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Should GM improve the power cord and plug on the 120 volt Voltec Charger?

  • Yes. Mine gets hot! This needs to be fixed.

    Votes: 33 42.9%
  • No. It's fine.

    Votes: 44 57.1%
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I guess SPX should, just to be safe. But It doesn't really seem very critical. 16 AWG should be fine as long as quality is maintained in the wire and I have no reason to doubt SPX.
 

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A good plug is always needed. Especially for something like the Volt EVSE which will likely see many cycles and a reasonably long continuous use.
True for the outlet too tho. Home owner needs a good quality one for that as it may be plug / unplugged a lot. Loose or even slightly loose connections leads to heat. A good plug and a poor outlet still leads to a problem ... it would seem.
 

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On a side note. GM does not make the Volt EVSE. SPX does.
On a side-side note, I don't believe SPX makes the 120V Volt EVSE either. My understanding is it's made by an OEM for GM. I don't believe the OEM's name is attached to it.

SPX makes the 240V Voltec EVSE, not the 120V EVSE that comes with the car.
 

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When I had GM and an engineer from the manufacturer of the 120V EVSE pay me a house call at work (I went through several of the 120V EVSEs when I first got my Volt) the engineer did NOT come from SPX.

While SPX is responsible for the 240V Voltec EVSE, I don't think they have anything to do with the 120V EVSE that ships with the car. That's made for GM by an OEM.
 

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I did tests on mine when I first got the Volt. After reading the manual about NOT using extension cords, I realized that unless I added an outlet closer to the parking space I would need to run one. I tried several 12 gauge cords strung together once, but one of the sockets was loose and that junction got hot. (Not at the charger plug, but in the middle of my extension cords.) I went right out and bought a 10 gauge cord with 20 amp rated hardware and solved the heat problem. I eventually had a 20 amp outlet wired over to the car when I had the 240V EVSE installed. The long cord now travels with the 120V EVSE in the car.

I have never had the plug on the 120V EVSE get more than slightly warm using good quality outlets, even on an extension cord. (if you must use an extension cord, make sure it is the proper gauge for the length you need. My 50 foot 10 gauge runs cool!)

It should actually be slightly difficult to push the plug into a good outlet, if it just seems to slide in, I'd think about replacing it, or finding another one...
 

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The 120 chargers are only used for remote charging here. Dual SPX 240 chargers installed in the garage now and they seem solid like a rock so far.
 

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On a side-side note, I don't believe SPX makes the 120V Volt EVSE either. My understanding is it's made by an OEM for GM. I don't believe the OEM's name is attached to it.

SPX makes the 240V Voltec EVSE, not the 120V EVSE that comes with the car.
Rusty i'm not 100% certain and very well could be wrong on this point but I thought I've read at one point that SPX is the supplier for the 120V EVSE.

Edit : I am wrong LEAR makes the 120V EVSE for the Volt
 

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When I had GM and an engineer from the manufacturer of the 120V EVSE pay me a house call at work (I went through several of the 120V EVSEs when I first got my Volt) the engineer did NOT come from SPX.

While SPX is responsible for the 240V Voltec EVSE, I don't think they have anything to do with the 120V EVSE that ships with the car. That's made for GM by an OEM.
I found from a previous thread from WOT that LEAR makes the 120V EVSE for the Volt. In fact the 240V EVSE that SPX uses is also made by LEAR.
http://www.pluginrecharge.com/p/evse-vendors.html
 

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Yes definitely it should be upgraded! For safety and quality control and quality expectation reasons. My wire sheath is fraying and I'm going to the dealer for a replacement.
 

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I have not had any issues with the 120V EVSE which I use and pack/unpack daily, but the sheer number of people who have on these forums would suggest that a real problem does exist, perhaps only under certain conditions or perhaps only for certain EVSEs due to poor QC.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
I do understand that the 120 volt Voltec charger that ships with every new Volt is probably supplied by an OEM contractor. But GM is putting their name on it and GM is ultimately responsible when it fails. (And it does. A lot.) Even if GM did not design the unit they certainly can influence the OEM contractor to improve the plug. GM's reputation is on the line here. All the millions of advertising dollars spent on TV and print can be vaporized by just a few negative press reports of more Volt related fires or melting chargers.

