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Congratulations! You’ve Bought Your Electric Car: Now What?

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Ottawa resident Ricardo Borba takes delivery of the first consumer Nissan LEAF in Canada

Ottawa resident Ricardo Borba takes delivery of the first consumer Nissan LEAF in Canada

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Like an increasingly large number of Americans, you’ve decided that paying nearly $5 for gasoline isn’t your idea of a good time. 

So, with all the due care and attention that goes with car buying, you’ve swapped your old car for a brand new electric car or plug-in hybrid. 

Now, your shiny new car is sitting on your driveway and you’re getting your first experience of living with a plug-in car. But what else can you do to make your transition to electric--and life as a plug-in owner--as easy as possible? 

Here are just a few suggestions. 

Get a level 2 charging station in your home

If you’ve just got a new car--especially a Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid--the chances are you haven’t yet invested in a 240-volt home charging station. 

Instead, you’re content to charge using the supplied 110-volt emergency charging lead which came with your car. 

For added security and convenience however, there’s no substitute for  a 240-volt, level 2 charging station in your garage. 

Not only will it charge your car more quickly, making it easier to grab a quick charge between errands when needed, but it will be safer and simpler to use than trailing a cable across your garage to the nearest 110-volt outlet.

For the best prices, shop around online, and ask other local plug-in car owners if they have any recommended local electricians who could help you navigate local laws, and installation practices.

A3 e-tron charging station installation

A3 e-tron charging station installation

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If you already have a 240-volt outlet in your garage for use with power tools or a drier, you can even get charging stations which plug in to an appropriately-approved NEMA socket

Whatever route you go, however, make sure you get your electrics checked to make sure they can cope with the demands of an electric car charging. 

Join a local plug-in group, national group or online forum

The chances are that your new plug-in car is the most advanced car you’ve ever owned. 

It probably has lots of neat features and tricks that you aren’t even aware of. 

The best place to learn about them, and how to get the best out of your new vehicle, is at the local plug-in group, or from a friendly, online forum. 

If you live in certain big cities like Washington DC, San Francisco, or Seattle, the chances are there’s a plug-in owners group well within a single charge of your home. 

Mostly friendly and knowledgeable, the other members there can deal with your questions, help you find charging stations, and even help modify your plug-in car.

Meanwhile, online forums are a great place to find out more information if you’re not a sociable type or live too far away from a local group meeting. 


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Comments (14)
  1. Great uplifting article. Well done.
     
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  2. Is it "drier" or "dryer"? :)

    Anyway, I highly recommend the LCS-25 made by Clipper Creek. It is probably one of the most compact 4.8KW 240V charger there is. You can add a NEMA plug that fits your spare 240V wall outlet or permanently install it as recommended by CC.

    If you own a Volt, the Voltec unit avaiable thru SPx is probably the lowest priced L2 EVSE you will get ($499). It is a good deal for those people who want to minimize cost.

    J1772 EVSE are "universal". So, it should be able to charge any of the J1772 plugins out there. The newer EVs are higher rated at 6.6KW (30A). The older verison are 3.3KW (16A).
     
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  3. If you don't have extra time or money just use the 110v volt stock charger as you do with your cell phone. Your car will be fully charged by morning. Also, slow charge is good for the battery.
     
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  4. Dmitriy; unfortunately, that is not correct. on 120 volt charging the most you can drive on a daily basis is about 50 miles. I charged on 120 volts for 4 months when I got my LEAF and it could not make my 64 mile commute 2 consecutive days in a row. it simply did not recharge quickly enough. granted this is a 10 hour shift so slightly longer away from home but add in travel time and you are down to less than 12 hours to recharge and 120 simply didnt do it.
     
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  5. We've had our 2012 Nissan LEAF for two weeks now. I'm reluctant to invest in a 30A Level 2 unit simply because the LEAF, with its 3.3KW charger, can only take 16A. My wife and I are both retired and rarely put more than 40 miles per day on the car. So far the 12A trickle charger that comes with the car has worked out fine.
     
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  6. Congrats on your LEAF! :)

    Nissan's trickle (aka level-1) EVSE is very well built, but hours at 12A can push older electrical system to their limits, especially power outlets with worn, weak contacts. Do replace yours if it feels hot while/after charging. In doubt, or if your home has aluminum wiring, ask a professional.

    Level 2 charging remains 3x faster and probably safer. Two low-cost options:

    * You can have the existing trickle-charger upgraded to handle both 120V and 240V. This would make most sense if you already have 240V nearby, e.g. for a dryer.
    See http://www.evseupgrade.com/

    * Ecotality offers free EVSEs in some areas as part of "the EV project". See http://www.theevproject.com/overview.php
    Try and email them.
     
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  7. I would recommend any Leaf owner to upgrade their EVSE to the links above evseupgrade.com

    Not only it will upgrade your EVSE to a portable 240V EVSE. It also allow it work on 120V. It is a nice bonus.

    I don't know if the next revision of the EVSE upgrade would make it 6.6KW compatible or not...
     
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  8. The wires and other components of the Nissan/Panasonic portable EVSE are rated for 20A, a very generous design margin for something meant to deliver 12A, but it won't lend itself well at all to go beyond 16A (aka "3.3" kW).
     
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  9. From time to time, "dust off" another "sporty" ICE car at lights will help to change the image of "plugins" a lot.

    We can't let the "ugly, slow and sacrifice fun for MPG" image dominate the "plugin" market like Prius does to the "hybrid" market....
     
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  10. I see this as a patriotic duty! This morning's easy fare was an Audi TT who was particularly pissed off at being easily bested by a hulking great 4 door Renault.
     
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  11. As a Prius owner, I disagree with your comment: "We can't let the "ugly, slow and sacrifice fun for MPG" image dominate the "plugin" market like Prius does to the "hybrid" market...." My Prius can hold its own and has climbed hills at speeds that surprised those that I was following or passing....Granted, if I put on my "hypermiler" hat, extreme conservatism will get me near 60 mpg...but it certainly has power if I want it.....I do agree that we need to change the image that electrics somehow have gotten..
     
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  12. Prius is a very "practical" and "reliable" high MPG car. A "benchmark" in its own category. But don't confuse it with "good looking", "fast" or "fun"...

    "hold its own" on a hill is NOT exactly something to brag about. Leave other V-8 cars in the "dust" and then we can talk...

    Tesla S will change that image somewhat. Volt has helped, but far from enough...
     
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  13. Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into it.
     
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  14. I think Volt is designed in a way that 240V home charging is not needed for the most people. 10h overnight charging on 110V/15A is perfect for commuters.
     
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