Monday, October 9, 2017

Charging your Bolt EV at a Tesla destination station? Yes, you can!



As most EV owners are aware, Tesla offers one thing that other EV manufacturers do not offer at the moment: a coast to coast Supercharging network. I've read many stories of Tesla Model owners boasting about being able to travel across the country for free using only Tesla's Supercharging network. As of today, Tesla states that 1,008 Supercharger sites with 7,032 Supercharger stations are active in North America. Compare that to the CHAdeMO and CCS compatible fast charging outlets, which are more concentrated in metropolitan areas and lack the coast to coast coverage that Tesla offers. While more and more CHAdeMO/CCS stations are being installed every day, it will be a little while till coverage can come close to Tesla's proprietary network.

Pretty good coverage

So what's the non-Tesla owner that still wants to travel the country to do, aside from renting a gas car or biting the bullet and acquiring a wallet-stretching Tesla themselves? While Tesla touts its Supercharging network, it also supports an ever growing "Destination Charging" network as well. And the best thing about the Destination Charging stations? Non-Tesla EV owners can utilize them*

While not nearly as fast as Supercharging (for all intents and purposes, non-Tesla owners will only be able to charge at 7.2 kW max, compared to the 100+ kW charge rates Teslas can obtain at Superchargers), Tesla destination charging stations are sprinkled throughout the country at properties and businesses that have partnered with Tesla to install them. In most instances, Tesla provides most, if not all, of the charging equipment for free, and may also cover a portion of the install costs as well. The properties (a good majority hotel and inn owners) cover the cost of electricity and offer the stations as an extra amenity to guests. Most of the time, guests staying at these properties can charge for free as a perk for patronizing that particular establishment.

Not too shabby either, though some noticeable gaps.

So why should any non-Tesla owner care about any of the above I just wrote about? Well, it turns out that there is a handy little device that can unlock access to most Tesla (NON-Supercharger) destination stations!

A month or 2 ago I came across a special for a JDapter Stub device made by Quick Charge Power (http://shop.quickchargepower.com/JDapter-Stub-Tesla-Charge-Station-Adaptor-JDPTRSTB.htm . Use promo code "Jdapter239" for a $160 discount!), a company in SoCal that makes all sorts of EV accessories. Their JDapter Stub allows for non-Tesla plug-ins to charge using Tesla's (NON-SUPERCHARGER) destination charging stations mentioned above. While these destination charging stations have Tesla's proprietary plug that would normally make it unusable with a non-Tesla plug-in, the JDapter Stub allows just about ANY EV owner to connect and charge using the Stub, with a couple of exceptions. They are the only company I know of that makes this type of off-the-shelf device. Otherwise, I'd post other options available.


The JDapter Stub

I tested out my Stub on a recent trip to Chincoteague Island in Virginia. Looking at my charging options in the area, I noticed that there was only ONE location on the whole island (or anywhere near it) that had any kind of charging stations, located at the Refuge Inn (http://www.refugeinn.com/). According to Plugshare, it listed the property having 1 Tesla charging station and one Clipper Creek J1772 unit. Based off the positive Plugshare score, I booked the Refuge Inn for our stay.

Deep (EV) Hole indeed!
Upon arriving at the Refuge Inn in my Bolt EV, I found the Tesla station in the parking lot of the property. I whipped out my Stub, connected it to the Tesla charging plug, then plugged it into my Bolt. Within 2 seconds, my Bolt's charging light turned green and I was sucking down juice in part thanks to Elon Musk/Tesla (Thanks Elon!).

Success!

Not just Tesla electric vehicle charging anymore. 😎

According to my Bolt's DIC, it was charging at a rate of 7 kW, with it bouncing to 8 kW a couple of times. Suffice to say, the Bolt was able to max out its peak charging rate using the Tesla station. I awoke the next day to a full charge. The JDapter Stub was a great success! Evidently the Stub can send a pilot signal to the Tesla destination station and "trick" it into thinking it is a Tesla (that's how it was explained to me anyways...something like that). 

***Now I have to caveat my experience by saying that you should always get permission from the property owner before using a Tesla destination charging station (or any charging station for that matter). While most property owners likely don't care what kind of EV actually uses these Tesla stations, there are some establishments in existence that enforce a strict Tesla-only policy, and at least one person has actually been towed! However, most hotel/inn owners should be more than happy to let a paying guest use the stations, regardless of whether you actually drive a Tesla or not. The Refuge Inn certainly didn't care (great place, btw! Indoor heated pool, real close to Assateague Island, free hot breakfast, and friendly staff!).

