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2022 Bolt EUV LT, Silver Flair Metallic (packages: Driver Confidence, Comfort, Convenience)
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I'd appreciate any advice from anyone with electrical experience. And please forgive me if/when I use the wrong terminology.....

The Qmerit contractor came yesterday morning and said there is an issue with the wiring. He did not start the job, but said he would need to look at different options for me. The house was built in 2006, and the builder used aluminum instead of copper wire for the main line that runs between the meter outside and the breaker panel inside the house. I saw the wiring... it's definitely aluminum. There is room for a 40 amp breaker but the electrician said he was concerned about the load it would put on the main line.

I spoke with him later and he said he was looking into three options. One option would be to upgrade everything by replacing the panel, wiring, and meter box, which obviously will be expensive. Another option he's looking into is a load shedder (?) which would cut power to the charging station I bought, he said for example when I'm also using the electric stove.

A third option he said is to "replace the meter" with one that also has its own breaker slots and run power to the charging station directly from it. He said "replace the meter" not the meter box. I don't know if he means also replace the meter itself or just the meter box.

I actually prefer to run the new line directly from the meter. I'm in a 1,060-sq-ft townhouse attached to homes on each side of me with no garage. The charging station would mount on the front of my house, and the concrete parking pad starts just a few feet away from the front wall. The meter is also located on the front wall, so I think wiring directly into the meter box is ideal. The electrician agreed, but he said that those combo meter/breaker boxes are in short supply, and because of that some sellers are price gouging them.

After the conversation I looked at Home Depot and saw some of these boxes. Of course maybe these aren't what he's describing. But if they are, then I'm worried that he's trying to play on my ignorance and add costs to the job.

I'm including pictures of my breaker panel's guts, the front of my home, one of the combo boxes that is currently in stock at my local Home Depot, and the Autel MaxiCharger AC Wallbox 40 amp charging station I bought. Any help or advice or new perspective is greatly appreciated!!
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Given the concern seems to be putting a 40A load on top of existing home uses of energy, I have to ask if it is really necessary to install a higher powered EVSE?

How much driving do you do daily?

I had a 30A EVSE for the first two years, and it was overkill for my 130 mile daily routine. I could have easily gotten by with a 24A EVSE, which would only require a 30A circuit.

It might be worth asking if a 30A circuit would get around all the other stuff. Since his concern seems to be using the EVSE pus a 30A Stove, the issue seems to be total load from the house.
 

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That’s an odd comment… most homes have aluminum from the meter to the box. Even at work with 1,000 amps of 480V, it’s aluminum.

From your pic, it’s hard to see what your total load is, but ARob is absolutely correct that you could just run a 40, 30, or even 20 amp circuit and charge at a lower rate. There’s a dip switch inside the Autel Maxicharger that allows to go set a charge limit for lower circuits.
 

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I am guessing that the panel is 100A or such. There is nothing wrong with that aluminum line to the panel so question why he would even consider replacing it. Adding a new meter is a good way to really increase your power delivery, but that is going to really cost more than you probably would want to spend.

If your panel is taxed from the additional dedicated circuit of 50A, then an electrical load shedder should suit your needs for a circuit of that capacity. Or as Rob suggests, find out exactly how big of a circuit your panel can handle without a shedding device. You might find that it can handle a big enough circuit to handle your needs. But if it’s lower than a 40 amp, you will need to get a different charger than the dual level OEM cord, as it is 32A at 240, which means it requires a 40A dedicated circuit.

It sounds like that particular electrician really likes to spend other people’s money.
 

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2022 Bolt EUV LT, Silver Flair Metallic (packages: Driver Confidence, Comfort, Convenience)
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the quick replies!

ARob: I do a lot of local driving for work, typically 75 to 100 miles per day, but I need to be prepared for more travel if needed. I can plug in the car every night, and it would be rare to have less than 12 hours for overnight charging.

jmcbrew: Yes the Autel station has a selector to limit the power output, and I pointed this out to the electrician. I bought the 40 amp Autel after reading about the 125% rule, so I assumed I would set the EVSE at 32 amps. But I think 24 amps would work too.

