Level II Charger Plans
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  1. #1
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    Default Level II Charger Plans

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    Last edited by dmastroluca; 12-31-2010 at 02:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmastroluca View Post
    Has anybody explored a homemade Level II Charger? If I am not mistaken, all the heavy lifting of the actual charging duties is done by the Volt brain, so all it needs is 220volts to the connector. How expensive can a cable that goes from your 220 wall plug to a SAE-J1772 connector be? How hard can that be to make?
    Ahhh, this again. If someone can put together a good post explaining this, I'll point to it in the FAQ (linked below). Currently I point to a post that covers some of the bases, but doesn't mention the pilot signal, for one. I don't have the time to do this myself today
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    For those of us unable or unwilling to install a 240V charger in time for the new year. There is new technology on the horizon that may be worth the wait. No need to rush on a $2000 recharge installation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmastroluca View Post
    I was hoping to get a free Level 2 charger when I got my Volt, but it looks like there are some stings attached. I thought the DOE grant was paying for the unit and installation. After talking with the folks at ChargePoint America/ Coulomb Technologies, they told me I HAVE to pay for installation of a free charger. Since I am a qualified "do it yourself" electrician, I asked them if they had a self install program. The answer was no, so I dropped out of the program. A day later I got a message from a sales person from Coulomb asking me if I wanted to purchase a Level II charger to install myself. I didn't even return the message. Seems like a scam to me, and I don't like being taken advantage of.

    I then contacted Ecotality, one of the other DOE grant companies and I spoke with a very frustrated, but helpful staff member. He said they were waiting for GM to "get their act together" and contact Volt owners about their product. He also said Nissan has been working with them in an efficient manner for months to get Level II chargers to Leaf owners, but GM was far from cooperative.

    I understand that the "free" chargers are complex, interactive devices that will be used to collect data for the DOE. And I also understand GM is selling their own charger, and probably would like EVERYBODY to buy their Level II charger from them, but we Volt owners should have better options for Level II home charging.

    Since I am a cheap bastard, and a do it yourself kind of guy, my questions to the group are:

    1. Has anyone seen another company selling a fairly priced basic Level II charger that I can install, or have my electrician cousin install?

    2. Has anybody explored a homemade Level II Charger? If I am not mistaken, all the heavy lifting of the actual charging duties is done by the Volt brain, so all it needs is 240volts to the connector. How expensive can a cable that goes from your 220 wall plug to a SAE-J1772 connector be? How hard can that be to make?

    I know it sounds weird, I am going to pay over $46,000 for a new Volt, and I don't want to spend $500 on a charger. But I have no control over paying MSRP for a first generation, never before produced car. I would like the option to save some money on something.
    $490 for a 240V is by far the cheapest I've seen on the market - and their shipping charge is reasonable as well. The others go for near $700 delivered. I have Solar, putting in a second electric panel and spending plenty on my wife and Kids (Volt cash purchase doesn't dent the check book), but still am a cheap bastard....that's how you reach 'critical mass'...and have not found a unit for a better price than the $490 (if you can get em, i would and then find an inexpensive electrician) no use building your own and then burning down the homestead. #282

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
    Ahhh, this again. If someone can put together a good post explaining this, I'll point to it in the FAQ (linked below). Currently I point to a post that covers some of the bases, but doesn't mention the pilot signal, for one. I don't have the time to do this myself today
    A good description of the workings of the J1772 vehicle charging interface is linked here: http://www.evdl.org/docs/j1772description.pdf

    The EVSE (often erroneously called "charger") that connects the Volt to AC power has often been referred to as a glorified extension cord. While it is true that the EVSE indeed connects two pins on the vehicle connector directly to the incoming AC line, it can not be replaced with a passive wiring device connecting the car to the power line. The following electronic functions must be present:

    1. A pilot signal controller. This generates a low-voltage signal, +/- 12 volts AC square wave at 1000 Hertz. The duty cycle of the square wave (percentage of time it is positive) is used by the electronics in the vehicle to identify the current capacity of the EVSE. The EVSE also receives a signal from the vehicle over the pilot line to signify that the vehicle is connected, to supply power and to stop supplying power. The vehicle will limit its charging current to no more than the value communicated by the EVSE to avoid overloading the supply circuit. The 120-volt portable EVSE supplied with the Volt has two user-selectable signaling levels, 8 and 12 amperes. The level-2 EVSE currently available will signal either 16 or 32 amperes depending on the model of EVSE, but the Volt internal charger will draw no more than 16 amperes at 240 volts regardless. Future vehicles may be able to take advantage of higher-rated EVSE.

    2. A GFCI. This is a ground-fault circuit interruptor, designed to ensure that there are no short circuits or faults causing the supplied current to take a path other than through the vehicle's charger. A fault within the vehicle or cordset will cause the GFCI to alarm and disconnect the vehicle connector. Most EVSE will attempt to reconnect at 15-minute intervals in case a temporary fault has cleared.

