Leviton's Portable Electric Car Charging Stations Are a Big Deal, Here's Why

By · March 07, 2011


The Leviton Evr-Green series of home charging units is designed to be unplugged from the wall, making them the first portable units on the market. Left: Evr-Green 320 32 amp charging station. Right: Evr=Green 160 16 amp charging station.

The lack of public charging stations for electric cars is often cited by EV foes and skeptics alike as one of the major reasons they aren't practical for daily driving.

But imagine if you could pop your personal charging station into the trunk of your Nissan LEAF at the beginning of every day, drive to whatever destinations you needed to go that day, and add 15 miles of driving range every time you stopped for an hour without depending on there being an existing charging station? Having that capability would certainly add some security to your EV lifestyle.

Now that Leviton's new Evr-Green line of charging stations has been UL-listed, that concept is not a dream—all it takes is a standard 240 volt outlet installed at each location you want to charge.

To be Sure, Public Charging Isn't a Requirement for Sales Success

Before we get too far into this let's make it clear that the naysayers who think EVs will fail because of a lack of public charging are assuming electric cars have to work for every need of every individual to be successful. The fact of the matter is that a very large portion of the U.S. population could switch out one of the cars in their garage for an electric car, charge it up at night from their home charging station in the garage, drive it every day with the exception of using their gas car for the long trips, and never know the difference except in the vast savings on "fuel" costs.

If that kind of arrangement doesn't work for you then an electric car may not fit your lifestyle—and that's okay. If you're a farmer and need a work truck you're not going to buy a Camaro—but a lot of Camaros and F-250s are still sold. While having a robust public charging infrastructure will certainly bring an electric car more utility in terms of being able to drive longer distances, it's not required for them to be sales successes.

Almost 20,000 Public Charge Stations Will be Installed in 2011 and 2012

Even if public charging infrastructure isn't a requirement for EV success, there are nonetheless multiple tens of thousands of charging stations slated for installation in select early deployment regions in the U.S. over the course of 2011—in large part thanks to the joint federal-private EV Project. The project will install 15,000 charging stations over the course of 2011. In addition, many other local municipalities and utilities are planning on installing several thousand more in select regions as well.

Most of the stations installed under these initiatives will be 240 Volt "Level 2" stations (capable of adding between 15 and 30 miles of driving range per hour of charging depending on station and vehicle), and a few hundred of them will be the high speed DC fast chargers (capable of adding 80 miles in a half hour of charging on a properly equipped vehicle).

Why Does Leviton's Model Have the Potential to Change the Industry?

While installing lots of public charging stations will certainly help EV drivers make their cars more useful, the problem is that those stations may not be where you need them and much of the time they will likely sit unused given that most people don't need more than the 80-100 miles a day an EV battery provides. And in terms of time, most people's cars spend 80% of the time parked at home, 15% at work, and 5% doing everything else. It's that 5% of the time that these charging network providers are hoping will make their businesses profitable. That's hardly a recipe for business success.

On the other hand, almost every EV owner will have a home charging station that will provide them with enough charging to satisfy their needs almost every day. Since most every EV driver will have one, wouldn't it make more sense if that home charging unit were portable just like the charging cable you lug around with your laptop? Of course, this capability already exists to a certain extent because every modern electric car comes with a portable cable that you can plug into a standard 120 Volt three-prong household outlet—but that can only add about 5 miles of driving range for every hour of charging. These Level 2 home chargers are what really make sense for adding extra range while your car is sitting during the day.

Leviton's stations could make this a reality—and no other manufacturer is providing portable Level 2 chargers at this point. Early on in the process of figuring out standards for EV charging equipment and writing new national electrical code to allow for their installation, most companies that were getting into it read the code to mean that all Level 2 stations had to be hardwired into a dedicated circuit. As a result almost every supplier right now only offers hard wired solutions—meaning that station is stuck where it's installed unless an electrician comes out and uninstalls it.

Leviton was the only manufacturer who read the code to mean a charging station could be plugged into a dedicated outlet—thereby providing for the station to be plugged and unplugged at will. Voila, a portable station. All it requires is that wherever you want to charge has one of two standard outlets installed. If an electric dryer or tablesaw or dedicated air conditioner or any number of everyday pieces of equipment is installed at your desired location, one of those outlets will likely already be installed.

And if not, asking a business/grandma/vacation rental to install a new outlet for less than $200 isn't that big of a deal compared to the $1,500 to $3,000 estimated for a complete charging station.


The standard outlets and associated equipment needed to plug a Leviton Evr-Green charging station into the wall. Bottom right corner are the actual outlets. On the right is the outlet for the 16 amp Evr-Green 160 and on the left is the outlet for the 32 amp Evr-Green 320.

Leviton will be offering two different portable Level 2 residential charging stations:

  • Evr-Green 160: Provides 3.8kW output (16A @ 240V), enough to add about 15 miles of range for every hour of charging. The 160 plugs into an individual 20A circuit and uses a standard NEMA 6-20R receptacle (bottom right corner of picture above)
  • Evr-Green 320: Provides 7.7kW output (32A @ 240V), enough to add about 30 miles of range for every hour of charging. The 320 plugs into an individual 40A circuit and uses a standard NEMA 6-50R receptacle (to the left of the NEMA 6-20R in the picture above)

The company even sells a carrying bag to make taking your station to the cabin for vacation easier. The Evr-Green 160 will be available within the next month, likely at brick and mortar stores, online retail outlets and other suppliers around the country. Although Leviton hasn't yet announced specifics, it is likely that it will show up at the locations Leviton already sells their vast catalogue of electrical supply equipment—places such as Home Depot and other major home electronic supply stores. The higher speed Evr-Green 320 is scheduled for release later in 2011.

