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Discussion Starter #1
I'm considering going with an EVSE (charging station) other than the featureless Fisker-branded Lear charger. I'd like some opinions and advice from the group:

  • Any reason I have to use the Fisker-branded package? Is there any benefit in doing so other than cosmetic?
  • What EVSEs did you consider? Select? What were your criteria?
  • Has anyone installed an EVSE yet? I know there was at least one EVConnect/Fisker installed and several people talked about Blink. Any lessons learned?
  • Any idea of the price differential (or markup) using the Fisker branded charger versus a third-party option?

I had EVConnect come out to do the site inspection today, and to tell me what I already knew: Mine will be a trivial install. The garage wall is clear of obstruction, the electrical panel is in the garage, has available space for the new breaker, and there's easy access to run wire and conduit. I'm looking to have the installation done by the end of the year so I can take advantage of the tax credit, so time is of the essence for me. All advice and opinions welcome.

Thanks!

Brent
 

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There is absolutely no reason to use the Fisker charger over any other brand. Any J connector Level 2 charger will work just as well as any other. The only thing to consider is the cord length. Most changers have 18' cords on them and the Fisker is 20'. In my garage 18' would cut it very close since the charger is mounted on the wall in front of the car. I don't think I could have used a charger with only 18'.

-Brian
 

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@LonePalmBJ (Brent): I looked at a lot of different chargers and you can check out my posts on the subject in this thread. At the end, I selected the Blink charger because it could be programmed to start/stop charging at specific times and that I could monitor it using an app on my smartphone. It is also better looking than many of the other units and has a separate cable spool that can be installed away from the base unit to make placement easier.

In terms of price, the smarter EVSE are more expensive than the Lear unit but because the installation charge for the Fiske branded unit is so heavily padded, the overall costs ends up being pretty close. In my case, getting the Blink charger ended up costing just under $300 more than getting the Lear charger even though the Blink charger costs twice as much as the Lear charger. If you don't want the telematics, you can save a lot of money by buying a non-Fisker branded Lear unit at home depot and having an electrician install it for you.

My charger is going to be installed this Friday and my car is not getting here until at least a couple of weeks after that, so other than playing with the telematics, there is not much I could tell you about the charger's operational effectiveness or features. I suppose I could see if anyone in my neighborhood drives a Volt or a Leaf and give them access to my charger to test it out.

As has already been pointed out, since the chargers and the Karma use the same standard for charging connector and protocol (SAE J1772) any charger should theoretically work with the Karma.

-- Fab.
 

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Fabulist said:
... At the end, I selected the Blink charger because it could be programmed to start/stop charging at specific times and that I could monitor it using an app on my smartphone. It is also better looking than many of the other units and has a separate cable spool that can be installed away from the base unit to make placement easier.
I'm leaning towards the same features. If my Karma (woo, I can finally say "my Karma" now :D) build date actually holds it might be here in April or so, and by then the remodel ... well, probably won't be done, really; the schedule doesn't even call for the plans to be finished (full drawings of everything—not just floor layout, but things like where any important bolts go and basic wiring layout; materials lists, work lists, etc all finalized) until the beginning of Feb, so who knows when demolition and new work starts, but it could conceivably be "almost done" by the time the car gets here.

Anyway, the electricians wiring the expanded garage can probably install the Blink charger, assuming that's what I go with. Since all the contractors and subcontractors will be out here working on the house anyway, it should save a few bucks to have it done then.
 

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ct-fiskerbuzz said:
Fabulist said:
... At the end, I selected the Blink charger because it could be programmed to start/stop charging at specific times and that I could monitor it using an app on my smartphone. It is also better looking than many of the other units and has a separate cable spool that can be installed away from the base unit to make placement easier.
I'm leaning towards the same features. If my Karma (woo, I can finally say "my Karma" now :D) build date actually holds it might be here in April or so, and by then the remodel ... well, probably won't be done, really; the schedule doesn't even call for the plans to be finished (full drawings of everything—not just floor layout, but things like where any important bolts go and basic wiring layout; materials lists, work lists, etc all finalized) until the beginning of Feb, so who knows when demolition and new work starts, but it could conceivably be "almost done" by the time the car gets here.

Anyway, the electricians wiring the expanded garage can probably install the Blink charger, assuming that's what I go with. Since all the contractors and subcontractors will be out here working on the house anyway, it should save a few bucks to have it done then.
A suggestion: During the construction, why don't you have your regular electrician put in a 220V dryer plug near where you want the charger to be. If the plug is already installed and connected, you just need to hang the charger and plug it in, which will save you about $1000 in permitting and installation costs.

