Honda Fit EV Overheats When Used with Blink Chargers

By · January 28, 2013

Honda Fit EV and Blink Charger

Honda Fit EV charging from Blink equipment that used to work fine, but now apparently overheats.

Like many EV drivers, I charge my Honda Fit EV almost exclusively on Ecotality’s Blink charging stations. Well, I used to. Ecotality installed seven Blink charging units at my place of work and when I first got my Honda Fit EV, I charged on them without any problems. However, over the course of a few months, some of them no longer charge my car.

After about 20 minutes of charging, the car stops charging. Honda sent engineers to look, and determined that the charge connectors were overheating and the Fit EV was stopping the charge before damage occurred. Over just a few months, more of the Blinks started having this issue.

Now, six out of seven Blinks overheat in just 20 minutes. For this reason, I now charge at Level 1 (120V, 12A) using the cord set provided by Honda. In this way, a full charge takes about 15 hours, but that's sufficient for me. I’m generally at work for about nine hours, and I rarely arrive empty.

But the issue is inconvenient, to say the least, because when I plug into Blink equipment, I never know if it’s going to overheat or not—unless I wait for about 20 minutes. Then, I have to continually check the charging status from my iPhone.

Most other EV manufacturers do not use thermal monitoring. The Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid have been okay, because they don’t pull more than 16A. The cars I’m worried about are EVs that charge at 30A, but don’t monitor temperature like the Ford Focus Electric and Toyota RAV4 EV.

Melted J1772 Inlet on RAV4EV

Melted J1772 Inlet on RAV4EV, photo courtesy of MyNissanLeaf user TonyWilliams.

So far, I've only seen one RAV4 EV driver who reported an issue with this, but the issue is a pretty serious one. The owner’s charge port and J1772 connector melted. The issue seems to have stemmed from an improper crimping job on the pins in the REMA brand J1772 connector. This is consistent with what I have been experiencing, as an improper crimp like this will get worse over time.

What worries me is that while my car stops after overheating on these faulty stations, I have seen other cars charging at 30A for several hours on the same stations. I have felt the connectors when the other cars are charging and they are warm—the non-faulty ones do not get warm at all—which means these cars are charging with very hot charge ports. While it’s not currently enough heat to melt the connector, it is putting extreme wear on the bad crimp, meaning the connector will get hotter and hotter each time. I always leave a note on these cars, warning them of the potential issues.

Melted J1772 Inlet on RAV4EV

Thermal Image of ITT inlet after using Blink REMA connector, courtesy of Ingineer. I have measured similar temperatures (131°F) on faulty connectors. I’ve measured good connectors at around 95°F after charging at 30A.

What To Do

Joshua Katz, Ecotality’s chief marketing officer, in an interview with PluginCars.com, characterized the problem as a communications issue in which the car and the charging equipment “are not talking to each other in the right way.” He said, “the Blink station may trip the temperature sensor and stop the charging.” Katz said that Ecotality is working with Honda to find a solution as soon as possible. “There are no safety concerns whatsoever, for the car or the driver.”

However, there is solid evidence that the problem relates to high temperatures, not miscommunication. Honda engineers monitored the temperature of the charge port and once it hit a certain point, the car shut off charging. I have also measured the temperature of the port myself with an IR thermometer on both good and bad charging stations and have seen a huge temperature difference.

Meanwhile, Honda created a software update that reduces the charge current
when the port begins to heat up. I am now able to charge on Blink
stations without overheating. Unfortunately, this is Honda providing a fix for
Ecotality's faulty hardware.

So, if you are an EV owner, what should you do? Here are some suggestions for some common situations:

  • If you drive a 2010-2012 LEAF, Volt, or other vehicle that charges at less than 16A: You are probably okay, but if you are technically inclined and own your vehicle, you can add temperature cutoff to your vehicle as described here.
  • If you drive a Tesla vehicle: To avoid melting your adapter, dial your charge current down from 30A when using a Blink (or any other EVSE with a REMA connector). We know that 16A is pretty safe and 30A isn’t, so be careful when going above 16A.
  • If you drive a Toyota RAV4 EV, Ford Focus EV, BMW ActiveE, or other vehicle that can charge at over 30A, but does not monitor the temperature of the J1772 inlet: Avoid Blink EVSE (or any other EVSE with a REMA connector) unless absolutely necessary to charge. While charging, feel the plastic shell of the connector, it should not get warm. If you are technically inclined and own your vehicle, you may want to add temperature cutoff to your vehicle or build/buy a J1772 extension cord, so the cord will melt and not your car.
  • If you drive a Honda Fit EV or other vehicle that monitors the J1772 port’s temperature: Whenever a Blink station overheats, report the issue to Ecotality via the Blink’s touchscreen. Avoid this charging station in the future.

