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Published on May 27th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Nissan LEAF Will Include Fast Charge Capability and Emergency Charging Cable at Launch

May 27th, 2010 by  
 

At the Nissan LEAF battery plant groundbreaking yesterday in Smyrna, Tennessee, I made it a goal to squeeze as much detailed information as I could out of Nissan regarding the LEAF and what kinds of equipment it will ship with.

To this point — as is usually the case in the echo chamber that is the internet these days — nobody (including myself… mea culpa) seems to have been able to get it right about two things: whether or not the LEAF will have a Level 3 fast charge receptacle when it ships and if it will be able to use a Level 1 standard 3-prong outlet.

Although it was clear that the LEAF would have Level 2 charging capability (the J-1772 SAE standard 240 volt/up to 60 amp “quick charger”), the lack of standards regarding Level 3 charging and the relatively slow trickle of power that comes out of your standard household outlet (known as Level 1 charging) made it questionable if either of those would be included with the LEAF.

As it turns out, the LEAF will launch with both a receptacle for a Level 2 plug as well as one for a Level 3 plug based on the CHAdeMO DC fast charging standards coming out of Japan, according to Mark Perry, Nissan’s director of product planning and strategy for North America. The receptacle setup on the LEAF will look just like the photos above and below. In those pictures, on the left is the CHAdeMO receptacle and on the right is the J-1772 Level 2 receptacle.

In addition to the Level 3 receptacle, the LEAF will ship with a 7.5 meter (24.5 feet) long “emergency” Level 1 cable that will have a J-1772 plug on one end and a standard 3-prong Level 1 plug on the other. But according to Perry, Nissan doesn’t expect people to use that except very infrequently when they “miscalculate” their range.

In an average situation, a standard household outlet is rated at 110 volts/15 amps, although most people won’t get more than 10-12 amps out of that outlet. So, what that means is that the outlet will put out about 1.1 kW of power and it would take about 22 hours to get the LEAF battery from 0% to 100% full; clearly not a realistic daily charging situation. “So that’s why we think the Level 1 really is just there for that emergency,” said Perry. “In an hour under level 1 charging you might see 4 or 5 miles of additional range added to the battery pack.”

Another interesting tidbit to come out of my meeting with Mark Perry clarified why the LEAF will take 8 hours to charge its 24 kWh battery even when a Level 2 charger is rated at an average of 6 kW, although it can get up to 14.4 kW. At 6 kW you’d expect a 24 kWh battery to take 4 hours to fully charge. However, as Perry explained it, the LEAF battery will be throttled by its onboard Battery Management System to 3.3 kW… hence the approximately 8 hour charge time.

So, even if you get that Level 2 charge station installed in your garage and you max it out at 240 Volts and 60 Amps, you won’t be able to cut the charge time. So, if money’s a concern and it would cost you more to do the high end installation, you might want to settle for the cheaper lower voltage, lower amperage installation. Your LEAF won’t know the difference.

Disclaimer: The author’s travel and lodging expense were paid for by Nissan to attend the groundbreaking.


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Not your traditional car guy.



  • Dave

    To clarify your last sentence – All Level 2 chargers will be 240V. 3.3kW would be about 14A, so you’ll need a 20A circuit to get the 8-hour charge times.

    Rumors is that you will be able to upgrade the Leaf to a 6.6kW charger down the road (this is a change to the onboard charger) so if you want to “future proof” yourself a bit you’d want to get a 40A circuit.

    50A circuits are common for electric ranges/ovens and most of the cost of installing the circuit will be labor, so I would suggest installing the largest wire/breaker you can – your electrician will be able to advise you as to what will work best for you.

  • Dave

    To clarify your last sentence – All Level 2 chargers will be 240V. 3.3kW would be about 14A, so you’ll need a 20A circuit to get the 8-hour charge times.

    Rumors is that you will be able to upgrade the Leaf to a 6.6kW charger down the road (this is a change to the onboard charger) so if you want to “future proof” yourself a bit you’d want to get a 40A circuit.

    50A circuits are common for electric ranges/ovens and most of the cost of installing the circuit will be labor, so I would suggest installing the largest wire/breaker you can – your electrician will be able to advise you as to what will work best for you.

  • Dave

    To clarify your last sentence – All Level 2 chargers will be 240V. 3.3kW would be about 14A, so you’ll need a 20A circuit to get the 8-hour charge times.

    Rumors is that you will be able to upgrade the Leaf to a 6.6kW charger down the road (this is a change to the onboard charger) so if you want to “future proof” yourself a bit you’d want to get a 40A circuit.

    50A circuits are common for electric ranges/ovens and most of the cost of installing the circuit will be labor, so I would suggest installing the largest wire/breaker you can – your electrician will be able to advise you as to what will work best for you.

  • Nick Chambers

    Dave,

    Technically, you could have a 220V Level 2 charger. I had not heard the rumor of a 6.6 kW upgrade in the future, but I’ll be sure to ask Nissan about that.

  • Nick Chambers

    Dave,

    Technically, you could have a 220V Level 2 charger. I had not heard the rumor of a 6.6 kW upgrade in the future, but I’ll be sure to ask Nissan about that.

  • yuval Brandstetter MD

    This does not make sense. First you buy the battery, a 12K dollar deal. Then, as it degrades, especially with fast charge, you are stuck with your 12K dollar failing elephant. Then, you need to charge it for one hour for every twenty miles you drive. Then, if you drive it to some motel, you need to wait for 24 hours for it to be charged so that your room charges will be far more than any gasoline price to say nothing of your precious time.

