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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Good day fellow Chevy Volt enthusiasts!

I have yet to purchase my Chevy Volt due to the issue raised below. Effectively, I cannot buy until I solve this problem. I tried calling SPX for advice, but they refused to help until I've actually purchased a Volt as they require the VIN. (IMO, this is poor service because I'm not going to buy the volt until I know I can charge it effectively and safely where I park my vehicle ... so they were not of any help here ...).

The Problem:

I live in a townhouse condominium row of houses. There are ~10 units per row. The front of the houses have ~8' of grass, 2.5' of sidewalk, then the parking spaces in front.

It dawned on me that in order to charge my vehicle in my parking spot (which is directly in front of my unit), I would have to have a wire crossing the sidewalk. This is problematic for snow removal and liability for pedestrians possibly tripping over the wire.

Also, the idea of a "poll mount" at the head of the parking space is not viable as the snow plow (we're talking Canada here) will likely damage it.



Proposed Solution:

After discussion with the board for our complex, we are proposing something such as the following:



To explain the above in English:
- The 240V charging station will reside in the basement of the house.
- There would be a "plug" (240V, SAE connector) installed on the edge of the sidewalk, with rubber cover to avoid A) snow removers from damaging the plug, and B) to protect from weathering while the plug is not in use.
- A wire, encased in a PVC protective pipe would be buried in a "trench" beneath the grass (earth), and through the sidewalk (cement)
- From the SAE connector, an "extension cord" to the Chevy Volt (again type SAE connectors).

Answered Problems and Concerns:

My questions and comments for the experts:
* Can I actually have the charging station in the basement connected to an external plug?
- Answer: In theory, yes.
* Do the necessary SAE components and connectors exist to get the job done?
- Answer: Possibly (see comments on J1772 "extension cord" below).
* Will SPX support this type of installation?
- Answer: Unlikely. If they do, it would be expensive, and only possible for quote after the purchase of a Chevy Volt (useless).

Remaining Problems and Concerns:
* Do you feel like this is a viable solution?
- Answer: In general a great idea, requires professional advice from a certified electrician for a quote. (TBD)
* J1772 "extension cord" (as far as we know) does not exist and would be the first of it's kind. i.e. EVSE protocol communication may be a challenge when considering the J1772 "extension cord".
* Having the "plug" exposed on the ground may present electrical shortage concerns. Even if communication protocols were enabled such that if a flood of water came it wouldn't be hitting a live wire, when the vehicle is charging, the plug would be low enough to the ground (less than 3") such that even a small flood of water in the parking lot would short circuit the 240v line and possibly damage the EVSE and/or the vehicle...?
 

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Not an expert but I am pretty sure SPX will not do this type of (very novel) installation. If they will, it will be VERY expensive and you may very likely be better off hiring a regular electrician. You could get a quote from one now, without needing a VIN.

Digging a trench, drilling a hole in the foundation wall, cutting through the sidewalk, burying a pipe, running the wires is not difficult, just messy and time consuming. I think the challenge is the connectors at the parking lot, if such creatures exist. Plus, you'll likely not want to leave the line live when not being used, requiring a shut off of the unit in the basement.

Someone else will need to comment on the connectors. But I like your idea!
 

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Very interesting issues you're raising. These will become more common as time goes on.

Why not just have a 240V outlet curbside and plug the EVSE into that? In fact it could be a 120V if that's an issue. However, usually you want the outlet (or any electrical connection) elevated in order to avoid water issues.

Trenching a 240v line is not a big deal. I ran one 30 or 40 feet for heaters in the back yard. It wasn't very expensive and it was fast and trouble free. Also, I think some of the EVSE come with 30' cords. With that much length you could have the connector curbside and the the EVSE inside with the excess cable on a retractor. Again you can't put it on the ground but in places like Alaska and Minnesota condo complexes have outlets for block heaters. This isn't any different really. You just have to make sure the pedestal matches the house.
 

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This looks quite complex. Agreed with DocC.. get a quote from a regular electrician. It will need to be up (Mayeb some type of small box in your parking spot? ) Could make it a "saftey light" as well.

