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Is it possible to short circuit from charging on a 110

ghlancey3

Member
Nov 19, 2019
10
-1
Santa Ana, CA
Under what conditions will Level 1 charging cause circuits to short out? I can understand a fuse blowing if the circuit can't handle more than 12 amps, but shorting, that doesn't make sense.

I bring this up because while staying at Lighthouse Pointe Resort on Hwy 1 in Point Arena, CA, the management accused me of short circuiting another resort unit by topping up my M3 on my unit's outside 110 socket. The resort is on a beautiful stretch of the California coast about 3.5 hours north of San Francisco. That stretch of Hwy 1 lacks supercharging stations. The nearest one is 2.5 hours away in Santa Rosa, and the closest destination charger, Level II, is an hour away in Mendicino.

So, to avoid getting stuck, I did an overnight Level 1 charge - no extension cord used - to add about 40 miles more range.

Apparently, I'm not the first person to charge a Tesla on the premises, but was told shorts have happened before. I think this was just management's ruse to stop me from using resort power for this purpose. Lots of Teslas drive this stretch of road and if it's such a problem, I suggested resort management needs to beef up their electrical system or install a few Level II chargers and bill for use.

Has anyone ever experienced such nonsense, or know of others barred from Level 1 charging at a place of lodging?
 

JulienW

Active Member
Jul 7, 2018
2,565
2,794
Atlanta
Under what conditions will Level 1 charging cause circuits to short out? I can understand a fuse blowing if the circuit can't handle more than 12 amps, but shorting, that doesn't make sense.....
A short circuit is when the hot wire comes in direct contact with the neutral wire. This can only happen if your Mobil Connector is defective. If this happened the circuit breaker would have tripped (and likely you were on a ground fault too if outside) and cut power to the circuit powering your Mobil Connector would be cut. Did it go off? Each circuit is isolated and no way a simple short circuit could effect other circuits and the MOST "damage" that can occur is having to flip the breaker back on after it trips.
 

SSedan

Active Member
Jul 24, 2017
2,948
2,317
Greenville Wisconsin
What could happen is a poorly installed circuit could develop a hot spot and melt some insulation shorting.
EV charging is about the heaviest/longest load you can put on a circuit and will expose weaknesses.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
6,046
4,669
MA, NH
EV’s can trip GFCI (which is standard on any outdoor outlet). Especially if it’s level 1. Even 12 Amps on a 15/20 amp outlet for 10 hours is a substantial load they might not be geared up for. It really should be a dedicated circuit. Keep in mind that’s like a toaster oven on high for 10 hours.

However, if the outlet was still working when you unplugged it, I doubt you could have done any harm.
 

RayK

Active Member
Apr 5, 2016
1,913
1,871
San Jose, CA
Entirely possible that L1 charging could trip a breaker or GFCI but it shouldn't cause any permanent damage if the wiring is up to code. Especially if you did not lower the charging current down from 12A. A couple of days ago I had my car charging overnight on the mobile connector (@12A). I was also using a 50' extension cord reel, which is not really recommended but I was too lazy to move my car from the other side of my driveway. When I checked in the morning the app said charging was stopped but it was still about 80 miles from the limit. It looked like charging occurred for about 6 hours after I last checked it before it shut off. It was the first time I ever used the mobile connector to charge, besides the one time just after getting the car when I made sure it worked for 5 minutes.

Seeing no LED display on the mobile connector I assumed that the breaker had tripped. Looked at the panel and although the breaker did not appear to be tripped, I reset it anyway. Still no power to the mobile connector. I thought that I either identified the wrong breaker or the mobile connector went bad. It took me a few minutes to figure out that both of the 20V quad outlets on the one side of my garage I had plugged in the mobile connector was off - they were supposed to be on the same 20A breaker I flipped earlier. That had me thinking that the breaker went bad! Reset it a couple of more times but it still felt good when snapped back into the ON position. I then checked each quad outlet and realized that one of them was a paired standard outlet and a GFCI one. Not thinking much about it, I reset the GFCI and then heard the refrigerator turn back on, although it is not plugged into the GFCI outlet. My mobile connector also powered up even though it was plugged into the outlet 12' from the GFCI. I then came to the conclusion that whoever wired up the outlets put all of them on the load side of the GFCI. It offers each one of the outlets GFCI protection but was maddening to figure out. I've since updated the labels I put on each outlet so it notes that they're covered by the one GFCI.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
8,895
9,907
Riverside Co. CA
Under what conditions will Level 1 charging cause circuits to short out? I can understand a fuse blowing if the circuit can't handle more than 12 amps, but shorting, that doesn't make sense.

