The aim is to provide some general Q&A for charging topics and those pertaining to the EVSE upgrade that are not yet addressed on the EVSE Upgrade website and allow others to comment. Please try to keep this thread on-topic and avoid general discussion. Start a new thread for that please.
Also: Please DO NOT send me PM's pertaining to the Upgrade, as they will NOT get responses, instead please post comments and questions below, as most of the active forum participants have the upgrade already and have experience they can share as well. If you still need personal attention pertaining to the upgrade, please use the contact form on the web site.
Also Note: We will be closed from June the 17th - July the 11th, so any orders received during that time will just sit here until we re-open. Please do not ship us units during this time!
Electric Vehicle Charging Background
All EV's (Electric Vehicles) and Plug-In Hybrids on the market currently use a standard for charging developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). This standard makes it possible to have a common type of connector to charge these vehicles safely and reliably. The standard is referred to as J1772, and it specifies both the type of connectors and how the charge process is implemented. Together this charge cord and it's electronics are referred to as EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment).
The actual "Charger" in a modern EV is located in the car in an on-board module. This is done because the charging process for modern batteries must be tightly controlled to ensure safety and long battery pack life. This also enables the use of the car's cooling system to dissipate the heat, and significantly reduces the cost of charging stations, as the bulk of the expense is built-in to the car already.
The J1772 standard allows for the safe delivery of charge power to vehicles with controlled conditions including a method to let the vehicle know if power is limited so it can draw less energy while charging. All plug-in vehicles currently on the market are delivered with a small portable charge cord (EVSE) that enables what the SAE refers to as "Level 1" charging, which in the US is limited to 120V (standard wall outlet). The problem is the limited power available from 120v outlets means a very slow recharge time. The "Level 2" charge specification includes charging from 240v, which can reduce the recharge time to half (or less) time than Level 1. Unfortunately there are no low-cost and/or portable Level 2 EVSE's presently available for sale.
A J1772 Compliant Charge Connector/Handle
Typical J1772 Vehicle Charge Port (Inlet)
A Permanently Installed EVSE charge station
Example of a Portable Level 1 EVSE (120V)
EVSE Upgrade FAQ
What is the EVSE upgrade?
The EVSE (charging cable) upgrade allows users to send in their original 120V Level 1 charging cable included with the LEAF and have it safely converted to also operate at 240V, (Level 2). The upgrade consists of new internal components, as well as a new 240V capable plug on the unit. If you still will need 120V capability, an optional plug adapter cable is also available that allows you to still plug into a standard 120V outlet and charge at the (slow) Level 1 in the case where a 240V outlet is not readily accessible.
How does this upgrade benefit me?
The upgrade allows LEAF owners (or Volt owners, see below) to charge in half the time when plugged into any 240V outlet, which greatly reduces recharge time and also saves money/hassle on permanently installed home charging stations. The unit also allows charging on any standard 120V outlet as supplied by Nissan with the optional 120V plug adapter cable. Another benefit is possible use as a backup charging source should your installed home charging station fail for some reason.
How do people use the upgraded EVSE?
- 1. As substitute for having an expensive wall-mounted 240V charge station at home.
- 2. To avoid the red-tape of having a building permit pulled and an electrician permanently installing a station.
- 3. As portable unit for charging at twice the speed on a 240V outlet, such as when visiting friends or at work.
- 4. As a backup charging solution even if you already have an existing (or planned) permanently installed station.
- 5. Semi-Permanent placement at an alternate charge location, such as at work, where an installed station may not be possible or practical.
What is done to the EVSE during the upgrade process?
- 1. Internal components are upgraded and added to provide the automatic voltage select capability.
- 2. The power cable is replaced with a new one complete with a rugged molded 240V NEMA L6-20 plug.
- 3. The EVSE is then put through a series of tests to make sure it functions safely and correctly.
- 4. The housing is re-sealed to insure trouble-free operation.
- 5. A final quality control test is performed right before shipping to verify the unit is good to go.
How does the upgrade process work?
There are 4 ways to obtain an upgraded unit:
- 1. Users send their original unit in for upgrade.
- 2. They can purchase a new additional unit from their local Nissan Dealer and send in that unit for upgrade.
- 3. EVSE Upgrade can provide a brand-new already upgraded unit (subject to stock).
- 4. "Advanced Replacement" can be provided where a refundable deposit is paid, then an already upgraded unit is sent out. Once the unit is received, the original one is sent back and when received in proper condition the deposit is refunded, minus a service fee. This is useful if your current unit is your only charging source.
How do I use the upgraded unit on a 240V outlet?
The upgraded unit comes with a NEMA L6-20 240V plug that can be plugged directly into the same type of outlet. These outlets are commonly found in many industrial and commercial settings. The upgraded EVSE will work on almost any outlet and power system anywhere on the planet, with a simple plug adapter. So, If the outlet you wish to use is not an L6-20 type, you can buy (or make) an simple adapter. EVSE Upgrade does not sell or supply completed adapters other than the one for standard 120V outlets. However, short "pigtail" cords are offered that have a molded L6-20 outlet already on one end. If you are able, Simply make a trip to your local hardware store and pick up the proper plug that matches your outlet type and screw the 3 wires on. There are forum members willing to help out out and can also provide completed adapters for low cost. See this thread for more information. Additionally, If you have an unused dryer outlet at home it can be easily changed to work directly with the upgraded unit, no adapter needed.
Can I still use the upgraded unit on a standard 120V outlet?
Just be sure to purchase the optional 120V plug adapter at checkout and plug it into any 120V outlet as before. The EVSE will automatically configure it's internal power supply for that voltage. The upgraded EVSE is "universal" and will work on almost any outlet and power system anywhere on the planet, only needing is a simple plug adapter.
