|My new Clipper Creek charger mounted on the wall|
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Replacing my Level-2 charger
As soon as my level-2 EV charger died, I went online to find out what was now available for home use. (This was after a futile attempt to contact the now-defunct manufacturer about servicing my old charger.) I found some units online at Lowes, but the only unit that looked promising was the GE charging station, and it was also the most expensive. The less expensive models lacked the amperage or the plug that I was looking for. I found similar results at Home Depot. Then I remembered the EV charger that was being given away at the Electric Auto Association Silicon Valley rally at De Anza College back in September. So I dug through the business cards in my desk drawer at home and found it: Clipper Creek.
One thing that I liked about Clipper Creek is that, not only are they an American company, but they are also a California company. That, and the price of their 32-amp charger was about $150 to $300 less than the competition’s. I checked the Clipper Creek web site and found some specifications and installation instructions for the model I wanted (with a 220-volt plug). I had some questions about my installation and sent an e-mail to Clipper Creek. They responded promptly with enough information to address my concerns, so I was ready to place my order. One change that I would have to adapt was in the orientation of the electrical outlet and housing. The cord for my (now broken) charger exited the housing from below and wrapped around to the charger box above. This new charger (and all the others I found for sale) limit the length of the cord to just 12 inches, forcing the cord to exit the housing from above to feed directly to the charger. (This was the result of a newly adopted national electrical standard.)
Just then I remembered a recall for my car that concerned a particular EV charger. At the time, the recall was not for my charger, so I decided to wait for my annual service appointment to address it. But suddenly I remembered the charger brand in the recall and double-checked my recall paperwork – the recall involved Clipper Creek chargers. So, I had to get the car serviced before I could buy the charger. This further delayed getting the new charger, but only by a few days as the dealer was able to work on my car soon after I called. Finally, I was able to place the order with Clipper Creek (which I did online).
Much to my surprise, the charger arrived the next day (and on a Saturday, no less). A few days later I had time to install it. I needed to reorient the outlet, which was straight-forward and involved removing six screws, rotating the outlet in place, tucking the wires back inside the outlet box carefully, and reattaching the six screws in the new orientation. (I also needed to cut a little more away from the opening of the plastic housing for the larger plug.) After a couple of drill holes in the wall, two bolts, and connecting the plug to the outlet, I was ready to test the unit. When I tested my first EV charger, I plugged everything in without worrying about problems. This time, after having dealt with the recall (which was essentially a firmware update), I was more nervous because I wasn’t confident that the firmware update would work for my new charger model. But, I threw the switch on the circuit breaker and the status light came on. I connected the charger plug to the car, heard a loud click, and the car began charging. And I let out a sigh of relief because I would no longer have to depend on the slow-charging level-1 charger that came with the car. I could drive the distance again.