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Is the model 3 mobile connector water proof?

Discussion in 'Model 3: Battery & Charging' started by corvetteguy, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. corvetteguy

    corvetteguy Member

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    With some of the places I will be visiting I will have to do supplemental charging from outdoor 120v outlets. The mobile connector will be outdoors for several days in rain or shine. Is it sealed and designed for outdoor use?
     
  2. roblab

    roblab Active Member

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    Sealed for what? So the electrons won't leak out? A drip of water isn't going to cause a short circuit. People charge out doors a lot, plug into superchargers in the rain, and don't get toasted. People plug trailers and campers into 220v 50 amp plugs at trailer parks -- in the rain.

    It is not "sealed" but it is designed to work in the rain, sleet, snow, hail... yeah. The car will not allow the charger to send current if there is any leak or short. No electricity runs through the plug without permission. The only problem with 120 vs 240 is about a fourth of the charge per hour. It's slowwwwww...
     
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  3. corvetteguy

    corvetteguy Member

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    Thanks, glad to hear that leaving it on wet ground or pavement while it pours down rain won't damage or shorten the life of it. So I guess if it is under three feet of snow for a week or more water won't get inside of it an cause things to corrode or short out.
     
  4. tomas

    tomas Only partially psycho

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    Wait a sec... it is very weather resistant, but the “feet of snow” not a great idea, particularly for a week.

    For most purposes, model 3 will fully charge within a day, even on 120. I’m not sure of your exact circumstance, but no need to leave plugged in for days or weeks...
     
  5. swaltner

    swaltner Active Member

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    Looking at the instructions for the Gen 2 Mobile Connector (crazy, right?), I see that it has a NEMA 4X enclosure. A google of “4X enclosure” comes up with https://www.nema.org/Products/Documents/nema-enclosure-types.pdf

    It can get rained on, but don’t submerge it and I wouldn’t let the brain-box sit in standing water. I suspect the standing water is why the instructions have a warning to keep the box 18” off the ground.

    The docs for the mobile connector are at https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/downloads/gen_2_mobile_connector_owners_manual_32_amp_en_US.pdf and give a couple warnings about use of the device.
     
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  6. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    I believe I have now ruined my second Model 3 UMC by leaving it out in the rain charging overnight at 120V.

    I’m using an extension cord (which Tesla recommends against) but had no problems doing this with the Model S UMC charging in the rain. I’m leaving it perched on a rock to be sure it is well drained, and I only do this while visiting a home that has only exterior 120V outlets.

    The first time in the rain with the UMC 2.0, the UMC went bad permanently, indicated by the error light flashing five times when first powered, Tesla replaced it and I assumed it was a defective unit, now the replacement unit has ended up the same after leaving it charging overnight in steady rain for the first time.

    It looks to me like the UMC 2.0 does not protect itself from moisture and actually fails permanently when exposed. Buyer beware!
     
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  7. ivan801

    ivan801 Member

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    I don't pretend to know how well UMC 2.0 is protected from water and snow, but here is what I would do if I was concerned about it: I would take a plastic bag and tape it around the UMC box. That should keep most of the moisture away from the key components. Oh, and it will look ugly.
     
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  8. eprosenx

    eprosenx Active Member

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    To add some clarification here:

    While the UMC has a built in GFCI, it only protects you downstream from the “brain box”. The connection from the brain box to the 12 inch adapter and the connection from the adapter to the wall is not protected.

    If plugging into an external or garage 120v receptacle there is a good chance that the receptacle/circuit itself is also GFCI protected, but I would verify this before relying on it (circuit testers with a built in GFCI test buttons are a good way).

    If you are plugging into any kind of 240v receptacle (like an RV plug) then odds are it is not GFCI (though the most recent code now is starting to require GFCI in a lot more places).

    So hopefully the receptacle you plug into has an in-use waterproof cover that will keep water pot of the receptacle connection (this is a requirement on modern receptacles in wet locations).

    Then the trick is to keep the UMC itself dry. I don’t know the details of its rating, but I would not want to use it in heavy rain. An occasional light sprinkle might be ok, but for sure make sure it never sits in standing water. It must have air exchange holes somewhere and so getting water up in it would be bad.

    A plastic bag and some electrical tape could do just fine in a pinch. This is what I do with my Christmas tree light timers.
     
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  9. notAnExpert

    notAnExpert Member

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    Cut and pasted from the manual.

    Warning: Do not use the Mobile Connector when either you, the vehicle or the Mobile Connector is exposed to severe rain, snow, electrical storm or other inclement weather.

    Warning: Protect the Mobile Connector from moisture, water and foreign objects at all times.
     
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  10. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    NB: I have recovered at least two iPhones after dropping them in water, by baking them overnight under an incandescent lamp. The UMC 2.0 does not appear to respond to this treatment, so far...
     
