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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the market for a Bolt, probably going to get a used 2017. I'm trying to figure out my charging plan. I have an electrician coming tomorrow to look into what I would need for a level 2 charger in my garage. I have a few questions for those with more experience.

1. Do I even need a level 2 charger? I'd like to have one in case I run low on charge and am short on time, but the slow level 1 charge will be fine for 95% or more of my needs. There are some fast charging stations in my area but a home charger wound be more convenient.

2. Which charger should I get? I expect that a charger will come with the car but I assume there are better ones out there. I'd like to have something that connects to WiFi or has an app that lets me control what time it charges so I can take advantage of off peak electricity.

3. Should I get one hard wired or something I can plug in? Not sure if there are advantages one way or the other.

4. Any ideas on finding electricians who have done this before? I'm not sure how common this is in my area yet and I don't see electricians advertising home chargers as a service. I looked into going through Qmerit since I saw they help with charger installation on new Bolt purchases, but they want a deposit (refundable) just to finish the estimate.

Thanks.
 

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1. IMHO unless there is a specific circumstance that merits the installation of an L2 charger, like a daily trip average over 100 miles per day, staying at home less than 8 hours per day on average, or a limited time lower electrical rate at night, then it's worth trying L1 for no other reason than the fact it requires no additional electrical to start with. L1 recharges about 4 MPH on average. So, if the car is home 10 hours each night, and is driven on average 30 miles per day, L1 does just fine. You've already noted that you have DCFC as a backup when one of those 5% situations come along.

2. If you buy one, get one that fits your price. It's really a simple appliance that makes sure that the circuit is grounded, and limits the amount of power that can be pulled. Other than that it's an extension cord that turns on when plugged in. When one is buying an extension cord, one generally doesn't overthink it. As long as it's long enough, delivers enough power, and the price is right, then you're all good. BTW the features you described can be programmed directly into the Bolt. Also folks have had issues with some of the more fancy EVSE features when it comes to WIFI and scheduling. If you want it reliable, then keep it simple.

3. Plug in. You can take it with you temporarily or permanently.

4. If you are going to do this, don't even tell the electrician that it's for a charging station. Point to a spot on the wall and tell them you want a 40 or 50 amp 14-50 circuit at that spot. It's nothing special and any electrician can do it. Note that the closer the spot on the wall is to your electrical box, the cheaper the install will be.

If it were me, and it has been me, I wouldn't even bother worrying about installing a charging station until I actually had the car in hand. I got mine nearly 4 years ago and still charge using the L1 that came with the car almost all the time. It was 2 years in that I got 24 amp Bosch EVSE off Craigslist for less than $200. To this day, that unit is operating using a temporary shared outlet with the dryer. Gets used maybe once every two months or so. So, I strongly advise not diving into the deep end of the charging pool until you actually understand your needs.

ga2500ev
 

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1. Echo what @ga2500ev said. [email protected] (default) is .96kW, [email protected] (max L1 charge rate) is 1.44kW. This works out to 9.6 to 14.4 kWh in 10 hours of charging, and at an average efficiency of 4 mi/kWh, your added miles would be 38 to 58 miles.

2. Since you don't need top charging speeds for your daily driving needs, go for a price you are comfortable with.

3. Plug in, definitely. Don't need an electrician if you swap out or move, or need to take it on a trip.

4. Electrician costs will be about the same for whatever Amp circuit you install, components are not much different in price. So, future proof so you don't have to do it again, put in 50A breaker and NEMA 14-50 appliance outlet. Have them place the outlet directly below where you anticipate hanging an EVSE, most come with 12" cable to plug in to the outlet, so place the outlet accordingly. Even if you use a lower powered EVSE, 50A is safe and effective for any EVSE 40A or lower (never put more than 80% load on a circuit for long periods like charging an EV).

You should also know, the Bolt charging cord that comes stock with the car can be used on 240V with a home made (or possibly store bought) adapter that would plug in to your 14-50 outlet and have a 5-15 receptacle on the other end. This allows you to double charging to 2.88kW or about 115 miles in 10 hours. It is a bit of a hack, you can find more at this website. Some on this forum will caution against this, but many have used it successfully for years. Be sure to use some mechanism to prevent someone from unknowingly plugging a 120V device into the adapter, it could be dangerous or destructive.
 

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1. I would suggest getting a L2 charger eventually. 16A @ 240V is a big step up from 12A @ 120V.
2. I generally recommend ClipperCreek EVSEs. The Chevy OEM EVSE is made by them. I've had good luck picking up barely used 32A AmazingE ones on eBay. Also, check out power utility incentives. Smart chargers only make sense if the power utility gives you a break electricity pricing with one. The Bolt itself can be programmed to charge at certain hours only. The exact model might also depend on what circuit you end up installing.
3. Hardwired is safer, but again nobody wants to give up the convenience.
4. Just ask for a 14-50 socket. Before that, look for any sockets which are alone on their own circuit which might be converted easily into a 240V socket. Also, there are products out there for sharing electric dryer circuits.

