• Aug 11, 2009
Chevy Volt Home Chargers - Click above for high-res image gallery

As part of the massive media blitz being rolled out today by General Motors in preparation for the new 230-mpg Chevy Volt and some B20 biodiesel trucks (more on these later), we finally got to see the two chargers that will come with the Volt when it becomes available in November 2010.

With each Volt purchase you'll get one of these two chargers – either a portable 120V charging unit that can plug into any outlet in the house (or, more likely, the garage) and can also be carried along in the vehicle, or a dedicated 240V unit (seen above) that will require installation into a more powerful connection, just like a dryer. Of course, the 240V unit will charge up the Volt quicker than the portable unit, but GM knows that customers will have different needs and so wants to offer options. That coiled orange cord on the 240V unit might also be an option, along with a regular straight cord by next November. Read all about these chargers after the jump.

GM engineering specialist Gery Kissel explained that the 120V unit (seen right) has two charge rates. The normal rate is 12 amps, but if this causes circuits to break or other problems in the house, there is a user-selectable 8 amp charge option. The 240V charger has a 16 amp output, which is just over what the Volt's 16 kWh battery is suited for. The charger has three lights to indicate that the unit is receiving AC power, if there is a fault, like a ground fault circuit interrupter indicator, and whether or not there is a ground present.

The now-standard J1772 connector had plenty of safety features built in. Kissel said that it will survive being driven over if it's left on the ground, for example. Another very useful feature: The Volt won't move if you leave it plugged in. This disabling feature is not dependent on whether there is current coming in or not. The car itself detects if the handle is plugged in, eliminating the possibility of a bright orange tail.

One extra that GM is adding to the J1772 is a flashlight that will light up whenever the release handle is depressed. Water and weather and sunlight won't be a problem for these chargers, either. Both chargers can be mounted outdoors, if needed, and the female connectors can be dipped in water or sprayed clean.

While the near-production units that GM displayed today are functional and have been used to charge up actual Volts, another step in the process will happen sometime next year when the first units are installed in GM employee homes for testing purposes.

You can listen to Kissel's presentation by clicking play below:

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.

You can check out the Home Charging 101 slideshow gallery below.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I commend GM for their work also on the Volt, I was expecting it to be a half-assed approach but they seem to really care about getting the Volt to work and to make it possible to use without any problems.
      Bill Howland
      • 3 Years Ago
      AS most of you know, the Voltec Unit in the engine compartment of the 2011 Volt provides the 12 volt power to run the small accessories in the volt... Anyone know the answer to the following questions? 1). Is the heater always an ELECTRIC heater in the wintertime, or does it also use engine hot water? 2). Specifically which accessories are electric but are NOT 12 volts? Air conditioning compressor and electric heater possibly? 3). Since the volt also has a 12 volt car battery under the hatchback, what size is the 'alternator - replacement' in the Voltec Unit to charge it? 30 amps? 100 amps? I cant seem to find any detailed info... Anyone have access to a Chilton's Book on this? 4). Does anyone else think that the drain down to 33% of battery capacity is unreasonably conservative for most drivers? After all, you can set a mountain and sport mode if u want more reserve battery juice. It seems silly to have a 16 kwh battery when you can only use less than 11 kwh of it. Or does anyone know of a trick to keep the engine off, and force a greater discharge of the battery?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hm, can someone explain to me why the charger isn't integrated into the vehicle?
        • 5 Years Ago
        So they can sell more. Duh.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because the batteries in this store a lot of energy. Your European 13A plugs only give out about twice the power a US one does, so don't get too haughty. It would still take you about 5 hours to charge this vehicle. This thing cannot be compared to a vacuum cleaner in terms of power usage.
      Bill Howland
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well I just purchased my 2011 volt and have charged it at both the 8 amp and 12 amp rates (the charger box is similar to the rectangular thing in the picture, but since I bought it in may 2011, this may be the model with a trivial change from what is shown. Electric rates are high in my area (National Grid, Western New York), so at 13 cents per kw hour, I pay about $2.10 to go 38 miles. Since my old car got about 18 miles per gallon its rather as if I'm driving my old car at $1.00 a gallon. Ive noticed that it is extremely difficult to get information on the so called "level 2 chargers". As was mentioned, these are only ground faults and a contactor, so pricing is unreasonably out of this world, but that's what happens when the gov offers a 30% tax credit. The only reasonable products on the market as of june 2011 as far as I know are the voltec 15 amp charger for $490, the spx 32 amp for $749, and the Schneider Electric 30 amp for $725. So, naturally, I purchased the Schneider Electric model since I will also use it for my 2011 Tesla all electric, besides the volt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As a product designer I am appalled by what I see. Where did these forms come from? Did they put any thinking into the system? It sure doesn't look like it. Look at those giant swirl/sink marks on the housings! The flash on where the tool parted! Are you going to be able to use this with gloves on? Will it withstand some weather? Will you be able to see this in dimly lit conditions? Does this look like a product that is part of a multi thousand dollar system? This is bad design pure and simple. It looks like something a Chinese vendor churned out - not something that real designers thought about, researched with users, refined, and then was engineered. Shame on you Detroit!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Remember this nugget about Hawaii going to a massive (as massive as Hawaii can get) electric car recharging network to "reduce its dependence on oil?"

