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I was wondering what would happen if I were caught in a winter storm and needed (or wanted) to charge my Karma. What would happen if rain or snow got into the contacts while fiddling with the plug. Since my friend is a VP at Schneider Electric, I asked him and he asked his engineering staff.

This is what they said:

"When the car is charging, the contacts will be protected by the plug being in place. The plugs in use have a NEMA 3R rating, and have drain holes in the bottom to allow water to drain. We have had of customers (from colder climates) that have had snow drifts in their inlets with no ill effects.

It's difficult to predict how exactly the contacts would be affected over many, many years of use. It's not good for them to have moisture on them, but their contact materials won't oxidize very easily (no iron). Plus the moisture eventually evaporates when charging starts and the temperature begins to rise.

We have also tried testing if there is a possibility of having enough current from contacts reach the handle when dipped in water (imagine very heavy rain + charging and someone tries to unplug). There wasn't even enough to trip the CCID5. (5mA noise trip, ground fault) - Our units are rated at 20mA Ground Fault.

Certainly if freezing rain got on the contacts, it may cause a mechanical problem in making a connection, but no safety-related issues."


The above information undoubtedly applies to Schneider's commercial charging stations. I have their consumer unit in my garage and have used it daily for 8 months with no problems. Just love it! (But the likelihood of snow or rain inside my garage is fairly remote.)

I assume that other commercial charging stations would have similar specs but I don't have a clue about the Karma's side of the equation. What about the portable Lear unit that came with the car? Also, the car's charging system might be more vulnerable to moisture since the port is pointed toward the sky. Anybody out there have any info or suggestions since the rainy/snowy season is upon us? (Yeah, I know I can skip charging and use the ICE, but that begs the charging question.)

Also, my wife is interested in a BEV, and if charging in the rain is even remotely an issue, she may not want one. Speaking of BEVs, has Tesla addressed this issue?
 

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Any outdoor charger with GFCI in the market (NEMA 3R as you mentioned) should work in these rain/snow conditions. the j1772 standard was also covering these issues.
going to test the car going to Tahoe i guess? i'll be happy join, just got a nice snowboard!
 

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I've never heard of anyone having any issues with the weather and charging the car. I have heard of some of the original Fisker 110V chargers (The ones made by Lear) having water intrusion issues and dying out though.
 
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