spot. Installation was easy, although it did take 2 trips to the store to get the right breakers and other parts. I have used the 120 v charger that came with the car a few times, and I’ve noticed it got pretty hot, but not hot enough to discolor the plug or the wiring. After reading these overheating stories, I’ve always tried to prop the charger off the ground so it gets better air cooling.

    I wonder if this isn’t a item that GM should replace for all the early adopters, not just those who have had problems? It sounds like there is an upgrade available now.

    WVhybrid


  47. 47
    ClarksonCote

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:16 pm)

    kdawg,

    You’re right, we’re all exposed to radiation, but different kinds of radiation behave in different manners. The radiation from a microwave may be small, but when directly exposed to it, you’ll literally cook just like the food.

    I’m not concerned with EMF in general as a bi-product, but I start to be concerned when we use it actively as a “feature”. I’m around radars all the time and they certainly have safety zones for RF exposure, yet they use much less average power than during the charging an EV.

    While we are exposed to radiation our whole lives, not all radiation is created equal (nuclear fallout comes to mind here)…

    Once upon a time we thought asbestos was safe to use too. I’m just saying we should be cautious in an approach to embrace a new technology, as history has shown that we tend to look for short term effects and then conclude something is safe.

    Example cell phone cancer risk article that shows the debate is still around: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/31/who.cell.phones/index.html

    Just being cautious, and I also prefer having my electric vehicle be more efficient through the wires. ;)

    join thE REVolution


  48. 48
    kdawg

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:30 pm)

    ClarksonCote,

    Just a head’s up, GM plans to put powermats in the Volt to charge electronic products
    http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/06/gm-invests-powermat-wireless-charging-chevy-volt/

    Also, heat produced by wires isn’t very efficient either.

    Regarding safety, i’m sure you’ve seen this before (Witricity video from TED), but check out 2:30
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgBYQh4zC2Y

    and another on EV charging at “well over 90%”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGJL_5nJBa4


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    Herm

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (9:45 pm)

    Dont be paranoid about wireless chargers, the hazards and tech are well understood. Some optimized designs supplement the actual charger in the car with a new one that integrates wireless power transfer, achieving an overall efficiency of 95%, and that is better than the standard charger and EVSE that is used in the Volt gets.

    Phil from EVSEupgrade.com reported that the Volt’s L1 EVSE uses #16 AWG cable, perhaps that has been upgraded to a better cable since the release.


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    kdawg

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (10:02 pm)

    kdawg,

    I timed out before I could post this link

    Details on Witricity’s 3.3Kw charger
    http://www.witricity.com/pages/ev-charging-system.html


  51. 51
    Mark Z

     

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    Jul 27th, 2011 (11:04 pm)

    WVhybrid:….I wonder if this isn’t a item that GM should replace for all the early adopters, not just those who have had problems? It sounds like there is an upgrade available now…

    The 120 volt charge cord is about the same price as the 240 volt charge station, so GM might not be eager about replacing all the charge cords. The driver of each Volt should test their charge cord. As nasaman mentioned, replace the wall socket if the supply cord gets too hot to touch. If that doesn’t help, ask the dealer for a replacement. Demand a replacement if the charge cord electronics overheat and the lights continuously blink and cycle as they do one time when first plugging in. (The cord should work again after unplugging the power cord for 30 minutes.)


  52. 52
    Jeff Cobb

     

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (12:15 am)

    WVhybrid,

    Thanks WVhybrid. It is an important topic for anyone serious about having an electric vehicle. Sounds like your propping up works. Rob Peterson said they did not update the cord design, but I have read elsewhere they have, and people here say replacements GM supplied worked better.


  53. 53
    Sean

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (2:18 am)

    If I were the costumer I would get a 240 volt outlet and a 240 volt Volt charger to prevent this problem who agrees? Unless I’m wrong am I or am I not let me know. Thanks.


  54. 54
    Mark Z

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (5:28 am)

    For those who want more information on the early failures, here’s a link to a topic started after owning the Volt for 5 days.

    http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?6169-Test-your-120-volt-charger

    Since changing cord color is different than overheating electronics, obviously there are unique defects and only in a small percentage of the total. The temperature and wind flow made a difference for me, so using the charge cord in the laundry room (no washer or dryer) had a different result than when using it outside. My Chevy dealer discussed the problem with GM and I was told to wait for improvements. In April 2011, the replacement charge cord arrived and it works perfectly.

    I still plan to request a replacement rear view mirror. Mine only dims properly when turned upside down. It’s another issue that has been discussed in the forums. Getting the firmware/software updates should be an pleasure when discovering any notable changes. It’s all part of being an early purchaser. Maybe the 2012 Volt owners will enjoy operating perfection if GM has corrected everything the 2011 drivers have mentioned on GM-Volt!


  55. 55
    Dave K.

     

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (5:38 am)

    Thursday 07/28/11 ~ Shell Q2 profit nearly doubles to $8.7 billion

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Shell-Q2-profit-nearly-apf-1473300290.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=7&asset=&ccode=

    Volt 555 is doing well and returning 435 MPG.

    No Plug, No Sale


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    ClarksonCote

     

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (8:19 am)

    kdawg,

    I’ll certainly read those links.

    I’m okay with GM putting powermat tech in ot charge a cellphone. There’s a big difference between that and charging a car.

    Agree to disagree for now. I’m certainly not dismissing it, I just prefer to take a cautious approach to embracing certain types of technology. ;)

    join thE REVolution


  57. 57
    kdawg

     

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (8:27 am)

    Mark Z: The 120 volt charge cord is about the same price as the 240 volt charge station

    Isn’t the 240V charger ~$600 and the 120V cord ~$150?


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    Seajay

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (10:18 am)

    Raymondjram,

    As a 79 yr old lurker who (may) remain a purveyor of EV in name only, I would like to say that all
    the comments I’ve seen about the electrical issue have been informative. From experiences I’ve
    had, however, one very important thing should be added about the electrical contact in the wall
    120V receptacle.
    For years, for the sake of speedy construction, the standard procedure was to push the electrical wire into a hole where it made contact with a small spring-loaded copper tang. For low current devices, this worked well. However, when higher current devices were plugged in or time took its
    toll on the contact, the resulting higher resistance led to heat which led to fires. I have made it a
    practice to connect the wires to the screws instead of into the little hole. I have seen newer units
    that were redesigned so that one pushed the wire in the hole AND tightened the screw which gave
    a more secure and reliable connection.
    For any high current use, such as the Volt, I would insist that the electrical receptacle be the best
    available and the wires wrapped around the screw instead of just being pushed in to a lightweight
    contact.


  59. 59
    Loboc

     

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    Jul 28th, 2011 (1:49 pm)

    Seajay: For years, for the sake of speedy construction, the standard procedure was to push the electrical wire into a hole where it made contact with a small spring-loaded copper tang.

    That only works for 14ga wire. 12ga (which should be used for a dedicated 20amp circuit) can only be attached using the screws.


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    Jim jonah

     

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    Jul 30th, 2011 (1:41 am)

    Tim Hart,

    Tim Hart,

    Tim. Seriously consider getting the backup camera. You won’t regret it.