Any light poles in your townhouse complex? (They already have a power conduit-- so would be a more natural place to install).
 

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Why not just have a 240V outlet curbside and plug the EVSE into that?
That is the big problem - right now the NEC has no provision (it would appear) for plug connected level 2 chargers that are located outdoors. That means the options available are pole mount the charger near the curb or do something like he's proposing. I'm not sure of the feasibility of a J1772 "extension cord" which seems to be the proposal here. You *MIGHT* be able to cobble this together but it would likely be the first of it's kind and as was pointed out will be expensive and unique.
 

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It will be interesting to see how this goes... Medical disability has derailed a Volt (among many other things) for my immediate future. However, when it may happen in the future I will be dealing with indoor condo parking. Charging solutions may expand with portable plug in options like a big clothes dryer plug. If it already is an option?? These would also benefit when a move occurs.

Dave
 

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You might want to consider contacting Charge Point America to see if they could put a public charging station in. I noticed there is a condo / apartment complex in Westland MI (http://chargepointamerica.com/charging-find-stations.php). They have a link to suggest charging stations (http://chargepointamerica.com/charging-request-station.php). Presently, most stations (paid for by the Department of Energy / stimulus program, but that's another story / debate) are not charging (sorry, requiring money) for the use of the stations.

Of course, if you managed to get one installed, you might be in competition with other PEV owners in the future. Not sure if this will help in your case, but it's being done, and it sounds like a much better solution than going through SPX (my experience dealing with them wasn't great, and I had a VIN).
 

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Plus, you'll likely not want to leave the line live when not being used, requiring a shut off of the unit in the basement.
The 240V line will not be live until the unit in the basement detects a successful connection with the Volt.
 

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I went through a long process with my condo board to do a very similar approach to your design. The only difference with me was instead of putting the 240 charger in the basement, I was going to run a 240V line from my basement panel and then put in a 4' fence post at the edge of the sidewalk next to the parking spot and mount the 240V EVSE to the pole. They are outdoor rated and this seemed to be the best solution. I did get an electrician quote for about $1500 for the work and less if I helped dig the trench to reduce labor costs.

Alas, after months of fighting with my board they refused to allow me to install the charger since the parking spots were common elements and they have the right to refuse any changes. They sighted technology not being advanced enough and no one else was doing it yet and they didn't want to be pioneers. I plan on buying a single family house within the next year so I gave up and just charge at work for the time being.
 

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That is the big problem - right now the NEC has no provision (it would appear) for plug connected level 2 chargers that are located outdoors.
I was thinking of a portable solution. Wouldn't both the SPX Power or the modified Leaf EVSE plug into a standard dryer outlet? They, and the Volt EVSE for that matter, are rated for outdoor use.

One of the issues you raise is that while on one side of the EVSE you only have power, on the other you have the communication protocol(s). No problem running extensions and connecting on the power side but it gets more complicated on the protocol side. I'm thinking he will have trouble adding a connector on the protocol side.

Alas, after months of fighting with my board they refused to allow me to install the charger since the parking spots were common elements and they have the right to refuse any changes.
This is why I hate condo boards (been on a couple). No offense intended but parking lots are not exactly scenic and adding a post isn't going to seriously detract from the vistas.

The other problem is that they always meet at night when people are tired from their day, so decision fatigue means anything different or new will always get a "no".
 

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Hi Steve, sorry to hear that the condo board does not have the will to do the right thing. I think in the future, that having a charging station at a condo will be a selling point. I think at this point, politically thinking, and I run into this often, a good number of people are against electrification of the automobile. My boss is one of them, and I have offered to let him drive the car, but he is of the conviction that it is an expensive golf cart, go figure. He listens to FOX News. Any way owning your own home or at least a condo with garage, will be your ultimate salvation from this situation. Good luck!

Pat
 

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One of the things I find frustrating is a comment like he listens to Fox News. Please don't confuse Fox News with the Fox talk shows. I listen to Fox and believe a lot, but not all of what they is factual. By the way I still want a volt even though my politics are to the right of center.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone for your comments! I have updated the original post as per all of the above as of this post.