Regarding future proofing... The Ford F-150 Lightning has an 80A charger on some models. I'd look the possibility of sizing conduit or conductor for 100A. I'm not so concerned about the marginal difference between 32A and 40A given the current trends.
 

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Good stuff already.

1. 120v L1 charging can recoup range at about 4 miles per hour of charging give or take. If that works for most of your needs then it's the cheapest option. There are some slight efficiency advantages to L2 charging because a shorter charging duration means the various systems required to operate during charging don't have to operate as long, among other efficiency advantages. In the Prius, it was 10% more efficient to charge L2 than L1, but I'm not sure about the Bolt.

2. If you buy an EVSE, I'd go with a 40 amp just to future proof. I'd get a smart charger for the reasons you mentioned, plus I geek out on data analysis. Might not be your thing though.

3. I prefer plug in since taking it with you is easy if you go on a trip or move, plus it can easily be upgraded in the future if something with better features comes out. The advantage of hard wiring is the connection is less prone to failure.

4. No experience with electricians. I wired in my own 14-50r for about $75 in materials. If you get a receptacle installed, I'd go with a 14-50r as it's the standard now.

* Bonus, the factory EVSE is capable of 240v even though it isn't mentioned. It's limited to 12 amps, so you won't get the full L2 capability of the Bolt, but at least it's twice as fast as L1 charging. You can get an adapter to convert your standard plug to a 240v outlet in your home and instantly double your charging speed. (2.88 kW vs 1.44 kW).
 

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Even if your weekly needs are more than L1 (120v) can provide (incl catch up charging through the weekend), you may want to avoid getting 240V and enjoy free L2 around town (if avail) and/or support your local DCFC. Depending on your local power rates, it may take YEARS to break even.
 

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Strong disagree on #1. Having an L2 charger at home will improve your experience of having an EV enormously, so unless it is a particularly difficult or expensive install due to the arrangement of your parking situation, it's a no-brainer. Can you get by without it? Possibly? But to experience the convenience of plugging in at home and always having enough charge in the morning is half the pleasure of having an EV. If you can afford it, by all means do it.
 

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Unless you have a large appetite for information, you don't need a smart charger. The Bolt will handle time of day charging, etc. The EVSE is really just a big relay that clicks on when the car tells it to.
 

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I drive about 100 miles a week under normal circumstances and I used the charger that came with the car for about 9 months. I finally got a L2 charger for those times when I wanted to take a trip or otherwise need to charge "quickly". There are a lot of online reviews of chargers but I went with one that's made in the US and has good customer service. ClipperCreek and JuiceBox (now Enel) met my criteria. I went with a non-wifi ClipperCreek refurb model and hardwired it due to my location, but plug in is more versatile because you can take it with you for a trip or if you move.
 

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I bought a L2 charger when I bought my Bolt 18 months ago, because Costco had it on sale at the time I bought the car. But in 18 months I've never bothered to put a 240V outlet at my house for the charger, because I've never needed to charge faster than L1. I work from home, so use the Bolt mainly for around-town trips, with occasional 100-mile trips (each way) to nearby cities. I use the OEM charger at home on a 120V outlet, and I keep the L2 charger in my car as a "travel charger". We have a cabin on a lake about 90 miles from home, and I did install a 240V outlet at the lake, because there were no existing outlets in the vicinity of the car. I often pull a boat to the lake with my Bolt, and that uses about 60% of the battery, so I recharge overnight (with the 16A L2 charger) and pull the boat back home at the end of the weekend. I get home from a weekend at the lake with the battery at about 40%, and I spend the next couple days charging it back to full (85%) on L1. On the rare occasion when I need to make a long trip Monday (which has not happened in 18 months), there is an L2 charger 2-3 blocks from my home where I could leave my car and walk home.

I'm a DIY type (and a EE), so I would probably put in the 240V outlet myself at home, at a fairly low cost. But I'm also lazy, and it just hasn't been worth the effort so far.

I don't understand the perspective that you need to fully charge the car overnight to enjoy it. But I get that different people see things differently. Do you fill the tank in your ICE car every night on the way home from work? I certainly never did. But I know some people never let their gas tank get below half full, while others will comfortably run it to E before stopping for gas. When people ask me about my Bolt, the first question is always "How long does it take to charge?" I explain the options, and then give the embarrassing response that on the 120V charger I use at home, it takes 3 DAYS to charge the battery from empty to full. That really is laughable, isn't it? But I then point out that YOU RARELY NEED TO CHARGE FROM EMPTY TO FULL. You only need to replace what you used the previous day, and 95% of the time, you don't even need to do that.