Martin D: The breaker panel is 125 amps, while the meter is listed CL200. (Love the avatar, btw... Ack!)

I should hear back from the electrician this afternoon. He said he needed to do some research and see if my city building inspector had any requirements.
 

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The way I understand it, the QMerit program minimum standard is to install service to safely operate the 32A 14-50 Trunk EVSE to NEC rules. NEC will allow a 14-50 outlet to also operate on a 40A breaker but the outlet must be labeled "40A Max". I may be wrong, but I do not believe they will install anything lower amps. Ask your electrician QMerit sent.

In your case, the QMerit sponsored electrician may not want to assume liability if the box can barely handle 40A (32A load).

IMO, opt out of QMerit, pay a local electrician for a 30A line + Sub panel, hardwired to a 24A EVSE of your choice (80% rule). You could even drop to a 10-3 wire (30A max) as a cost savings if you never plan to upgrade your box. The electrician will install a 30A at the main box and another 30A at the garage sub panel. I future proofed to 6-3 (55A max) wire on my 30A breaker. Keep in mind, this route will not work with your trunk 32A EVSE, you must buy a 24A aftermarket.

Grizzl-e and Clipper Creek both offer 24A units -- about 18MPH charging

Hope this is helpful, I am not an electrician but DIY researched this way too much!
 

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Thanks for the quick replies!

ARob: I do a lot of local driving for work, typically 75 to 100 miles per day, but I need to be prepared for more travel if needed. I can plug in the car every night, and it would be rare to have less than 12 hours for overnight charging.

jmcbrew: Yes the Autel station has a selector to limit the power output, and I pointed this out to the electrician. I bought the 40 amp Autel after reading about the 125% rule, so I assumed I would set the EVSE at 32 amps. But I think 24 amps would work too.

Martin D: The breaker panel is 125 amps, while the meter is listed CL200. (Love the avatar, btw... Ack!)

I should hear back from the electrician this afternoon. He said he needed to do some research and see if my city building inspector had any requirements.
I think your contractor is erring way more than a little on the conservative side. If you take a photo of the panel’s breakers, I am certainly not seeing anything major going on from the partial photo of the upper breakers. I see 3 dual-pole at the top. I might assume that you have AC, a dryer, and an electric range. Even with all of those going at the same time, that would add to a max of 88A. So you can’t charge the car while pulling the absolute maximum load from the AC, with a load spinning in the dryer, while you have a turkey in the oven and every burner all going at the same time, and the house lit up for a semi-blind person to be able to see. So exactly when does that happen?

You should be good with at least a 40A circuit and be able to use the Autel at the 32A setting without a power shedder. Maybe if you have a 240v circuit to a swimming pool pump you could use the shedder to make sure you don’t exceed your panel’s max, but even if you do, it will just throw the breaker, which would tell you that you need a power shedder. And don’t dry clothes and/or cook while you’re charging your car. A 32A will give you a full charge from empty in about 8 hours max.

The contractor is eyeing a new truck from the profit from your job LOL
 

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I have to ask if it is really necessary to install a higher powered EVSE?
I'll second this.
I have my 240v EVSE set at 10 amps all the time now (16 amps max.). My wife charges on 120v at 12 amps. It takes an extraordinary circumstance to have a need for maximum A/C charging at home.
 

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As others have said, Aluminum wiring isn't really the problem, he was probably talking about the gauge. If your main panel is only 125 A, then you may need to upgrade unless you decide to stick with 120 V charging as others have said. I'm surprised that a home built in 2006 only has 125 A service.

If you do upgrade your panel, check with your local utility provider first. I just upgraded from 150 to 200 A service which included a new line from the meter to the main panel and a whole new main panel, and my utility provider (PSE&G NJ) paid for $1,500 of that work (the max they were giving).
 

