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Discussion Starter #1
Just drove home a new '15 Volt and am deciding on how to best set up my home charging station. I could really use some knowledgable advice, preferably from electricians or others who've fully researched this. (I didn't see a "Volt/EV 101" section in the FAQ, so please excuse if these are covered elsewhere.)

I want to start with just the 110v setup since it's likely all that I'll need, and want to install a dedicated Volt circuit. My assumption is that I want to go with a 20a circuit vs. a 15a, which would mean running 12 gage wire. Contrary opinions on any part of that thought welcome!

But my next question is: If I wanted to future-proof this for a possible 220v charger later, are there downsides (aside from materials cost for the wire) to run heavier gage to support that use, and running 110v over it in the meantime? I didn't know if there might be resistance issues, being limited in my electrical knowledge to things like "don't touch that."

I figured if I had 220v-ready wire running from my circuit box to the charging area, my costs for an electrician would be quite a bit lower, maybe keeping it under an hour. But if it's a bad idea to run 110v over that heavier gage wire, I guess I would just run a fish wire in the conduit along side the 12 gage, for future wire pulls of the heavier stuff if I do want to upgrade.

BTW, this is probably a quick Google search away, but if any of you electrical-savvy types are answering my other questions and have thoughts on what the 220v wire should be, that would be welcome too!

Thanks,
Allen
 

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Running heavier gauge wire will not affect the circuit, only the cost of materials. I too had mine done that way when I first purchased the Volt until a few months later when I decided to purchase the 220v charger, as I too assumed the 110v was all I needed.

You are also correct, it will take a electrician about 20 minutes to add breaker and outlet.

Ensure you have available space on the breaker box you will use for this, for the 20a breaker, and that the breaker box, in case you have more than one in your home, will be able to support the future 20a circuit
 

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If you are going to have an electrician come, I would do everything 220/240 volt now, it is so much faster and more efficient than 120 V 12 A charging. Also, since the Volt on 120 V only uses 12 A or 8 A, a 15 A circuit is adequate (15 * 0.8 = 12 A continuous rating).

For 220/240 V the Volt runs 14 A continuous (so a 20 A wiring is what you need). The current Volt only has a 3.3 kW charger which allows about 10 miles range per hour, but a 240 V 40 A circuit would allow 32 amp continuous charging or about 7.7 kW charging, for any future EV you might buy. This would be more like 20 or 25 miles range per hour. I am going to wire my house for 240 V 40 A, not for the Volt, but because I plan on buying future electrical vehicles and 20 to 25 mile range would let me recharge 200 mile range over-night. Tesla supports 10k charging which needs 50 A wiring, but this is honestly faster charging than I would ever need. I might still put in 50 A wiring though just in case.
 

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Having a thicker wire will actually reduce the losses in the line.
If the distance is short it wont make a big difference, but if it is long, it can be noticeable.
I wired using a #10 gage.
 

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I want to start with just the 110v setup since it's likely all that I'll need, and want to install a dedicated Volt circuit. My assumption is that I want to go with a 20a circuit vs. a 15a, which would mean running 12 gage wire. Contrary opinions on any part of that thought welcome!
15 amp is fine for the Volt. If you like more overhead a 20 amp circuit is fine. Cost difference is negligible.

But my next question is: If I wanted to future-proof this for a possible 220v charger later, are there downsides (aside from materials cost for the wire) to run heavier gage to support that use, and running 110v over it in the meantime? I didn't know if there might be resistance issues, being limited in my electrical knowledge to things like "don't touch that."
For the Volt gen1 and gen2 a 30 amp line is fine for 240VAC. If you get a Clipper Creek LCS25-P (the most common IIRC) it will require a 30 amp line. For other EVs or "future proofing", well that depends on what and when. Figure for at least 50 amp. Both circuits can be in the same conduit so long as the EMT is large enough. An electrician can make that calculation for you.

.....being limited in my electrical knowledge to things like "don't touch that."
Sounds like a good plan. Hire a pro.
 

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I am not an electrician. My advice should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, I did do some research and have done some significant wiring in the past.

The night before I brought my Volt home, I went out and got some 12 gauge wire and a 15 amp circuit breaker along with the highest quality 15 amp socket that the big box store could sell me. I installed a dedicated 15 amp circuit for the 110V charger while I considered the 220V setup for later.

My understanding:
-You only need a 15 amp circuit breaker for the 110V setup
- Get a good outlet
- 12 guage wire will mean less resistance (and less heat up) than the 14 gauge that might normally be used for a 15 amp circuit. -The 15 amp breaker will do a good job of protecting this wire.