Comments

· · 6 years ago

Love this concept. Nick, do you know if Leviton will simply sell this over the counter or if they will require that you first have the outlet installed by one of their distributors. A while back I read that they were going to do that and not allow you to just walk into an electrical supply house and buy it.

Maybe you can get clarification from Leviton for us.

· · 6 years ago

I've got a follow up interview scheduled for this afternoon and will be sure to ask that question Tom. My understanding is that you'll be able to just walk into the store and buy it or special order it. I'll check though.

· Scott (not verified) · 6 years ago

It is interesting that my Blink charger installed by the EV Project for my soon to arrive Leaf was not hardwired. The electrician installed a 220V outlet and simply plugged in the Blink unit. He stated that this was allowed in Washington, however, Oregon required hard-wiring.

On the other hand, the Blink unit was fastened to the wall, so it still is not very portable.

· · 6 years ago

Thanks Nick, please ask. I remember reading it when they first announced the plug in concept. When I read that they wouldn't sell it without having an electrician come to your house and install the outlet I was disappointed. It didn't make any sense since they aren't going to also install the outlets at your parents house, your job or any other place you can use the portability of the system. However I definitely did read it.

· · 6 years ago

There are also guys hacking the Nissan Level 1 EVSE (which comes with the LEAF) and adapting it to run at 240v using a standard 3-Prong connector. If the EV Project doesn't want to install public EVSE's, at least they could install a bunch of120V and 240V circuits and let us connect our own EVSEs.

· · 6 years ago

Hey Nick - Great article. Do we know how much equipment (size/shape/weight) you need to lug around?

· · 6 years ago

Weight isn't known yet, but the 160 is like 12" by 12" by 3-4" deep and the 320 is the same depth but 12" by 18" or so.

· Volt Fan Site (not verified) · 6 years ago

What kind of price are we looking at? I am getting a charger installed in April and thinking this may be a better optoin.

· · 6 years ago

Price hasn't been announced yet, but I may be able to squeeze that out of them when I talk with them later. Even if I can't it should be announced any day now, given that it goes on sale within a month.

· · 6 years ago

"no other manufacturer is providing portable Level 2 chargers at this point"
I tend to doubt this fact since I have 2 such Level 2 portable chargers that were manufactured by another manufacturer already and have driven many hundreds of miles away from home using them.
see:
http://shop.teslamotors.com/collections/charging/products/universal-mobi...
for details. This baby can be support a plug kit that works with essentially all NEMA standardized 120 to 240 volt plugs and automatically senses the kind of plug attached. It then tells the car how much current that plug can handle so that it won't blow the breaker.
Why do we always have to act like this is all new stuff? Tesla and its drivers are all over the place and using all of this stuff yet you seem to discount it all.

· · 6 years ago

@Brad,
Although the Leviton unit looks cumbersome, the Tesla design is quite compact. It doesn't take too much space - a good thing considering the Tesla Roadster's small trunk.

· Nader (not verified) · 6 years ago

Thanks for the update Nick. These are exciting times! We are building a multifamily housing project in Fresno and are pre-wiring every garage for EV charging but we haven't figured out how to terminate the wiring at the wall. The Leviton unit seems like the perfect choice for renters. When you move, you just unplug and take it with you. Can you ask Leviton contact if there will be adapters for the plugs? For example if we wired in the NEMA 6-50R receptacle to take advantage of the onboard 6.6kw chargers of the near future could an existing Leaf owner with a smaller 16amp model just get a simple plug adapter.

· · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver I guess they are talking about J1772 EVSEs.

· · 6 years ago

Nick: Just because it's UL listed doesn't mean that it is guaranteed to be accepted by the National Electrical Code and therefore electrical inspectors, right? Just wondering. I assume Leviton has fully investigated this by now, I'd just like to hear that it is going to be accepted by the NEC first. As you said, Leviton was the only company that interpreted the code that way, did they interpret it correctly?

· · 6 years ago

@Nader,
I highly recommend that you put in NEMA 14-50R receptacles if possible. They are sort of the industry standard and nice clean, outdoor rated enclosures are quite cheap as RV parks use them for shore power.
Other receptacles will probably work as well. I actually have a 6-50 in my garage myself that I've used with our Tesla and EV1. You should definitely go with something that is rated for at least 40 Amps in order to handle the 32 Amp continuous draw of a 6.6 kW charger.

· · 6 years ago

@Tom: If it's portable and not hardwired, then why would electrical inspectors need to be involved? If I buy the 16A model, I'll just tell my contractor I need to relocate the sole outlet on a 30A 240V circuit that we don't otherwise need. Zero bureaucracy.