I bring this up because while staying at Lighthouse Pointe Resort on Hwy 1 in Point Arena, CA, the management accused me of short circuiting another resort unit by topping up my M3 on my unit's outside 110 socket. The resort is on a beautiful stretch of the California coast about 3.5 hours north of San Francisco. That stretch of Hwy 1 lacks supercharging stations. The nearest one is 2.5 hours away in Santa Rosa, and the closest destination charger, Level II, is an hour away in Mendicino.

So, to avoid getting stuck, I did an overnight Level 1 charge - no extension cord used - to add about 40 miles more range.

Apparently, I'm not the first person to charge a Tesla on the premises, but was told shorts have happened before. I think this was just management's ruse to stop me from using resort power for this purpose. Lots of Teslas drive this stretch of road and if it's such a problem, I suggested resort management needs to beef up their electrical system or install a few Level II chargers and bill for use.

Has anyone ever experienced such nonsense, or know of others barred from Level 1 charging at a place of lodging?


Just like everyone else, its unlikely that it "short circuited" but entirely likely that you tripped their circuit breaker (turning off everything else on that circuit). To them, that likely means the same thing even though the term short circuit is not correct.

What they mean is, "When EVs charge here they sometimes cause an issue shutting down every other outlet on this circuit".. Which is why EV charging is supposed to be done on a dedicated circuit. So to answer your question, yes, perfectly reasonable for them to forbit EV charging from that or any other outlet on the property that is on a shared circuit, resort or not.

If EV charging is important to you, then you need to either choose a different resort that has it, or dont plan on charging there. Dont be "that guy" that feels like they are entitled to plug in everywhere there is a plug. It doesnt have to be "such nonsense", for charging there to impact their business.
 
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ebmcs03

Active Member
Dec 22, 2017
2,132
1,069
So Cal
The circuit you were charging on was probably not a dedicated circuit - it was a circuit shared with other outlets and/or lights. 12amps to charge your car, along with other loads on the circuit, could easily cause the 15amp capacity to be exceeded and trip the breaker.

yup. Just like my house lol. If i change the car with 110 outlet and run a portable heater it will trip the fuse. Not short circuit anything. But just trip the fuse.
 

MD-2000

Member
May 1, 2019
571
379
Winnipeg
A heater, or kettle, or toaster, or hair dryer - anything with a decent heat element - is probably about 1200W-1000W so drawing close to 10A. Your charger wants to draw 12A. A 15A breaker will trip with both running. Even a fridge (possibly 1 to 3 amps) may put the breaker over the top. Fortunately, light bulbs nowadays are a lot less than the 100W in the Good Old Days.

As for GFCI -some are unreliable. I had a kitchen one that tripped almost every time I plugged something in - reset and it worked for that appliance. I replaced it eventually, the new one gives me no trouble. The one for my guest bathrooms (upstairs and down) apparently resets spontaneously about every month - I bought new nightlights for the bathrooms before I realized I just needed to reset the outlet. Since both bathrooms are one above the other, the electrician wired them both on the same circuit, one GFCI (downstairs) protects both bathroom outlets.

