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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fast Charging in Portland

Sometimes being on the bleeding edge means suffering the unexpected failure. These events help harden the technology and make it more acceptable to the general public. This is the situation with two of the three DC quick chargers (DCQC) currently in the Portland Oregon area.

The connectors on the DCQCs are not as simple as the Level 2 chargers that most EV drivers have at home. There are two levers on the connector. The smaller of these two can easily be broken if not used correctly.

The three DCQCs currently in Portland are located: one, downtown at the World Trade Center;  two, at Portland State on Electric Avenue; and three, on the east-side at the Hollywood Fred Meyer store. The only one of these three not to have had this problem is the World Trade Center system. It has an earlier design connector that is more robust.

The failing connectors are made by Yazaki Energy Systems. As I write this, the company has completed a redesign of their connector and it is currently going through certification. In the mean time, the broken connectors have been replaced with the fragile design that is currently approved.

So Portland is back to having three DC quick charge stations operating until one of them breaks again.

To use a DCQC without breaking it, follow the instructions on the charger and heed the below precautions:
  1. When inserting the connector, do not squeeze the black handle until the connector is fully inserted into the receptacle.
  2. Do not squeeze the black handle with any significant force. If it doesn't move easily, the connector isn't inserted correctly.
  3. Once inserted, gently squeeze the black handle. It should move effortlessly. The back part of the blue handle moves forward towards the receptacle.
Happy Charging! 


  1. Hi Patrick,

    For those of us who haven't seen these connectors and levers, maybe the diagrams on Yazaki's page will help:
    Click on Dimensions to see some nice diagrams.

    Pretty lame that these QC connectors are so complicated and fragile.

  2. Richard and Pat,
    Here are the Special Features from the CHAdeMO from Yazaki:
    Completely independent waterproof construction

    As the circuits in the connector are independent of each other, in addition to the waterproof function, other circuits will not be compromised even if water should enter.

    Construction with low Insertion Force

    The lever provides a low insertion force effect, and engagementwith the vehicle-side inlet is possible with little force.

    An LED Lamp lights during charging

    An LED lamp lights during charging (charging indication), and charging start can be confirmed at the connector.
    Connector Uncoupling Prevention Function

    An electromagnetic lock provides a function for prevention of uncoupling during charging.

    10,000 cycles of insertion and removal are possible

    Excellent durability makes use for a long period possible.

    Safe Construction with Electric Shock Prevention

    Direct finger contact with the terminals is prevented.
    Crush-resistant construction

    The connector does not break even when driven over by a vehicle of up to 2tons.

    Drop impact resistance

    The connector will not break even when dropped from a height of 1m.

  3. Hi Patrick,

    This last Sat, I visited the Eaton unit on Electric Ave and found the display to be dark. It there some trick to using it I don't know?

    -- Upgeya