DarkStar wrote:EV2104 Charge@Home Residential Charging Station
Manufactured by EV-Charge America (EVCA) based in Las Vegas, Nevada
Before I begin my review, let me preface that after I received a phone call stating my unit was packed for shipment and receiving a UPS tracking number via email, I was told over the phone by Bob Rosinski that the unit I was shipped was a prototype unit, but was "completely functional except for missing warnings and other stickers." This review is only based on the unit I received, so your mileage may vary! (YMMV)
Their website isn't the best; however had all the necessary pre-sales information about the EV2104 from EV-Charge America. I emailed the company asking a few questions and received a quick reply back with some PDF attachments about the additional features. On September 27th they asked that I wait until the 28th and use their online shopping cart. Since the shopping cart wasn't up as of October 4th, they gave me a call and I ordered the unit over the phone.
On November 11th, I spoke with them on the phone to find out the status of my unit and was told to use their online shopping cart to order it; unfortunately they had an issue with sales tax that prevented my payment from going through until November 17th. On December 1st I received a notification that they were shipping my unit out that day, that evening I automatically received the UPS tracking information.
On December 3rd, they contacted me on the phone to let me know the unit I was shipped was a prototype unit, but was "completely functional except for missing warnings and other stickers" and that another unit would be shipped overnight on December 7th. After December 3rd, I stopped receiving any communications from EV-Charge America regarding the status of my replacement unit and as of December 18th, have yet to receive another unit from them.
I picked up the package on December 4th and when I opened the box, I found it to be packed extremely well using air bags. The single RFID tag they included was in a bag attached to the installation instructions.
Following the instructions, I plugged the unit into a 14-50 outlet and when presenting the RFID tag to the reader I was displayed a countdown on the LCD display to turning the unit on. When presenting the RFID tag again, the countdown came back on the LCD and the unit turned off.
The EVSE case is built using very heavy gauge steel. While this adds to the weight (21 lbs shipped), it is built like a tank. The power cable they attached was a 4 wire, 8 AWG cable connected to a 14-50 plug. The J1772 connector is attached to an 18 foot cable going to the unit. Their design of wrapping the cable around the case for storage is clever and works extremely well.
Using a basic multi-meter, I found that the proximity pin on the J1772 connector was open (not in a circuit) and it didn't matter if the button at the top of the connector was pushed down or not. When testing the control pilot pin, I found that it was open as well, missing the initial 12 volts DC that is called for in the J1772-2010 specification. Also, I found that the EVSE will latch the L1 and L2 pins on the J1772 connector with line voltage even though a car is not connected to the unit, creating a potential safety issue.
Upon removing the four flat-head screws and removing the rear panel of the EV2104 Charge@Home EVSE from EV-Charge America, I found that the control pilot and proximity pins were not connected to anything at all in the unit. The only pins connected were L1, L2, and Ground. Looking at the rest of the unit, I found no circuitry to support there being any method of generating a control pilot signal or monitoring the status of the proximity pin. I also found that no GFCI was present as required in the J1772-2010 specifications.
The unit is very basic in its design, however after viewing the J1772-2010 specifications, I don't believe this unit will charge an electric vehicle as it is missing the control pilot required to notify the car that it can only draw a maximum of 30 amps. The proximity pin being open will also prevent a J1772 compliant vehicle from starting to charge as well. These problems could also prohibit the unit from receiving UL listing as a complete EVSE.
The EV2104 Charge@Home from EV-Charge America is probably the most bulletproof EVSE that won't be able to charge a J1772 compliant vehicle. My cost, including shipping, was just under $700. I expect to have to put about $100 of electronics into it to be able to charge my Nissan Leaf and will be working over the next month to do so. Unfortunately I can't recommend purchasing the EV2104 unless you are extremely electronics savvy and love a challenge!
On inspection of the interior of the unit I received, I found that they used some very common, off-the-shelf, electronics to accomplish the RFID tag reading, LCD display, and relay control.
It took me a minute to figure it out, but when I looked at the main control board it looked very familiar. I had trouble finding any model information off of it, however I found that all of the boards present in the unit had paint (or nail polish) brushed on them, covering up the model and manufacturer. I was able to use a flashlight and shine it through the boards to determine that they are Parallax
components (see components listing below). I also noted that there was an attempt to use a black marker to cover up the model and manufacturer information on the 12/7.5 volt power supply. The two relays appeared to be un-obscured and the information was easily readable.
My next steps will be to work with some individuals in the EV community to build a control pilot generator for the unit and I will be reprogramming the Parallax BASIC stamp to properly check for a vehicle on the proximity pin and enable the control pilot signal. It should be a lot of fun (and without much additional cost) to get this completely functional.
Parallax Super Carrier Board (Item 27130)
Parallax BASIC Stamp 2 Module (Item BS2-IC)
Parallax RFID Card Reader Serial (Item 28140)
Parallax RFID Blue Eye Key Fob Tag (Item 28161)
Parallax 2x16 Serial LCD (Backlit) (Item 27977)
Arch Electronics AC-DC Power Module (Item AHC08-12S7.5S-A2)
Qty 2: OPTEK Technology Solid-State Relay (Item OSSRD0004A)
Leviton Industrial Grade 14-50 Plug (Item 9452-P)
Unknown J1772-2010 Plug (No Markings)
Unknown Steel Enclosure (No Markings)