Comments

· · 1 year ago

I don't doubt Colby's account one bit, but I wonder if this issue is confined to a bad batch or if it is a much wider issue. I installed a Blink station at my restaurant in NJ last summer and have charged my ActiveE on it over 100 times without any issue. Numerous Volts and LEAF's have charged on it also without issue but as Colby noted since they charge at 3.3kW there wouldn't be an issue, but my ActiveE charges at the same 6.6kW as his Fit EV. I will monitor it closely now though.
Here's a pic of my car and Blink station:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TETLcBCJ2zU/UAi7LGvJb6I/AAAAAAAABUo/9l2vP3vkdj...

· · 1 year ago

From this discription, it sounds like certain Blink's station's plug is improperly manufactured so that its plug is overheating due to the current loading. That heat is in turn transferred to the Vehicle's receptacle and end up melting the J1772 receptacles.

If that is true and the picture of the Toyota RAV4 EV is real, then I can only imagine the damage on the plug site as well... Does anyone have picture of that? Doesn't the plug deform as well?

· · 1 year ago

I replace my old Avcon (older J1772 connector) with a Yazaki style J1772 connector (the one everybody is used to seeing). The Ford Ranger EV charges ONLY at 6.6KW and has no way to reduce charge rate (being over 10 years old). I own a Blink charger, as well as having charged many times at Blink chargers (installed at Sears, Fred Meyers, and Kohl's among others) and have never had an issue. Possibly the issue isn't so much the Blink J1772 connector, but the Fit EV pins in the J1772 receptacle. If the pins don't make a good tight connection, any resistance will create heat in the connector. Maybe the pins for the J1772 receptacle that the Fit EV uses are a little undersized and not truly up to spec.

· · 1 year ago

The Rav4 picture is mine, and it was my car that melted the Rav4's onboard Yazaki J1772 receptacle and the REMA J1772 plug. It only operated at 30 amps with the Blink EVSE.

Yes, it's real. In addition, there are dozens of pics posted on www.MyNissanLEAF.com

I have since relinquished the Blink unit (after numerous previous problems with my LEAF(s), and now use a Clipper Creek CS-100 with ITT 75 amp J1772 plug. This arrangement operates at 40 amps on the Rav4.

· · 1 year ago

So was the blink connector equally melted? Or is the blink connector of a higher temperature. The Fit EV must be low temperature plastic. There should be only warm heating at the connector at 30 amps.

This is just another reason why all this way overplaced EVSE equipment should be UL listed. Unless General Electric has too much authority and won't stand for it. GE's CEO after all is Jeffrey Immult\ who is the US economic advisor after all.

· · 1 year ago

@Tom-- The Blink EVSEs in question have well over 100 cycles on them. They have been used 3-4 times per day, 5 days per week for the past two years. However, the issue doesn't seem to affect all EVSE and it gets worse over time. Your ActiveE doesn't monitor charge port temp, so it's possible that you are charging with a temp out of spec (<50C above ambient), but below the melting point.

@ModernMarvelFan & Bill Howland-- The connector was melted as well. See pics here: http://s565.beta.photobucket.com/user/TonyWilliams/library/Toyota%20Rav4...

@Electruk- Honda Engineers assured me that the Fit EV's J1772 pins are to spec, however it's possible that other manufacturer(s) pins are slightly larger than spec and may be stretching out the female connector. However, it's more likely that the heat is due to the poor crimps inside the REMA connector like this one: http://colbytrudeau.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/pic-11.jpeg Again, the issue doesn't seem to affect all Blink stations and it seems to rarely result in melting of the charge port. However, it is possible that your connector is operating at a higher temperature than spec, but below the melting point, or that none of the Blinks you've charged from have been defective.

