19 September 2011

GE WattStation works intermittently with my Th!nk City EV

General Electric (GE) has started manufacturing "Electric Vehicle Service Equipment" (or EVSEs) in North Carolina.  These are often informally called EV charging stations or something similar.  One of the units pictured above is installed and working in front of the GE factory along Interstate highway 40/85 just west of exit 158, east of Mebane NC (6801 Industrial Drive Mebane NC 27302-8603).

Several more are installed but not wired as of yesterday.  This might explain why GE has not listed them yet, not even on GE's locator page much less on the NREL alt fuel locator page.

But "working" is a relative term in this case.  While I was able to charge from this station a couple months ago (when  it was installed on the far side of the sidewalk next to the parking spot), it has since been moved closer to the parking area and I was not able to charge from it yesterday.  A Tesla, which was also at GE yesterday, had no trouble charging from this EVSE.  (Well, the Tesla tripped the circuit breaker feeding the EVSE, because the breaker needs to be increased from 30 to 40 amps for a 32 amp EVSE like this one.  Once the Tesla was set back to 24 amps, it charged fine.)  And there were reports of a Leaf and a Volt being able to charge there recently.  But both of those EVs max out at 16 amps, I believe.

After several attempts, we got the Th!nk to start charging once by inserting the connector very slowly,  but we could not repeat it.  The GE WattStation uses the Yazaki brand J1772 plug, while the EVSE that came with my Th!nk has the IIT Cannon brand plug, which works fine with my Th!nk.

I  have heard several reports of incompatibility between Leafs and Blink charging stations, if I recall.  I hope I can help GE get to the bottom of this issue soon.  We need as many reliable EVSE out there as possible, regardless of the manufacturer.  I have yet to find a Blink EVSE in my area.

By the way, I did not have any trouble charging the Th!nk from the AeroVironment EVSE at the local Nissan dealer.  While I have charged at many places, I usually bring my own EVSE and plug into a conventional outlet.  I have two Clipper Creek EVSEs (one for 120 volts, and a large 240 volt unit) and my now favorite 240 volt portable EVSE made by Th!nk in Europe, which has a button on the front to change settings from 12 to 16 amps.  It looks just like a black version of the portable Clipper Creek EVSE except for the button and labels.

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