If you buy a new Chevy Bolt, GM gives you two options for charging at home: $500 cash for DIY, or $1,000 towards using one of its certified installers. I did not know much about installing a charger, so I opted for the second. All was done by email: click here to accept, click there to schedule.
Level 2 Charging At Home
If you are the average American, you drive 41 miles a day to work (according to zippia.com). If all you have is a regular, 120V outlet, your Bolt will charge about 4.5 miles/hour. If you do not have a charging station at work, it will take you about nine hours to fully charge for the next day. Money-wise, you will be much better off than buying gas, but the long time might be a little too long for comfort. Level 2 charging is a must for many people.
Anxious as I was for fast charging, I was a little disappointed with the 4-week scheduling, but the day came and the crew showed up on time. To make their job easier, I made room in my driveway for their rig.
The “crew” consisted of one installer who did all the work in about one hour and one supervisor who pretty much watched what was going on. Enough room in the $1,000 tab for two people, I guess.
The best location for the power outlet is as close as possible to the main panel. In my case, that was about 2 feet away, which made the whole process very straightforward. The installer moved a breaker to a spare location and installed a new 50A 2-phase breaker on the bottom of the rack.
As everybody knows, the line voltage in the US is 120V, but if you get two circuits of 120V, each has 120V to neutral, but they are shifted 180 to each other. The voltage between the two phases is 240V.
If you draw 50A at 240V, Ohm’s law says you can have a maximum power of 50 × 240 = 12 kWh. The Bolt has a 65 kWh battery, so in theory you could charge it 5.4 hours. To put it another way, if you travel 250 miles on a full charge, you could charge 46 miles per hour. But wait, this is just a little over your average commute! Even if we cut the numbers in half, the charging time becomes quite reasonable.
The installer drilled a hole in the wall and installed a short conduit on the other side to the power outlet.
I told him to install the outlet about 20” from the floor, just enough for the Level-2 charger which came with the Bolt to float. And in no time at all, the Chevy was happily drawing the amps.
I still had 198 miles in the “tank,” but I was curious to see how fast it would charge to full. The sun was shining, the solar panels were pumping more than I could use — so let’s see what the Bolt says.
The Bolt informed me that the charge will be completed in about 1.5 hours. That’s 35 miles/hour, right on the money! Everything worked as planned. The installer cleaned up everything nicely and I gave him a tip.
Before I bought the Bolt, I promised my wife that for any longer trip, we would do what we always did: rent a car. Now I have second thoughts. I am thinking to pay a visit to our son, who lives in beautiful Sedona, AZ. That’s 1,500 miles round trip. This would require careful planning. Please stay tuned for Part 4.
By Mihai Beffa
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