· · 1 year ago

Colby, I actually have the only commercial blink unit installed in all of New Jersey so I don't have any others to check or compare to. I know you have a lot of Blinks out there, how prevalent is this issue? Is this happening on many different stations? Just wondering. Unfortunately the majority of cars charging now(Volts & LEAF's) are doing so on a glacial 3.3kW rate so you may not even know the unit has the problem.

· · 1 year ago

@Tom- I would say that most Blink stations do NOT have the issue. On my campus at work, we have a lot of EV drivers and the EVSE are some of the most used. 6 out of 7 of the Blinks here were having issues. I haven't had issues at any other chargers, but other Fit EV drivers have. And you are correct, the issue isn't noticeable at 3.3kW. The connector may get slightly warmer than normal, but it's not dangerously hot and surely isn't out of spec.

· · 1 year ago

@Colby Trudeau

Hi!
"....Joshua Katz, Ecotality’s chief marketing officer, in an interview with PluginCars.com, characterized the problem as a communications issue in which the car and the charging equipment “are not talking to each other in the right way.”

Ok this guy has to be the biggest Idiot we've run in to here to date. Any mechanically inclined 10 year old could tell you immediately what the problem is. The running joke on my posts is that they call these things (on the) Blink. I had no idea these things were such total garbage. I'd never want one of these FIRE TRAPS in my garage.

· · 1 year ago

"you can add temperature cutoff to your vehicle as described here"

Did I miss the part where you described how to add temperature cutoff to existing vehicles?

Also, what is the status of UL certifications for charging stations? I guess I naively assumed that EVSEs sold in the US had it, but maybe not? I have been running into situations lately where organizations are not willing to let me plug in to any outlets on their property due to liability concerns. With stories like this one, I can't say that I blame them. Melting my car's charge point is exactly the type of problem they are trying to avoid. But how do we get beyond this issue? If their equipment (even if it's only a 120V or 240V outlet) is UL certified, would that be good enough for their insurer to approve of individuals plugging in their vehicles to their outlets? Unfortunately by this time next year if I don't find a charging solution, a site I visit every 2 weeks will probably be out of range, so I would like to know what steps need to be taken to ease their concerns (unless there are any legitimate ones!) and be allowed to plug in while I'm there.

· · 1 year ago

I have had my BLINK EVSE for the past 6 months, zero, zilch, nada issue here. Yes Im only using it on a LEAF, but with 2-3x a day its in constant use, the J1772 plug and cable has never heated or been slightly warm to the touch. Sorry to hear the FiT EV has issues, and it could very well be the seeding of the J1772 plug into the Honda...

This issue might go away with ECOTality expansion in using the new Offering of the MinitCharger 12 (Ecotality.com)

· · 1 year ago

Justin: I wouldn't suspect you would have an issue, even if you charged on a defective Blink unit. Your draw is half that of Colby's Fit or my ActiveE, and it's just not enough to overheat the connector.

· · 1 year ago

Just wait for MY 2013 Leafs. This issue is going to "heat up".

· · 1 year ago

@lpickup --That should link to here: http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=10749&start=90#p246818

EVSEs need to be NRTL certified. Plug In America keeps track of NRTL certified EVSEs here: http://www.pluginamerica.org/accessories?nrtl=yes

@EVNow --This worries me as well. It is still unknown if Nissan added temperature monitoring to the ports on the 2013 LEAFs.

· · 1 year ago

I suggested re-titling the article. It reads as if the car has the problem, when it is the Blink charger. "Some Blink chargers melt charge ports" or similar

· · 1 year ago

Underwriter's Laboratories doesn't 'certify' anything.. They "List" equipment that will not cause fires. Smart Meters and Blinks are not UL listed. (I dunno bout the blinks but if they are ul listed they shouldn't be. My Schneider wasn't, it overheats (but no where near as bad as a blink apparently), but I redesigned it to not Heat).

· · 1 year ago

The Blink is both UL listed and NRTL certified, as are the Schneider SquareD and EVLink EVSEs (UL2594).

