• Feb 22nd 2011 at 8:03PM
  • 32
Nissan Leaf - Click above to maybe watch the video after the jump

Modifying a battery-powered car risks voiding the vehicle's warranty, damaging vital components, catastrophic vehicle failure and possibly even electrocution. With that disclaimer out of the way, one DIY-er set out to hack the Nissan Leaf's standard 110-volt (Level 1) Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) into something a bit more to his liking.

The goal was simple; to modify the Leaf's portable Level 1 unit to support 220-240-volt (Level 2) charging. By doing so, the Leaf could, at least in theory, be charged up by plugging the cord into any standard 110-volt or 240-volt outlet, eliminating the need for Level 2 charging stations. In addition, this modification apparently allows the Leaf to be charged at Level 2 speeds via the hacked Level 1 EVSE.

While we don't condone modifications of this nature, there's certainly no harm in hopping the jump to try and watch one DIY-er hack a Level 1 EVSE to charge the Leaf. The video worked earlier but may be down. If so, then you can see pictures of the project over on MyNissanLeaf.

[Source: YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      As the engineer who developed the EVSE upgrade, I'd like to point out that it's highly unlikely that this modification could damage ANY part of a car, let alone result in "catastrophic vehicle failure" as mentioned in the article. It appears that the lawyers really are in charge here!

      Additionally, in the US it would be difficult for Nissan to attempt to void your car's warranty for using any EVSE, just as it would be if you used a different brand of tires. (see the Magnuson-Moss warranty act.) Of course, the warranty would be void on the EVSE itself if it is upgraded, but this cannot affect the car.

      For those that don't know; the EVSE is basically a "smart" power cable, it is not a charger! This means that there is no processing of the input power, rather, it is simply passed through to the car. The EVSE's job is safety; it is mainly to protect the humans that connect and disconnect the cable, sometimes in wet or other dangerous environments. It also instructs the real charger which is located in the car, to adapt to the power capabilities that the local electrical system can provide. In other words, if the local power supply is only capable of 10 amps, the EVSE "tells" the car charger to only use up to 10 amps.

      Our EVSE upgrade has been thoroughly tested and meets all the safety standards as originally designed. None of the critical power handling components have been changed.

      NOTE: I'd like to also be clear, you cannot put voltages over 120V into the stock unmodified EVSE, as it will fail and you will be left with a dead unit.

      Also, just to be inform; Power systems in the US use 120v or 240v, and have been that way for a long time. "110 volts" hasn't been in use since before WW2. (disclaimer: you can find 208v in certain industrial power systems, but our EVSE upgrade will auto-adujst for this voltage as well.)
        • 4 Years Ago
        re: "Also, just to be inform; Power systems in the US use 120v or 240v, and have been that way for a long time. "

        Thank-you! I tired of arguing with people over that.
        At least with you being an engineer hopefully some of them will hear it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @Joeniocoe, that's cool but one still needs to hack te system in the leaf to allow charge on the go.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There's no way to charge at level 2 rates off a US 110V plug. Even with the Leaf's 15A limit. Even if you have a 20A 110V plug. The Leaf will charge at 3.3kW (220V, 15A) off 220, and the most you can get off a 110V plug is 2.2kW (20A * 110V).
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's right. It was modified from 120V 12A to 240V 12A. The amperage was not changed because that would be a more complex modification.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I believe the modification is to attach a 220 volt plug connector and with other modifications allowing it to connect to a 220 volt outlet. Of course, if not done correctly it could cause major problems...
      • 4 Years Ago
      The next "hack" aka aftermarket product for these should be a home fast charger. Stack (3) 3kW charger modules (9 kW), hook them up to a 220v-50A service, and charge through the fast charging port.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sorry Eric, I didn't mean my video for widespread public consumption.
      At the very least, I didn't want it viewed out of context (ie: without
      the accompanying discussion with respect to specific circumstances).
      However, all are welcome to view the video in that thread on
      mynissanleaf.com, so long as they pay heed to the advisory comments
      in the posts that follow on from it.