· · 6 years ago

Abasile: Good point. It doesn't need to be inspected. Only the outlet does. What you plug into it is your business. The unit itself is UL listed now so it's all good. I hadn't thought it through properly. My mind was still in inspection mode. It took me three inspections and six months to get my local inspector to approve a Clipper Creek CS40 two years ago (and it was installed properly from the start) so I'm still stuck in inspection mode. This takes all the drama out of it.

· · 6 years ago

Hi all, full interview is tomorrow morning, but I was able to get some of your questions answered ahead of time:

Tom: You won't need to have an outlet certified by anybody or be required to use a certified distributor. In fact, you'll be able to just buy it online and many places Leviton products are already sold. According to Leviton, the fact that it is UL listed does mean the argument about satisfying NEC is settled.

Volt Fan Site: Although Leviton is not ready to disclose pricing just yet, they will when they announce officially where the stations will be available. The retailers who are going to sell them are wanting to have the full impact of the announcement.

ex-Ev1: No reason to get so upset my friend! I guess I could have clarified my statement with a J-1772 preamble, but is that really necessary anymore? Yes, Tesla has been building and selling their non-standard portable chargers for a while (and to lesser significance many homebuilt electric cars simply use a standard 240 V 50 amp plug and cable). All that is true, and nothing I said diminishes from the fact that Tesla has been making them for a while. The difference is that now we have a standard that all EVs will use and only Leviton was brave enough so far try and go down the portable unit route using that new standard.

Nader: If I understand what you're asking correctly, it's important to note that the 160 model won't ever be able to support 7.7 kW charging, but of course if you buy the 320 model you can use it on a LEAF even if that LEAF only supports 3.3 kW charging speeds. That would be the most flexible if you can wait for that unit to go on sale. And when Nissan makes an upgrade kit available for you to convert your 3.3 kW charger speed to 6.6 kW then you'll be able to take advantage of it right away.

· · 6 years ago

This is excellent news -- as a (hopefully?) lower cost option for Leaf drivers, etc., and as a portable solution. Keep us informed, for sure!

Neil

· Steven (not verified) · 6 years ago

A most timely article! We are going to have a hybrid hot water heater installed - out of imminent dire necessity. Yesterday the vendor, Lowes, told us adding a new 240 circuit might be prohibitively expensive. As I recall he suggested it might run as high as $1000.

Anyhow, a couple of questions for Levitron:
1. any possibility of them offering this unit as an option in the federally subsidized program for installing home chargers for LEAF test market owners? It looks like a win for everybody since most 240 line installations could probably be avoided.
2. (returning to a tired thread) Any possibility of making this charger two-way, i.e. allowing the house circuit to draw from an EV battery?

· Michael (not verified) · 6 years ago

Why don't the car manufacturers just build Level 2 chargers into the car, rather than having to lug around extra equipment?

· · 6 years ago

@Nick,
Just because the idiots that are currently making J1772 EVSEs (Clipper Creek is the only possible exception) can't be bothered to read how Tesla has been doing things for 2 years already doesn't make it particularly exciting news when someone finally does. Eventually, someone will realize that limiting their charging rate to a pathetic 6.6kW (oops, I mean 3.3 kW) is pathetically slow and doesn't save them money either. I'm no soothsayer, its just common sense. But then, I wasn't impressed back in the '90's with dot-com companies that simply operated the tried and true mail order business model either.
Don't take it personally, I'm just hard to impress sometimes.

@Steven,
Remember that that $1000 to add another 240volt line should last the life of your home. Assuming you will live in your house for 10 years, that's less than $10/month. Compared with how much you'll be paying for cars or gas during that period, this is pretty small. Adding an air conditioner, spa, heavy power tools, outdoor floodlight, or even a new 120v line could cost you just as much.
Today, the J1772 standard does not allow bi-directional operation. It took what seemed like forever for them to even finalize the 1-way version. If we had waited for a 2-way version, we probably still wouldn't have a single, standard charging connector.
I definitely like the idea of bi-directional connectors. In addition to being able to use your car a backup house power, you could also use your car to 'jump' another EV that ran out of charge or run power tools at a job site. This is just one of the many EV benefits that we have to look forward to in the future.

· · 6 years ago

Michael: the chargers ARE built into the cars. We loosely call these wall chargers but they are really EVSE's (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) because what they really do is just supply the electricity to the car safely.

You could simply get a cable with a J1772 connector on one end and a 220v plug on the other end and plug it directly into a 220v matching outlet. The car would charge just fine and stop charging when it was fully charged without any worry of overcharging.

· Steven (not verified) · 6 years ago

Somebody at Nissan is listening!! If you log into your Nissan LEAF account, it looks like just about every formal piece of documentation for the LEAF is available as an Adobe Acrobat download file! Kudos to Nissan!

This probably doesn't belong with this article and may have already been posted to Plug-in Cars. If so, my apologies. If not, could the web maintainers see the information is posted to the right place to get the word out?

Thanks,

Steven

· jak42 (not verified) · 6 years ago

Hi Nick,

So I can't see this as really being useful. The destination needs to have a 220V outlet, and those are hard to come by in the US (much easier in Europe). I have a plug-in Prius conversion, and, even though it just requires a 110V 15 amp outlet, which is standard in the US and therefore very common, it is almost impossible to get charging on the road unless we arrange for it ahead of time by asking the lodging owners. Ad hoc charging, even when in city garages, is not possible, except in a few instances.

