Will a level 2 charger be more efficient than the level 1?
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Thread: Will a level 2 charger be more efficient than the level 1?

  1. #1
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    Default Will a level 2 charger be more efficient than the level 1?

    I am debating on purchasing the voltec charger and was wondering if this would charge the car using less energy to charge my Volt as opposed to the OEM level 1 charger

  2. #2
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    First thing that you have to understand is that the None of the level 1 or 2 devices are chargers. They are electrical interfaces from the building electrical to the cars electrical. The job of charging or best said controlling the charging is under the hood in the car. So that the efficiency is derived in the cars charging unit. It is somewhere around 86%. That means 86% of the power goes to the battery the rest is in converter losses in the power systems of the charger. That is why it take about 12.5 KWh to charge from the wall and about 10.5 goes into the battery. The various level 1 and 2 interface devices only use 3 to 5 watts in themselves to run the line control and safety circuits.

    I use a level 2 device, because it is more efficient from a use point of view in that I can get a fairly fast partial charge if I need it.

    Hope I was helpful...
    Pat
    Last edited by PatsVolt; 05-03-2011 at 04:07 PM.
    VIN#...B...01921 - Build completed 03/1/2011 - Picked up my new red Volt at Atlantic Chevrolet on Saturday March 26th, 2011 .

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewW View Post
    I am debating on purchasing the voltec charger and was wondering if this would charge the car using less energy to charge my Volt as opposed to the OEM level 1 charger
    I bought the SPX charger and am REALLY happy with it. I spoke with a GM engineer about this and it is my understanding that the Level 2 Charger (or Electrical Interface if you prefer) is up to 25% more efficient, especially in extreme temperatures. This is because a portion of the electrical energy will be used to keep the battery at a 'healthy' temperature.

    Let's say that at a REALLY cold temperature, the Volt uses 500 watts to keep the battery at a 'healthy' temperature. With a 110V line, you have 1500 watts - 500 watts = 1000 watts available to charge. With a 220V line, you have 3000 watts - 500 watts = 2500 watts available to charge. 2500 watts is more than double 1000 watts, even though the amount being metered out of your house is exactly double (3000 watts vs. 1500 watts).

    This can be seen in charge times: A 220V "level 2" charger has double the power output as a typical wall socket, and yet it can take up to 2.5 times as long to charge on a 110V line vs. a 220V line (10 hours vs. 4 hours). I observed this in the winter when it was in the mid-20's at night, and my Volt took over 9 hours to charge from a nearly depleted state on a 110V line.

    I have had a level 2 SPX Voltec charger installed on the side of my house and consider it well worth the money. I often come home for a lunch break in the middle of the day, and am now able to get 5-6 miles of extra charge, which allows me to drive gas-free every day. On the 110 line, it was more like 2 miles at the most on my lunch break, and the gas engine would sometimes kick-on on the way home. If you're in south Jersey, I can send my electrician your way to install one. It only cost me about $500 (but I didn't need any long line or fancy work).

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    I hadn't heard about the cold temperature power diversion but I do know that GM has said that 240V charging is more efficient because the power electronics are used less. IOW there isn't any greater draw with 120V charging -- in fact the draws are the same -- but the draw is longer for the 120V because the charging takes longer. I don't think they've released an official number but I doubt it would be more than a percent or so.

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    Thanks for the info. I truly appreciate the knowledge!

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    From the figures I've seen reported, at most the 240V charger saves you something like 0.5-0.8 kw-hrs per full charge. Not enough to offset purchase + installation costs, just from the efficiency factor, even over 10+ years. The scenario where it's worth considering getting the fast charger is if your driving habits are such that you both can top off sometime during the day for some non-insignificant range increase and need that top-off to stay in the all-electric range and would do this enough to make it worthwhile, or you are just extremely concerned about staying all-EV (and then in this scenario why didn't you get the Leaf?)

    I personally would benefit from being able to top off maybe once a month at most, so I am just going to stick with the 120V. I think that's going to be true for a lot of people. For people with longer commutes, what you really want is for your employer to provide charging at work; 240V at home isn't going to add significant value or convenience. Even for Room_A113's scenario of coming home for lunch, to me it's not really worth it if you can only charge for half an hour. You get an extra 4 miles of range, for saving something like 0.05-0.10 gallons of gas each time you do this? You might be able to squeeze out that extra range just driving slower on the freeway.

    Now if it were some scenario where you could charge for say 1.5 hrs, then it could be worth it if you do it on a regular basis and drive 50-60 miles per day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Room_A113 View Post
    With a 110V line, you have 1500 watts - 500 watts = 1000 watts available to charge. With a 220V line, you have 3000 watts - 500 watts = 2500 watts available to charge. 2500 watts is more than double 1000 watts, even though the amount being metered out of your house is exactly double (3000 watts vs. 1500 watts).
    To be picky, Level 1 charging is 1440 watts @ 120V (L1 limited to 12 amps by J1772 standard). Level 2 charging is 3300 watts @ 240V (L2 being limited by the 3.3 kW charging capacity of the on board charger). So the differences are actually greater than the above example.

    If addition to thermal management load, there's the drain to run the charger. I believe it's the same wattage at 120V vs 240V, so just like with thermal load it's a higher percentage of the 120V charging ability.

    The way I think about the two charge levels is at Level 1 you charge at 4 MPH, and Level 2 you charge at 10 MPH. That is to say, you get 4 miles or 10 miles of additional range per hour of charging (roughly).

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    Both charge cords generate heat loss (the copper gets pretty darn warm). Since 240V charging takes less time, it loses less heat and (for this reason too) it charges more efficiently.

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    Generally higher voltage translates to better energy transport in terms of efficiency. At 240V, the voltage doubles while current only increases from 15A to 20A (less than 40% increase), so the voltage increase should well compensate the current increase.
    2011 Volt #1158, Proud to be among the top 10 Hall of Fame in Volt Stats, visit http://myvolt.wordpress.com/ for my personal experience with my Volt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Room_A113 View Post
    Let's say that at a REALLY cold temperature, the Volt uses 500 watts to keep the battery at a 'healthy' temperature. With a 110V line, you have 1500 watts - 500 watts = 1000 watts available to charge. With a 220V line, you have 3000 watts - 500 watts = 2500 watts available to charge. 2500 watts is more than double 1000 watts, even though the amount being metered out of your house is exactly double (3000 watts vs. 1500 watts).
    SO what is the health temp, would a warm garage help in winter? Do I need to cool my garage in summer? What is the optimal charging temp.

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