Later, I ran 8 gauge wire (less than 50 feet so it should be suitable for a 40 AMP circuit) and installed a 30 Amp breaker and a 14-30R plug (Setup for my Clipper Creek LSC 25 with 14-30 plug). So for this 220V setup, I again used the next larger rated wire than what I needed. These wires should not get to warm under the 16Amp load of the Volts 220V charging mode. In the future, I could change the breaker to 40Amps and hardwire in a new higher capacity charger. I probably should have used 6 gauge wire to allow for a 50 Amp circuit down the road but I decided the 8 gauge was enough for now.

I generally agree with Mister Dave, hire a pro. It is good to know what he is doing, however, and how that might affect your future upgrades or options. Running wire can be a real pain in some houses and you probably only want to do it once.
 

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Oh, I missed that you don't have any outlet nearby currently? (not even a 110/120 V 15 A circuit?)

My local code says I have to have at least 1 20 A circuit in my garage (not 15 A), so already covered here. The electricians will know your local code (most likely the national electric code plus any local adjustments, like the 20 A circuit for the garage in my community).

If you are having wire run, I would ask how much it would cost for 40 or 50 amp rated wire for future expansion. Your circuit breaker would still need to be appropriate for your EVSE and/or outlet. Again, I would probably just go 240 V all the way (20 amp wiring at a minimum, prefer 40 or 50 amp) if you are having wire run anyway. 120 volt 12 amp is fine, but don't think cost would be much more for 240 volt other than a new EVSE supporting 240 volt.

Also, just to clarify, 120 V and 240 V are utility ratings, 110 V and 220 V are the lowest you should expect to see in your house after line losses, so 110 and 120 are interchangeable and 220 and 240 interchangeable.
 

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I generally agree with Mister Dave, hire a pro. It is good to know what he is doing, however, and how that might affect your future upgrades or options. Running wire can be a real pain in some houses and you probably only want to do it once.
I generally agree with Nuclearboy. Overwiring is good. You can't be too safe with high throughput continuous power lines.

P.S. You could run two black, one white and one ground at 10 AWG, and you'd be covered up to 30 amps no matter what's at the other end. Finding a 120VAC receptacle that accepts 10 AWG wire might be a minor challenge. A 20 amp 120VAC receptacle might work (and might have bigger screw heads on the terminals), and should still accept your 15 amp plug as seen here:



Make sure you have a 4x4 junction box installed to accomodate the 240VAC receptacle later. A NEMA whatever receptacle might fit a 2x4 box, but it can be a tight fit.
 

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All good points but one thing I was wondering. MrEnergyCzar, did the local store have a sale on top soil in a bag? :p

For that 120 volt charger even if only on 14/2 wire, get a quality 20 amp plug even though you only will be running a 15 amp breaker.
 

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All power is 120V - for 240V circuits, you are just using two separate 120V legs.

For the OP, if you are running a wire, have the electrician pull the wire to support a 240V 30A circuit. Then have him set you up with one leg, 120V socket for now and make sure it can be changed over to a 240V circuit with a breaker change. Then when you do get the EVSE 240V L2 system, you can just use the pulled wire. I suggest you look at the plug-in versions from Clipper Creek.
 

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If you are able to arrive at a decision on what you want to do, you can purchase the items tonight and be qualified for the 30% federal tax credit. If you are able to arrange for an electrician today, his charges would also be eligible. Not good to make such decisions in haste, but it sounds like you are already most of the way to knowing what is the right thing for you.

Also, don't rule out getting an L2 charge immediately. Again, all of your costs for this and the installation would be eligible for the tax credit. But only through the end of the day. You may need to get creative to purchase everything today, but as long as your receipt is dated 12/31, it is eligible. A 30% discount makes getting an L2 EVSE pretty tempting for a lot of us. It adds a lot of convenience for some people. You wont have that tax credit if you make that decision after today.

You are in Washington State. You have time to pull it off. Home Depot is still open, electricians can be called and arrangements made, and if you are so inclined, an L2 EVSE can be ordered on line. If you go that route, don't fret, just get a Clipper Creek. Good stuff, best warranty around, and great service. I've never seen a post here where someone said something bad about a CC. There are threads on this forum about their products to help you figure out which one may be right for you.

I don't want to spend your money for you. I just want to make sure you are aware of your options and a good deal that is out there if you want to take advantage of it.

Steve
 

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I am the do it myself-er here on the forum, I wired my own circuit and built my own EVSE (I've built 5 Now), the first EVSE I built and still use everyday to charge my Volt I had to assemble the circuit board from just a printed circuit board(built 3 that way). I have worked for an electrician my Father-in-law, (great source of code knowledge) which I follow. I first ran a 12 gauge wire and used that for about a year, but when I was finishing my basement I decided to upgrade just in case I wanted to charge faster, my EVSE will do up to 30 A so I ran a 10 gauge wire. I don't think I will need that in the foreseeable future but I wanted to have it installed because doing it now would be much harder.