· · 1 year ago

Humm, you sure about that ? Just because it supposedly meets UL2594 doesn't mean its "listed' does it? If so, it shouldn't be. There was no UL Logo on my unit, either the old one or the new one.

· · 1 year ago

@Colby Trudeau

Ok I stand corrected. I went out to my garage and checked and it does have the "old-style" UL listing LOGO on it, along with an allowable 55 deg C ambient operating temperature. This thing overheated at 30 degrees C. (I modified 2 things, one to make it work, and the second to keep it from overheating).

When I was a kid, the UL listing really meant something. But now, at 55 Deg C I'm sure the thing will self destruct. The fact the Blink is also UL listed is jaw-dropping.

Since both products are UL listed, the manufacturers will say there can't be anything wrong with them.

Therefore, TonyWilliams will have to pay for a new J1772 40 amp connector himself, since it was obviously an Act of God melting event.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill-- What's interesting is that the J1772 spec says the connection can heat up to 50C above ambient, which is the point where the FitEV cuts off charging. The Blink technically does not meet the spec and while in most cases charging at 30A doesn't heat the connector up to the point of melting, the EVSEs are often operating out of spec and I only expect them to get worse as time goes on (as I have already observed in less than 6 months).

· · 1 year ago

@Colby

That's 105 deg C. The cable on both my level 1 voltec, and Schneider 2430ws is rated 60 deg wet and 105 deg C dry. Neither cable (#16AWG for the 12 amp voltec, and #10AWG for the 30 amp 2430ws) will meet the 'wet' limitation at a 55 deg C ambient. The other thing that could be germaine here is the NEC termination limitation of 75 deg C. Again I'd foresee problems.

The Volt is currently on its 4th 120 volt voltec revision (the 4th was totally due to yours truly causing such a fuss at the dealership along with the dealer's 11 calls to detroit, hehe).

Interestingly, I never experienced the slightest problem with 'version 2' of the Voltec (AWG #16 throughout) and i'd hold GM harmless since they basically said in the manual that it has to plug into a "spec-grade" recepticle. They don't use those precise words, although in retrospect they probably should have.

Another friend with a volt melted his attachment plug on 'version 2'. Versions 3 and 4 increased the size of the attachment plug to #14.

So as of right now both my EVSE's run very cool, even though my 'version 3' Voltec has an 18 foot #16AWG cord. I wonder how much Toyota is going to soak Mr. Williams? They'd have to charge him for it since it wans't their fault.

· · 1 year ago

I was the one who discovered the bad crimping in the Blink (Rema) handles. I have found many units have one or both of these poor crimps, so it's definitely not an isolated number. This problem will become apparent as soon as we have more EV's on the market capable of using 30A. Blink could mitigate this issue by dialing down their units to 20-24A with a software update until such time as they can inspect/replace the bad handles.

Here's a picture of a badly crimped connection from one of the affected units:
http://evseupgrade.com/pic/?evse-blink-fail

-Phil

· · 1 year ago

@Tom Moloughney, This is true...I guess there are not enough Ford Focus EV owners out there to try the BLINK unit, I know they are not currently able to get one through the EVProject, which is wrong.... but west coasters should be able to use the public infrastructure...they pull 6.6 or close to the full 30A.

· · 1 year ago

@Ingineer-- This is consistent with the temperature readings from the Fit EV's charge port. Only one of the pins was very hot. Also consistent with certain EVs working fine and then overheating weeks later after the poor crimp has experienced more thermal stress.

I agree, if Ecotality could pull off an OTA update to reduce the pilot signal to 24A until they are able to find a permanent fix, they would be avoiding a lot of problems and potential disaster. This is essentially what Honda has done on the vehicle side. I can't see what the charge rate is, but based on timing, I'm estimating it to be around 26-28A on average (not sure how often it's fluctuating due to temp changes either).

· · 1 year ago

@Ingineer-- This is consistent with the temperature readings from the Fit EV's charge port. Only one of the pins was very hot. Also consistent with certain EVs working fine and then overheating weeks later after the poor crimp has experienced more thermal stress.

I agree, if Ecotality could pull off an OTA update to reduce the pilot signal to 24A until they are able to find a permanent fix, they would be avoiding a lot of problems and potential disaster. This is essentially what Honda has done on the vehicle side. I can't see what the charge rate is, but based on timing, I'm estimating it to be around 26-28A on average (not sure how often it's fluctuating due to temp changes either).