My favorite solution for this is to put an outlet on the bottom of aluminum streetlight poles, where the access plate for the wiring is at. A 220V 15 amp outlet on every streetlight would make ad hoc charging easy. On the other hand, figuring out how to bill for the electricity is harder. It would require the car to contact the billing authority over wireless, or something like that, or maybe a wireless module on the outlet that detected when current was being drawn, but how would it identify the source? I can't see putting a swipe card reader on every lamp pole, unfortunately.

jak

· · 6 years ago

Jak, I think it's very useful. I can put an outlet in my parents garage, my in-laws, my sisters house down the shore, etc. and just take the charger with me if I need to. This will also make it infinitely easier for many people to convince their employer to allow them to charge at work since they don't need to install the permanent EVSE on a wall somewhere now. Installing a 200v Nema 6-50R is a piece of cake and most people won't even pull a permit to do so (even though it is technically required). I bet most electrical contractors will tell you it's up to you and they'll pull a permit is you want, but it's just a simple outlet and they'd be happy to just install it.
This system obviously not solve the need for an improved public charging infrastructure, but believe me, having this portability will be very useful for many EV owners.

· · 6 years ago

If the portable is inexpensive enough you can use it at home instead of paying the currently obnoxious EVSE home installation charges.

One warning though: plugging and unplugging will surely destroy a regular plug.Alternative plugs exist.

· · 6 years ago

@Sagebrush
This is definitely true. Most NEMA 240 volt receptacles are only designed for about 1000 plug/unplug cycles. If you plug your car in every day, this means you'll have to replace the receptacle about every 3 years. There is risk of fire as it wears out through constant usage. Also, ideally, there should be a shut-off switch to the receptacle so you can turn it off before plugging or unplugging.
This solution works fine if done carefully but isn't 100% idiot proof like an EVSE is.
I've had a production EV for over 5 years with over 70,000 miles driven and have always taken this approach to charging.

· Greg P (not verified) · 6 years ago

This conversation in some ways has come full circle. What I mean is, there is simply a cost to electricity that has to be beared, thus the public charging option will have its place as well. I also venture to say that public charging will satisfy those who do not have a home for their vehicle, i.e. garage. Yes, one can build there own portable charging network, that will match their lifestyle. It's just that the model described is for a specific market, and doesn't take into consideration that we all manage our time very differently. I'm also not so sure about the statistics that break up where are cars spend their time. 80% seems like a lot of time at home, and 5% seems very little being out and about. In addition, what is the percentage swings in these variables, is there a substantial number of autos that move about to a much greater degree, and won't they alone create the demand for public charging? The cost of charging publically as a service has an added value. Do you always make your coffee at home, or are you willing to pay more for having it provided for you while your out? Public Charging's evolution, will manage all of this and more, it will be interesting to watch and see which locations become more attractive than others. I'd venture to guess that locations with canope's will be hot, particularly solar, for the added environmental value.

· Lad (not verified) · 6 years ago

According to The Leaf Members Forum, as discussed above, the portable EVSE that comes with the Leaf is capable of being modified to work on 240 volts fairly cheaply, about $200. Where the normal unit provides about 1.6 kw on 120 volts, he 240 volt version provides about 2.8kw on 240 volts. This compares favorably with about 3.2 kw provided by the more expensive hardwired EVSE, which is limited by the size of the Leaf charger. However, if Nissan makes a larger charger available as an upgrade, the hardwired J1772 spec EVSE should be able to handle the current provide the feed circuit is rated high enough, 240v at 40 amps.

· Dave K. (not verified) · 6 years ago

I think you guys are missing the point (except maybe ExEV1 and SageBrush). The whole point of the J-1772 standard is safety and durability, these cars will be plugged and unplugged 10s of thousands of times during their lifetime and if you don't use a system that makes that absolutely idiot proof you WILL have problems. The J-1772 standard includes several systems to accomplish this, "handshake" between the car and EVSE, first to make, last to break on the power contacts so they are never live when unplugged and ground fault protection so no one gets killed. Also "circuit reporting" so the car doesn't try to pull 6.6kw from a 3.3kw circuit, trip the breaker and leave you stranded. These are all reasons why the circuit should be hard wired and installed by qualified personel. That said charging has alway been "portablized", the old inductive paddles to Tesla to conversions but it shouldn't be the standard practice.

· · 6 years ago

@Nick Chambers, et al

Good to see the education about the cord-and-plug connected model is getting out - but please realize that there is an interesting debate in the industry. I'm glad you are excited about this EVSE, but please take it with a grain of salt - i.e. I smell blue and green koolaid on your breath - but that is okay, because the first time I heard of this, I had a tad on my breath also.

Why was it that Leviton read the NEC and said, "Hey it could be cord-and-plug connected," where many of the other manufacturers said "nope, it should be permentantly wired."? Because it depends on what you read (and whether you make wiring devices such as plugs and receptacles). What do I mean? Look for yourself at NFPA 70, NEC Article 625.13. From just reading the code, there is this little word 'or' that allows a 240V unit to be cord-and-plug connected IF it meets a few other requirements, BUT, and this is a big but, if you read the 'NEC handbook notes' that are directly following this section of the code which are supposed to explain the intent of the code it says the following: "Some manufacturers produce 125-volt ... portable charging units ... However, 625.13 makes it clear that non-portable equipment must be mounted and permanently wired." The problem is the unit that you describe above was not tested by UL to be portable - it was tested to be what UL defines as 'movable'. The UL tests for portable are significantly more robust (with vibration, run over, sitting in a puddle, etc tests). The Nissan Cordset that @indyflick referenced was UL'd against the 'portable' tests.

