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New Tesla S and Chevy Volt Outdoor Curbside Level 2 Charging Station

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by artsci, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    #1 artsci, Jun 24, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
    Here’s my new outdoor curbside charging station and the story behind it.

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    As I don’t have a garage and must park outdoors in spaces reserved for my town home, I’ve had to deal with the problem of how to charge my Volt, and when I take delivery, likely in 6-7 months, my new Tesla S.

    As I didn’t want to run long extension cords from the house, I started by having an electrician run an underground 240v line to a curbside outlet, hidden under a conventional outdoor 10” round valve box cover. It was originally set up to handle a 20 amp continuous load, more than enough for the Volt. Using PVC plastic pipe and accessories, I created a stand for the upgraded Nissan Leaf EVSE, which had been converted to work with the Volt. Like the Tesla Mobile Connector, this device is portable, and works on both 120 and 240v. One of end EVSE plugs into the outlet under in the valve box, the other plugs into the Volt. Here’s what I’m replacing.

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    In the photo you can see the plug going into the in-ground outlet. One of my major concerns about this set up is the valve box side it was not waterproofed. After a heavy rain, the outlet would be under water. While this never caused any shorts or other problems, as an extra measure of safety I wore electrician’s rubber gloves when making and braking connections.

    When I placed my deposit on the Tesla S I began planning how to upgrade the set-up to handle the amperage demands of the Mobile Connector. I wanted to create a charging station that was much more professional looking and maximized safety considerations, especially in wet weather conditions. In other words I wanted it to be totally waterproof.

    As a first step, I had my electrician upgrade the breaker to handle the 40 amp load necessary to charge at the desired Mobile Connector’s 31 miles of range per hour level (the wiring already had sufficient capacity). Next I began to design a new stand that could work with both the Volt and Tesla chargers/connectors. As the stand itself has to be portable (it can’t be outside when the car is not plugged in), I decided to use Hubbell Pin and sleeve plugs and receptacles to attach the stand. These are rated for 600 volts and 150 amps, more than enough capacity for current and future needs. The receptacle is built into the valve box cover and wired to the underground conduit leads from the breaker. It has a waterproof flip top so no water gets into the connections. The connections from the receptacle to the conduit leads run through waterproofed sleeves, so even if water seeps under the valve box cover it cannot find a way into the receptacle/plug connections.

    Here are a few photos of the Hubbell plug and receptacle:

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    The Hubbell plug and its four leads are fitted into a 4” PVC pipe and wired to a NEMA 14-50 receptacle at the top of the pipe. The receptacle has a waterproof flip-top cover that prevents water ingression when the plug is not connected. When the plug is connected it’s covered by a 4” PVC cap modified to fit around plug so water cannot enter the connections. So when I'm ready to charge I just plug the whole stand into the receptacle -- don't come near any connections with my hands. To provide power to the Tesla, I'll just plug the 14-50 Mobile Connector into the 14-50 receptacle in the top of the stand. For the Volt/Nissan connector, which uses a different plug I have to use an adapter, shown in the photos below.

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    By adding a Velcro strip on the back of the Nissan EVSE and Tesla Mobile Connector each can be attached in place to the flat strip on the side of the station, as show in the photo. The top ends of the EVSE and Mobile Connector cables plug into the 14-50 receptacle at the top of the pipe/station and the bottom cable plugs into the Volt or Tesla. There’s also a cable hanger/cord organizer attached to the pipe/station that’s used to bundle excess cable and keep it off the ground.

    [​IMG]

    For a professional look, the whole assembly is painted green and Tesla and Volt logos attached (Tesla logo shown, Volt on the way from a dealer).

    The whole station can be quickly assembled and everything plugged together and taken apart for storage when not in use. For that purpose I set up a blank receptacle under a Holly bush near the front of the house. When the station is not in use, I just drop it into the receptacle, as shown below.

    [​IMG]

    Neighbors passing buy ask me where I bought this device and what it cost. I tell it’s not available anywhere else, in other words, priceless. Now I just need the car that goes with it:)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. digitaltim

    digitaltim Sig737 VIN628

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    Patent pending? ;-)
     
  3. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Wow. That looks sharp and way to adapt to streetside charging.
     
  4. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    That's absolutely cool! Question, in the pic where you can see the NEMA outlet on top of the pole, wouldn't you have issues plugging in if it's raining? Or do you typically keep a plug attached with cap on and just pop it into the receptacle? What about plugging into the ground receptacle when it's raining?

    Also, re: portability, they allowed you to modify the curb etc, but not keep the post there?

    Volt looks pretty sharp too :p
     
  5. kevincwelch

    kevincwelch Active Member

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    Very nice, indeed.

    As previously suggested, you should market these!
     