I also want to make it clear that I have nothing against China nor the Chinese people. But when you make a decision to use a Chinese OEM contractor to supply any part... You must maintain stringent quality control... Or you may not get what you paid for.
 

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I had my EVSE replaced six months ago because the cord to the car was pulling out from the unit. I am due to receive another replacement next week for the same issue. In addition to that problem (which is easily fixed with a better grommet) I have had two "melt downs" at the power connection. I speculate that this was due to a poor connection mixed with humidity and corrosion on the brass connection.

I use the 120 EVSE exclusively. Over the course of a year I have plugged it in and out hundreds of times as I moved between home and work. There were at least two times when there was a bad connection (leading to a meltdown). Multiply this by a few thousand (ultimately hundreds of thousands of Volts) and statistically someone will end up burning their house down. This is a sticky problem for GM since there is little they can do about the socket that the EVSE is connected to. However they will likely be blamed for the fire and legally they may have some liability. I believe this is going to be the next Volt controversy.

This is what GM should do with the 120V EVSE:

(1) Beef up the wire between the EVSE and the outlet with 12 gauge wire.
(2) Increase the length of the wire between the EVSE and the outlet so that owners have little need for an extension cord and are not tempted to use one (this decreases the possibility of intervening connection problems).
(3) Replace the cheap plug with a high quality fire proof plug that is nickel plated and resistant to corrosion.
(4) Put a heat sensor in the plug to dectect a potential overheating condtion.

These changes will probably cost GM less than $20 and it will protect their Volt owners from fire and themselves from liability.
 

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My 2011 EVSE definitely runs a lot hotter than the one comes with my 2012. But I have avoided using my 2011 ones by using level 2 so thus far my 2011 EVSE hasn’t suffer any discoloration or melting yet. If I am not mistaken the #2 by PoisonArrowFrog is actually related to UL regulation so not likely to be changed. I do support the idea of upgrading the material used in the EVSE. ;)
 

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2) This wire length to the outlet is limited by the J1772 standard. Bummer.

The other suggestions definitely need to be incorporated into a revised EVSE.

This is what GM should do with the 120V EVSE:

(1) Beef up the wire between the EVSE and the outlet with 12 gauge wire.
(2) Increase the length of the wire between the EVSE and the outlet so that owners have little need for an extension cord and are not tempted to use one (this decreases the possibility of intervening connection problems).
(3) Replace the cheap plug with a high quality fire proof plug that is nickel plated and resistant to corrosion.
(4) Put a heat sensor in the plug to dectect a potential overheating condtion.

These changes will probably cost GM less than $20 and it will protect their Volt owners from fire and themselves from liability.
 

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I am not an engineer but this is the experience I had with the charge cords and the measured temps. First when I started noticing the cord getting very hot I had a electrician come out and install a new outlet and check the breaker and wire from the breaker to the outlet . He said I had a 20a breaker and 12g wire to it and all looked good. I have had my Volt since 12/30/2011 and did not notice the overheating cord right away but after I did I used a Fluke (laser?) thermometer to measure the temps.
Of course the cord comes on a reel and it does not say to uncoil it when in use and of course that does make a mess so I left it on the reel. The first cord measured 177deg F with it on the reel measured on the outer layer of cord around the reel --on the face of the reel unit itself it was 153 deg--plug head 157deg and cord near plug 160--receptacle 166deg--cord by car connector 117deg.
After the outlet was checked and changed and I took the cord off the reel it did not get better(this is on the second cord supplied by the dealer. Plug head 165deg--side of bare reel 157deg--receptacle 175 deg cord by car connector 115deg.
Than with out changing any thing else I got the third cord from GM.
The temps dropped quite a bit--plug face 123deg---cord by car connector 108deg--side of bare reel on right side151--side of bare reel left side 136deg--face of reel 126deg---cord 12in down from reel 99deg.

I now could touch the reel without burning myself but I still left the cord off the reel. The cord still seems ok (3rd one) so it looks to me that the Quality control is very bad and I have seen many people complain about this and it is a worry. GM did a great job on the fire problem with the batt. so they should fix this cord problem before they get some fires from this crappy quality cord.