This 'movable' nomenclature is actually a big deal, because what this means is that the terms that UL is using is not the same as what the NEC recognizes - that is why there is a debate. Think about it this way - movable makes perfect sense when thinking about big heavy things like refrigerators and dryers - but are they portable? No way. This plug-and-cord connected EVSE changes things - now we have a small device that is easily movable and blurs the lines of movable and what some are making out to be 'portable'. NEMA 6-50 and 14-50 receptacles and plugs are great for large appliances - but the plugs themselves are not made for lots of plug/unplug cycles as @ex-EV1-driver points out. Have you ever been shocked by sliding in or out the 2 inch live prongs of a NEMA 6-50 or 14-50? I know several people that have - that kind of connector is NOT optimal for daily, weekly, or even monthly use - the plug/receptacle was made for that single time a few years you need to move the unit - that is it. The J1772(tm) connector was made for 10k cycles under very dirty circumstances - that is far cry from the 1000 cycles under practically pristine conditions of a NEMA plug. So, as @DaveK points out, @Nick the cabin idea is a very ‘not recommended’ situation. EVSE is about safety, so if you have a cord-and-plug connected unit, it should be like your dryer - plug it in and leave it alone.

The other thing to take note of is that the manufacturer you mention is not the only one selling a cord-and-plug connected EVSE - the GM Voltec can come this way, the Eaton/CutlerHammer Pow-R-Station can come this way, and the eTec BLiNK unit can come this way, let alone the non-UL’ed Tesla device @ex-EV1-driver referenced. The point is that the big L is not the only one here. They are just the loudest - and for good reason - they want to also sell more plugs and receptacles. Who could blame them.

Also, the main reasons behind a cord-and-plug connected EVSE is 1) to lower the cost of installation (which is funny because it takes *more* actual work for an electrician to wire a receptacle box rather than just wire into an EVSE) and 2) to separate the ‘EVSE’ installation from the wiring inspection to get around the inspector. If I was an inspector, I might not be terribly happy that people in my district are ‘short circuiting’ (pun intended) my job of protecting people by only telling me they are installing a receptacle. The conversation may go something like the inspector asking me, “So Jason, I see that you had Sammy Electric install a 240V 50A receptacle hanging in your garage 3 feet off the ground right next to where your car parks – what in the world are you going to do with that especially since it is eye level with your 6 year old daughter?” Which my response would be, “well, Mr. Inspector, I … uhhh … well I … um going to install an ‘appliance’ on the wall.” “Really?” the inspector may ask, “What kind of appliance – there is not a lot of room for a dryer right there next to you car?” What would you do if you told him an EVSE was going to be installed – he may ask, "An EV-what?" Then he may bring out the old code book, and the plan to get around him will be foiled. Can a user, an electrical contractor, or an inspector understand or explain about the UL definition of movable vs. portable, look at 625.13 , see that little 'or', see how it references 625.18, .19, and .29, and then know the SAE J1772 standard fits the requirements of those extra three requirements - or is he going to read the handbook which says 'no go'? You have to be an expert to know those kinds of things from three different organizations (NFPA, SAE, and UL) - and there are very few experts out there.

This is why the Cord-and-Plug connected idea is NOT cut and dry. The inspector may require a ground fault receptacle or ground fault breaker for this circuit – and that would totally RUIN your charging experience – because those things trip at 5mA – most EVSE’s allow automatic reset at 20mA (because of the amount of nuisance tripping from the EV1 and RAV4-EV days at 5mA) - but only if the EVSE is the one that catches the fault. However, if the breaker or receptacle catches the fault and trip, the EVSE’s power would be cut off. A user would have to go back out and hit the reset button on the breaker or receptacle. Can anyone say, ‘bad customer experience’?

One other thing I’ll mention here is that the selling method Leviton is taking is selling the charging station separate from the wiring kit which includes the receptacle … but you have to buy the wiring kit because it includes the mounting bracket. Why is this important? The station itself only attaches to the mounting bracket. So no matter what the station costs, a buyer would have to add both the station cost AND wiring kit together to get the full ‘material cost’.

The end story is that in some jurisdictions, the cord-and-plug connected EVSE will be welcomed. In others, it will be vehemently despised. This is where the NEC leaves it up to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction, i.e. local inspectors) about what really happens. Changes to the NEC to make it more clear are in the works, but during the 2011 code cycle when others tried to make it more clear that cord-and-plug connected is allowed, the propositions were flatly rejected by the code panel. So the debate wages on …

Yours Truly,
Jason Nitzberg
Plugin EVangelist

· · 6 years ago

@JasonNitzberg,
Thanks for the detailed explanation about NEC625 and the other electrical information.
One point I'd like to point to is that the Tesla UMC (Universal Mobile Connector) is UL listed. This proves that it is possible to do.

· · 6 years ago

Jason: Thanks for the comment, you are definitely well versed on this topic, are you just an Evangelist as you put it or do you also work in the industry?