  6. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

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    Very nice setup. I like.
     
  7. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    Thanks for all of the favorable comments. As you can imagine, this represents a ton of work and experimentation and I appreciate that my fellow Tesla owners-in-waiting like it.

    I keep the 14-50 plugged in and covered with the cap all the time, so the only connection I have to make is to the adapter. As I've done this in pouring rain and I'm still alive I think all is well:) The Tesla Mobile Connector will plug directly into the top, so with rain there may be some water that gets into the top receptacle when the connection is being made. But as that goes very quickly it wouldn't be much. And as I indicated earlier, several times with the old set-up the in-ground receptacle was underwater and there were no issues with that. Even so, I keep electrician's rubber gloves handy and always wear them when making connections in the wet.

    As far as patenting this it's probably not possible. At best it's just perhaps a clever assembly of existing hardware but there's no real new invention.

    My neighborhood association, which is quite strict about certain things, has not made any objections to what I've done. My philosophy with them is to do first and ask forgiveness later. I'm not an attorney, but I also think there's a new federal law (or maybe a Maryland law) that prevents community associations from banning outdoor car chargers. Also, I'm only connected late in the day and at night, so most of the time the only thing visible is the ground level receptacle, which is no more unsightly that all of the covers for the underground wiring in the community and the access covers for each home's water supply.
     
  8. jerry33

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

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    That doesn't seem to stop anyone else from patenting something. A clever assembly of existing hardware is really what invention is. (Other than the patent trolls that patent things like breathing)
     
  9. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    OK, I'll discuss the possibility with my attorney (this is one of his firm's specialties, so Ill probably get a quick answer).
     
  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Is there any issue with ownership of the land on which your charging stand sits?
    I had a friend who did something a bit similar, but then the city notified him that they own the land (grass strip) between the sidewalk and the street, and that they wanted him to remove it. Basically the city wants to keep the sidewalk and edge strip uncluttered to avoid liability if someone were to hurt themselves there.
     
  11. jerry33

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

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    I believe that's why it's removable. The city isn't likely to complain about the ground level cover--if they even notice it. And since the inspectors only work 9-5 (if that) then they'll never see the post when he's plugged in overnight.
     
  12. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    Jerry33 is right. It's removable precisely because I don't want it to call attention to itself during weekday hours. I usually plug in 7 or 8 pm or later and unplug around 7 or 8am.

    Of course, you can never rule our someone wanting to make trouble. But I've had something like this in place since last November and so far no issues.
     
  13. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    Do you leave the circuit breaker off when you aren't using it?

    If you had built it so that the EVSE was at the house, and the post was just part of the cord from the EVSE to the car, then anytime the thing was not completely connected to a car that negotiates the proper signal, the power pins would be dead.
    That would use the safety features of the EVSE as intended. Of course it means that you need one EVSE that is compatible with all cars, which they should be theoretically, but isn't always true.
     
  14. Denis Vinnie

    Denis Vinnie Member

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    Brilliant, Ballsy and innovative evolution of technical MacGyver know- how! From what I understand, Solar City and SPX ev are collaborating with Tesla to provide customers with electrical connection charging solutions....I would take your concept to them.
     
  15. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    I leave the breaker on all of the time -- it also powers the dryer and my wife gets upset when it's off. EVSE in the house? You've given me a good idea. Only issue is that I'd have to buy a second to travel with. It's also a very long run to the plug.
     
  16. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    I believe that the mobile EVSEs do not have contactors, so the power pins are live if the plug is live, so you don't want to use a mobile one, you want to use a "real" one with contactors.

    If the power carrying wire is the same gauge for the entire length of the run from the breaker to the car, I don't think it matters where the EVSE is along that path.
    One wrinkle would be that I think there are 2 power wires, 1 ground wire and 2 ( much smaller ) wires for the pilot signal - for a total of 5 wires instead of 4.
     
  17. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Are you sure about that? I thought the spec required them to have the same safety mechanisms.

    Lincomatics Blog | electronics, hacking, etc
    EVSE-relay.jpg
     
  18. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    I stand corrected. Good to know.
     
  19. pguerra

    pguerra Member

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    Strong work and thanks for sharing.

    I just received a Notice of Allowance by the USPTO granting me a 20-year utility patent (my first). I am no expert at IP, but like you said, if it is a combination of existing technologies, it probably isn't patentable. My attorney told me previous invention A + previous invention B does not equal new patent C

    However, I would be willing to bet that you could get a design patent on it - good for 14 yrs. Hurry up since you've already disclosed it...:smile:
     
  20. tdelta1000

    tdelta1000 Active Member

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    artsci, what a great solution to a problem that some Tesla owner will face. Thanks for sharing.
     

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