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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!