      As the first person to order a modification of my L1 EVSE with this
      hack, I can honestly say that it works really well and makes the
      Nissan provided unit much more versatile. I have harmed neither LEAF
      nor self, and it's not massively expensive to have it done.
        • 4 Years Ago
        (still waiting for Dan Fredriksen to produce anything of merit, anything at all...)
        • 4 Years Ago
        wow that's lame Michael. first you say everybody see what I have done and then you say you can't see it anyway. childish.
        and I browsed through all 18 of the damn pages in the thread but saw no video.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Since I'm renting this is the main obstacle towards buying a Leaf. I don't want to install this power station for 2000 plus tax only to move out next year. It says that trickle charging on a US network with 120V takes 20 hours. Wouldn't it be possible to get an adapter and charge at an industrial 220V instead? Or would you still need to charging station for this?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Would this work?: http://refreshyourhome.com/new-steamer-windows/220-V-CONVERTER.html If I can't get around the charging station I'm sad to say I won't be able to buy it and I'll replace my current car with a new efficient gas car or hybrid instead.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In case you still want to watch the video, it's un-listed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzwgkfj43PE
        • 4 Years Ago
        That was yanked also.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hell yeah, that didn't take long, did it?

      Electric car hacks should become more and more common as more come out. You just wait.

      Bet some dude's gonna replace the stock controller with an upgraded one, or modify the stock one to dump out more amps.. give it a year.. they'll be hot rodding these things like guys have been doing with scooters/eBikes/eMotorcycles.

      Electric freaking rules. No OBD2 or emissions testing to block you from doing anything.

      The sky is the limit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What's safe is relative. There's "lawyer safe" from the factory, then there's "i know what i'm doing" safe. Two different worlds.

        The beauty of electric is that the lawyers have not gotten to it and choked it yet. It is like the wild west of vehicle tuning. We will see more things like this, both from people who know what they're doing and don't.. but it's interesting all the same.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah. No safeties. If you want to charge your battery faster than 3.3kW and maybe cause a fire or just kill the pack quickly due to heat, have at it!

        What, me worry?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I find it very hard to believe Nissan used 500V components in this EVSE.

      It's ridiculous that these portable L1 EVSEs are so expensive. GM's is $500 and the Nissan one is even more expensive!

      Hopefully we'll soon see $200-ish L1 and L2 EVSEs so people with these cars can afford to have more than one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Since it uses a standard connector, it is inevitable that there will be several companies making those connectors, and competition will drive costs down. Some of the major electrical device companies like Square D and Leviton have already made plans for this market.
      • 4 Years Ago
      so the built in charger is capable of 110 or 230 volts.
      A good "hack" to make money :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anyone remember the Datsun 510? It grew to become a cult car and was an excellent platform to mod...could the Leaf be the new 510? Given an excellent platform for mods, the Leaf may become what you want it to be. For example; you could add a larger level 2 charger and use an existing EVSE to charge the batteries twice as fast. There is no doubt that within four years we will be talking about LiS batteries that have three to four times the range using the same weight pack.

      The Volt doesn't offer that potential for modifications...too bad, GM missed the boat sailing to the future again.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ok so now I await some enterprizing hacker/shadetree fabricator to set this vehicle up with a charge on the go range extension device attached to a hitch mounted tray or small trailer. It could be diesel/biodiesel, alcohol, CNG, wood-gas, hydrogen fueled hooked to an ice, turbine, or heck a fuel cell. Doesn't have to keep energy in equal to energy out, it just needs to extend range and have the option for remote/off grid charging.

      That done and the Leaf becomes a Volt beater in every respect. Absolute range when you need it, fantastic all battery rnge when you don't.
        • 4 Years Ago
        • 4 Years Ago

        I was at the Nissan drive event in Orlando and they had a biodiesel generator to quick charge all of the Leafs onsite. It was rather large (on the back of a small flatbed) but the rep mentioned smaller ones being developed for AAA to provide roadside assistance. It would be great if they could create a tiny portable charger like you mentioned to provide unlimited range.

        I loved driving the Leaf and am trying to win one by getting votes for my video: http://goo.gl/jITAw
        and created a site to promote and share with friends: http://HankHillNeedsALeaf.com
        Please vote if you have time and be sure to click the confirmation link in the email Nissan sends you to make it count. Thanks!
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