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Central Texas Charger installation - recommendation & cautionary tale

Discussion in 'Texas' started by Firewired, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Firewired

    Firewired Member

    May 23, 2013
    San Antonio
    The long and short of this whole thing is if you don't want to read the whole thing is I have learned first hand you can't go wrong with going with Smart Charge Residential (SRC) (Live SMART, Charge SMART™. - Live SMART, Charge SMART™), and you may go wrong with installation by even an experienced electrician who is not very experienced with charger installations. SRC does charger installation as their primary business, and it shows. I am in no way affiliated with SRC.

    I took delivery of my Model S 12/14 and had my HPWC (Gen I) installed by a commercial Master Electrician who I had sent Tesla's installation manual, and said it would be no problem. My car had the dual chargers which I wanted to take advantage of, and so the electrician ran a wire on a 100 amp breaker from my main service. Within about 6 month after installation I began to notice that the charger cable was getting warm at the end of charging. The cable got hotter and hotter, almost too hot to hold at times. I mentioned it to my local Tech who said that was not an abnormal thing and that they occasionally have to replace the charging cable as there can be a breakdown in the insulation in the cable.

    Well last month we took delivery of a Model X with dual chargers as our second Tesla I really was interested in adding a second charger, especially since the price has come down so much for the HPWC from 2014, and I wanted to get my wife in the habit of it not being complicated or having to think about it and simply just plugging it in every time she got home. Well this time I contacted Smart Charge Residential sent them pictures of my service panel, as well as my current charger setup. After them pointing out several things via email that were not done on my prior install and adjusting the price we agreed on an install of of two Gen 2 HPWC that they would daisy chain. This way I would not have to do the more expensive option of upgrading our existing 200 amp service, and the two Gen 2 chargers could cross talk to each other to charge the car with the lowest state of charge first. This seemed like a great compromise, and I could use my existing wire, and give the Gen I charger to a friend.

    When the installers from SRC arrived they were in no hurry to slap the install and get out. They were extremely thoughtful, and took their work very seriously and it was obvious above all else they wanted to do it right, not fast. I thought this was very impressive for a company that does 2+ charger installs a day. In the end after going through my existing setup for quite a while then came back with a list of things problems that they thought were potentially not safe. They included among other things :

    -my original wire was too small, they thought I need a thicker gauge wire for my 100 amp breaker
    -100 amp breaker was mismatched with the wire created a serious safety issue at my main panel
    -lack of emergency cutoff switch for wire running greater than 60 amps
    -failure to properly ground the chargers
    -failure to secure the wire in the attic space
    -failure to seal the penetrations

    They essentially had to go back and redo my initial install, including removing my entire run of wire and replace it with thicker gauge wire and do the install right. After discussion with them, they agreed to stand by the original quote they had given me despite having to do unanticipated additional work from my suboptimal initial install. I can't give them enough credit for that, very professional. They said they were concerned about it from a safety standpoint.

    The easiest install for them would have been to put a charger on either side of the garage, but they undertook what was for them a more complicated installation putting on charger on the far side of the garage and the second charger on the divider between the garage doors so it would be directly to the left of the car. This means they had to come down from the attack in a narrow spot, and had to make a small hole in the wall that they professionally sealed and patched.

    Well the result was a clean tidy, well done install. I can't tell you how pleased I am in how seriously these people take what they are doing, they are thoughtful, patient, meticulous and stand by their word. Now when I charge my cable is remarkably completely cool. What a difference, it is worth the piece of mind that it was done correctly. If you need to have a charger installed or if your cable is hot to touch it is worth having them look at it.
    • Like x 3
  2. Boourns

    Boourns Active Member

    Mar 9, 2016
    I also used them and found their work to be excellent. I did have some customer service/communication issues that could have been handled better. They were also pretty expensive, IMO. My experience may have been attributable to the fact that it appears they actually do not have a presence in the DFW area, but they contract that work out.
  3. brkaus

    brkaus Active Member

    Jul 8, 2014
    Austin, TX
    Any other electrician recommendations for Austin? Going the 14-50 route for now.
  4. TexasEV

    TexasEV Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    Austin, TX
    Bowne Electric in Austin. They were the electrical subcontractor for our house remodel six years ago and ran conduit in the garage wall to a junction box for future EV charging. Then when I bought my Model S they came back and installed 50A circuit.
  5. Zaphod

    Zaphod Galaxy President (former)

    Dec 10, 2015
    Austin, TX
    Firewired, to clarify, your Model X does not have dual chargers, it just has a higher amperage single charger (assuming you chose the option) at 72A instead of the standard 48A.

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