ksnogas2112, getting the charging station was somewhat an odyssey when I did it last summer, but I’m glad I was able to figure out a solution that worked out for me. I will tell you that I’ve learned more about how home electrical and EVSE protocols than I had planned to.
The first problem I encountered was the electrical service to my house. Electrical service typically falls into three categories, 60 Amps, 100 Amps, and 200+ Amps. Homes built prior to 1960 typically have 60 Amp service (many have been upgraded). Between the 1960’s and 1980’s, 100 Amp service was the norm. Pretty much anything built after the mid 1980’s have 200 or larger service. My home was built in 1971, so I have a 100 Amp service. I verified this by looking at the main shutoff breaker on the outside of my house which said 100 Amps.
Most of the charging stations out there are rated at 30 Amps/240 Volts (on a 40 Amp circuit). My home has central air, an electric range, and electric dryer, so my 100 Amp service was already pretty much tapped out and wouldn’t be able to safely accommodate an extra 30 Amp load without a service upgrade.
I called KCP&L out to my home to look at how expensive a service upgrade might be, if even possible. I share a transformer (big green box type) with a few of my neighbors (400 Amp service divided into 4 100 Amp services). The KCP&L technician took a look and called me back saying that the transformer was capable of supporting the extra load, but that I would have to install a completely new service to my house. As I found out, that process can be very expensive. KCP&L charges about $400 just to pull the cable from the transformer to the meter can on the side of the house, let alone the expense of installing 4 inch conduit from the house to the transformer, installing new main service cable from the meter can to my breaker box, and installing a new breaker box; all of this just for the service upgrade. We haven’t even got to installing the charging station yet. I was looking at about $2500 for just the service upgrade and another $2000 or so for the charging station installation. Ouch!!
I did some more research and discovered that the 2011/2012 Nissan leaf only has a 3.3 KW charger onboard, so it only draws 13.75 Amps max anyway, so getting a 30 Amp charging station was unnecessary. (Watts = Amps * Volts, so 3300 Watts = 13.75 Amps * 240 Volts)
I looked around and some of the charging stations have a switch inside the unit where you can set the maximum Amps. Setting the maximum Amps in these units changes the square wave pulse width on the J1772 comm pin that lets the car know the maximum current it can draw. The EVSE I went with is the Leviton Evr-Green EVB22. http://www.leviton.com/evrgreen
They have both a hardwired version and a plug in version. Because the maximum draw with this unit is 15 Amps (20 Amp circuit), I didn’t need a service upgrade after all as this fits nicely in my current service.
At the time, the Evr-Green was about $1200. I’ve seen them on Amazon for much less than that though. With this unit, I discovered, you have to also purchase the home installation kit. According to National Electrical Code (NEC), an EVSE has to be a fixed installation. After all, you wouldn’t want someone constantly plugging in and unplugging a 240 V circuit – that’s just asking for trouble. They take a liberal view of this regulation and offer both a plug in version and a hardwired version. With the plug in version, the plug is covered by a bubble cover (which comes in the separate installation kit.) Bubble cover implies fixed installation. I discovered the device has some sort of protection feature where it can detect if the bubble cover is snapped shut over the plug; if not snapped shut, the EVSE actually flashes an error until the cover is snapped shut.
When I purchased my home, the existing wiring in my garage was already pretty bad. Instead of using conduit, someone had attached the Romex directly to the wall with a staple gun. For $1600, the electrician replaced all of the 120 V wiring in the garage (properly putting it in conduit), ran another 20 Amp circuit for the EVSE, installed a “240 air conditioner plug – included in the installation kit”, and upgraded my breaker box. Total cost $2800. If you already have a “dryer plug” in the garage, nothing extra would have to be done.
There is a really good installation video for the Evr-Green on their website.
At the time, last August, I called Lilly Pad EV to get a quote on their residential charger. Back then the one they were selling was the ChargePoint residential/light commercial one. The unit itself was about $3000, so I went elsewhere.
With that said, I have to say I am extremely impressed (through my other interactions with them) with Lilly Pad EV as a company. UMKC, using some DOE grant money, installed a charging station across from their admin building Spring 2011. The spots were always occupied by non-electric vehicles though. UMKC took the grant money but never bothered to install EV parking only signs. After bugging the parking department for about six months and getting the run around, in frustration, I wrote several entities that were involved in UMKC getting the station pointing out that the money had basically been wasted if no one can use the stations.
The people at Lilly Pad EV (they actually installed the station) were exceptionally responsive. The president of the company personally contacted me and told me that they would try and resolve the situation. Through multiple emails and visits in person, they stayed on the issue until UMKC finally relented and installed signs after nearly 12 months of stalling. A Lilly Pad EV employee actually drove over to UMKC just to make sure that everything had been resolved, and the company president wrote me back to let me know the problem should be fixed and to contact him once I use the station to let their company know if my concerns had been adequately addressed.
As far as customer service goes, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Lilly Pad EV.