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Couple questions on charging outdoors at a condo especially in winter

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by David29, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. David29

    David29 Member

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    I am hoping that my condo board will approve a proposal I am working on for charging. If so, I would be charging at an outdoor spot in a surface lot, adjacent to a small office building where I can get the power. (The power would be run underground in conduit from the building to a post or low wall where the outlet or charger would be mounted.)

    But I have a couple of practical questions about the equipment.
    Looking for practical experience from people who have outdoor charging, especially in a condo or apartment lot, and especially in northern areas.

    First, what do you think of the relative advantages/disadvantages of a plain 240V outlet vs. installing a charger such as type made by Siemens? The outlet would be cheaper. But if I use an outlet, then I would need to get the charging cable out of the car and hook it up. If there is snow or rain while I am charging, it could be messy putting that gear back into the car. And I am not sure I'd want to leave the Tesla charging cable outdoors unattended (although the charger might be about as expensive if damaged by vandals or something). If I buy a commercial charger, it would cost more, but it comes with cable I could leave outside, and simply use my level 2 adapter. It would be almost like using a charger at a public level 2 station. (I might be required to lock the charger or outlet somehow, to reduce danger from tampering.)
    Second, I wonder if the charger cable would become encrusted with snow and ice and might become so frozen it becomes unusable (rather like a garden house left outside in winter, maybe?). So does anyone put their charging cable and outlet or charger under any sort of cover? I can't imagine getting permission for anything too big or fancy, though.

    Thanks for any input!
     
  2. TexasEV

    TexasEV Active Member

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    Why not install a HPWC rather than a J1772? That way you just plug it in and wouldn't need the adapter.
     
  3. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The main difference would be water getting into the "wall" socket. An HPWC has it's own cable and is rated for outside installation. I'd still want some kind of a cover to protect it from the worst of the weather. There are dip switches on the HPWC so that it can be used with a lower than 100 amp breaker (assuming that's a limitation).

    I charge outside and use the UMC, but the plug is inside so only the cable is outside. This also means I seldom unplug the UMC.

    The main disadvantage with a non-Tesla EVSE is that there isn't a convenient button to open the charge port door. If you go that route, Clipper Creek has the best reputation.
     
  4. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Member

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    +1 on the Tesla HPWC. A no-brainer.

    Designed for outdoor installation.

    Nothing to plug or unplug.

    No adapter needed.

    Button to trigger charging port door.

    Have installed outdoors here and used happily for seven months (although it is slated to face its first real rainstorms this week.)
     
  5. David29

    David29 Member

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    Interesting. I had not thought of using an HPWC because I have only a single 40-amp charger in my car, so I figured I did not need the HPWC capacity, plus I thought they are pricey ($750) vs. a simple 480 V outlet. But you make interesting points. A Clipper Creek charger for 40 amps is actually more expensive, $835.

    Still, that seems like a fair amount of money for the convenience of not having to remove the cable from the storage bag in the car. Then again, it will help keep rain and snow out of the car (from opening the rear hatch for access to the cable and connector) and maybe reduce wear and tear on the trunk lid motor....see, I am already rationalizing the purchase!

    What is the experience with the HPWC cable in winter? Is it reasonably flexible in cold weather?
     
  6. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    My understanding from other posts is that it will lose flexibility if temperatures fall below -20 (note windchill doesn't count for this).

    - - - Updated - - -

    If you remove the UMC every day, you will be replacing the receptacle about once every year. You don't want any loose connections on a 14-50.
     
  7. Barry

    Barry Member

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    I've seen this stated before, but have never seen a definitive answer. Do RV parks replace their outlets every year?
     
  8. Kapenagary

    Kapenagary Member

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    I've been using my UMC every day for 15 months and have had no problems with it. This is outdoors but in good southern California weather.
     
  9. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    No, but if you've ever charged at an RV park, you'll understand why they should. Typically you have to set the amps to between 32 and 38 to have it charge. I've even had to switch parking spots to get a good connection.

    Note that RVs don't have this problem because they are not pulling 30-40 amps continuously like car charging does.
     
  10. ccharleb

    ccharleb Member

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    ModelS with single charger living near Montreal, Canada. I park my car outside (home with garage, but wife's car is inside :wink: ). Going through my first winter with the ModelS with lows around -10°C (14F) right now. Not very cold but expecting way lower during the coming months.

    I went with the HPWC outside, and the 14-50 inside (if I park inside or backup). Even though I don't have the dual charger, I'm very happy with the HPWC. No "connect/disconnect/store cable (UMC) in bag properly" each time I'm using the car. UMC is always in the car if I need it while not at home. HPWC is very quick to "connect/disconnect/store cable", no problem with water or snow and you don't need any kind of adapter to plug your car.

