I spend a lot of time on car blogging sites where comments like “I’ll never buy an electric car because it costs a lot of money to put a charger at home” are common on these sites.i bought one Chevrolet Bolt for about 1/2 the price In January 2001, my wife’s house was just over an hour from everything and there was no way to charge it.This post is about how I handle owning an electric car No need to install a home charger Over 1/2 of the electricity I’ve put in over the past 18 months has come from free sources (not my house). What does this have to do with e-bikes?Almost nothing, except I already wrote a long article about Anarchistic’s Guerrilla e-bike charging about 6 years ago here. The EV situation is very different, so this new article is aimed at gentlemen rather than anarchists. Yes, you know who you are.
Stop whining about gas prices and do something about it
First I want to talk about my cost savings. Since I have solar panels at home and I can get electricity wherever I can get it for free, I save about 33 cents per mile by not having to drive my Tundra, assuming gas costs $5\gal. Calculated at 15 miles per gallon: 5/15 = 33.33333 cents per mile. The average American drives 14,263 miles per year, so that’s a savings of $4,754.33333333 per year on an average oversized truck the size of a Sherman tank that you probably don’t really need. Now we’re actually talking real money here, so watch out kids.
There are three charging methods for electric vehicles: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. The level 1 adapter that comes with the Bolt gives me about 4 miles per hour on 12 amps and 3 miles on 8 amps. Many cheap 15 amp outlets will literally melt if you try to charge at 12 amps continuously and the range at 3 miles per hour is terrible, all I’m saying here is guerrilla charging at 120 volts/8 amps is totally waste time. Unless you find a place close to where you live and sleep, it’s almost certainly not worth it (maybe a neighbor you don’t quite like). Level 3 is DC fast charging, which always costs money, so I’m not going to discuss it here, because I’m cheap and don’t like spending money on anything.
Don’t Waste Money Installing a Home Charger, Buy a Level 2 Charging Cable
A home charger is thought to cost between $600-2000, while an electrician can run thousands of dollars to install it. Honestly, I think this is completely insane. I installed a 30 amp 240 volt plug from Lowes for about $12 which also included a 2 foot piece of 10 AWG scrap copper wire which I ran out in about 10 minutes. I was so lazy, I didn’t even install the outlet correctly, and it’s kind of angled, which I kind of like the angle (although the electrical inspector didn’t think it was cute).Instead of buying and installing a car charger, I bought a 30 amp charging cable from Amazon for $299 here (Side note: most car chargers are Just a charging cable and a fancy box You don’t need some nice blinking lights, the charger is in your car). It plugs into a standard 30-amp dryer plug, which you might even already have somewhere in your garage or utility room. Let’s go and look around.
You might want to consider getting a 50 amp adapter (can only charge continuously at 40 amps, while the 30 amps charge at 24 amps) it charges about 66% faster than the 30 amp adapter I got, but realize that Doing so would make using a 30 amp plug more difficult. There are adapters that will allow you to plug a 50 amp charger into a 30 amp plug, but you have to make sure the charger is set to charge at 24 amps (not 40 amps) before you plug it into your car and charge it. Their circuit breakers, so such a setup is really not recommended. If you forget to set it to a lower charge rate and the breaker doesn’t trip, the wire could melt and start a fire (fire = serious). Also note that a 50 amp circuit can only be charged at 40 amps continuous and a 30 amp circuit can only be charged at 24 amps continuous. If you buy a 50 amp charger and a 30 amp plug adapter and then set the charge rate to 30 amps (instead of the correct 24 amps) the wires will overheat without tripping the breaker and could melt and cause a lot of problems and the plug owner’s fee.
Now just buy a 50 amp adapter and maybe another TT-30 amp adapter
For about $12 you can get a good quality NEMA adapter, I got mine on eBay with the description “50Amp NEMA 14-50P to NEMA 10-30R Power Plug Cord Adapter” (go to your own). I can plug the 30 amp charger into the 50 amp adapter and it charges at about 24 amps through any NEMA 14-50 plug (these are pretty standard in park and RV areas). The most common 30 amp plug for campsites is the NEMA TT-30, so if you want to use those too, you’ll need another $12 eBay adapter from a NEMA TT-30 male to a NEMA 10-30R female. For around $325 right now, you can charge it with NEMA 10-30R, NEMA TT-30, and NEMA 14-50P, which are by far the most common 240v plugs in the US. Leave your charger and adapter in your car wherever you go, and start looking for free charging spots.
