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Roadster UMC fails - what are best options today?

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by smorgasbord, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    My UMC may be broken. Last night it would charge for a bit, then the car gives me the "External Charger Problem" message on the VDS plus red LEDs in the chargeport, plus 4 blinks on the UMC. Apparently, the 4 blinks means the UMC is overheating. It was pretty warm, but not really hot. Car had not been charging that long. Was pulling about 247 volts at 40 amps.

    I'm going to try lowering the amperage a bit to see if that helps, but if the UMC is indeed bad, what are my options? I've found that I don't actually use the "mobile" part - I'm in CA and there are lots of J1772s for road trips, so the UMC always stays at home.

    I was thinking of getting the Model S UMC ($650 vs $1500) and then somehow swapping the cables. Or I could get the Leviton 40amp J1772 wall mounted ($1100) and use my J1772 adapter all the time (or swap in the Roadster cable from my dead UMC). Maybe I could find a used UMC for cheap? Any other good options?

    I should also ask if anyone else has run into Roadster UMC problems and what "cures" there might be. Could this be a clean the contacts thing, for instance?
     
  2. TurboFroggy

    TurboFroggy Member

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  3. Jackyche

    Jackyche Member

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    Tesla Roadster Universal Mobile Charger Connector with AccyS | eBay

    One UMC for sale just for you.

     
  4. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    I took matters into my own hands and built my own. I was able to make it lighter and add several nice features. If you're oriented this way, you can build the control box using Open EVSE but the firmware would need some modifications to automatically adjust the amps depending on which adapter you plugged into.
     
  5. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    I'm hoping to use a Model S UMC with a Model S to Roadster adapter.
    Have you looked any more into building those?
     
  6. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    Have you notified Tesla Customer Service? The UMCs they were producing up thru 2010 and 2011 commonly had problems. I had to exchange mine for a new one and know another owner who bought in 2011 had to do the same. There is a good chance they will send you a new one if you complain and send them back your original.
     
  7. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    I feel comfortable doing the Frankenstein thing and cobbling bits of other chargers together, but doing my own, even with the Open EVSE guides, is too much for me.


    Does anyone know if Tesla has any equipment to actually test a UMC? That is, mine works for a while, then fails. So, testing by plugging into cars isn't really viable.
     
  8. DRM

    DRM Roadster #619

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    My UMC (original 40A "box-style" unit) died about a year ago. Apparently a number of them here in San Diego had problems about the same time due to poor incoming power quality after they shut down San Onofre -- the local nuke plant. The symptom was about as you described. It would charge for a few seconds to a few minutes, then stop with a "charger problem". Over the course of a night, I would pick up ~10 miles with it continually cycling on/off. I purchased the newer version from Tesla, which is a huge improvement over the original; it's smaller & lighter with the power electronics integrated into a thick portion of the cord rather than a large box. Multiple wall-socket adapters are available and can be easily swapped out.
    ALSO: while I was figuring out what to do, Tesla fedex'ed me a loaner at no cost. you should contact them if you haven't already.
     
  9. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    #9 smorgasbord, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
    Right now Tesla is telling me my UMC warranty was only for 1 year, and it's been 2 (just about to the day). BTW mine is the newer style.

    EDIT: In the next few days, I'll experiment with lowering the amperage. Like I posted earlier, I was pulling 247 volts at times - so maybe that was overall too many KW for it?
     
  10. Botbldr45

    Botbldr45 Member

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    Please keep us up to date on your progress since we all have a stake in this problem.
     
  11. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    I've got one here and I've been working on changing the design so the parts are not so labor intensive to produce. I've been really busy with my regular job and traveling so haven't made as much progress as I hoped. Hoping to have one for you soon. I would like to bring some to TESLIVE.

    - - - Updated - - -

    If you don't mind crimping wires and waterproof splices then you can buy a Model S UMC and put your Roadster coupler on the end of it. You would need to add a resistor to the proximity wire.


    Yours failed similar to the way lot's of them have failed. The SSRs start producing too much heat when they get old.
     
  12. Pantera Dude

    Pantera Dude Member

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    Does anyone know if Tesla has any equipment to actually test a UMC? That is, mine works for a while, then fails. So, testing by plugging into cars isn't really viable.[/QUOTE]

    I doubt that they have any test equipment for it. I was having trouble with mine and had them check it out, they said it was fine. There was a little communication break down between the front desk and the shop. (They only tested it for a few minutes). My UMC would work fine for maybe an hour and then quit. When I lowered the amps to 24 it worked for several more weeks before failing at that amperage. It would then charge with no problem at 15 amps but I wasn't satisfied with that so I tried fixing it myself, now it doesn't work at all. :tongue: I bought a used MC240 from someone on the list for $600 and have been happy ever since.
     
  13. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    Cool, I am looking forward to it. Unfortunately I won't make it to Teslive, but I am sure lots of people there will want to see it.
     
  14. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    Tesla Menlo Service just confirmed they test UMCs by charging cars with them.
     
  15. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    I successfully charged last night at 30 amps for a few hours last night (to Standard Full) without issue. Then again, it was pretty cool outside (low 50's F). We'll see what happens with higher amps at higher outside temps.
     
  16. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    So, I've been charging at 35 amps quite successfully for the past month. 40/39/38 are no-go. I had a problem at 36 or 37 once so now I'm just using 35, which is plenty for overnight charging. I'm using OVMS to set the specific amperage, btw.
     
  17. augkuo

    augkuo Member

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    Most likely you have a contact problem (more resistance) so higher amperage will trigger a temperature shut-down. I think the Tesla HPCs at the Fremont factory have the same problem, I couldn't
    charge constantly at 70A but 50A was ok.

     
  18. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

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    Do you suspect the connector at either the car or the cable? I can easily get to a 70 amp charger and try it out again. Any suggestions for cleaning the UMC connector? I do have a contact cleaner spray...
     
  19. augkuo

    augkuo Member

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    Most likely at the UMC itself - you can see at the bottom of the LEAF forum that Tesla used smaller gauge wire (assuming model s and roadster umcs are similar) so once it starts losing contact, there's no margin.

    http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?p=292087


     
  20. TonyWilliams

    TonyWilliams Active Member

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    If you ever wondered how the Model S UMC is so flexible and able to handle 40 amps:

    IMG_1869.jpg


    Comparison to Model S/X on the left and a J1772 plug on the right that I'm putting on the UMC:

    IMG_1867.jpg
     

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