How much does it cost?
The basic upgrade to your unit costs $239 plus $20 shipping (for most locations in the continental US). If you buy an already upgraded unit, that costs $749. (plus shipping) The 120V plug adapter cable is $25 extra and is required to charge on 120V but not on 240V, so most users want this adapter. The L6-20R adapter pigtails are $20 each. Adding Chevy Volt compatibility costs an extra $10. There is an additional upgrade called Rev2 that adds full LEAF level 2 charging capability (16 amps) as well. The web site has order instructions and more details. Payment can be made using any major credit card through PayPal, and you do not need to have or create a PayPal account to order an upgrade.
What are the tech details?
The upgraded EVSE is "universal" and will work on almost any outlet and power system anywhere on the planet. The input voltage range is 100 to 240 volts at 50 or 60 hertz. Regardless of voltage, the revision 1 upgraded EVSE will consume a maximum of 12 amps, whereas the revision 2 option will be at 16 amps when on 240v. The plug on the EVSE is a NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) type L6-20P twist-lock which will mate to an L6-20R receptacle or plug adapter. EVSE Upgrade supplies standard 120V plug adapters and L6-20R pigtails, and there are other adapters available, see this thread for more information. The upgraded EVSE retains the same J1772 safety features as originally designed. The upgrade also substantially lowers the standby power draw. (sometimes referred to as "Phantom" or "Vampire" draw) The standby current consumption on 120v is typically 1.6 watts. (varies from unit to unit somewhat) This means the upgraded unit wastes 2.5 times less energy!
Will the upgraded EVSE work with the Chevy Volt?
Neither the original Nissan (Panasonic) EVSE or the upgraded unit will work properly with the Volt. However, we have identified the cause, and can correct this with an additional upgrade. Then the unit will properly charge a Volt at 120 or 240 volts. The upgrade consists of additional added components, so there is an extra cost of $10 to include it with a standard upgrade.
Are you also offering an upgrade for the Chevy Volt EVSE (Voltec)?
Not at this time. We recommend an upgraded Nissan EVSE to Volt owners, as is much more rugged and better built than the Voltec unit, and in addition is more efficient. The Voltec is equipped with #16 AWG cable throughout, while the Nissan unit uses #12 AWG. We do not feel the Voltec unit is reliable and safe enough, and in addition, the Voltec unit is ultrasonically welded together, so it is difficult to open without damage. (see previous question for more information)
Can the EVSE damage my car?
The EVSE is simply a pass-through device, it doesn't alter the AC power being presented, it simply sends it through to the car as-is once the safety interlock requirements has been met. It's basically just a "smart cord". All the power processing and the actual charger unit itself is on-board in the car already, so the EVSE is just an intelligent switch to send power to this unit. The EVSE also tells the charger in the car to limit it's consumption to the amperage limit specified in the pilot signal, this prevents the car from overloading the local electrical system. This is the most complex function of the EVSE. Since all power conversion from AC to DC and regulating the DC to the battery is done in the car's on-board charger, this is where the bulk of the complexity in the complete charge system lives. We are highly confident that there is no way the EVSE can damage your car, and will be happy to contact Nissan on your behalf should they try to claim otherwise.
Will having my cord upgraded void my warranty?
It will not void the warranty on your car. In the US we have the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act which is a United States federal law, (15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq.). Enacted in 1975, it is the federal statute that governs warranties on consumer products. Among other things, It prevents manufacturers from denying warranty coverage from aftermarket upgrades. The only way they can deny a claim is to unequivocally prove that the upgrade did damage to your car. (see previous question) However, the warranty coverage on the EVSE itself will be voided. However, We stand behind our work and cover the upgrade for a period of 1 year, which offers additional peace-of-mind.
What is the "Phantom" power draw of the upgraded EVSE?
This is covered in the "Tech Details" question above, but on 120v with nothing connected the standby draw is typically about 1.6 watts (varies from unit to unit somewhat). This is the best we could do without re-engineering the entire EVSE. Prior to the upgrade the EVSE standby draw was around 4 watts, so the upgraded unit wastes 2.5 times less power.
Is there a way I can charge on 240v if I don't have access to a 240v outlet?
Yes, you can use a device called a "Quick220" which allows you to use 2 separate normal 120v outlets, and provides a L6-20 socket for the upgraded EVSE to plug in to. Note the 120v outlets cannot be protected by a GFCI breaker, and they must be on 2 different circuits that are on alternate legs. There is an indicator light to assist in locating the proper outlets, and no harm will occur if you try the wrong ones first. The relevant model is called a A220-20L and can be ordered from http://www.quick220.com/.
I am leasing my LEAF, and am worried I might be penalized if I turn my car in with the upgraded EVSE.
At the end of your lease we will be happy to swap you for a non-upgraded unit for free. (you cover shipping) I'm sure any other LEAF owner with an original unit would also be happy to swap you as well. In a pinch, you could simply cut the molded L6-20 connector off and install a standard screw-on plug just like the EVSE is originally shipped with, which you can purchase at any hardware store. Another option is to simply buy an additional already upgraded unit from us and keep your original unit in the trunk.
Can the EVSE be adjusted to allow a higher (or lower) charge current?
The Nissan/Panasonic EVSE was originally only designed to support charge at up to 12 amps. However, the internal components and the wiring support up to 16 amps without any problems. We have developed a way to upgrade the software in the unit to support full LEAF level 2 charging at 16 amps when plugged into a 240v outlet. The unit will still be at 12 amps when powered by a 120v outlet. This additional software upgrade is called "Revision 2" and costs an additional $48 to have applied to your unit. Please see the Revision 2 upgrade thread for more information.