Roy
#272
 

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I'll just copy what I wrote on another thread but I do think the cords quality varys greatly.


I am not an engineer but this is the experience I had with the charge cords and the measured temps. First when I started noticing the cord getting very hot I had a electrician come out and install a new outlet and check the breaker and wire from the breaker to the outlet . He said I had a 20a breaker and 12g wire to it and all looked good. I have had my Volt since 12/30/2011 and did not notice the overheating cord right away but after I did I used a Fluke (laser?) thermometer to measure the temps.
Of course the cord comes on a reel and it does not say to uncoil it when in use and of course that does make a mess so I left it on the reel. The first cord measured 177deg F with it on the reel measured on the outer layer of cord around the reel --on the face of the reel unit itself it was 153 deg--plug head 157deg and cord near plug 160--receptacle 166deg--cord by car connector 117deg.
After the outlet was checked and changed and I took the cord off the reel it did not get better(this is on the second cord supplied by the dealer. Plug head 165deg--side of bare reel 157deg--receptacle 175 deg cord by car connector 115deg.
Than with out changing any thing else I got the third cord from GM.
The temps dropped quite a bit--plug face 123deg---cord by car connector 108deg--side of bare reel on right side151--side of bare reel left side 136deg--face of reel 126deg---cord 12in down from reel 99deg.

I now could touch the reel without burning myself but I still left the cord off the reel. The cord still seems ok (3rd one) so it looks to me that the Quality control is very bad and I have seen many people complain about this and it is a worry. GM did a great job on the fire problem with the batt. so they should fix this cord problem before they get some fires from this crappy quality cord.

Roy
#272

Last edited by RDO CA; 1 Hour Ago at 11:28 AM.
 

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I do understand that the 120 volt Voltec charger that ships with every new Volt is probably supplied by an OEM contractor. But GM is putting their name on it and GM is ultimately responsible when it fails.
I have no problem at all with people saying GM (and their OEM) need to improve the quality of the 120V EVSE that comes with the Volt. I'm on my sixth one myself!

But there's no need to impugn the good name of SPX over the 120V EVSE. It's not their fault. And in any case, they don't need any help besmirching their good name. They're quite good enough at it themselves with their customer service!
 

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How may times has it proved to be an old outlet and/or poor contacts? 9-10hrs at 1400kW is a lot. If your run your/a hair dryer in the same outlet for 9hrs does it's plug get hot. Ok, I realize you would not do that but it does make a point.
With all due respect Scott, that doesn't make the point. And so what if the problems are in the outlet?

Let's look at the facts. Tell me where I go wrong here...

1) The 120V charge unit is INTENDED for people to plug in for up to 10 straight hours in order to charge up their Volt.
2) As a portable unit, it is INTENDED for people to plug in to random 120V outlets wherever they may find themselves. Whether that's an outlet at home, work, a friend's home, a hotel, a rest stop, the grocery store, etc. Basically, anywhere they can find a 120V exterior outlet they should be able to plug in.

Given the above I would argue the following:

1) The wiring should be such that heat buildup is NEVER an issue. If it's an issue, the charge unit is defective.
2) If the outlet is less than optimal, the unit should be able to protect itself from meltdown. There is no way for the layperson to know if there's a floating ground in an outlet. No way to know if underground wiring somewhere is in a conduit filling with water in the rain. No way to know if there's a nick in the wiring somewhere. And those things all happen. The portable unit should be able to deal with it - even if that means it trips itself off - without melting itself down.
 

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2) This wire length to the outlet is limited by the J1772 standard. Bummer.
I hear that all the time. But why not an adjustable kickstand? Kind of like the handle coming out of the top of most rolling luggage these days only in reverse. A handle that you can pull out of the bottom of the charge unit 6, 12, or 18 inches on detents so the unit can rest on the ground without hanging by the plug.
 

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The charger cord - mainly the 110v plug end - got warm when charging my 2012 volt. IMHO - it should never get warm - poor design.

The plug for my level 2 charger remains at ambient temperature. The one that comes with our Volts should do the same.
 
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