  11. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    Yes, I saw that, after the problem came up. But I never had a problem with the gen1 UMC under exactly the same circumstances. Also, my initial leeriness about charging in the rain was dismissed by many as absurd, and I’d gotten over it and presumed that everything Tesla is designed to be used in the rain.

    How in heck does Tesla expect folks who do not own a garage to charge their car with a gizmo that is not weatherproof? This strikes me as a huge mistake and especially in view of the inconsistency between the car itself and the gear provided to charge it.

    I will be taking my gen1 UMC with me on all trips away from the garage...
     
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  12. saint9121

    saint9121 Member

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    I'm planning a Ski trip and it looks like I'll have to use 120V to charge at my Airbnb to get to the mountain before hitting a supercharger on the way home.

    If the charger is NEMA 4X, there shouldn't be any electrical concerns of using it in the rain/snow.
    I'm an engineer in the HVAC industry and I can tell you that most electrical equipment on those outdoor units are NEMA 3R or better.
    But then I read the manual which says otherwise?

    They also mention in the manual that "If rain falls during charging, do not allow rain water to run along the length of charge cable, causing the electrical outlet or charging port to become wet."

    So I'm thinking if the electrical connection to the outlet is protected and I put a trash bag over the MCC while propped up, I should be okay as long as the electrical outlet and car charge port are both higher than the MCC so that water would not be running into either connection.
     
  13. eprosenx

    eprosenx Active Member

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    A note to check at your Air BNB:

    Check to see if the circuit you have access to is 15a or 20a. If it is 20a and has a 20a receptacle then if you bring the right Tesla 5-20 adapter you can charge faster. It makes a pretty significant difference (5 miles per hour vs. 3).

    I can’t officially recommend it, but in limitied situations I have a 5-15p to 5-20r adapter that I have used when there was only a 15a receptacle but on a 20a circuit. :) Not sure I would do that though at some random persons air bnb.
     
  14. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    Update: it appears that a couple of overnight bake outs under an incandescent lamp have resurrected my “defective” UMC gen2, after being left out in the rain and showing a five flash error code.

    The first arrempt didn’t work, but I did a repeat with the unit flipped over and making sure to bring the gooseneck lamp bulb close enough to get it good and hot (though not scalding) to the touch.

    This method has brought back a couple of wet iPhones, and it seems enough of it will work on the UMC as well...

    YMMV
     
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  15. ThosEM

    ThosEM Space Weatherman

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    Update 2: So having resuscitated my Model 3 UMC (gen2), I will again take it on trips, but have now purchased a 5 gallon plastic bin that can be used both to store the UMC, various adapters, and an extension cord (also prohibited by the UMC user manual), then overturned as a rain shield for the UMC as it lies on a well-drained patch of ground or better, a rock or other base to keep it off the ground.

    There's nothing worse than interrupted charging at 1.2 kW when you need all the hours you can get!
     
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  16. AmeliaKD

    AmeliaKD Member

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    Got an unexpected rain storm last night with the car parked in the driveway. Same thing happened - charging stopped due to adapter error. The outlet is inside the garage, dry. Only the end that plugs into the car is exposed to the rain. Seems to happen every time it rains and the car is outside charging. Very frustrating! Really needed the full charge by morning.

    Makes no sense for it not to be rain-proof.
     
  17. eprosenx

    eprosenx Active Member

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    Hrm, you may have a faulty charge port. I charged all winter in the rain in Oregon without any issues. I would contact Tesla service.
     
  18. Mjrowen

    Mjrowen New Member

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    So my take as an electrical engineer is:
    1. The mobile charge cable looks and feels identical to the outdoor rated wall charger and supercharger cables, so my guess is they are made from the same waterproof material for manufacturing efficiency.
    2. The mobile charge electronics appear to be in a well sealed enclosure with the exception of the plug adapter area.
    3. The mobile connector accepts the 12" plug adapters, and the connection point may or may not be watertight. If you carry some electrical tape and cover the plug seam and make sure you're plugging into a covered outdoor rated outlet box I think you should be fine.
    4. I wouldn't worry about the charge cable plugging into the car as this plug also looks the same as the outdoor rated wall & supercharger plugs.
    5. It's common sense to not let the cable sit in standing water, just like it's common sense not to let an outdoor rated extension cord to sit in water. Water surrounding any cable carrying electricity will generate some leakage current thru the cable itself. Sitting in water will provide a much shorter path of resistance to ground and thus will have higher leakage current. The leakage current will be higher when charging at 240 volts than at 120.
     
  19. SigNC

    SigNC Active Member

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    FWIW I always simply wrap the "brainns" area in a plastic bag and sit it on something to elevate it off the ground. Better yet sometimes I will plug in indoors and only have the part of the cord beyond the "brains" outside.
     
  20. pdx_m3s

    pdx_m3s Active Member

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    Good to know. My MC is protected in the garage, but car is parked in the driveway. I was a little worried about overnight charging in the rain this coming winter.
     

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