I would vote for the up sized 10 gauge if you are running it.
 

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All good points but one thing I was wondering. MrEnergyCzar, did the local store have a sale on top soil in a bag? :p

For that 120 volt charger even if only on 14/2 wire, get a quality 20 amp plug even though you only will be running a 15 amp breaker.
Very funny Sly... those are bags of wood pellets...
 

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The EVSE that came with my '12 died within a month. So far, its replacement has lasted 2 months with only minimal trouble. The replacement EVSE has detected a fault three times, one of them resulted in me driving on gas that day (gasp!). So I plan on an L2 EVSE soon as well.

My plan for future-proofing is to have an electrician install the breaker and wiring sized for 40A, per Tesla specs, in case I ever win the lottery. Next, I'm waiting on the Volt 2.0 announcement to see its max charge rate and I'll get an L2 unit that will meet that.
 

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I ran a 50 amp breaker with 6 gauge wire . The cost was minimal and can handle up to 10kw if I want to upgrade in the future .
 

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Discussion Starter #19
D'oh! I might have run out had I read this in time, I didn't realize that was an option. I guess I'll hope the tax credit gets extended to 2015.

Interesting process working with the Chevy dealer on the Volt purchase. They really should have some special training for Volt salesmen to be cognizant of things like this for customer service. My sales guy went the extra mile for me as far as a standard car sale went, but didn't even know that the Volt comes with 3 years of free OnStar instead of the 3 months he told me, which I'm guessing is the demo time on non-Volt (and maybe Spark EV) cars.

If I'm selling Volts, I'm telling my end of year customer just what you shared with me. Ah well, I get the impression that my dealer really doesn't sell many.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Wow, thanks!

That was a lot of great replies fast, thanks! A few follow up thoughts and questions:

I'm comfortable running a 120v circuit myself, the wiring and breaker stuff is known to me and as far as I can tell, no codes require a certified electrician to sign off on it. Everyone seems to indicate that is required for 240v though, so I'm trying to do the 90% of the job that is just general contracting vs. actual electrical. (Drilling through foundation, running conduit & wire, etc.) and let the electrician inspect & test my run and then hook it up at either end.

So the only "electrician" (stuff I don't know about) part of my work is selecting the proper wire to run for 240v service. Lots of great info in all the answers, and I feel like I'm almost there, but @bonaire's answer made me go look for clarity on the wiring for the two separate 120v legs. I found this:

http://www.nojolt.com/Understanding_240_volt_circuits.shtml

...which told me three things:
  • I should get wiring that has the non-white second wire to indicate it's hot, because painting a white one sounds like a fallible work-around I can avoid;
  • Other than that color coding, all I would need to worry about is gage, EXCEPT:
  • There's a 4-lead version for a different type of 240v, which I hadn't heard come up before and is brand new info to me!
For future-proofing, I wonder if that last 4-lead wire isn't best, since some EVSEs have digital displays, wifi, what have you that might require that extra 120v capability. (Not that I'd want wifi or maybe any of that, but future proofing includes making it flexible for potential buyers of the home later.)

BTW, I really appreciate the answers that refer to AWG ratings; since I'm buying it myself rather than having the electrician run it, specific AWG rating rather than what the wire supports is great. (I can just hear the big box guy answer when I say "I need wire that supports a 240v 30a circuit." – "Well, this probably would, I guess...")

...So here's what I think I have concluded from the collective answers, please let me know where I'm off-base!

  1. I can run the 4-lead wire for maximum future-proofing. (Thanks for making me look, @bonaire!)
  2. I should get the heaviest wire available, as long as I can:
  3. ...get the wires into a 20a 120v receptical for the time being while I'm running 120v. (Awesome tip, @Mister Dave! That's just the kind of thing that causes "D'oh!" moments when you're putting everything together and the hardware store is closed.)
  4. I might just say what the heck and buy a 240v EVSE now. (Probably would have if I'd thought about the tax credit!)
  5. For the time being, if I'm going to do 120v, I'd connect to a 20a circuit at the box.
  6. If I go 240v, I'll let the electrician supply the breaker but ask for a 40a. (Tesla owners unlikely in my neighborhood...)

I am setting this up for unsheltered driveway use, so I have a separate question about that at http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?151033-Driveway-setup-for-EVSE&p=2103321#post2103321, but I'll leave that discussion for that thread!

Grateful to everyone who answered, it's awesome to see what an active community this is. @viking79: Thanks for the concise and clear outline of Volt amperage options!
 
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