    How about NOT owning the battery, and dropping it for a fresh charged one when on the road? How about KNOWING where a free charge-spot is, and charging it when and where it is convenient to you? How about no one being able to disconnect your overnight-parked vehicle just as a prank?

  • yuval Brandstetter MD

    This does not make sense. First you buy the battery, a 12K dollar deal. Then, as it degrades, especially with fast charge, you are stuck with your 12K dollar failing elephant. Then, you need to charge it for one hour for every twenty miles you drive. Then, if you drive it to some motel, you need to wait for 24 hours for it to be charged so that your room charges will be far more than any gasoline price to say nothing of your precious time.

    How about NOT owning the battery, and dropping it for a fresh charged one when on the road? How about KNOWING where a free charge-spot is, and charging it when and where it is convenient to you? How about no one being able to disconnect your overnight-parked vehicle just as a prank?

  • skierpage

    @yuval Brandstetter MD,

    It doesn’t make sense for YOU, or maybe you’re not understanding.

    If the motel was 10 miles away you’d recharge in two hours. Or you wouldn’t bother as you still have 90 miles “in the tank”.

    If you want battery swapping, move to Denmark or Israel, order a Renault Fluence Z.E. and hope that Better Place can make an economic success out of robots swapping battery packs.

    “Nissan Connection Powered by CARWINGS is a telematics system in the Nissan LEAF which will constantly update to show your vehicle and battery status & charging locations should you need them.”

    If someone disconnects your vehicle the SAE J1772 connector will know and car software can alert your phone.

    But you’re missing the point. Presumably anyone buying a car with 100 mile range will drive it less than 100 miles and then happily and cheaply “refuel” it at home (while doing other things). If they go on a 200+ mile road trip they’ll plan, or take a conventional car.

  • skierpage

    @yuval Brandstetter MD,

    It doesn’t make sense for YOU, or maybe you’re not understanding.

    If the motel was 10 miles away you’d recharge in two hours. Or you wouldn’t bother as you still have 90 miles “in the tank”.

    If you want battery swapping, move to Denmark or Israel, order a Renault Fluence Z.E. and hope that Better Place can make an economic success out of robots swapping battery packs.

    “Nissan Connection Powered by CARWINGS is a telematics system in the Nissan LEAF which will constantly update to show your vehicle and battery status & charging locations should you need them.”

    If someone disconnects your vehicle the SAE J1772 connector will know and car software can alert your phone.

    But you’re missing the point. Presumably anyone buying a car with 100 mile range will drive it less than 100 miles and then happily and cheaply “refuel” it at home (while doing other things). If they go on a 200+ mile road trip they’ll plan, or take a conventional car.

  • skierpage

    @yuval Brandstetter MD,

    It doesn’t make sense for YOU, or maybe you’re not understanding.

    If the motel was 10 miles away you’d recharge in two hours. Or you wouldn’t bother as you still have 90 miles “in the tank”.

    If you want battery swapping, move to Denmark or Israel, order a Renault Fluence Z.E. and hope that Better Place can make an economic success out of robots swapping battery packs.

    “Nissan Connection Powered by CARWINGS is a telematics system in the Nissan LEAF which will constantly update to show your vehicle and battery status & charging locations should you need them.”

    If someone disconnects your vehicle the SAE J1772 connector will know and car software can alert your phone.

    But you’re missing the point. Presumably anyone buying a car with 100 mile range will drive it less than 100 miles and then happily and cheaply “refuel” it at home (while doing other things). If they go on a 200+ mile road trip they’ll plan, or take a conventional car.

  • No one is going to tolerate a 20 hour charge time.

  • No one is going to tolerate a 20 hour charge time.

  • Nice article. It seems ironic that Nissan would limit the Level 2 charging to 3.3kw while enabling Level 3 ability out of the gate…so we can rule out a heat shedding problem with the batteries. Might be a heat issue with the inverter? Keep us updated Nick!

    Anyway, I’m sure this will be resolved to a higher power since the Leaf is a BEV and really needs to charge up faster to lower the inconvenience factor of ownership.

    If I were installing a Level 2 at home, I’d wire for as high as I could without a service upgrade to the panel…starting with a 40A circuit. If there’s one thing you can count on, battery density and speed of charge will only get better in the future. The Nissan Leaf is just v1…and it’s pretty good for v1.

  • Nice article. It seems ironic that Nissan would limit the Level 2 charging to 3.3kw while enabling Level 3 ability out of the gate…so we can rule out a heat shedding problem with the batteries. Might be a heat issue with the inverter? Keep us updated Nick!

    Anyway, I’m sure this will be resolved to a higher power since the Leaf is a BEV and really needs to charge up faster to lower the inconvenience factor of ownership.

    If I were installing a Level 2 at home, I’d wire for as high as I could without a service upgrade to the panel…starting with a 40A circuit. If there’s one thing you can count on, battery density and speed of charge will only get better in the future. The Nissan Leaf is just v1…and it’s pretty good for v1.

  • Nice article. It seems ironic that Nissan would limit the Level 2 charging to 3.3kw while enabling Level 3 ability out of the gate…so we can rule out a heat shedding problem with the batteries. Might be a heat issue with the inverter? Keep us updated Nick!

    Anyway, I’m sure this will be resolved to a higher power since the Leaf is a BEV and really needs to charge up faster to lower the inconvenience factor of ownership.

    If I were installing a Level 2 at home, I’d wire for as high as I could without a service upgrade to the panel…starting with a 40A circuit. If there’s one thing you can count on, battery density and speed of charge will only get better in the future. The Nissan Leaf is just v1…and it’s pretty good for v1.

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