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Safety of charging options?

Discussion in 'Charging and Infrastructure' started by BigBri, Dec 6, 2016.

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  1. BigBri

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    Hey everyone,

    So I live in a townhome that doubles as a condo. The outside of the unit is technically owned by the condoboard which means to run an outdoor charger I'd have to get permission to do so. I'm in the middle of drafting up a letter to the board to convince them to let me install a charger. I'm giving them the option of your typical NEMA 14-50 port and the Tesla charger with the integrated cable.

    I wanted to bring up the safety options with each. With the NEMA charger I'd offer to lock it up so some kid couldn't stick stuff into it and get electrocuted. I think with the Tesla charger there isn't any idle current on the cabling until the car locks onto the cable but I'm not sure. Hoping some current S/X owners could give me some info! I want to be as convincing as I can :p.
     
  2. garsh

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    A NEMA outlet by itself would not be kid-safe. You would probably have to at least install a GFCI version of the outlet. This would prevent a kid from being electrocuted for an extended period of time. ;)

    An SAE J1772 EVSE (your standard L2 charger in North America) or a Tesla Connector requires a connection to a vehicle and implements a handshaking protocol before the high-voltage connections become active. They are also configured to immediately remove the high voltage if the plug is pulled. So by design, they are very safe.
     
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    • BigBri

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      Perfect, thanks! I probably will push for a NEMA outlet and if they're concerned about safety I'll just lock it. Highly doubt some kid will come along and decide to mess with it but the board will always think in worse-case scenarios.
       
    • Badback

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      A GFCI breaker in the panel supplying the NEMA 14-50 receptacle would be the safest as it also protects your cable to the outlet and might be cheaper than a GFCI receptacle.
       
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      • BigBri

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        I was thinking the same thing. I've seen GFCI built into the cable right before it connects into the breaker. Only issue is I may have to upgrade my electrical service. I've only got 1 spot for 1 breakers left. Not sure how much juice is there.
         
      • Rick59

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        I think you need two spots for 220V.
         
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        • BigBri

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          Yep! Should be good to get it installed but the question will be how many amps I can actually draw from it. I'm guessing I only have a 120 amp service but I'm not sure how I'd tell. Once I get board approval I'll get a quote from an electrician and figure out what needs to be done.
           
        • Topher

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          Current isn't something that sits idle in a cable, that would be voltage.

          Yes, please. All outside outlets should be GFCI protected. You can still electrocute yourself with a GFCI protected outlet. It only protects against mismatched current flow (i.e. current is going to ground through some other path than the neutral on the outlet).

          Yes.

          How much 'juice you have' has nothing to do with how many breaker there are in your box. You can replace a couple of single breakers with doubles to make (physical) room.

          If you have 120 amp service (which would be uncommon), you can use 120 amps at any given time (minus safety factors). The rating of your service should be displayed on the MAIN breaker in the breaker box. Bring a flashlight; they are usually black text on black background.

          Probably best to consult an electrician.

          Thank you kindly.
           
        • BigBri

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          Yeah no way am I doing the work myself, I'll be having someone licensed do all the permits etc. I'll have to take another peek at the panel but it's older. Probably dating back to the 90s. I imagine it was upgraded to a 120 amp service which would be the minimum legally and left there but maybe I'm wrong.
           
        • Badback

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          In most cases, unless you live in East Slobovia, you have 230V split phase service of either 100A or 200A capacity. It is usually possible to combine a couple of light duty circuits into a single breaker to free up a slot. You need two slots for a 230V breaker. It is also possible for an electrician to install an extension to you breaker box. Since charging generally takes place at night, drawing 40A from your service should not be a problem. If you overtax your service the only thing that will happen is that the main breaker will trip, a nuisance but not dangerous.
          Just plan you charging during hours when you are not heavily loading your service, your biggest load is probably your air conditioner.
           
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          • BigBri

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            Really useful, thanks! I think based on that info I'd be fine. I consider myself to be a pretty light user (my bill is usually 130ish for 2 of us with AC in the summer and 220 in the winter with electric heat). My one concern is that I have a few lines that are 'double tapped' as the home inspector pointed out and I'm not sure whats bundled together there. He was saying its a fire hazard but it's probably just him covering his butt a bit but still I'd like to get someone in to give me a quote and straighten the panel out if they can.
             
          • Badback

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            If a breaker is connected to more than one circuit, it is imperative that it be sized to protect the smallest conductor that is connected. For instance, a breaker could supply two 15A conductors but could not be more than a 15A breaker.
             
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            • BigBri

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              See that makes total sense to me and is what I thought when he was concerned. I got the general sense this might just be his second career and he knows for basic things to look at. I believe it feeds a few outlets in our living space that aren't even used for more then a lamp with a LED bulb. All of my appliances and electric heat is done in its own breaker.
               
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