-- Fab.
 

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Fabulist said:
A suggestion: During the construction, why don't you have your regular electrician put in a 220V dryer plug near where you want the charger to be. If the plug is already installed and connected, you just need to hang the charger and plug it in, which will save you about $1000 in permitting and installation costs.
That was the original idea, but I thought the charger had to be "wired in" to meet some sort of silly code restrictions, rather than using a conventional electric dryer plug. Or is that just for the rebate that expires this year (that I'm clearly not going to manage to hit, timeline-wise)?
 

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ct-fiskerbuzz said:
Fabulist said:
A suggestion: During the construction, why don't you have your regular electrician put in a 220V dryer plug near where you want the charger to be. If the plug is already installed and connected, you just need to hang the charger and plug it in, which will save you about $1000 in permitting and installation costs.
That was the original idea, but I thought the charger had to be "wired in" to meet some sort of silly code restrictions, rather than using a conventional electric dryer plug. Or is that just for the rebate that expires this year (that I'm clearly not going to manage to hit, timeline-wise)?
I am told that either approach is code compliant. So, this:



is just as legal as this:



At least in California.


-- Fab.
 

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love the photo comparison. I want dryer outlets too, but the EVConnect contractor is not so certain. Not sure about Alabama codes. Easy enough to make a hardwire into a plug though
 

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Cooper said:
Does anyone know if the energy credits for the charger and car will still exist in 2012.
Cars: Fed: Yes, State: varies by state.
charger: Fed: No, unless it is renewed before 12/31. State: varies by state.

--Fab.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well I finally decided to go with the Fisker/Lear EVSE. The electrician is coming out Thursday to run all of the conduit and wiring, and the device itself will be delivered and installed next week. They're making two trips to accommodate my schedule.

It ultimately came down to the 'dumb' Lear charger vs. the smart Ecotality Blink charger. I like the Blink a lot, but ultimately I couldn't justify the additional $700 in cost. Since where I live there are no EV rate plans that start at a certain time having timer programmability wasn't essential, and while WiFi and phone apps are cool, they aren't $700 cool. Besides, if I decide in a few months to upgrade to a Blink or something else I'm sure there will be someone on this forum who would be in the market for a gently used Lear unit :)

A comment about my experience with EVConnect: They started out very poorly but really turned it around. When I first contacted them in late November they told me the package price didn't include installation. When I called BS the person I spoke to backpedaled and made some comment about how he was talking about a different installation package. He then agreed to send me some information on charger alternatives to the Lear unit, which never arrived. I made it clear then that I wanted everything complete by end-of-year. As I mentioned in the original post, mine is a very straightforward installation. I had the site inspection on 12/5 and heard nothing from EVConnect for two weeks, even after multiple follow-up emails and calls from me and from my dealer. I finally heard from Craig at EVConnect this week, and simultaneously received a quote by email for $3000. I kindly told him to pound sand, and expressed to him my dissatisfaction with their customer service and the inflated quote. He didn't seem to be aware of Fisker's marketed bundle pricing, couldn't explain why the quote was so high and said he would look into it. I also got my dealer involved to intervene. At this point I'd given up on EVConnect and started looking elsewhere.

Yesterday I heard from Brett Hauser, EVConnect's COO. Brett opened with an apology for the complete lack of customer service and for their poor responsiveness. He was very patient and engaged as we spoke through the issues, asked for feedback on my experiences with them, asked what I'm trying to acheive and what they can do to make it right. He explained that the larger quote was because they understood from the contract electrician that this would be a complex install; an R4 in their parlance instead of a simple R1. I explained how that seemed unlikely, and how even the electrician commented it would be simple. Brett committed to looking into it, making it right, and answering all of my other unanswered questions, including a discussion of charger alternatives. He also committed to doing whatever they could do to meet my end-of-year deadline, even offering to compensate me if I miss the tax deadline. True to his word I heard from him and Craig several times in the last 48 hours and they made it right. I'm still paying about $2400 for the install instead of the $2295 quoted by Fisker, but it's close enough. I can chalk it up to shipping, tax and permitting costs that must vary by state.