· · 1 year ago

@Bill --

My dad still has his rev 1 Voltec cord! Never uses it though.

Toyota did not charge Tony Williams for any damage. They technically haven't determined who's fault it was, and may never.

· · 1 year ago

Apparently some Blink owners are taking the matter into their own hands and simply upgrading the J1772 handle/cable assembly with an aftermarket unit to solve the problem, at least at home.

Apparently there is a "secret" menu on the Blink unit that will allow you to set the pilot to 24A right from the screen, but seems you need an installer password. Maybe Blink owners can contact Ecotality and request this be done.

-Phil

· · 1 year ago

@Colby

If Toyota can't determine the cause, either they are not reading these posts (i.e. didn't know it was plugged in to a Blink), or else they "Don't Know" for political reasons.

I can't really believe they don't know know.

What shape are the 'version 1' LED's? Bob Lutz was the only one who got them... I think you mean Version 2, but , as you have seen, I'm open to correction. Hint: The main body of versions 2, 3, and 4 look the same, only version 1 looks differently.

· · 1 year ago

@Colby

If Toyota can't determine the cause, either they are not reading these posts (i.e. didn't know it was plugged in to a Blink), or else they "Don't Know" for political reasons.

I can't really believe they don't know know.

What shape are the 'version 1' LED's? Bob Lutz was the only one who got them... I think you mean Version 2, but , as you have seen, I'm open to correction. Hint: The main body of versions 2, 3, and 4 look the same, only version 1 looks differently.

· · 1 year ago

Toyota knows the whole situation. I think they repaired it out of good will and are looking into it. But not sure they will ever release a conclusion if they find one.

Maybe he does have version 2 then. Whatever the first version that was given to the public. It's the earlier connector with built in flashlight, has right angle 120V plug.

Ok just looked at some pics I have of a late preproduction Voltec cordset, which has round LEDs and a slightly different 120V plug. He must have version 2...

And they are definitely reading these posts. Someone was posting all of the companies that were visiting the MyNissanLeaf forum on this subject and many of them were EVSE Cos. Yesterday, my personal blog on the subject had more views in Japan than in the US...

So far the only one who seems to have taken any action on this was Honda, who's "issue" was really a "feature" protecting the car and connector from melting or worse.

· · 1 year ago

@Colby

Version 2 then...

Yeah, I'm not usually so sloppy in my posts, and I usually don't have to correct myself, but I simply refused to believe ( a misplaced religious faith apparently ), that Underwriters Laboratories would ever stoop to the level of Popular Mechanics. If that doesn't make sense, its because the subject is too hot to comment on here.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill lol My understanding is that once UL approves a product, they don't continually monitor it, so manufacturing issues (like the poor crimp in the REMA connector) can easily pop up in a UL-listed product.

Funny that they are having all these issues when back with the MINI E we had to get our cords swapped out, because though the Cord and EVSE were both UL approved, they weren't approved together.

· · 1 year ago

I'm debating between upgrading Blink or buying a different EVSE. The 3rd option might be to upgrade Blink & then build the Open EVSE ...

· · 1 year ago

@Colby
.
I'd think the thing would fail on Iso9000., 9001, 9002, etc consistancy standards . The thing is a light switch, ground fault, and glacially speeded data link. Even an idiot can get these things to work.

From reading all the posts on here, I'd never want Ecotality anything. I'm trying to avoid accumulating more junk. 30 amps is a trivial amount of current flow.

· · 1 year ago

@EVNow -- It may be worth upgrading. Swap out the cordset with an ITT one and if the software bothers you, disable the linux box, or put an OpenEVSE inside the Blink housing.

· · 1 year ago

@Colby - Yes, I'm starting with getting an IR thermometer. I'll swap out the cable if I see anything bad. Otherwise, I'll slowly build the Open EVSE (and probably sell off the Blink).

