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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I have a 2011 volt with about 100,000 miles. I have been using two chargers: one I take to work, the other I use at home. When I got the car 4 years ago I found that the closest outlet to the incoming power junction box was right next to it but I needed to have about 8 feet more distance to have the charger reach the car.

First I installed a new 20 amp gfci outlet at the source. Next I made an 8 foot power cord out of heavy 12 gauge Romeo and heavy duty plugs. This has been fine for 4 years.

Anyway... over time first one of the Chargers blew it's fuse. I replaced the fuse with the correct 20 amp fuse. The Charger continued working properly.

Last summer we had a few days at work that were very hot, as in over 100 degrees. I came out one day and the power outlet at work I use had literally melted, with plastic goo sticking to the blades. These outlets at work are purpose- installed for EVs.

Anyway.. yesterday I came out to find the car only partially charged and the charger dead. Just as with the other charger the fuse was bad and I replaced it with another.

While replacing the fuse I couldn't help but notice that the wiring around the fuse looked like it had been getting pretty hot. I glued the cover back on, unplugged the charger in the garage and plugged in the repaired unit to test it. I left it plugged in for an hour and seeing as all was well went to unplug it. The plug of the charger was seriously hot. As in definitely hotter than I feel comfortable with. The cord and the cord's plug in the gfci outlet was just slightly warm.

Unfortunately I had to leave on a trip this morning and so I can't do further tests, but it got me wondering: I can't really recall feeling the plug of the other unit but it made me wonder: has this been the case with both for years? It was definitely a tad concerning and until I get back I told my wife to not use the charger in the house.

My only guess? I noticed this morning that the plug of the unit I repaired last night did have some leftover melted plastic residue on the plug prongs.

Otherwise and words of wisdom?
 

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Outlets eventually wear out. If there is high resistance between the outlet and the plug, bingo, excessive heat.

Replace the outlet used for EV charging periodically and much more often than less-used ones behind the couch. Make sure that the replacement is high quality and the installation uses the screws and not back-stab connections.

If the outlet/plug melted, replace both the pigtail and the outlet.

Might want to check the breaker and wiring as well. If something melts, the breaker should usually trip.
 

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The contaminated plug prongs can definitely increase heat, so be sure to clean those up good. Sand paper if necessary. Make them gleem.

Why are you trying to use the outlet closest to the junction box by reaching it with an extension cord? Can you use a different outlet with no extension cord? If so, that may be better (all intermediate outlets should be properly wired to the screw terminals).

Are you using the recalled EVSEs that were OEM on the 2011, or did you get the replacements?

You might consider replacing the female plug on your extension cord in case it is worn out.

You may also be able to charge at 8 amps instead of 12 to reduce heat, when you have plenty of time to charge (my overnight charges can often be done at 8 amps).
 

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As what "Barry" says above. Clean the male plug ends with sandpaper till they shine. If they are spreadable wit ha small flat-bladed screwdriver do that too - it increases the contact area into the female jack end.
 

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First, just a reference to the general write up I did a while back.
Primer: Level 1 Volt charging and your home electrical system

As it says in the primer, the current being pulled by an EV charging is a LOT more than almost anything else in your house. Nothing else pulls 880-1300 WATTS of power CONSTANTLY for multiple HOURS. Even a hair dryer only gets sporadic use. This is extremely stressful on the 120v outlets and wiring and creates a need for regular maintenance to avoid problems.

Electricity is also funny in that a corroded connection can cause overheating and other issues in locations -other- than where the corrosion exists so sometimes finding the exact location of the problem can be challenging.

If you aren't sure, and I mean ABSOLUTELY SURE about how to troubleshoot electrical issues then hiring a licensed electrician to investigate is money well spent because the alternative can range from minor damage to a major FIRE.

Please, I'm begging you, don't take electrical overheat issues lightly.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The wall outlet and the Romex extension cord doesn't seem to be getting hot. It's the actual plug of the charger. I believe this could be a newer unit as the cord for it is black and to my understanding the original was orange.

What has be thinking is of the outlets at work. They are used heavily by tons of people every day. So far in the 2 years I've been there they've replaced the outlets but in just 3-4 months the become discolored and start to show physical heat related damage. I'm thinking this has possibly pitted and eroded the plug.

My test when I get back is to plug the other unit on the garage back in, wait an hour and see if it too gets hot. If not then the issue is the charger. If so it's the wiring to the charger and if that be then I'll run a new outlet off of the breaker panel directly to the charger.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh and btw... why did GM decide to more or less make the chargers unserviceable? In order to replace the fuse you have to pop the plastic welded front cover off. In other words there's no fasteners at all. The fuse inside is heat shrunk and permently wired in place. Thus replacement fuses have to be installed by cutting out the old fuse and wiring in a new fuse holder and fuse. To me this seems like more of a "disposable" design. Not exactly great considering these things are expensive new.