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The lower amp circuit would be fine. We use the OEM 21 EV EVSE at my inlaws on a 15AMP 240V plug I installed and that gives us the ablilty to charge from 20% SOC to 80% SOC in 12-18 hours depending on how cold it is out. So we can go there for the weekend which is 130-140 miles drive. plug in at 8PM and by 9am-1PM the next day we are back to 80%. so you could put a 30 AMP circuit and a 24 AMP dip setting on the charger and likely be fine. The EVSE you bought says it can go from 6-32 Amp so that should be fine
 

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Thanks for the quick replies!

I do a lot of local driving for work, typically 75 to 100 miles per day, but I need to be prepared for more travel if needed. I can plug in the car every night, and it would be rare to have less than 12 hours for overnight charging.
You could almost cover that with 120V charging. I don’t know about you, but my car is plugged in for at least 14 hours a night. At 240V 16 amps, that’s over 50kW. At the average of 3.9 miles per kWh, that’s close to 200 miles of range. At 20kW you could fill the Bolt from zero to full in less than 14 hours.
 

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Given the concern seems to be putting a 40A load on top of existing home uses of energy, I have to ask if it is really necessary to install a higher powered EVSE?

How much driving do you do daily?

I had a 30A EVSE for the first two years, and it was overkill for my 130 mile daily routine. I could have easily gotten by with a 24A EVSE, which would only require a 30A circuit.

It might be worth asking if a 30A circuit would get around all the other stuff. Since his concern seems to be using the EVSE pus a 30A Stove, the issue seems to be total load from the house.
This is how I understood it, too… but a forum member recently had a QMerit installer put in a 20 amp (NEMA 6-20) outlet.
[/QUOTE

They quoted me $2600 for 50ft run from my 200 amp service. I can get 600v copper from eBay 50ft. $37, 50 amp breaker $15, outlet $15. That’s one **** of mark up and Chevy only pays $100.
 

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I am an engineer and recently did a load calc on my house per the 2020 NEC code. Your electrician can certainly do the same. There is no need for your electrician to make a judgement call, the calc is black and white. There are online quick versions if you want to do yourself. Do not replace wiring and/or panel unless a last resort. The load sharing device, if necessary, is cheaper/easier and meets code. If you have electric heat/stove/oven/hot water, 125A may not be enough for 32A charging.

Your pic may be a subpanel by the way. Where is the 125A main breaker?
 

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A solution to the replace/upgrade the panel problem that has intrigued me is a meter collar. ConnectDER has one that is being used for solar PV and EV installations in situations where a panel upgrade may otherwise be required.

I have no idea what it costs at this point. Nor have I really put much time into researching it. It's just something that I have filed away in the back my head for if/when the tenants at my rental house ask about installing an EVSE. My meter is right next to the parking area.
 

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A solution to the replace/upgrade the panel problem that has intrigued me is a meter collar. ConnectDER has one that is being used for solar PV and EV installations in situations where a panel upgrade may otherwise be required.

I have no idea what it costs at this point. Nor have I really put much time into researching it. It's just something that I have filed away in the back my head for if/when the tenants at my rental house ask about installing an EVSE. My meter is right next to the parking area.
These are very cost effective and work well. They're just still really new and not available in all areas yet. We have them here that also can be used in power failures to connect a generator to the house bypassing the meter. you plug in and it removes you from the grid. You feed into your panel and turn off the breakers you don't need poweed, when the power comes back you just pull the plug and the meter starts feeding again. I think they are going to have these collars that allow the 3. Solar/generator in, EVSE and other High draw right after the meter bypassing the need for upgrades to the panel or a switch and dummy panel for a generator.
 

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Is there an unused 30A circuit behind your clothes dryer? If not, a Dryer Buddy can get you 24A at 240V from your electric dryer circuit.

This assumes your clothes dryer is in a location convenient for EV charging nearby.

If the 30A dryer circuit is unused, you might be able to repurpose it to an EVSE with no impact to your house loads.
 
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