· · 1 year ago

@Colby & @EVNow, Were you able to purchase the BLINK unit directly from them or is it through theEVProject? Cause they would replace the cable or unit in a whole due to them being out on loan for the "project" period. I like the unit, however I don't think now that I have had it for a while (no issues I remind you) would purchase one. Its just a big unit, touch screen is cool but smaller units would make it easier to transport.

· · 1 year ago

@EVNow-- When my Fit EV hit 75C, I pulled out the connector and was only able to measure 55C with an IR thermometer. Just an FYI if you see anything up in that range. A connector that wasn't overheating as reading about 30C max (after an hour at 30A).

@Justin-- You can buy a Blink unit (though most people got them free of charge). EVProject participants were given the option to extend the deal for an extra year, meaning the box still doesn't belong to them but the warranty is also extended for a year. This is a good idea if you aren't planning on "fixing" your own Blink. It's amazing how big some of the EVSEs out there are. There's not that much inside those big boxes.

· · 1 year ago

@Justin I got my blink thr' EVP. Didn't extend the contract - so I own it now.

· · 1 year ago

@Colby - True, Im in the Washington D.C. market and I personally did not get the option to extend (nor will I)

@EVNow - Gotcha, I was figuring that. Im not extending mine, even if its free. LOL

· · 1 year ago

Apparently our taxpayer dollars paid for these things since I never hear of anyone actually buying one.

And its not even worth the price paid since its too inconvenient for me to rebuild my house and garage after the thing burns it down.

I'll never hold Underwriters in the same regard.

· · 1 year ago

this issue may come to DC as reports of the Mid-Atlantic region now recieving some FitEV's in the next months. the EV Project still never opened up to the FOCUS and iMeiv, but maybe they will change and allow those as well.

· · 1 year ago

I have (had) the same issue with the home Blink charger: after buying RAV4 EV I see the outside of the blink charger handle warm up to ~112F (60F weather); the pin side of the handle 60 seconds ufter unplugging measured at ~226F; the RAV4 EV plug side only heated up to 124F.

I did not/do not notice heating when charging the Leaf.

I bought Leviton cable assembly: 75 Amp J1772 Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charge Connector with 25 Ft. Cord, A2056-PEV $218.69 -- no more heating.

I will be taking apart the original Blink handle once I receive the 5-point torx driver set next week.

· · 1 year ago

@KPlayer--- With my Fit, I never measured anything that high (using IR thermometer). After the latest software update, I believe Honda allows the temp to rise a bit more before throttling back charge current. I plugged into a very bad Blink connector and I touched the pins 30 minutes after charging at it was hot enough to hurt. Ecotality replaced that one. Let us know what you find when you open the REMA connector!

· · 1 year ago

Why not solder the badly-crimped connectors, or replace them with soldered connectors?

· · 41 weeks ago

This happened to me this weekend. My Blink charger overheated and melted my 2013 Leaf's port. Waiting to hear of they think this is covered under the now-non-existent warranty. I have a feeling this is going to be a very very expensive problem for me. I'll have to replace the Blink unit as well as the parts in the car. :(

· · 40 weeks ago

@richdean - did you ever get contacted by CarCharging Group or Blink a few months ago? They contacted me saying they would replace my unit with a BlinkHQ at no cost. They apparently are trying to trash the original touchscreen units.

I would venture to say they will assist in the warranty repair process, and replace your unit (not just the cordset)

I love the touchscreen, WiFi and network integration, it helps with me monitoring my usage and tierd electrical plan....I hope i can keep mine...for now.

Sorry it happened, call car charging group today and get the ball rolling.

· · 35 weeks ago

I have an early Blink unit that we've been using with our 2011 Leaf. It gets warm at 3.7kw but never hot. We rented a Rav4EV yesterday and the handle got so hot I stopped the charge several times to allow cooldown. Today we charged the Rav at a public chargepoint station and after an hour the handle was completely cool.

I'm thinking it's time to replace the cable set on the Blink for swap it for a new Clipper Creek and be done with it. There is no way I'd leave the thing plugged in overnite with a 7kw draw. Maybe I'll check with AV and see what if anything they suggest.

· · 33 weeks ago

In my case, I suspect a contaminant was more of a problem with my heating issue with the blink. And perhaps the quality of the blink socket contacts as well. See more detailed info here.... http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?110850-Overheating-J1772-Charge-...

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