Friday, July 22, 2016

Vehicle Charging Stations in Place

As the probability of getting out of  "VW Hell" improved with the preliminary buy-back agreement, we started looking at electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle options to replace our smog-mobiles. We are strongly leading towards the Chevy Volt, though also considering waiting for the pure electric Chevy Bolt.

In the meantime, I started researching options for installing level 2 charging stations (EVSE) at home. As Bosch was the Chevy-recommended manufacturer, I consulted with the local Bosch installer, Sierra Electrical Services. Turns out that Bosch has changed their business model so that this is no longer a clear win. In the end, I opted to install a pair of Clipper Creek HCS-40 units, ordering them on-line from EV West in California. These will have sufficient juice for any hybrid or a future pure electric. Clipper Creek has great reviews and this unit is described as "indestructible." The cost for two units plus holsters was $1,200, not including tax and shipping.

Part of the EVSE installation required upgrading the level of service to the house, something we have wanted to do for some time. The old panel had only 150A service and had various kludged conduits hanging off of it for projects installed by the previous owner. We wanted to clean that up and also install a 30A receptacle capable of powering the A/C in the travel trailer. The price for all the work plus installing the charging stations was just over $4,400.

We got the work done last Friday and Saturday.  Here is the electrician removing the wiring from the old panel.

Looking closely, you can see a few of the seven or so geckos we found fried onto the main bus. We figured they were there to prey on some of the 30 or so mud-dauber wasp cells in the wall behind the panel .... I love Texas.

While they did this, I spent the day baby-sitting the generator I had set up to keep my reef tank alive and taking pictures of Purple Martins.

By mid-afternoon, extra conduits had been removed, and the new 225A panel was installed and wired, new 4/0 service wires were installed in the riser, a new grounding system was in place and junction boxes were installed on the walls to provide 220V/40A power to each of the two charging stations. We also got our new 30A RV receptacle installed. Despite the panel being much larger, the whole project looks much neater.

The city inspector came and gave his approval but called in the wrong address, something we did not figure out until much later when we looked at the green tag. This meant that the request to reconnect our service got deep-sixed by the city. As 5pm rolled past, we were getting very worried that, in the 101F heat, we were not going to get our power back or our A/C turned on.

I put in several after-hours emergency calls to the city that "our power was out due to lines down," the only applicable option their stupid automated phone system offered. By further mischance, I missed their return calls to my cell phone requesting further details because our cell phone repeater was not working ... due to the fact that we had no power. We finally got the power back on at 8pm. I am thankful the guys from Sierra stuck with us until then.

The charging stations themselves did not go in until Saturday morning, the junction boxes having already been placed. We chose to put them outside since there is no hope of clearing out the garage enough to park even one car inside. One of the stations went to the left of the garage doors. The second one went on the perpendicular wall to the right of the garage.

I am glad ClipperCreek comes with a 3 year warranty since, all we know about the units so far is that the orange power light comes on. It is going to be a while before we can test them on a car.

Update 2016-10-14 - A bit early, but we got our first Volt. We are now able to confirm that the chargers are both functional and get the car charged in around the expected 4.5hr time frame.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Relevant comments and questions are welcome but submissions with spam-links will not be published.