Electric Car Charging Faster With Unofficial Hardware Upgrade

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2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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We’ll admit that when we first heard that some technically-minded Nissan Leaf owners and engineers were hacking the portable 120 Volt level 1 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE - or charge cable) provided with every 2011 Nissan Leaf we were more than cautious to the idea that it could be safely modified to run from any domestic 240 V power outlet.

But several months, and many satisfied customers later, EVSEupgrade.com, the tiny firm responsible for the now popular upgrade to the Panasonic-built portable EVSE unit sold with the 2011 Nissan Leaf, has gone one step further and announced that it is now able to offer an EVSE upgrade which will enable any Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt owner to ditch the wall-mounted charging station and charge their cars at maximum power wherever a 240V power outlet can be found.  

While the original 240V EVSE upgrade effectively halved the charging times when compared with the official unmodified Nissan120V EVSE, the modified units could not provide the maximum 3.8 kilowatts of power the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are technically capable of drawing. 

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

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Instead, revision 1 as it has become known, could provide a maximum of 2.88 kilowatts of power, meaning the modified portable Nissan EVSE - while faster than the original - was still slower than wall-mounted charging stations such as those supplied by EVSE manufacturer Areovironment. 

Grass-roots demand and support from the burgeoning Leaf-owning community has prompted the firm to reverse engineer Nissan’s standard unit and develop an upgrade capable of putting the portable unit on par with a much more expensive wall-mounted solution. 

Despite our earlier fears, EVSEupgrade says upgrading the charging unit will not void your electric car warranty, but will naturally void the factory warranty on the portable EVSE unit. 

However, the firm is so confident that its units are reliable and safe that it is offering its own 1 year warranty on the upgrade and even offering to switch a modified unit for a non-modified unit for owners who are returning their car to the dealer at the end of a lease. 

EVSEUpgrade also offers a modification to the 2011 Nissan Leaf portable charge cable to enable it to work properly with the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, enabling Leaf and Volt owners to share a single charge cable in an emergency and eradicating the charging issue we reported on last week.

As we’ve said before, a modification like this to your car’s factory-built portable charge cable is undertaken at your own risk - but if you want a portable, cheap way of charging your Leaf or Volt without spending thousands of dollars on a purpose-built wall-mounted charging station and don’t mind voiding your cable’s warranty then it could just be worth a look. 

[EVSEupgrade.com via mynissanleaf.com]

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