Charging Stations, the Chevy Volt & the Nissan Leaf.

Today is a special, special day.

You are seriously witnessing a piece of Sustainable Couple history. John (a.k.a. The Bearded Barbarian; a.k.a. LL Cool John; a.k.a. J-Money) is breaking his blogging silence to bring you a post about a topic near and dear to his heart.

He recently attended a code class to update his electrical license, where he learned all about automobile charging stations and electric cars, specifically the Chevy Volt {my dream car}. He was in heaven.

Seriously. The man loves electricity and all things engineering, really. {This stud would not do well on the frontier for this reason.}

So, today, for the first time ever, John has something to say.

Preach it, J-Money.


You guys know I'm a union electrician - Kelli's kept you pretty informed on my travels and work on nuclear facilities. However, one of our responsibilities as electricians is to make sure we're current on industry trends and demands. I recently completed a code update class, which is part of the 18 hours I am required to take every three years for my electrical license. One of those classes I chose was called Introduction to Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Basically, it was a two-day class, with the first being lecture on electric vehicles and charging stations, and the second was a visit from two local dealerships that sell electric vehicles.

In the class lecture time I was surprised to learn that states like California and Washington are leading the way in vehicle charging stations. As it turns out, these two states are putting more effort and money into charging stations in particular. I think, and I'm not sure about this, there is some initiative that was pushed through to add charging stations along I-9? Or maybe I-5? Whatever interstate system that runs along the western coast.

Probably the most interesting part about the electrical vehicle and charging station arena for consumers are the different types of vehicles that are on the market. The two cars we looked at were a Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. Kelli was really interested in the Volt a few years ago when she was ready to purchase a new car, but the Volt had only been available for a year, so we decided to wait it out. The Volt is about the same size as our Chevy Cruze, which is what Kelli purchased.

One thing that consumers do not think about - right away - when purchasing an electric vehicle is how they will equip their home to sustain their new purchase. One of the things the manufactures of electric vehicles are pushing is that electricians must have a special certification to install the charging stations in an owner's home, a place of business, or in a commercial structure. This is where I become personally and professionally connected to the electric vehicle and charging station craze. Most of the class time was spent discussing these charging stations and vehicles and how it effects our trade.

You guys do that all the time, right? Talk about big issues and how they might benefit you? Electricians do it too.

The second day of this class, a two dealerships brought in the Leaf and the Volt for us to inspect. The Leaf was new and still on the showroom floor, so we didn't get a lot of good customer feedback from from the dealer. Regarding the Leaf, consumers would be interested in learning about the battery before making a purchase. It worried me that the Leaf only had about a 200 mile run time. That doesn't mean that the Leaf can only go 200 miles, it all depends how the car is driven. The battery is charged in braking, and the car doesn't use battery power when coasting, and so on.

The Nissan Leaf
The Volt, however, is a battery-powered vehicle with a gas generator. The only thing the generator will do is charge the batteries, so the car will always be driving on the battery power. If the battery gets low,  the generator will charge it. Of course, the Volt has been on the market for a while, and we were able to talk with the owner of this vehicle. He was averaging about 130 miles per gallon! The owner and his wife were very impressed with this vehicle and said that they are going to lease another when their time is up.

The Chevy Volt
And, in my very unprofessional opinion, the Volt looks cooler than the Leaf. Don't try to act like you don't care about looks. You do.

If you're considering an electric vehicle, I've found that it's not that challenging to install a charging station - it basically amounts to hooking up a dryer outlet. I think it's kind of silly that manufacturers are requiring this special certification. But, don't get me wrong, there are actually different types of charging stations, so I understand that some are a bit more complex than others.

For any of you that care, there are three levels of charging stations:
Level One: basically a 120v outlet.
Level Two: a 30 amp receptacle, in most cases.
Level Three: a quick charge 240v, 208v or 480v (commercial vehicles use this level).

A competent, licensed electrician will have the ability to install a residential or commercial charging station with no problem.

Oh yeah, a side note before I go:  I remember there being a lot of talk of electric cars catching fire a few years ago. This was something we talked about, and discovered it to be more myth then fact. There was a Volt on the east coast that was in a fire, but what the media didn't tell you was it was another vehicle that had caught on fire and the Volt was in the garage with it. Nothing to freak out over.

Ok. I'm done talking about electric vehicles and charging stations. The Cowboys-Saints game is on. Later.

Do you have an electric vehicle? Do you want one? Let's chat. 


  1. Excellent article. Very nice to hear an electrician's point of view, since these cars are dependent on home electrical. You're right. Many people don't think of how that will affect their home electrical or other special considerations.
    Keep up the good work, guys. I love your blog and promote it wherever I can.

  2. How much of a percent change in electric consumption per month is average for a consumer's electric bill? I understand the savings in fuel is significant with a range of 130 miles per gallon but some of that would be offset with the increase in electric usage.

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