Brharding
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Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Wed May 03, 2017 7:56 am

The LEAF User's Manual states:
"• Only charge using a standard 110 - 120
volt, 15A dedicated electrical outlet
(For example do not use an electric
generator). Failure to do so may cause
charging to fail and could cause damage
to the Li-ion battery charging
equipment due to power surges.
• NISSAN recommends using genuine
NISSAN charging equipment to charge
the vehicle. Using non-NISSAN equipment
could cause the Li-ion battery to
not charge correctly and may damage
the Li-ion battery." (Page CH-12)

Is is possible, say in an emergency, to charge the car with a portable generator without damaging it? I was thinking it might be a good idea to throw a small generator (roughly 3000 W) and a can of gas in the back of the vehicle on a trip that I was not sure if I either had a recharge station available and/or ran out of power before I could get to one. It would take some time, but it may be quicker and less hassle than having to call a tow truck.

(also would be an interesting idea to tow a small trailer with a running generator as a range extender for long trips -- but for another topic)

The manual goes on to say:
"• Trickle charging is performed using an AC 110
- 120 volt, 15A dedicated electrical outlet using
the EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment)
provided with the vehicle.
• The genuine NISSAN EVSE (Electric Vehicle
Supply Equipment) charging equipment or
trickle charge cable performs a communication
function with the vehicle before Li-ion charging
starts. If this communication does not occur
because other equipment is used, the Li-ion
battery will not charge."

If the genuine NISSAN EVSE or trickle charge cable was used with to connect the LEAF to the generator, wouldn't the needed communication indeed occur? Doesn't both the 120 V wall plug-in as well as generator plug-in perform the same function; i.e. providing a source of electrical power for charging? Unless I have a really bad generator, wouldn't the condition of the supplied electrical power be the same?

BrockWI
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Location: Green Bay, WI.
Contact: Website

Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Wed May 03, 2017 9:04 am

Some good info in this thread

viewtopic.php?t=13318
3 kw solar pv - XW6048 - 8 L16's
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IssacZachary
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Wed May 03, 2017 12:03 pm

There are several threads about this like the one BrockWI mentioned and it had been done successfully several times.

Basically you need to get around the lack of ground on a generator by adding some resistors between ground and hot and ground and neutral. Otherwise the EVSE will notice there's no ground and will not allow the car to charge.

Also it seems only pure sine wave inverter generators work well. These deliver a clean, surge-free power source. Other types of cheaper generators might work but there really hasn't been enough testing to confirm that they'll work ok.
2013 SL, 40,000 miles, 12 bars.

GerryAZ
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Wed May 03, 2017 6:45 pm

I strongly recommend that only a single resistor be used between neutral and ground to create the necessary ground reference. That way the generator returns to floating operation if the connection comes loose. If resistors are connected between the line terminal(s) and ground along with the neutral terminal to ground connection, then a loose connection on the neutral could result in unwanted voltage levels between neutral and ground.
Gerry
Silver LEAF 2011 SL rear ended (totaled) by in-attentive driver 1/4/2015 at 50,422 miles
Silver LEAF 2015 SL purchased 2/7/2015

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IssacZachary
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Wed May 03, 2017 9:32 pm

GerryAZ wrote:I strongly recommend that only a single resistor be used between neutral and ground to create the necessary ground reference. That way the generator returns to floating operation if the connection comes loose. If resistors are connected between the line terminal(s) and ground along with the neutral terminal to ground connection, then a loose connection on the neutral could result in unwanted voltage levels between neutral and ground.

That seems to make the most sense. Seems like I read somewhere that that works too.

Also another option would be, if you are going to get your EVSE upgraded by Phil, is to have him install a ground ignore switch on the EVSE.
2013 SL, 40,000 miles, 12 bars.

silverone
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Location: Eastern OH

Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Thu May 04, 2017 2:04 am

Good information in the referenced threads about inverter generators and bonding the neutral/ground (via resistor).