As for the local inspector asking what you plan on using the outlet for, other than telling him whatever I want to (I wouldn't really say that) I would just say "Don't really have anything yet, but I figure it's a good idea to bring a 220 line up to the garage for future use." and leave it at that. If he pressed I'd say I'm probably going to get a 220V air compressor and a pneumatic tool set. I'll also probably install a disconnect so when I do plug & unplug the unit to take it on the road the power will be off, something I would definitely recommend.

Personally I like this set up. I don't think I'll be actually unplugging and taking it with me more than a dozen times a year, but for those instances it will be very useful. I'll have outlets and mounting kits installed at my parents house and my in-laws making trips there much more convenient.

· Brandon (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'm curious - why is there such a difference in installation cost? In both cases, am I not doing the exact same thing except that in one case I'm terminating the wires to an outlet, and in the other, I'm terminating the wires to the EVSE? I still have to install a dedicated breaker, run wire and conduit between my breaker panel and my EVSE, and then terminate the wires. If anything, all I am doing by using the Leviton approach is that I'm adding an extra device in between (the outlet) which would also add cost (albeit, not a significant amount). I personally like the outlet approach and it sounds like it potentially might be worth it in terms of avoiding headaches from the inspectors, but I'm not sure I see the benefit in terms of cost at least - unless I'm missing something.

· · 6 years ago

Brandon: You are right if you plan on simply leaving it in that one location all the time.
How I plan to use it is to buy the one EVSE and three mounting kits. Install the main one in my garage and then the two other at other locations that I frequent (parents, in-laws, work etc). So that way you are basically only paying for the outlets in the other locations and not the entire EVSE's where most of the expense is. If you don't plan on using it at other locations, then yes, it isn't any better or more cost effective than a hard wired EVSE.

Having lived with a 100 mile BEV I do recognize the usefulness of this. I actually have an entire Clipper Creek CS40 wall unit that I attached a NEMA 14-50 plug to so I can take it on the road and use it at RV parks or even clothes dryer outlets. It's extraordinarily cumbersome and makes it undesirable to use unless absolutely necessary. The Leviton system would work much better for me.

· Nader (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver

My objective is to have the garages prewired for tenants. Aside from Leviton I haven't heard any talk about what type of receptacle other plug-in in EVSE's are using, which is why I was leaning towards doing the NEMA 6-50R. I wonder why Leviton would choose that unit over the more common NEMA 14-50R. Either way we have to decide fairly soon as they are wiring the project as I type. I guess worst case scenario is that the tenant would need to use a plug adapter.

Thanks for you input!

· Nader (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver

My objective is to have the garages prewired for tenants. Aside from Leviton I haven't heard any talk about what type of receptacle other plug-in in EVSE's are using, which is why I was leaning towards doing the NEMA 6-50R. I wonder why Leviton would choose that unit over the more common NEMA 14-50R. Either way we have to decide fairly soon as they are wiring the project as I type. I guess worst case scenario is that the tenant would need to use a plug adapter.

Thanks for you input!

· · 6 years ago

@Nader,
The key thing is to get the 240volt wiring out to the parking spaces.
I suppose if Leviton has chosen the 6-50 go with it and don't worry.
Changing out a $10.00 receptacle is trivially easy if it becomes necessary in the future.
Thanks for making the effort to get the wiring in. I hope that this pays off for you directly as well as indirectly by making it easier for EV owning apartment dwellers to drive without petroleum.

· · 6 years ago

@Nader and @ex-EV1driver - The main reason behind NEMA 6-50 compared to NEMA 14-50 is the 4th wire - the neutral wire. Most manufacturers are trying to make it a '3 wire' 208/240V system, i.e. two hots and a ground, which is NEMA 6-50 (which only has 3 stabs). However, NEMA 14-50 (4 stabs) is used in certain EVSE's if they need that 4th neutral wire. Just depends on the guts of the EVSE as to what power needs they have. If you run a 4 conductor wire out to your receptacle, but my post may find you too late. Pulling wire is usually the time consuming part.

@Tom - When it comes to what you would say to the inspector, I guess I am the type that prefers not to 'fib a tad'. I realize it's not the inspectors 'business' to know what you are doing, necessarily, but at the same time it is, since their job is to protect the uneducated masses who do not realize what they are doing with electricity, which I realize may not apply to you as an EV-aficionado. The problem is - if the inspectors does not realize that you are going to be putting a device on that receptacle that has built in ground fault protection, which all EVSEs do if they are listed and NEC compliant, then likely the ground fault breaker/receptacle will be 'greatly encouraged' and cause the problem I stated in my previous post - the breaker at 5mA will trip before the EVSE at 20mA, and your automatic reset in the EVSE will NOT work.

In regards to my background, I am an EVangelist, I do work in industry, and I sit on the SAE J1772(tm) committee. Learning all this interesting electrical information can be overwhelming - but I love to teach, and try to explain what I know.

@Brandon - I could agree more to your point about the labor should be practically the same between a permanently wired EVSE or a cord-and-plug connected EVSE. I am of the opinion that since this is a 'new fangled device', installers are increasing the cost. Running conduit, wires, and terminating on terminal blocks is standard practice ... but as soon as you add the letters 'EV' to it, it just seems to freak people out. EVSE's are built extremely similar to other standard electrical equipment - they basically, in function, are 'smart EV breakers', or 'smart EV disconnects'. But to avoid the 'appearance' of newness, wiring to a receptacle bypasses these connotations - but they are not without their drawbacks as stated above.

