Level 2 Charging for under $20

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Mowcowbell, May 7, 2019.

  1. ClarityBill

    ClarityBill Active Member

    I have been using the cheap L1/L2 chargers from Ebay ($100-$120), and I have had a couple issues.

    I had trouble with one plugged into a standard 120V outlet. The plug did not feel loose in the receptacle, but there may have been some corrosion on the old receptacle. The plug overheated (on 120V) and melted the outlet cover a little...
    The unit draws 16 amps through the 120V plug, so it is pushing the limit.

    The units are stamped for 120v/220/V, but had 120V plugs, so I made an adapter to go to the 220V extension cord. The end of the 220V cord and my adapter were laying on the stones next to my driveway. My adapter plug was not weather proof. It got wet, shorted out, and burned the end off my 220V extension cord. I was 'lucky' the burning electrical was not near flammable materials. I had left the unit plugged in, and it burned off while it was not being used.

    I have taken the plugs off both units, and hard-wired them to 220V. Both in operation for several months, with no further problems.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  2. Fast Eddie B

    Fast Eddie B Well-Known Member

    Good points all, and worth considering.

    The outlet contains the 240v wiring intended for my hangar door: 2 hots and a ground, no neutral. It’s fed by a 2-gang 30A breaker. As such, and considering the apparent gauge of the OEM charger cord, I thought 10Ga would be more than adequate.

    I went with the generator connector so if the power was out, I could unplug the hangar door and plug it into an adequately rated generator. This was in lieu of a transfer switch, with no way the generator could energize the outlet.

    My setup:

    (Flickr is down for maintenance right now. The image I wanted to post is available in this thread: http://www.insideevsforum.com/community/index.php?threads/my-progress-towards-level-2-charging.5596/ )

    The idea would be to unplug the hangar door and plug in my adapter cable when needed for faster charges to the Clarity.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  3. David in TN

    David in TN Active Member

    I ordered the adapter from Amazon to plug into my 240v outlet.

    Have been charging for the last week without issue... until today.

    The adapter plug MELTED.

    No issues with EVSE or wiring or car. Just the cheap adapter.

    I will be making my own adapter/2-foot extension cable with appropriate (Lowe's) components in the near future. 20190523_071029.jpeg 20190523_071058.jpeg

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Inside EVs mobile app
  4. victor_2019

    victor_2019 Active Member

    that's not "pushing the limit", that's going way beyond it.

    the car is not supposed to draw more than 12A on a 15A 120V circuit (80% of the circuit capacity). that's what the honda adapter is doing.

    if it's drawing 16A that is well beyond what it should.
  5. ClarityBill

    ClarityBill Active Member

    But I have 20 amp breakers and wiring, so 16A on 20A is like 12A on 15A: 16A is what the 'better' L1 chargers do.
  6. victor_2019

    victor_2019 Active Member

    If you have a 20A circuit then why do you say 16A is pushing the limit? That's exactly what it should draw on a 20A circuit.

    Your receptacle would have melted at 12A as well if the contacts were corroded.

    Most people don't have dedicated 20 amp circuits outdoors so I don't think the charger should assume 20A is available. United it's clearly marked on it/at time of sale that it requires a 20A circuit.
  7. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    @Fast Eddie B, the 8 gauge wire is fine for a 30 Amp circuit of normal or short length. So that’s not a problem
    However, I do see 2 possible problems in trying to lug a generator directly into the door opener outlet.

    1. There is no neutral at the outlet. I have no idea about whether this is up to code in your area or if that is advisable or possible to use with a 240 V generator with a 4 prong receptacle. As a non EE or licensed electrician, that’s above my pay grade. May I suggest you get a consultation on that first.

    2. To make an extension cord from the generator outlet to your opener outlet will require both ends to be male which is commonly called a “suicide rig” for the obvious reason that you have the possibility of having the prongs hot if you plug it into a running generator first. Male and female orientation is always such that it protects from inadvertently coming into contact with a live circuit.

    3. Running power from a generator directly to a circuit without some kind of transfer switch runs the possibility of back feeding the utility supply lines and endangering utility workers which is why all codes that I know of require some kind of foolproof transfer/disconnect switch.

    4. The Honda OEM EVSE is wired for a hot (one leg of a normal 240 V residential feed), a neutral (which you don’t have there), and a ground. Again, I have no idea if that’s up to NEC and local codes to use it on your receptacle which has no neutral. Codes can be very particular about such things even when the application will work just fine.