My main outstanding action is to have a certified electrician inspect this proposal for feasibility and a quote.
 

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I don't have a condo board to deal with but I do have a strong-handed and sometimes difficult community association. So I tried a stealth solution which is described in this thread: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?10095-My-Personal-Outdoor-Curbside-120-240V-Charging-Station. Nothing is visible when the car is not charging. I even have plugs of artificial turf covering the curb side stand hole andoutlet. If you didn't know the hardware was there, you'd never even notice. The photos do not show the set up when it's in stealth mode but I'd be happy to post them,

Have you suggested this kind of solution?

I went through a long process with my condo board to do a very similar approach to your design. The only difference with me was instead of putting the 240 charger in the basement, I was going to run a 240V line from my basement panel and then put in a 4' fence post at the edge of the sidewalk next to the parking spot and mount the 240V EVSE to the pole. They are outdoor rated and this seemed to be the best solution. I did get an electrician quote for about $1500 for the work and less if I helped dig the trench to reduce labor costs.

Alas, after months of fighting with my board they refused to allow me to install the charger since the parking spots were common elements and they have the right to refuse any changes. They sighted technology not being advanced enough and no one else was doing it yet and they didn't want to be pioneers. I plan on buying a single family house within the next year so I gave up and just charge at work for the time being.
 

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No condominium charging access

I am in a similar bind to VIN#B-2018. Under Colorado law, the condominium must have a limited common element, like assigned parking space, not a general common element, a roaming first-come parking space, to ensure charging for an electric vehicle. I am learning plenty of new concepts in real estate law. My condominium is exempt from the Colorado electric vehicle charging station law. Therefore, I have no right to charge my vehicle at home. Condominiums fall into two categories: limited common property and general common property. I live with a roaming interest in general common property, not an assigned interest. There are much bigger barriers to Chevrolet Volt entry than I conceived when I purchased the vehicle.


Summary from property management:


1. Not sure it makes sense in a 'unit' other than the Commercial units in the garage. I'm OK if Copper chooses to do it for their specific parking spaces, so long as it is on their meter.
2. VS parking is GCE not LCE, so it does not qualify, nor is it reasonable since parking is open and 'as available'. [Except when the HOA closes parking to restricted-deed owners and certain other occupants. I can see the value of my condominium dropping every moment, like the recent collapse of the Chinese stock market.]
3. What is the management’s responsibility towards interpreting law on behalf of its HOA’s (something for me to figure out)
 

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I don't think you can put the plug in the curb as you are showing in the diagram. It would be a water/shock hazard, especially in the snow/melting snow/ice/rain. You will likely need some sort of box or recessed outlet designed to be in the ground with proper GFI protection and weather proofing. Of course, it would be subject to salt or other ice melting chemicals.

I think you will need some sort of pole to mount the unit and/or receptacle on.
 

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Last week my girlfriend and I were busy shopping for a condo in the Denver suburbs. This same problem was a major issue for me while trying to find a home for her to buy. How the heck am I going to charge my Volt? So I feel your pain.

What about a solution like this? A pain in the butt to keep track of, meaning picking it up before and after each snowfall, but easier than trenching and running outdoor electric. Ask your condo association if they can live with this:

http://www.amazon.com/Traffic-Pedestrian-Modular-Drop-Over-Concealer/dp/B0050A32H8

(Also, I see a problem installing an outlet on the curb.... I guarantee the snowplows will rip it apart, unless you also install a concrete based steel pole to protect it.)

Just a thought. This was an idea I had last week.

Good luck,

Dan
 

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Hey All,
I am in the same situation here in SW Denver. I have been running a cord out to the my Volt and laying it in the control joint across the sidewalk. Only doing that as a last resort. I am fortunate that I have a Ford dealer .4 miles away that lets me use their port when Closed (Sundays) and a Nissan Dealer that has been cool about me using theirs .8 miles away and a Whole Foods with ChargePoint 1.3 miles away. It is frustrating though because this would be a non issue if we had purchased an optional garage when we bought the condo!
Later
 
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