Consider the Tesla Adapter
The Tesla Tap gives you access to over 4,500 Destination chargers in the US, most of which are free (they’re Level 2 chargers, and the adapter doesn’t work with Superchargers). Tesla Tap for $159 here Although there are also plenty of clones out there for roughly the same price. From the forums it sounds like the Tesla Tap is the way to go, although to be honest I’ve never used mine so I’m really okay with that. It seems like a lot of money to buy a small adapter, and I prefer the $12 adapter. Tesla Destination chargers can go 30 to 44 miles per hour, which makes them roughly equivalent to a 50-amp charging cable.
An extension cord, if you’re going to buy one, get one that fits
Although they sell J1772 extension cords for EV charging, you shouldn’t buy them because it’s about 1/2 the price to buy a NEMA 10-30R extension cord. A premium 25-foot cable runs about $75, and a 50-foot cable runs about $125. I don’t think it’s wise to run more than 50 feet of cable. The charging cable is 25 feet long, which is more than enough for me. The 50-foot extension means you only need to bring your electric vehicle within 75 feet of a 240-volt outlet. There’s a spot under the Bolt’s trunk where the spare part can be placed if the car was shipped with it (which it wasn’t). Instead, there is a large piece of foam in the spare place (crash protection? mouse pre-case?), which would be a good place to store the 30 amp extension cord. I keep the charging cable behind the passenger seat because it is often unplugged when it needs to be charged.
Also note that every EV charger manual I’ve seen implicitly says not to use an extension cord. I’ve done this and had no problems, but if you’re using an extension cord with a wire gauge that won’t support your load, that cable will melt the insulation, at best blow the breaker, at worst it will Start a fire. (fire=bad) You have been warned.
Shame your loved ones for installing NEMA plugs
I told my dad I was getting an electric car and I wanted to charge it with a 30 amp NEMA plug in his garage. I was shocked and surprised when he showed me that he had connected a plug for the emergency generator. Come to think of it, I didn’t even have to pull the “if you really loved me, Dad, you’d let me install this plug in your garage with my questionable wiring skills”.If your frequent visits are far away, consider installing a $12 NEMA 10-30R surface mount receptacle, shown below here.
Ask before charging, In general, you’ll find that people don’t mind as much as you think
This is America, where everyone has a gun and is very territorial. I always ask before hooking up and make sure whoever is supplying me with power has a good idea of how much they will cost. The best way to solve this problem is to tell them how much it will charge per hour, and then how long you want to charge it. Electricity in New York costs about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour. The current from the charger is 24Amps x 240v = 5.7Kw/hour x $0.14 = 80 cents/hour. What does 80 cents an hour on other people’s money get you? For me it has a range of about 25 miles, which makes it well worth it (think about how much gas it would cost you to drive 25 miles in your big truck, about 10x that). A good way to start a conversation is to offer to pay for the electricity you plan to use. You’ll find that most places will refuse to accept your money (especially if you patronize their business), but won’t mind you using their store.
I have permission to charge at the park where I often kite (they are considering installing EV chargers at my urging) as well as at my home and at my parents’ house. All of these things are more than an hour away from each other. I spend 50% of my time at my wife’s house, and I’m only an hour away from all three of these things, and there’s nowhere to charge my car at my wife’s house. Due to the Bolt recall, I can’t charge more than 80% and I’m reluctant to let the car go below 40% because of the risk of fire. I know it sounds like hyperbole, but I really don’t, it’s what the GM suggests. I actually enjoy driving a car that can catch fire at any moment, kind of like my way of life, just on the edge. Of course, this isn’t for everyone, and for those cats who are scared, you can always go on the Bolt Buyback Program. I will never sign up. You can pry my scooter from my cold, stiff hands.
Find a 30 or 50 amp 240 volt plug
These things are everywhere if you know where to look. Most commonly they’re for dryers, but I’ve also seen them just come pre-installed in a garage, basement, or utility room with nothing plugged into them, and sometimes installed for a generator connection. The best 240 volt outlet to use is the one you already have, so if you have a different 30 or 50 amp outlet, buy a car charger that goes with the NEMA outlet you already have, then when you can find another plug you Adapter required. Charging at. They sell an automatic switch for 30 amp plugs for a lot of money, which will allow you to share EV charging with the dryer. To me it’s a waste of money to just unplug the dryer and plug into the charger when needed, or hook up another dedicated breaker for the car charger. It only takes about 10 minutes to complete.
If you don’t know how to wire a new outlet for your home, then you should either hire a licensed electrician (sensible), or just watch a bunch of YouTube videos and do it yourself (I always do). It might not be legal in whatever good state you live in, but it’s still legal in beautiful rural New York.
Most parks with various campsites, docks, or anything that allows a large RV or boat to be plugged in will usually have 30 or 50 amp plugs close to where they park. You’ll be surprised how many you can find once you start looking for high voltage plugs.