    Just want you to be safe so you can keep living my dream of having an aircraft and an EV in my garage. (My dream is to build a gyrocopter) And we want you to be posting here for a long time. I think it advisable to ask an electrician or local electrical inspector about this before proceeding.
  8. sniwallof

    sniwallof Active Member

    I've been using the chargepoint 32A since about Dec, 2017. It is a joy to use, wonderful unit. Unfortunately, I had two failures 6 months apart (each). Chargepoint was very responsive and friendly, free replacement by FedEx, including free shipping both ways (you return the failed unit). I do worry a bit about what happens at the end of warranty after three years (from the original purchase date). I am hoping whatever the failure modes were, each replacement is a little more robust. I do like the unit a lot, including the WIFI reporting.

    After the second failure, I added a 50A wall jack and went to the plug in model, at least now it's a bit easier to take it off the wall in the hopefully unlikely event that I get another failure. I use several whole home surge protectors throughout my distributed AC system, so I doubt the problem was a surge transient.

    I was going to sell my old 16A L2 Clipper Creek, but so glad I kept it, as a stand in, and now it's on the outside of the home where the chargepoint cord does not reach, so I can charge in the driveway too, plus I have a "hot spare".
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  9. sniwallof

    sniwallof Active Member

    I know the clipping can be frustrating, but it may not be as bad as it seems. These systems are often sized with enough PV panels to give more optimal lower light performance, such as in the morning and evening. Even though you are losing a bit of possible energy generation (by clipping) at peak sun, peak season, you may be doing better overall mornings, evenings, and fall through spring (because the inverter can come on sooner and go off later for more overall conversion time).
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  10. DucRider

    DucRider Active Member

    It was a cheap Chinese unit that had a label listing a voltage no longer used in the US. Unlikely that it would have warning labels of any sort.
  11. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Active Member

    Thanks for updating us with that melt-down failure. That's the same adapter I purchased. I've used it 3 times, and it does get slightly warm. I don't leave it plugged into power unless I'm actually using it.
  12. ClarityBill

    ClarityBill Active Member

    Oops, I guess I could have confirmed what the label said... I assume it was actually labelled with a currently used voltage. I did not check that detail before posting. I believe you are pointing out a mistake by me, and not the Chinese.

    My comment did not rely on the exact voltage of the label or outlet. (What voltage is no longer used in the US?)
  13. DucRider

    DucRider Active Member

  14. David in TN

    David in TN Active Member

    It says 15/250 on it.

    Here's what it looks like now... 20190523_131151.jpeg

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Inside EVs mobile app
    The Gadgeteer likes this.
  15. ClarityBill

    ClarityBill Active Member

    Was the original Honda charger plugged into that, or another unit? (12 or 16 amps?)
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  16. The Gadgeteer

    The Gadgeteer Active Member

    Wow. Thanks for the warning.
  17. sniwallof

    sniwallof Active Member

    That rule (wire sized by circuit breaker) is for wiring in the wall or conduit up to a socket or a hardwired connection. Otherwise, for example, it would be prohibited to plug a small appliance or small lamp cord into a 15A or 20A outlet. In many cases, there is some protection device in the thing being plugged in (e.g. a fuse).

    I am certainly not arguing for any of these adapters or budget EVSE stuff that melts. If you can afford it, IMHO do the job right with high quality properly rated and certified components and a quality certified EVSE (hardwired or with plug).

    Nor do I argue against all these adapters and conversions, for the many using that approach, a personal choice. Oddly, I have not seen a single story about an electrocution or explosion (e.g. a child, spouse, visitor plugging a 120V device into a 120V socket modded to 240V; seems like a really bad idea, but lots of folks are doing it with "success"), nor a single home fire from an EVSE "adaptation". It may have happened and folks just don't talk about it. Not a risk I would be willing take, but like I say, personal choice. Penny wise and pound foolish IMHO, but clearly others see it differently (plus, I'm old) :)
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  18. David in TN

    David in TN Active Member

    Original Honda unit. 12 amp.

    This idea works fine (using Honda EVSE with 240-volt,) but this adapter, obviously, isn't.

    Plan "B" is next. :)
  19. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    You are quite correct. I just wasn’t clear. That’s certainly true for the extension cord used for the EVSE which draws power from the circuit. For the extension cord drawing power from the generator to supply power for the receptacle, I think you need to size it for the generator output and not what’s on the circuit. In the latter case the power flow is reversed.
    However, be advised that I am NOT a licensed electrician and am using just some country boy smarts here.
  20. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Active Member

    I've connected my Honda EVSE to a watts meter while on 120v and it only draws a bit over 10 amps. I don't have a way to measure the power draw while on 240v, but I assume it is still drawing ~ 10 amps.

    I haven't been charging as much at home since I'm now able to charge at work: https://photos.app.goo.gl/21GWDKBV2122ei8c9

    It's only 14 amps at 240v, but I can recharge to full if I need to during a 9 hour workday. https://photos.app.goo.gl/yUbGWNaGYket9Xmy5

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