Also for self or non-professional assisted rescue, make sure you have one of the screw in recovery hooks that you could be towed with as well as a 12V booster pack.
2013 SL with Premium package - build date 5/13. 12 bar car with 35,000 miles and counting...
2014 Volt - 45,000+ miles

JohnKuthe
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Thu May 04, 2017 7:03 am

Brharding wrote:...

If the genuine NISSAN EVSE or trickle charge cable was used with to connect the LEAF to the generator, wouldn't the needed communication indeed occur? Doesn't both the 120 V wall plug-in as well as generator plug-in perform the same function; i.e. providing a source of electrical power for charging? Unless I have a really bad generator, wouldn't the condition of the supplied electrical power be the same?


Yes, basically. It's JUST electricity, electrical energy.

John Kuthe...

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TonyWilliams
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Thu May 04, 2017 9:05 am

1- Make a grounding plug (covered in other threads)

2- Make sure the generator is operated at the "continuos load" amp setting and not above (it may be called a 2kW genset, but only capable of 1.6kW continuous). Divide the kW by the voltage (120/240) to get how many amps you can pull. So, 1.6kW / 120 volts = 13.3 amps. With such a limit, you could operate at the typical stock 120 volt - 12 amp setting of the EVSE. If you have your EVSE so modified, you could select the exact amperage of the EVSE to match the generator limits.

3- Hauling gasoline in a passenger compartment is potentially deadly and illegal. Consider storing your gasoline in a small, sturdy container under the hood, strapped or bolted down. Or, add a trailer hitch receiver and use a simple external rack to place the generator and gasoline.

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IssacZachary
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Thu May 04, 2017 1:13 pm

JohnKuthe wrote:
Brharding wrote:...

If the genuine NISSAN EVSE or trickle charge cable was used with to connect the LEAF to the generator, wouldn't the needed communication indeed occur? Doesn't both the 120 V wall plug-in as well as generator plug-in perform the same function; i.e. providing a source of electrical power for charging? Unless I have a really bad generator, wouldn't the condition of the supplied electrical power be the same?


Yes, basically. It's JUST electricity, electrical energy.

John Kuthe...

I've only seen where pure sine wave inverter generators work (after the grounding issue is resolved). With construction type generators this is the only test that I know of and it didn't work:

VitaminJ wrote:It does not work :( No matter what I do I cannot get a charge more than 1 - 1.5kw. My home 7kw EVSE does not charge at all on the generator, only the modified Nissan EVSE works and only at a low rate. Generator is putting out 240v I tested independently. I will look around maybe there is a magic box that can make the generator signal cleaner for the EVSE. I know that my plug adapter is correct because I use it at work and I get 2.5 to 2.8kw charge with my Nissan EVSE. It was posted in this thread that a true sine wave generator was needed but I just had to prove it to myself, luckily it was my friend's and free to test.
2013 SL, 40,000 miles, 12 bars.

JohnKuthe
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Re: Use of Portable Generator to Charge the Battery in an Emergency

Thu May 04, 2017 1:24 pm

IssacZachary wrote:
JohnKuthe wrote:
Brharding wrote:...

If the genuine NISSAN EVSE or trickle charge cable was used with to connect the LEAF to the generator, wouldn't the needed communication indeed occur? Doesn't both the 120 V wall plug-in as well as generator plug-in perform the same function; i.e. providing a source of electrical power for charging? Unless I have a really bad generator, wouldn't the condition of the supplied electrical power be the same?


Yes, basically. It's JUST electricity, electrical energy.

John Kuthe...

I've only seen where pure sine wave inverter generators work (after the grounding issue is resolved). With construction type generators this is the only test that I know of and it didn't work:

A "pure" sine wave? How does whatever knows the difference won't work if it's NOT a "pure" sine wave? And what's the metric and allowable level of impurities from a "pure" sine wave?

John Kuthe...

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