    3. A contactor. This is a high-current relay that only connects the vehicle connector to the line when there is a valid request via the pilot line requesting power. It also disconnects the power when the connector is removed from the car, the car sends a signal to stop supplying power, or there is a ground fault.

    4. Logic electronics to tie together the pilot signal processor, the GFCI, and the contactor.

    There are other components that may be included in EVSE but are not requirements to make it work. These include current sensors to monitor energy delivered, communications via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or cellular modem to monitor and log usage, timers for delayed charge (the Volt has this capability in the vehicle), RFID readers for authorization, mechanical interlocks to lock the charge plug in place unless authorized, etc.

    Due to the requirements of the pilot signal interactive communication with the vehicle, an extension cord simply connecting the AC line wires to the J1772 AC pins will not work as the vehicle won't recognize that power is connected and won't have an indication as to the maximum available current. Even if it did function (it won't, so don't bother) it would be dangerous as the vehicle connector pins would be energized with the plug removed from the vehicle and there would be no protection against faults. Dropping the connector in a puddle could ruin your whole day. J1772-compliant EVSE won't have these hazards. Another benefit to the J1772 specification is that the vehicle can detect that the car is connected and a safety interlock prevents someone from driving away with the EVSE plugged in.

    For those interested in the details of the J1772 interface, more detailed technical specifications on the electrical interface can be found here: http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog...alsaej1772.doc Note that this is an early specification (1996) and that the electrical connector shown is NOT mechanically the same as is used on today's vehicles such as the Volt and Leaf. The electrical specifications and pilot signal operation are similar. The connector described in this document is an earlier J1772-specification flat connector commonly called the "Avcon paddle". This document also describes optional fast-charge DC capability via the Avcon paddle.

    The Tesla EVSE interface is also electrically similar to J1772 level 2 although the connector is unique to Tesla. It is different from both the Avcon and the J1772 round connector.
    Last edited by Marty; 12-13-2010 at 11:13 PM.

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmastroluca View Post
    Since I am a cheap bastard, and a do it yourself kind of guy, my questions to the group are:

    1. Has anyone seen another company selling a fairly priced basic Level II charger that I can install, or have my electrician cousin install?
    The lowest price unit I have heard of is the $490 Voltec, only available through SPX in limited quantities although they seem to be more readily available now. https://www.homecharging.spx.com/vol...x?id=7&menu=14

    Quote Originally Posted by dmastroluca View Post
    2. Has anybody explored a homemade Level II Charger? If I am not mistaken, all the heavy lifting of the actual charging duties is done by the Volt brain, so all it needs is 240volts to the connector. How expensive can a cable that goes from your 220 wall plug to a SAE-J1772 connector be? How hard can that be to make?
    See my reply earlier in this thread. It's quite a bit more than just a cable. The pilot electronics and logic are not that hard for a hardware hacker. A PIC-series microchip or Atmel and a few components, or even discrete logic ICs could do the trick. Of course this wouldn't meet UL, FCC, or other specs.

    Even if you were so inclined, I think you'll find that the price of just the vehicle connector and cordset in hobbyist quantities is likely to be at or above that of the Voltec charger at retail through SPX. This is likely to change in the future, and I suspect that the price of Level 2 EVSE will drop as well.

    I know what you are thinking and had much the same idea until SPX finally let loose of the Voltec units.
    Last edited by Marty; 12-12-2010 at 02:17 AM.

  9. #7
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    That'll work. Thanks Marty! Added to FAQ.
    2011 Volt #284, ordered 30-Jul-2010, built 30-Nov-2010, shipped 15-Dec-2010, delivery 22-Dec-2010, lease return 22-Dec-2013, Hidden Content
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  10. #8
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    Default J1772 cordsets and inlets available

    Pricey, but Avnet has them. UL-rated 20-foot cordsets from 15 to 75-amp ratings as well as inlets. $223 and up depending on amperage for the cordsets, minimum buy 2 each. Made by ITT. There's also a 120-volt, 15-amp cordset at $218.

    Avnet page: http://tinyurl.com/2cgwowh

    ITT brochure: http://tinyurl.com/25w67kv

  11. #9
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    I could use some help. My 240V wall unit cost $540 including tax and shipping. My permit, installation, and safety inspection cost $665. What figure do I enter on my tax credit form? $540 or $1205?

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  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by twist View Post
    I could use some help. My 240V wall unit cost $540 including tax and shipping. My permit, installation, and safety inspection cost $665. What figure do I enter on my tax credit form? $540 or $1205?
    I intend to claim the cost of the Voltec unit including tax and shipping as well as my costs to install it.

    See: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?5832 posts 63 and 64.

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