Also, there are some newer Tesla stations that operate at 277 volts, which the Bolt CAN NOT handle. I believe the Bolt would simply refuse to charge if connected to such a station, but user beware!

Thanks to the JDapter Stub, a lot of additional L2 charging charging plugs are now opened up to my Bolt. If you don't road trip much, this adapter may be of marginal usefulness to you, but for anyone that likes to travel outside the Bolt's 238 mile EPA-rated range, is a very useful accessory indeed. 😊  

P.S. For those Tesla owners that think a non-Tesla using a Tesla destination station is wrong: get over yourselves! You guys still have the Supercharger network all to yourselves, and Elon himself even said, "...we said any car company can use our technology -- it's no problem. They don't even have to pay a fee to us." (https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/09/27/tesla-ceo-elon-musk-on-electric-competition-im-gla.aspx). Non-Tesla owners using Tesla destination stations are just obliging him. 😄 And before you ask "Why didn't you just use the Clipper Creek unit?", answer is I wanted to properly test out my JDapter Stub. 

P.P.S. I was recently unceremoniously banned from the main Chevy Bolt EV Owners Facebook group because the admins of that group are a bunch of commies and censor people like North Korean state media. For those that are REAL Bolt owners/fans that want to be able to enjoy some uncensored chit-chat among fellow ACTUAL Bolt owners/fans, I've created a new Facebook group,

REAL Chevy Bolt EV Owners and Fans. Please join up! 


8 comments:

  1. What reason did the main Chevy Bolt EV Owners Facebook group give for banning you? I assume it was not "because we are a bunch of commies and censor people".

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    1. They didn't even bother to message me I was banned. Just banned me and that was that. I had posted an article of a GM exec being critical of Elon Musk's self driving claims, and it was deleted. Then someone posted complaining about the fact my post was deleted. I made some comments, and *poof* banned.

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    2. Thanks for the reply. It DOES sound unjustified, bro.

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    3. I have seen your posts at many of the common EV sites. I fully understand how you could have been banned.

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    4. It's all good. I've created a better FB group in the aftermath. Free of the shackles and censorship of the main one now.

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  2. At The hotel where my son works, Hyatt Place in Memphis Tennessee, Tesla installed a destination charger with their proprietary plug but also installed a Clipper creek J1772 EVSE alongside it. If this dual installation is the norm for Tesla's destination chargers, then I would think the jdapter would be unneeded most of the time.

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    1. Almost every destination charger location has a Clipper Creek EVSE, in addition to one or more Tesla HPWC's (High Powered Wall Charger). Tesla recommends to the host that they do this, since it's more universal. I have seen sites with only HPWC's, however.

      The reason for doing this is that it will let you access either an HPWC, if someone else is using the Clipper Creek, or sites with only HPWC's. As Brian points out, the charger onboard the car will max out with either one. So, for example, the Leaf and my current Kia Soul EV charge at 6.6 kW.

      It just occurred to me that it would be a cool visual to charge our 3.3 kW 2011 Think city on a HPWC.

      Musk's only condition for allowing other automakers to use the Supercharger network is that they "help out with network", which I'm sure would involve fees.

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  3. I used this same exact adapter on a road trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. The Seawall Motel (5 stars, folks, great place) near Southwest Harbor has 2 Tesla and 1 SAE EVSEs (the latter is what the Bolt uses). I asked for and got permission to charge using a Tesla EVSE and was all set a few hours later. (They also refused any payment for the electrons). There was a Tesla charging on the other Tesla circuit, and the SAE EVSE was effectively blocked by an internal combustion engine car parking in the wrong spot. So I went with the flow and used the Tesla-to-SAE device.

    Mr. Watson, the dual installation is unusual. So the adapter is indeed very useful. My parking garage in Metro Boston has Tesla proprietary plugs but no others, for example. This is only because Tesla is making them available for free to the garage owner to enhance acceptability of their electric cars.

    By the way not only does Elon Musk say it's okay to use their system, your tax dollars were used to help a struggling little company called Tesla in its early days. I think Tesla should in service to its US taxpayer support, adopt a non-proprietary plug architecture that can be used by anyone, and change their business model for their network. I understand the commercial cleverness of a proprietary plug for Tesla BUT I think a common plug in the US is an easily understood public good.

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