    Also, if you plan to buy a second UMC to keep one in your car, price is very close between the UMC and the HPWC...
     
  11. linkster

    linkster Member

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    I would not spend my money on a HPWC along with the increased install expense. Instead I would consider a Home Depot $30 weather proof 14-50 box or a weather proof 6-15 receptacle and then place a my UMC in a small plastic open bin to keep any accumulated debris/snow from dirtying my trunk.
     
  12. Seven7

    Seven7 Member

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    I would go with the HPWC just for the convenience of the the port open button on the handle. Good luck with your condo association.
     
  13. David29

    David29 Member

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    #13 David29, Jan 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
    Not sure it is prudent to use the HPWC in an open parking lot where an unattended parking space with a big fat electrical cable might attract unwanted attention. Vandalism or theft might occur. With a simple outlet, I could remove the cable and when the car is not there, there is nothing easily accessible to attract attention or mischief.
    Of course, I recognize that the cable and UMC or HPWC cable would both be present and vulnerable while charging, presumably at night....
    For that matter, it looks as if it would be smart to install the HPWC inside a protective enclosure to keep it out of the weather. (The installation guide suggests that. "Protect the High Power Wall Connector from moisture, water, liquid and foreign objects at all times. If any exist or appear to have entered, damaged or corroded the High Power Wall Connector, do not use the High Power Wall Connector.") I looked (briefly) at commercial weather-proof electrical boxes and did not readily find one large enough for the 25 feet of cable plus the HPWC....

    Seems as if an outlet and weather-tight box would be much cheaper and less trouble.
     
  14. Rocky_H

    Rocky_H Member

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    In the installation guide for the HPWC, it says, “Approved for indoor or outdoor use”, so it is specifically made to be OK with outdoor installations in the weather.

    Anyway, yeah, for simplicity and cost of installation, I think a 14-50 outlet with one of those hinged covers would be good.
     
  15. ccharleb

    ccharleb Member

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    Usually, I don't charge at work, but when I do, I need to use the UMC. Let me tell you that I really prefer using my HPWC. The cable is already plugged on one side - ready to use. No need to open the trunk, get the bag and open it to unroll the UMC and plug it in the wall. Then, when done charging, you need to unplug everything, clean the cable as much as possible before wrapping it to fit in the bag and store it back in your trunk. HPWC: unplug and put back on the wall - very fast and easy.
    Do not forget that you will have to do that being outside when sometimes it will be raining-windy-cold-snowing... you want to plug/unplug as fast as possible.
     
  16. blanche

    blanche Member

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    Exactly what ccharleb said. It takes 1 second to grab the HPWC handle and shove it into the car. It takes 10 x longer to open the trunk, fetch the bag, unravel the UMC, plug it into both ends, and close the trunk. I do this when I travel but I can't imagine doing this every single day! Now if you're parking your car in a garage and you can leave your UMC plugged into the wall all the time, then there is no advantage.

    But out in the open weather where you may have to stand in the rain and do the above? If you can afford the HPWC install, definitely do it.
     
  17. David29

    David29 Member

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    #17 David29, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
    Sounds like the thing to do might be to build a wooden closure big enough for the HPWC plus the coiled cable, with a slot at bottom for cable to exit. Lock the box when not in use, hiding the HPWC and the cable. When using it, unlock the box, pull out the cable and plug it into the car, slipping the cable through the slot. Close the cover and lock it, protecting the HPWC from weather and from prying eyes and mischievous fingers. When done, coil up the cable and lock it away.
    Issue would be how big a box I'd need, and how to allow the cable to drain water away harmlessly when put away wet....
    Metal boxes this size are very expensive from what I have seen. So a simple wooden box might be the thing, if I can find someone to build one.
    And of course, if the condo board approves the whole thing in the first place....

    Can anyone tell me how large a space the coiled cable takes up? Height and width, allowing for a cold stiff cable that might not bend to its smallest radius?
    Hard to tell from the photos, and I have never seen an HPWC and its cable....
     
  18. Only Trons

    Only Trons Member

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    While not identical to your situation, I needed to find a means to install an EVSE at a beach rental house I own. There is no garage but the parking area is covered. I built an enclosure using 1/2 inch PT plywood and PT 1x4, and I included a door with hasp and lock. I keep it closed and locked --- it is for my use and for the use of my rental tenants. So the locked enclosure helps solve/mitigate two problems: security and environment. By security I mean that the locked enclosure should help deter vandals (although we don't get much vandalism in our area) and it also help to ensure that use of the charger is only for our tenants. By environment I mean that the maritime environment of the beach area is mitigated somewhat by keeping the charger inside the closed box. I installed a Clipper Creek HCS-60 because the reviews I have read have been very good for Clipper Creek.
     

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