Even after all was settled and I electronically signed on the dotted line I received another call from Brett to again apologize, thank me for my patience and to express his committment that they will address the issues I faced. All-in-all, a remarkable and unexpected customer service turnaround.

A couple other points of note:
  • My dealer floated the idea that Fisker may add charger progammability to the vehicle itself (like some other EVs have) so you wouldn't need to rely on the EVSE to manage the timing. I don't know if that's speculation or something he heard from Fisker
  • EVConnect is working on a device that plugs into the car's OBD port that can provide charger timing functions even if the car or EVSE doesn't
  • EVConnect is looking to come out with an even lower bundle price for very simple installs - for example, for people who have an unused 220V dryer outlet already wired in the garage
  • EVConnect is working with Fisker to get them to officially endorse the Blink as a smart-charger alternative

I'm slowly accumulating things that say Fisker in my house. I now have a couple Matchbox cars, a thumbdrive, and soon a charger. Now if I only had an actual car that says Fisker on it...

Brent
 

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@Brent: If the start/stop time programming is not a factor, then the less complicated Lear charger will work just fine for you. Overall, I paid $2600 for a Blink charger, installation and permits. Since I was not having the Blink wired in permanently, I could have skipped the permit and saved about $400 but I chose to pull the permit anyway to keep everything above board. For a simple installation, the overall price difference is fairly small because of EVConnect's one-size-fits-all installation charge but if you don't need the features, there is no need to pay anything more for them.

-- Fab.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@Fab - thanks, that was my thinking too. Interestingly, when EVConnect had gone AWOL I reached out to Blink directly and they wanted $2100 for the device - not including shipping, permitting or installation! I think they just pull prices out of the air.

EVConnect was able to eventually offer the Blink device for about $1500, but either way, it was wasn't worth the upcharge to me.

Brent

//Hey, this is my 100th post! I need a new hobby :)
 

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My Lear/Fisker EVSE is installed. They did it without running conduit on the walls, which was a super big plus, but it is mounted a bit low on the wall. Luckily, I have no kids or dogs to worry about messing with it. I will try and post a pic later. I have it centered on my double door so that I don't have to be perfect with parking the Karma and according to the latest news the Brammo Empulse that I plan on getting this year will also use the same plug for recharging.
 

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Yeah, I was surprised how low mine was installed too. The guy said that the National Electric Code specifies that EV charging stations cannot be higher than 4' from the ground. To be more specific the connector cannot be more than 4'. That's why some charging stations have separate receptacles for the connector - that way you can mount the unit as high as you want, but the connector is at the 4' required height.

-Brian
 

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LonePalmBJ said:
when EVConnect had gone AWOL I reached out to Blink directly and they wanted $2100 for the device - not including shipping, permitting or installation! I think they just pull prices out of the air.
@Brent: Maybe they are as confused as Fisker is. When I called them, the quote was $1400 for the charger plus another $200 for sales tax and shipping.

BTW, my post numbers just passed 500; I really need to get a life.

-- Fab.
 

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Fabulist said:
@Brent: Maybe they are as confused as Fisker is. When I called them, the quote was $1400 for the charger plus another $200 for sales tax and shipping.
I paid $1495 for the unit, $1650 total with tax and shipping. My general contractor is doing the install since it involves drilling through a concrete floor to get the conduit from the electrical panel to the garage wall, and he won't soak me for the install.

The extra $750 for the Blink makes sense in CA since I pay $.20/kwh after midnight and $.52 up to 9pm when I will be plugging in. At that rate differential, payback should be less than a year.

- Dennis
 

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I guess I'm the only person not buying a charger. Other than getting the lower kwh rate, is there any danger in just plugging it into the wall? If I had an electric daily driver I'd probably invest in the charger.
 

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Deep Ocean, you're not. I haven't found a need for anything but the Fisker supplied "convenience charger" yet, but mine is not a daily drive either.
 

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I've only had my car 5 days and already I'm finding I need more than the 240v charger. If I take the car out twice in a day then I typically don't have enough charge to get the job done. Just today for example, I went out to lunch with a friend and when I got home my battery had 1 mile left on it. 3 hours later I went to my brother's house, but the battery was only 1/2 recharged. It ran out about 6 miles before got home. This has happened just about every day now. Overnight gives me my morning drive, but then the charger isn't quick enough to recharge by the time I need it later in the day.

Also, it cooled down a bit here, so I've been running the heater. I'm probably only getting 35-40 miles on a charge right now.

-Brian
 
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