      Now check out where 75% of their electricity comes from. WTH?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Any information on how long it would take to charge the car from about empty and from about 50% for 120V and 240V?

      I'm glad that there is a standard for charging receptacles and connectors.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A standard? Not so fast. This is what GM has developed. Now they are saying look everyone else this is our new system and we would like you all to adopt it as the standard. Let's not forget that charging stations already exist in some places as leftovers from previous EV projects. There is also two existing standard plugs out there in North America for lower and higher voltage (think your washer and your dryer). But we couldn't possibly use those. We need GM to save us with something new and proprietary.

        The main question is just how many patents is GM holding on this charging system and what kind of licensing fees are they going to charge everyone else to use it. That will be the make or break of this "standard". If they really want everyone else to use it they should make the charger open source and not charge any licensing fees but we all know that isn't going to happen. So the odds are pretty good that the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus will have different plugs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        that makes sense, charging a battery to 100% SoC puts a lot of stress on it and shortens its lifetime.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The car never needs more than 8kWh for a charge, as GM only uses 8kWh from the battery, despite its 16kWh capacity.

        GM says 8 hours for a full charge on 110V, 3 hours on 230V.

        In the end, the charge on the battery doesn't determine the range, so if you only get an 80% charge before you leave in the morning, you can still leave for work on time and know you'll get there.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, it's already been accepted as a standard (I believe). Allegedly the North American standard, although time will tell.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Judy: Yes, Standard. Read the linked article. And it wasn't developed by GM. It was developed by Yazaki.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If the battery is 16kWh, then 50% of that is 8kWh. So 120 volt, times 12 amps, means 1.44 kW (although for AC you probably need to take the RMS value, not sure, i have only dealt with DC powered chargers briefly). So at this charge rate, 8kWh should be done in 5 hours 30 minutes. Of course that assumes charge retention of 100%, which is never the case.
        • 5 Years Ago
        First of all, you charge these at night since it's cheaper. There is enough grid capacity for everyone to run what amounts to a hair dryer (1500W) at night without expansion.

        Second of all, there is no NEED to plug this in. If the grid collapsed, you just have to put gas in more often, it'll charge itself up as you drive. It can do so indefinitely (unlimited range as long as you put gas in, just like a regular gas car).
        • 5 Years Ago
        So it will take about 1hr of 120v charge to drive 10miles? Does that sound right?

        And does is the government subsidizing these chargers for GM?

        ..And what about the extended range ICE engine? How many MPG's do you get when thats running? And does the ICE engine charge the batteries or does it just supply enough power to move the car?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The charging electronics ARE in the car, what they are calling an external "charger" is just a safety device with a big relay (or "contactor") that provides the features described in the article and some other stuff for the utilities in case of power outages, etc. Looks a lot like the "charger" that came with my Mini E.

      The National Electrical Code (section 625) does not allow any electric vehicle to be charged with a portable cord above 120 volts, so the dryer and stove outlets are not allowed. Not even a 240 air conditioner plug can be used. I personally think this has to change, but these connectors in the US are not as safe as the recessed European connectors. (It has been said that Europe has more engineers than lawyers.) Only stationary devices are allowed to connect to 240 volts though a removable plug and comply with NEC 625. So a vehicle charging box has to be hard wired and bolted to the wall to use 240 volts here.

      Besides, existing appliance connectors do not have the pilot signal pin required for the safety functions specified in the J1772 specification of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

      And by the way, 42 volt DC electrical systems died for very good reasons, not because of the Japanese. Don't get me wrong, I think Japanese cars are junk and "Consumer Reports" which promotes them is an incompetent fachion magazine. But switches above 20 volts DC burn up from arcing. Your home light switches stop arcing because alternating current stops 60 times per second and starts again.

      European trucks use 24 volts (like US busses and military vehicles) and they have trouble with short bulb life, etc. 42 volts was a great idea but it has too many problems. Maybe someday when solid state switches get really really cheap it might come back.
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