Because different people (including you) DO see things differently, I strongly agree with those who say you should just start with the OEM L1(/L2) and use it for a couple months to see how you feel using it. You will quickly learn about your own use patterns, and you'll learn where all the L2 & DCFC chargers are around you. In a few months, you'll be the one responding to new owner's questions about what type charging they need!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies. I don't know how people solved problems before the internet.

I test drove a Bolt a few months ago and already knew more than the dealer. The knowledge here is orders of magnitude higher.
 

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If you go for an EVSE charging station, make sure to check your state and power company incentives. My state and power company would collectively cover up to $1000 (max(40%*cost, 700) + 300)) worth of installation+equipment cost (power company only lets you choose specific charging stations). Then I think the federal government will give you a tax credit too... haven't got to that yet!

I think afdc.energy.gov might have some of this information, but ClipperCreek has it conveniently listed on their site:

ClipperCreek happened to be an EVSE my power company does not provide a rebate for (they seem to want smart EVSE with Internet connectivity).

EDIT: Really? ClipperCreek and Energy.gov links are surely signs of spam and need moderator approval? That's lame.
 

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EDIT: Really? ClipperCreek and Energy.gov links are surely signs of spam and need moderator approval? That's lame.
The forum software tries to screen out spam to keep things usable. The good news is, most of the spam is caught before users ever see it.

I try to keep an eye on things and approve as soon as I see them, but I am not on the site 24x7. It may be a question of users with relatively low post counts? I have seen plenty of links to both of these without issue.

Anyway, thanks for the post, those resources provide good info.
 

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One question i ask myself.Several Bolt caught fire where they on L1 or L2 charger?
Seriously doubt it makes a difference - many (most?) seem to have stopped charging at the time when they caught fire. In any case, I'd expect most Bolt owners use L2 charging, so naturally those cases would be more common.
 

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Strong disagree on #1. Having an L2 charger at home will improve your experience of having an EV enormously, so unless it is a particularly difficult or expensive install due to the arrangement of your parking situation, it's a no-brainer. Can you get by without it? Possibly? But to experience the convenience of plugging in at home and always having enough charge in the morning is half the pleasure of having an EV. If you can afford it, by all means do it.
I drove a Volt for ~2 years and used the L1 charger that came with the car. I never had any issue putting the full range (~40miles) back on the car every night. The biggest problem I had was if I stopped at home I learned to not plug the car in unless I would be home for more than 45 minutes. I learned from monitoring the capacity level that as soon as I plugged in to charge I would lose up to 1kWh of charge during whatever process the car went through for charging.

During my last 3 months or so of driving the Volt I had a L2 220v outlet installed and even though it made 0 difference in being able to charge the car fully overnight it made a huge difference in being able to random charge when needed during the day.

Now that I have the Bolt I am glad I have a L2 charger even though now I really only plug the car in to charge about once a week or if the available range drops below 100miles. I then plug in and charge to ~85% or ~200+ miles of range depending on the time of year.

The L2 charger will give you peace of mind that you can more quickly charge if needed without having to go to a pay charge station. I will say this. I would 100% wait until you have bought the car and have driven it for a month or so and learned your comfort level for charging. A L2 charger and an electrician will cost between $1,500 and $4,000. Unless you have $$$ to burn I would hold off.
 

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That large (and probably) unused 30A plug behind your gas clothes dryer can source a constant 24A for an EVSE. With a stout #10AWG extension, and a selectable (down to 24A) output EVSE, you could get a solution that might meet your needs, relatively cheaply. It might require you to construct some adapters from parts available at your local big-box home improvement store.

I'd highly recommend that if you do decide to go this route, that you carefully inspect the dryer's 240V power receptacle to make sure all of the connections are solid, and the contacts are not corroded. It may have been sitting there for decades, with nothing to do.

Even if you do use the dryer's 240V receptacle for a clothes dryer, there's a product called "Dryer Buddy" that will automatically switch between the dryer and the EVSE, so you don't have to constantly plug and uplug them.
 

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That large (and probably) unused 30A plug behind your gas clothes dryer can source a constant 24A for an EVSE. With a stout #10AWG extension, and a selectable (down to 24A) output EVSE, you could get a solution that might meet your needs, relatively cheaply. It might require you to construct some adapters from parts available at your local big-box home improvement store.
You probably know this, but your idea may work in areas with mild climates like CA, but those of us who live in the frozen tundras have indoor laundry. Snaking a #10AWG extension into the garage may not be in the cards.
 

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One question i ask myself.Several Bolt caught fire where they on L1 or L2 charger?
[SPECULATION]
Some (but not all) of the fires had a pattern where the "owners would typically run the car low, then charge to full" (link). If true, it's most likely L2 or DCFC. Running low and charging to full on L1 would take a very long time (~2 days). Having said that, it's not clear if using L2 vs L1 increases risk, or if it's mainly just running low and charging to full (on any charger).
[/SPECULATION]
 
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