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Volt 120v charger recalled

Discussion in 'Chevrolet Volt' started by usbseawolf2000, Mar 20, 2012.

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  1. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    Just after the battery fire recall and the factory shutdown for 5 weeks, Chevy is quietly recalling (and surprising the owners) the standard charger cable.

    One owner has a proof that his got as hot as 140 deg F. You thought the new iPad is hot at reaching 116 deg F? :D

    [​IMG]

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    1 person likes this.
  2. sxotty

    sxotty Member

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    I don't think the design of any of these chargers is good. The UL wanted the block within a certain distance of the outlet. This would lead to it hanging from a plug in mid air in many circumstances. Seems a pretty bad idea.
  3. Jeff N

    Jeff N Senior Member

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    I'm curious to see what is different in the new replacement units. I've been charging at home only using the 120V charge cord "permanently" plugged in to a regular outlet in my garage by way of a What's Up energy monitor. When I unplugged it to take it with me on my road trip to Canada last Summer it was just fine. I've checked it periodically and hadn't noticed a problem.

    Just over a week ago I unplugged it to take it with me on a road trip to SoCal and noticed the plug was slightly swollen around the plug blades and some of the black plastic of the plug had broken down or melted and run down the blades into the receptacle on my energy monitor. I decided not to use it during my trip but didn't get a chance to look at it carefully until this past weekend. I decided it needed a new plug so I went to the hardware store and bought a new one for $6. The new plug now runs cold to the touch and the short cord from the plug to the EVSE box is only the very slightest bit warm. The EVSE box itself is slightly warm during extended charging but not nearly enough to be a concern. The previous plug used to run warm but not enough to concern me and the short cord from the plug to the box also ran similarly warm. I now plug it in via a heavy duty 6 foot 12 gauge extension cord.

    I suspect the culprit behind most or all of the reported problems is due to the plug. Either the plastic used in it breaks down over time or the cord wires are not connected to the plug blades in a way that can hold up under constant 12A service. It's possibly some wires might sometimes lose one or more strands during wire stripping before they are connected somehow to the plug blades. The resistive heat at the plug then travels back through the wires and heats the EVSE box as well since copper wire is an excellent heat conductor.

    The wires between the plug and EVSE box are 16 gauge. The cable diameter between the J1772 plug and the EVSE is considerably larger and I suspect the wires inside are therefore probably 14 or 12 guage but I don't know for sure. I suspect that larger diameter cord and J1772 plug are shared with the Volt 240V EVSE.
  4. gwmort

    gwmort Active Member

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    Mine was replaced some time ago (months ago) under warranty for an over heating issue. The replacement was beefier, barely fitting in the same storage space in the back, but no problems since.
  5. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    Are you going to get a newer design? Or is yours the new design already? I though the new design just came out.
  6. gwmort

    gwmort Active Member

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    I'll bet the one I have is the new design. They were eerily quiet that they had a better designed one for a long time, I guess they were hoping not to have to swap them all out.
  7. scottf200

    scottf200 Member

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    My neighbor has been using their 120v charger for several months without any issues. Their Volt is in the garage but they always seem to have their door open even on the hottest days so I bet it is pretty toasty throughout most of their charging.

    We have heard of outlet issues as well where an old outlet and 12amp (vs 8amp setting) has caused the plug to get pretty warm. Older homes and such. Some of these have really cooled down when they installed a new outlet and made sure the wires were secure (resistive heat avoidance).

    New one apparently has a heavier plug and larger wire for the 12" (inch) plug to EVSE to help with these issues.

    Also videos showing various testing on chargers/cords.
    http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?12516-Safety-testing-of-the-Volt-charger-cord

    [​IMG]
  8. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    I agree that the cord after the brick being so short is crappy and thus causing the above problem. My Nissan Leaf Forum • View topic - Included EVSE hanging when plugged-in - FIXED discusses the why. (Ingineer is aka pEEF over here.) I talked to him about the why at Green Drive Expo last year.

    I'm guessing GM replacing Chevrolet Volt power cords is the same as what the OP posted about.
  9. sxotty

    sxotty Member

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    Ah I see that does make some sense, but it is still terrible. If the cord is pulled partially out it arcs. Though I guess the GFCI should then trip. Why not just use a GFCI outlet as mandated in garages, bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoors anyway? Problem solved.
  10. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    What!?! UL approved? . . . and it's a fire danger? I hope no one foolishly concludes the SAE is in GM's back pocket ...
    :rolleyes:
  11. drinnovation

    drinnovation EREV for EVER!

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    UL != SAE



    And if you read the posted linked in the above message, you'll see the it appears rational for the short pig tail was probably their (SAE's) liability, not the car makers. SAE wanted a standard that ensured a standard compliant unit could not shock even if not plugged into a GFI. Of course with an extension cord all bets are off, but the standard says not to use one.

    If one properly mounts the unit on the wall, so there is no strain, its not a fire danger. Mine has worked flawlessly and does not get very hot to the touch.

    While its not a recall (its a customer satisfaction notice), meaning I don't have to take it in but can get a replacement, I'm glad to see GM not taking any chances and increasing the safety for people that don't quite follow the recommended procedure or just in case there are manufacturing variations that make some units more likely to fail.
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