Lastly, I'm thinking for the garage of goons with a 220 AC charger. There is a 220 volt outlet for the drier there anyway. Would going with 220 reduce the amount of resistance? It would seem possible given the heavier wiring and bigger plugs and outlets...
 

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Yes, producing a welded plastic case is a cheaper way to provide water/weather resistance than a plastic case with rubber sealing and lots of screws. Many appliances now use single blow fuses without holders.

Yes, larger contact surfaces in dryer style 240VAC plugs and jacks and thicker gauge wire (often 10GA rather than 12GA) reduces resistance.
 

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Most 220V chargers will also give you the option to hard wire it. I'd recommend this if you go to 220V. I removed the plug on my Siemens Versicharge unit and it is hard wired directly to the panelboard in my garage. This is detailed and allowed in their installation instructions. Hardwiring it eliminates 2 sets of connections (the connections to the receptacle and the plug/receptacle connection itself).
 

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Agree that going with 220v would be superior to limping on 110v. Depends on budget.

I leased my '13 and immediately installed a 40-amp EVSE (GE). I'm one that over-sizes any appliance/tool/wiring/plumbing/anything so that it is not ever stressed. I figure a 40-amp would outlast several cars and so far I'm good. On my second car in five years. :)

Point is that when that relay slams shut, do you want a 15-amp relay or a 40-amp relay to supply a 16-amp potential? The OEM is wimpy compared to the GE. Heavier everything.

Hard wiring is over-rated in my opinion. It's a 50-amp connection to supply a 16-amp (max) load. Never going to fail unless there is a flood.
 

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Sounds like you my plug/unplug often. The contact points within the plug get weak and eventually short or have resistance which cause overheating. Many house fires are started at a plug that gets frequent use, like an iron. Pulling on a cord to unplug even makes it malfunction sooner.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sounds to me that perhaps GM didn't fully test these as far as actual user testing. It's not really uncommon for people to be using these chargers at their workplaces daily. There are around 10 EVs at the 110 volt charging areas at my office, all using their 120 chargers. Now that some of our volts are getting older and there is possible degradation in the power cords means the chance many others who aren't as careful as me will be experiencing similar issues.

IMHO GM might want to consider a recall on these chargers or consider updating them to make more positive contact with receptacles.
 

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Sounds to me that perhaps GM didn't fully test these as far as actual user testing. It's not really uncommon for people to be using these chargers at their workplaces daily. There are around 10 EVs at the 110 volt charging areas at my office, all using their 120 chargers. Now that some of our volts are getting older and there is possible degradation in the power cords means the chance many others who aren't as careful as me will be experiencing similar issues.

IMHO GM might want to consider a recall on these chargers or consider updating them to make more positive contact with receptacles.
6 year old car. You have to expect some wear and tear. If you plug and unplug in the same receptacle it would likely need replacing if done often.
 

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Any normal 120VAC charge cord plug that is plugged and unplugged daily and left outside will deteriorate. First the brass plug ends will get tarnished and need cleaning and the also may need expanding - as I explained above.
 

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Sounds to me that perhaps GM didn't fully test these as far as actual user testing. It's not really uncommon for people to be using these chargers at their workplaces daily. There are around 10 EVs at the 110 volt charging areas at my office, all using their 120 chargers. Now that some of our volts are getting older and there is possible degradation in the power cords means the chance many others who aren't as careful as me will be experiencing similar issues.

IMHO GM might want to consider a recall on these chargers or consider updating them to make more positive contact with receptacles.
edvard, it is not uncommon for people who drive their cars to end up having to maintain them or see them break. The EVSE is a device that is used frequently and will eventually require maintenance to keep it functioning properly. I don't see GM having been delinquent in their testing of the EVSE, or the Volt, for that matter. A little common sense is needed here.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Here is an update.
So I got home last night and this morning I proceeded to plug the charger I use in the garage back in to see what happens with it. As a recap I have TWO chargers: One that stays permanently plugged in on the wall in the garage and the other is taken to work every day and plugged in, unplugged. Both have over time blown their fuses and have had to have their front covers taken off and new fuse holders soldered in. So far after 2 hours the garage charger's plug and cord just gets slightly warm.

So I now assume the wiring in the house is fine and that the other charger-the one used at the office- needs to have the plug either cleaned or if necessary, I'll replace the old cord entirely. Its sort of a relief because I was worried that perhaps for the past 3 years I've had a smoking hot plug sitting in my garage.
 

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the other charger-the one used at the office- needs to have the plug either cleaned or if necessary, I'll replace the old cord entirely.
Yes, plugs do wear over time and use. And your Volt is pulling a fair amount of power over many hours probably 5 days a week.
 
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