· · 6 years ago

@JasonNitzberg,
Most of the times that neutral and ground wire on the NEMA14-50 are tied together anyway. This is my experience at RV parks where most NEMA 14-50 outlets are found.
I don't have a NEMA 14-50 in my driveway for charging an EV but I do, conveniently have a GFCI protected dual NEMA 14-50 in my driveway to power an RV ,-)
Some day, I may get an RV but, in the mean time, it sure is convenient for charging my EV when I don't put it in the garage where there is a NEMA 10-30 for an old Arc Welder :-)
If you sit on the J-1772 committee, can you fill us in on whatever is delaying the DC fast charging standard development? This is the final feature that will enable the EV to fully replace the ICE but it seems like it isn't getting anywhere. Tesla is clearly not going to wait and will deploy their own system. Nissan and Mitsubishi appear to have standardized on the TEPCO CHaDEMO standard which is a bit too slow for practical long-distance driving. It would be better for our planet, however, if the SAE committee could get their act together and come up with a viable standard that would work going forward.

· · 6 years ago

@Jason: I've GC'd few commercial buildings in various towns and have done plenty of home renovations so I have had lot's of experience with inspectors. In my experience, precious few of them really care what you plan to do with what they are inspecting. They just want to see that what you installed was done properly.

I actually think most inspectors will embrace these EVSE's because it really makes their job easier. All they need to inspect is a simple NEMA 6-50 outlet, and they've seen hundreds of them already. Inspecting EVSE's made my dozens of different manufacturers isn't as simple.

These guys have tight schedules and they don't want to spend time at your home asking you "what is this thing used for again?" and then "I'm going to need to read the literature on this before I approve it" like what happened to me when my inspector saw my new Clipper Creek CS40 hanging on my wall.

I think they'll love the fact that all they are responsible for is if the new outlet that you pulled a permit for was installed properly. Simple, and they'll be out of your home in 15 minutes and on the the next inspection.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

just say NO to electric cars! Heavy metal, rare earth, yeah let's see how much energy is requried to extract all the raw materials for ALL the batteries to be made in CHINA!!!!

Oh, great plan (NOT)!!! Now we can hide the energy (mega-hydrocarbons will be consumed behind the scenes for extraction, manufacture and generation) used to produce batteries and replace our dependence on foreign oil with dependence on everything "battery" from the middle east to the FAR East while increasing the need for more hydrocarbons!!!! Let's see simple math is the more people, the more energy needed??? Yep, so energy consumption in one form or another will never go down, only up. Unless of course, a huge reduction in earth's population by some major disaster???

Common sense is not too common...matter of fact it is dead, but the sheeople buy this crap from the marketers (politicians and the rich). Do we notice any oil company having a massive campaign to enter the electric business??? NO! They are still producing oil to support the attempt into electro-mibile transformation! of course laughing all the way to the bank too!

· · 6 years ago

Oh no! not another one.
At least this guy's able to read. Maybe next time he'll learn to read something besides propaganda - unless, of course, he is the one trying to spread the propaganda. I guess I'll waste yet another few minutes with the easy yet tedious job of picking this flame apart:
1) Heavy Metal: That was the old Nickle Cadmium (NiCD) batteries. Besides their environmental problems they had other problems and have pretty much been left behind. Modern EV batteries will likely be Nickle Metal Hydride (NiMH), Lithium ion (Li-ion), or rarely, Lead Acid (Pb-A). These have no heavy metals in them although the Lead in Pb-A is a toxic. These are all recyclable.
2) Rare Earth: This has a sexy name but isn't anything to get excited about. Sure, it all comes from China since it isn't profitable enough to mine in the US with all the US environmental regulations on mining. It also mainly used in appliance motors and they are all being made in China today anyway. EVs don't actually need rare earth metals though. AC Induction motors such as the Tesla has don't use any of them.
3) China: I gotta agree with you the rest of the world needs to start doing manufacturing again - but I doubt that that's what you are trying to say.
4) Energy consumption: I agree with your population issue. Do you have a plan or just a rant? EVs use less energy overall and their energy can come from many different sources. Not a 100% solution but clearly sustainable assuming population doesn't overwhelm it.
5) Oil companies in electric business: We didn't exactly see the steam locomotive industry from Ohio or Pennsylvania enter the automobile industry. They pretty much died in place, just as Western Union did when the telephone obsoleted the telegraph. I figure they will try to squeeze the last penny they can from the oil under the land they own. Right now they are laughing since you (and many others) are fighting the only alternatives against them while you probably shell big bucks out to pay them every time you fill your tank.

· · 6 years ago

I don't know Ex, I think he supports his position very well. Maybe it's time to consider that Ford Expedition I had my eye on after all. Too bad thy discontinued the Excursion, that was really the apple of my eye. I'll talk it over with the wife after work. Thanks for clearing this whole EV confusion up anon!