But the posters are right. The owners don't speak electricity, and futzing with a large multi-building wiring system, assume every breaker popped by someone using it is attributable to a short circuit in the plugged in device. If as others say, it's an outdoor outlet on a GFCI most likely it's a touchy GFCI - or if the panel breaker popped, a touchy panel breaker. If they are individual cabins, odds are only one breaker feeds the entire cabin and outdoor outlet. It's also possible this was the case and some guest plugged in their hair dryer, overloading the circuit, but won't admit it to the owner thinking it's all their fault.
 

bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
157
140
Westford MA
It's bad practice to plug into a 120V outlet without asking permission first. As others have pointed out unless it's a dedicated line, which is almost never the case, the chances of tripping a breaker or a GCFI are pretty good. Even if it does work you get so little juice that it isn't worth it. When you check into a hotel without EVSEs the best thing to do is ask about using a 120V but more importantly suggest that they install destination chargers. Point out that Tesla has a program where they will give Wall Connectors to hotels (does anyone know if they are still doing it), and also point out that hotels with Tesla destination chargers appear on Tesla's charging map and route planner and that Tesla owners generally check the map before they make their reservations.
 

Doc Brown

Member
Oct 22, 2019
247
278
916
The resort is on a beautiful stretch of the California coast about 3.5 hours north of San Francisco. That stretch of Hwy 1 lacks supercharging stations. The nearest one is 2.5 hours away in Santa Rosa, and the closest destination charger, Level II, is an hour away in Mendicino.

There are several Level 2 chargers in Point Arena - and the Wildflower Boutique Motel has a Tesla charger.
if there was any other load on that circuit - the breaker likely tripped. I don’t think you should expect a hotel to provide you free "fuel" for your car without first asking.

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techzelle

Member
Jan 14, 2021
96
119
Sunnyvale, CA
If your mobile charger is "shorting" that is their problem. There is nothing wrong with your charger.
The problem is that the outside outlet is on the same circuit as some of the inside outlets.
This will be especially likely if the outlet you used was on the common wall as one of the units.
Less likely, though possible, is if the outlet is far away from the living units.

With the Tesla charger taking a continuous load on the circuit for an extended time, it doesn't take much on the interior outlet to trip the breaker.
 

leonar40

Member
Jan 6, 2021
244
123
Bloomington, IN
The mobile charger is known for tripping cheap GFCI breakers. I had that issue for a couple of weeks in my garage while I was waiting for my L2 charger to be installed. Once I replaced the GFCI with a quality one, the issue went away.
 

MrF06

Member
Mar 12, 2021
17
18
VA
A heater, or kettle, or toaster, or hair dryer - anything with a decent heat element - is probably about 1200W-1000W so drawing close to 10A. Your charger wants to draw 12A. A 15A breaker will trip with both running. Even a fridge (possibly 1 to 3 amps) may put the breaker over the top. Fortunately, light bulbs nowadays are a lot less than the 100W in the Good Old Days.

Could be inrush current too. Anything with an AC motor will pull several times the nameplate current when it starts up. I've seen this when I run a small 15A space heater in my garage in the winter. It pulls around 13A and shares a 20A circuit with a refrigerator. If I turn the heater on when the fridge is already running, it's fine. If the fridge starts up when the heater is already running, it pops the breaker since the inrush current plus the heater load exceeds 20A.

If there's something else on the circuit that pulls a large startup current, he could charge with no problem until the other device needs to start up, then the breaker pops. It'd be hard for someone who knows nothing about AC (like this manager sounds like) to figure out, since everything will work fine if the other device is already running and the car gets plugged in.
 

MD-2000

Member
May 1, 2019
571
379
Winnipeg
Could be inrush current too. Anything with an AC motor will pull several times the nameplate current when it starts up. I've seen this when I run a small 15A space heater in my garage in the winter. It pulls around 13A and shares a 20A circuit with a refrigerator. If I turn the heater on when the fridge is already running, it's fine. If the fridge starts up when the heater is already running, it pops the breaker since the inrush current plus the heater load exceeds 20A.

If there's something else on the circuit that pulls a large startup current, he could charge with no problem until the other device needs to start up, then the breaker pops. It'd be hard for someone who knows nothing about AC (like this manager sounds like) to figure out, since everything will work fine if the other device is already running and the car gets plugged in.
Ah, remember the good old days when the fridge kicking in could make all the lights blink?

Another warning - probably not applicable in the Pacific area, but in Canada many places tended to have outdoor plugs for engine block heaters, especially for employee (eg. all day) parking. To conserve electricity/save money, sometimes these were on a timer - half the parking lot on for half an hour, then the other half. After all, the only requirement was that the engine get a bit warmer than the outdoor -20C.
 

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