Up Close With AeroVironment’s Nissan LEAF Home Charging Unit

Just before the New York Auto Show, Nissan officially announced the incredibly affordable price of the Nissan LEAF, which will go on sale this December. At $32,780 — or a $349/month lease after Nissan claims a $7,500 federal tax credit per car — Nissan surprised the world. The LEAF will be the first truly affordable, mass-market, fully capable 100% electric car the world has ever seen.

But along with the excitement over the price came many questions, one of the biggest of which was “how am I going to charge it?”

During the LEAF announcement, Nissan noted that long-time EV collaborator, AeroVironment, would be engineering and building the LEAF charging stations available for purchase along with the car, and doing the training of certified installers around the US. According to Nissan, the “average cost” of the charging station plus installation would be $2,200. Add in a 50% federal tax credit on the charging station installation and you have a rather affordable answer to the charging question.

Although AeroVironment is largely known for its work with military unmanned aircraft, it was also one of the original collaborators with GM on the Impact EV project (which lead to the now-scrapped EV1). Needless to say, they have quite a bit of experience in engineering electronics.

While I was at the New York Auto Show I snapped some photos of the static LEAF they had on display, and of the charging station they had mocked up next to it. As it turns out, that charging station mock up is exactly what AeroVironment’s LEAF charging stations will look like. So if you’re in the market for a LEAF, now you know what the charging station will do to your garage’s decor.

As quoted recently in a Ward’s Auto article, Kristen Hensel, vice president-EV Solutions for AeroVironment’s Efficient Energy Systems, said “It’s a very good charger, (and) it will work for any car. So whoever owns the home and owns the LEAF, if they sell and move out and a new EV owner purchases that home, the charger will work reliably for years.”

The actual plug aspect of the charger is based on SAE’s newly minted J-1772 standard for level 2 electric car chargers. These chargers are rated at 220V and can accommodate a current from 30-80 Amps depending on what your house is capable of. At those outputs, the amount of electricity supplied to your LEAF’s battery could be between 6 kW (at 30 Amps) and 17 kW (at 80 Amps), more than plenty to charge the 24 kWh battery in just a few hours.

AeroVironment says that just about 1,000 electrician across the country have already signed up to get the needed training to install the charger. If your house is an older house and doesn’t have 220V capability, installation costs could be much higher than the “average” $2,200.

Source: Ward’s Auto

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.