· · 6 years ago

Of course, this is all off topic, but there are efforts underway to restart rare earth production in California, on a large scale:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rare-earth-20110220,0,4161956.story

Still, I'd rather import raw materials and products from China, Japan, and Korea than from the Middle East any day.

Back on topic, I agree with Tom that many inspectors would rather not have to ask too many questions about your intentions. My experience has also been that most of them seem to want to have a quick look and then get on their way.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Tom

You mentioned last week that "You could simply get a cable with a J1772 connector on one end and a 220v plug on the other end and plug it directly into a 220v matching outlet. The car would charge just fine and stop charging when it was fully charged without any worry of overcharging."

But that is only true for the ACP drive train, I think everyone else will refuse to charge unless they see the J1772 pilot signal.

As far as telling the inspector what an outlet will be used for, I think the more important issue is that generally it is better if the power company knows what the "demand factor" is in your micro-neighborhood. Unlike Europe, we tend to have only a few homes (8 to 12) on a single transformer and they are sized for maybe 30% of the service capacity. In other words, it you have a 200 amp service, they do not expect you to draw more than about 60 amps for extended periods. This is a cost control technique, and it works when most heavy loads cycle on and off and can be averaged over 8 or more homes per transformer.

But and EVSE can draw for several hours, and while most of us are still on a dumb grid, it is good if the power company at least has a hope of getting information about long term EVSE installs through the municipal inspector.

I did not charge often at 12 kW, but if I did it regularly I might think about turning off the electric water heater while charging during the summer cooling season. That would be a manual version of a local smart grid.

· · 6 years ago

Anonymous: Working with utilities will be important. In fact, I have already contacted my electric provider and told them that I have an EV and soon hope to have two so my electricity demand may increase. They asked a lot of questions about charging times, draw etc. but they did seem to want to work with me to make sure they can provide the power I need.

Telling the inspector isn't going to accomplish that. They're not going to call the utility for you. I really think the local inspectors will be happy that they only have to inspect an outlet, it makes their job easier.

· Jim McL (not verified) · 6 years ago

Tom

The inspector might not call the Utility, but at least there is a record. While you and I would call the Utility, most people probably would not.

Jason

The latest NEC I can find in the public domain is 2008, and 625.13 only says:

625.13 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. Electric vehicle supply equipment rated at 125 volts, single phase, 15 or 20 amperes or part of a system identified and listed as suitable for the purpose and meeting the requirements of 625.18, 625.19, and 625.29 shall be permitted to be cord-and-plug-connected. All other electric vehicle supply equipment shall be permanently connected and fastened in place. This equipment shall have no exposed live parts.

I don't see the part about "or" movable 240 volt EVSEs.

I found my copy of the NEC here:
http://bulk.resource.org/codes.gov/nc_electrical.pdf

I see that NEC has restricted free access on their web site, I will try the latest edition there.

I have not found those "NEC handbook notes" that you were talking about either.

Are you a voting member of the J1772 committee or an observer?

I need to get off my backside and join SAE soon.

· Jim McL (not verified) · 6 years ago

Wait a minute, you mean this "or"?

"20 amperes or part of a system identified and..."

Wow, that has been there all along, hasn't it?

The other interesting thing is that an EVSE over 60 amps needs a lockable cutoff switch near by. I suppose that is why BMW limited the Mini E to 50 amps.

· · 6 years ago

The reason that a portable EV charger is important is that you can take it with you in your car and plug in where there exists a 6-50R receptacle. Where do these receptacles exist you ask? Why just go to any RV site where people park their motor homes, or campers for the night. If you want to know where all the RV camping sites are in the 50 US states and Canada, you just have to get the "Wheelers" book from any RV dealer, or on-line. So, if you decide to drive across country, just locate all the RV campsites along the way that have electrical hookups for an RV. Then just drive your EV there, pay for the camp site, plug in your EV, and chill out! Happy EV driving campers!

· Inspector Erskine (not verified) · 6 years ago

Personnel Protection System. A system of personnel
protection devices and constructional features that when
used together provide protection against electric shock
of personnel.
I heard that if you rewire a receptacle in your home from 120 volts to 240 volts and plug your computer into it will be able to run at speeds unheard of for about 20 seconds.

· Leah Chea (not verified) · 5 years ago

Power from government sponsered wind and solar farms is a scam being forced on everyone by those who think that the technology really is green. Leah Chea

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

Leviton inexplicably discontinued their 32 amp model and replaced it with a totally different styled 30 or 40 amp unit for the Focus and Rav4, respectively.

They also want WAY too much for them. Look at the EV ready kit, basically a 20 amp outlet and a plexiglas cover. You could buy several "EV ready" individual parts and still not equal the cost of their kit.

The 16 amp charging dock is too expensive. $999 at Home Depot.

The other silly thing is as mentioned, some docks require the "identified wire" (usually a so called neutral) and others don't. Unmentioned is whether the Neutral ones can work on 2 legs of a grounded "B" system. My Level II can, simply because it doesn't need a neutral. I'm assuming the thing needs 120 volts if it has a place for a neutral connection. If it doesn't use any 120 volts, then their designers are dumb.

Some hot tubs require 4 wires instead of 3, but those models have a legitimate need for 120 volts for pumps, stereo, lights, computer, etc. Requiring it on a Charging Dock (the whole box is overpriced and almost useless as it is) is Brain Dead.

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