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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

Enlarge Photo

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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Comments (19)
  1. But the wall cable included with the Volt has no problem charging the Leaf. I have my Volt 110v charge cable attached to my garage wall as I usually use it for my regular Volt overnight charging, BUT when my Volt is depleted on the battery, I do use that Volt cable for our Leaf WITH NO PROBLEM, and use the Coulomb 240v wall unit to get back to a full charge on the Volt.
     
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  2. Yes. If my leaf ever arrives, this will be my only charger!
     
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  3. The fact that the electric cars being offered even required a wall unit I found inexplicable. It's not as though they are selling something at low cost.
    120 volt recharging strikes me as pretty much useless except for cars with tiny battery packs like the Volt, but even that requires many hours to recharge. That's awfull, and shows just how little GM knew about designing an electric car. After all, they only spent almost $2 billion in order to produce an ugly, cramped, overlycomplicated and slow moving vehicle. What would you expect from that bankrupt company, saved only because Obama owed the UAW for their campaign support? The current tab for saving GM : $105 BILLION. Gee, what a bargain to re-establish another non-competitive company.
     
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  4. #3 Kent Beuchert,
    I love my Volt. Just goes to show you what I know I guess, LOL.
    Nikki,
    My Voltec wall mounted unit cost me less that $1000 installed. I guess it won't work for a Leaf, but still...........
     
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  5. The verification feature has gone really berserk this AM with Cyrillic looking characters and other weird stuff that appears nowhere on my keyboard. Is this really necessary?
     
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  6. Just purchased on from Phil. It is a heck of a bargain. Under $300 for a full level 2 charger. Phil is the MAN.
     
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  7. Just purchased on from Phil. It is a heck of a bargain. Under $300 for a full level 2 charger. Phil is the MAN.
     
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  8. I have the Nissan unit upgraded via evseupgrade.com to 220V charging, as well as compatibility with my Chevy Volt. This was already am amazing upgrade that cut my charging times in half vs the Voltec 120V unit.
    Now that full level 2 is coming with revision 2, I will be sending my unit back to Phil for another upgrade!!!
     
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  9. I'm another happy EVSEupgrade.com customer. The first Monday I had my Leaf I shipped my EVSE to Phil, he had it Wednesday and shipped it out the same day, and I got it back Friday.
    This is the perfect solution and works great on dryer, RV, and even welder outlets!
    I won't be doing the 16 amp upgrade as I'm extremely happy with the 12 amp version right now.
     
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  10. The numerous diminutives used by the author for such a straight forward, and worthwhile modification are noted; "unofficial hardware", "use at your own risk", "despite our earlier fears", etc.
    Your unofficial article about this confirms my fears to read your writings at my own risk.
     
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  11. #10 Tony Williams,
    I dunno, I think she's right. I would think about 100 times before I plugged my multiple thousand dollar Leaf or Volt battery into somebody's aftermarket modified gizmo. No thanks!
     
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  12. Gee...Kent... I guess you wanted thousands of people to lose their jobs. How do you really feel? Oh, by the way, That leaf that you are so proud of, their government is involved in that company too. Its the only way America can compete.
     
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  13. Looks like the options for charging Leaf & Volt are exploding, in a good way, whilst the prices are tumbling. I guess this is what we hoped would be the result of a standardized interface. Looks like some days you can have your cake and eat it.
    I look forward to being able to pick up my next EVSE at home depot for $100 or less.
    Now, if we can just get the same thing going for high-speed chargers...
     
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  14. @Michael, "Now, if we can just get the same thing going for high-speed chargers." In that same topic/thread on MyNissanLeaf, EVSE Upgrade has talked about plans for a CHΛdeMO compatible charger for less than $5k.
     
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  15. all new products will span aftermarket upgrades to extend functionality of said product. this is the first and it does provide a "no-brainer" need here. there will be many many more
    signed
    A proud EVSE upgrade owner since March/2011
     
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  16. I would not worry about damaging your car, and I would not worry about your EVSE warranty. I would worry about your insurance company declining to cover fire damage since you modified a (presumably) UL approved device into a non-listed state. Be careful and trust no one. Except UL and their racket. Which includes the National Fire Protection Association which produces the National Electrical Code. The requirement for a wall mounted EVSE is a function of the NEC, not the auto makers. To a large extent that requirement makes sense, although clearly you can get around it. Just make sure you know what you are doing. Hint: if any thing gets hot, STOP.
     
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  17. So! take a chance; live freely unrestrained from the fears that you will become embroiled in the American Legal system. Use your noodle and make your decisions based on facts not fears. The people who are offering this upgrade know what they are doing and are competent EEs and are using UL parts. Also, if you total out the cost, the basic unit cost $600 from the dealer and the upgrade pushes the cost to $900. What I don't understand is why Nissan didn't offer this upgrade. I suspect it was from another set of liability fears.
     
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  18. I must add something else: The charger in the Leaf contains the logic to protect the batteries and the car from overcharging and overheating; the EVSE simply lets the charger know what current level it can supply and supplies the electrons over a cord. In fact the whole logic could have been contained in the car other than the current and a simple plug. As a compromise, there is talk among EEs of containing all the EVSE logic for the LEAF level 2 station within the J1772 plug.
     
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  19. As Jim McLaughlin has wisely stated, the NEC is the reason for the EVSE. Heat isn't the only issue to be concerned about. Flash over is another problem.
    What other high power electrical device do you unplug to use? My father had seen a fire caused by unplugging a 240V farm implement while in operation. The resulting arc from the flash over was sustained long enough, before the fuse blew, to set a wood post on fire. Now imagine accidentally unplugging an EV at the wall socket, while charging at 240V.
    You may say, "I would always unplug at the EV first for safety." Ask yourself this. How many times have you asked your kids not to do something, but they went ahead and did it anyway? My son's favourite response, "Oh Yeah!"
     
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